Blanche McNeely Wean

In 1922, Bloomington native Blanche McNeely was the first woman admitted to the School of Commerce (today the Kelley School), two years after its establishment. After graduation, she moved to Lafayette where she worked as a teacher and married Francis Wean. McNeely Wean soon returned to Bloomington as a widow and single mother of three young daughters—at the onset of the Great Depression—and began substitute teaching stenography at the business school while earning a master’s degree in economics, which was offered in a different IU school. Still a graduate student, she accepted a trial position as the head of the business department at Central Normal College in Danville (later renamed Canterbury College). Rather than uprooting her family, she woke up every Monday morning at 2:30 a.m. to drive to Danville and teach a 6 a.m. class.

In 1932, McNeely Wean accepted an offer from Central Normal College to head the business school, serve as the dean of women for the college, and serve as the student newspaper’s advisor. She graduated from IU with a Master of Arts that same year, and then moved her family to Danville. She continued at Central Normal College for 15 years while also working as an accountant for outside businesses. You can read more about her in this article for the Indiana History Blog.

Esther Bray

Raised on a northern Indiana farm, Esther Bray came to IU in 1922 and earned a business degree five years later. A decade later, President Herman B Wells invited her to teach at the school, where she taught business education for 34 years. For many years, Bray was the only woman on the IU business school faculty. “Esther was instrumental in the development of young women both in and out of the business school,” noted an article produced for IU’s bicentennial.

Naming Bray its “Woman of the Century” in 1999, the Bloomington Herald-Times quoted her granddaughter as saying, “She never stopped once to think that she was working in a man’s world. When it came push to shove, she stood up for herself. She said it was hard. She did it. She never lost her integrity, her poise and her character.”

When Bray died in 1999, IU faculty adopted a memorial resolution, calling her a “role model for women.” Today, more than 110 women teach at Kelley, including nearly 45 in tenured positions. Among them and leading the school is Idalene “Idie” Kesner, who became the first female dean in May 2013.

MaryEllen Kiley Bishop

MaryEllen Kiley Bishop, who earned a business certificate in management and administration in 1978 and a Bachelor of Science in marketing in 1979, is the first alumna of the Kelley School to become an IU trustee.

Today, the vice chair of the IU Board of Trustees and chair of its Academic Affairs and University Policies Committee, Bishop has played an active role in a variety of professional organizations, earning national citations for her work. She has been a tireless volunteer on behalf of IU, serving as chair of the IU Alumni Association in 2008, as co-chair of the Planned Giving Committee for the IU School of Medicine, and as a member of the IU Athletics Committee.

A 1982 graduate of the McKinney School of Law, she serves on the school’s Board of Visitors and is a partner at Cohen Garelick & Glazier in Indianapolis. She has served on the steering committee of the Colloquium for Women of IU and is member of the board of the IU Foundation and the Women’s Philanthropy Leadership Council.

Lillian Pauline (Hunnicutt) Gibson

When Lillian Pauline (Hunnicutt) Gibson received her Master of Science in Business in 1939, she was the first woman to do so. Little is known today about her life after graduation. She passed away in 1987.

Marjorie Perry Person

Marjorie “Marge” Perry Person was one of the first two first women to earn a doctorate at the Kelley School in 1965. A Missouri native, she earned undergraduate degrees at Northwest Missouri State. After earning an MBA, too, from IU, she joined the faculty at Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne as chair of the Department of Marketing, where she taught until her retirement in 1981.

“She was noted for her leadership in the teaching of marketing, her contributions to the university’s research and service missions and her many years of generosity to the university,” according to an Indiana Senate memorial resolution. “She believed teaching was a two-way street. Her students learned from her and she learned from them.”

Her son Bill recalled how Perry Person learned shortly after joining IPFW that she was earning significantly less than her male colleagues.

“The university president responded that the men were being paid more because they were heads of households and responsible for the support of their families. She responded that as a widow she, too, was head of a household and the sole support of a child.” The president decided that for payroll purposes, “Marge is a man.” Throughout her career, Marge served as a mentor for women in male-dominated professions.” She was active in numerous business and community organizations in Allen County and established an endowed scholarship in honor of her brother.

Loraine Donaldson

Loraine Donaldson was the other woman (with Marjorie Perry Person) to first earn a doctorate at the Kelley School. After graduating, she joined the faculty at Georgia State University, initially as an assistant professor of economics. In 1966, she rose to the position of associate professor and became a full professor in 1970. She retired from Georgia State in 1994. (Photo credit: Georgia State University Archives, Georgia State University Library, Atlanta.) 

Saundra Marie Mitchal

An Ohio native, Saundra Marie Mitchal was the first Kelley alumna of the Consortium, graduating with an MBA in marketing in 1973. She also earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Kent State University.

After graduating from IU, she became vice president of marketing at Neutrogena, her corporate home for 9 years, where she directed a $20 million, 15-person marketing organization for the $250 million health and beauty products maker. She enhanced brand equity for the company, which was eventually purchased by Johnson & Johnson. (Photo credit: Kent State University Libraries. Special Collections and Archives.) 

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