Althea Kratz Hottel, ED29 GR40 HON59, is remembered as Penn's first Dean of Women, and Penn's first female dean. When she died in 2000 at age 92, she provided in her will for a substantial Library endowment for "the purchase of books and scholarly materials in the Humanities." Her gift to the Library is a perpetual reminder to students and faculty of her legacy.
From remarks by University President Judith Rodin at Dr. Hottel's memorial service:
"She was a pioneer in women's education and a role model for generations of women at Penn. I still remember the power her name conveyed when I was an undergraduate at Penn.
It is often hard to remember that it took pathbreakers like Althea Hottel to open the doors for the younger generation of aspiring and talented women. She encouraged us, in words and by example, to reach for our personal goals. And she did it by being an extraordinary person, both in her personal warmth and intelligence and in the strength of her character and commitment.
Althea Hottel was a graduate of the Class of 1929, junior class president and president of the Women's Student Government Association, a member of Sphinx and Key and of Mortar Board. She was much loved and respected by her classmates, as evidenced by the four awards she earned from her class: the most popular, the member who did the most for the class, the hardest worker, and the "best all-around girl."
She earned her Ph.D. in Sociology in 1940, with a topic that sounds surprisingly current: "Prosecutions and Treatment of Women Offenders and the Economic Crisis: Philadelphia, 1925-34." She taught in the Department of Sociology for some 20 years.
In 1936, Dr. Hottel was appointed Directress of Women and when, in 1943, that position was reclassified, she became Penn's first Dean of Women--and also Penn's first woman dean. It was a position she held until 1959. After her retirement, she was elected to the Board of Trustees, only the second woman to serve as a Penn Trustee.
Her influence was felt well beyond Penn. Dr. Hottel served as president of the American Association of University Women, where she led the fight to eliminate racial discrimination in the association.
Dr. Hottel provided crucial leadership to Penn at a time when women students were taking their place, in numbers and in academic strength, next to men. As a student, a faculty member and a dean, she enriched Penn and stood as a beacon for women's education. We were truly blessed to have her as a member of the Penn family.