Sarah Blanding

Given to the University of Kentucky by the class of 1997, Historical Marker #2011 honors Sarah Blanding (1898-1985). She was born on a farm in Kentucky in 1898. After graduating from the New Haven Normal School of Gymnastics in 1919, she was hired as the physical education instructor by the University of Kentucky. At the same time, she began her undergraduate work in the A. B. program. While attending UK, she was president of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and the captain of the women's basketball team under coach A. B. "Happy" Chandler. She graduated in 1923, and, two years later at age 24, she became the UK Dean of Women, the youngest dean in the country.

She left the University of Kentucky in 1941 to become the first Dean of the School of Home Economics at Cornell University, and, in 1946, she became the first woman president of Vassar College. She held that position until she retired in 1964. A strong public advocate, she worked hard to advance the professional, political, and academic place of women in the world and was a general proponent of expanded educational opportunity. Blanding Tower was named in her honor in 1968.

The UK Senior Challenge Historical Marker Project, administered by the Kentucky Historical Society, began in 1994 as a way for the graduating senior class to leave a memorial to the university. Every year since then, the UK historical marker committee has decided on the topic, raised the money, and written the text for the markers.