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Swoboda, Marian J.; Roberts, Audrey J. / They came to learn, they came to teach, they came to stay

Mertens, Patricia A.
Chapter 12: Edith J. Cartwright: dean among deans,   pp. 73-76

Page 74

All during this period Cartwright continued her education by completing
extension courses from the University of Wisconsin and enrolling in summer
sessions at La Crosse State Teachers College. She completed the fourth year
of the physical education program and the requirements for her academic
minor, English, and graduated with honors in March, 1933, with a Bachelor
of Education degree.
During the summer of 1941, Cartwright began graduate work at North-
western University and in 1943 received an M.A. in Personnel and Guidance.
Then began twenty-eight years of rich and rewarding work in college student
In the fall of 1941 she returned to La Crosse as the fifth Dean of Women;
her talent for working with young women had been well recognized. She
taught health education in addition to her responsibilities as Dean of Women.
Jean Foss, now Assistant Vice Chancellor at La Crosse, recalls:
When I was a student at La Crosse (1944-1948), any student personnel services
existed were almost solely through Miss Cartwright's efforts. It was she
who was con-
cerned with creating a positive image of the woman physical educator. She
strove to
create a better cultural and social climate in the school. The results seem
modest when
compared to the university in the 1970's, but what La Crosse had was due
to Miss
From her appointment in September, 1941, until her retirement in June,
1969, Cartwright's efforts were in the best interests of women. She was eager
to know each woman personally and had a feeling of responsibility for each
them. Cartwright believed that extracurricular activities contributed to
a bal-
anced college experience. She wanted students to be experienced leaders -
as well as followers. She wanted them to interact with faculty and other
Dean Cartwright guided women through difficult times, whether
academic, financial or social. When financial emergencies arose, Cartwright
seemed to know where students could get aid quickly. The Dean of Women's
Office also placed women students in part time jobs in private homes or the
community. World War II began shortly after Cartwright assumed her post in
La Crosse. One of the anecdotes is told about those war years:
During the war when there was a total of eight men students enrolled at the
Dean Cartwright saw to it that the women students had opportunity for social
action. She provided bus transportation for the women students to Camp McCoy
the Saturday night dances. Not only did she provide the transportation but
she went
along and danced the evening away herself. In fact, on one occasion, after
danced several dances with a young man from Georgia, he said, "Man,
that's the best
one I done yet."
Living facilities for women continued to be a problem at UW-La Crosse
and Cartwright, like President Cotton years earlier, pressed for additional
mitory space. As Dean of Women she informed President Rexford Mitchell of
the need. Norene Smith, Cartwright's first Assistant Dean, and now Associate
Dean of Students, recalls:
Miss Cartwright was a combination of a fiery and a gentle person. She did
not hesitate
to use her emotions and/or vocabulary to emphasize a point or an issue in
which she
believed. Her firm stands were evident particularly in discussions with President
Mitchell when she disagreed with him. Mitchell began his career as a debator
and on
many occasions Cartwright, with her verbal stance, won a debate with him.

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