Dean of Women Students, Permeal J. French came to the University of Idaho in 1908 and served as Dean of Women until her retirement in 1936.
At the University of Idaho she was known for her remarkable memory, seldom forgetting the name of a student over her twenty-eight years of service. She was a popular dinner guest and often visited dormitories and fraternity and sorority houses. She was a firm advocate of good manners, addressing new students on the subject each fall.
She had strong influences on social life on campus. She established the Blue Bucket Inn, a precursor to the Student Union, where students could eat and engage in social activities.She believed that students and instructors should have fun and during her time on campus, many prominent social events came to light, including May Fete celebrations, Halloween costume parties, and Christmas caroling.
She was instrumental in the founding of Campus Day, The Associated Women’s Students, Mortar Board Society, Inter-Sorority Council, The Women’s Athletic Association and the first Student Union.
Although she was known as a strict disciplinarian, setting regulations concerning dress and behavior for women, she was also an ardent feminist who worked to improve the lives of Idaho’s women. She stated that appropriations for women’s academic and vocational courses must be made equal to men.
Texts referenced: Beacon for Mountain and Plain by Rafe Gibbs and This Crested Hill by Keith Petersen. Photos from Special Collections, PG 3 0006f, 0006a.