The University Dames was founded in 1927 by Mrs. Alfred Hume, wife of then Chancellor Hume, as a chapter of the National Association of University Dames. While it may sound odd to our modern ears, the name, University Dames, reflects the tradition which began with the first such club at Harvard in 1896. As Harvard Dames moved to other parts of the country, as faculty tend to do, they would start new chapters at the next university at which they were affiliated. At the time, the clubs were devoted to creating a sense of community between the wives of male faculty members and often included mothers of students as well. The clubs also became a source of social and intellectual development and philanthropic endeavors for these women.
Eventually, the national association ceased to exit and as it did, many chapters also folded. We are proud that our chapter at the University of Mississippi continues to adapt to the needs of its members and continues to thrive.
Today, our organization is composed of women who are University of Mississippi faculty or staff or whose partners or spouses are employed at Ole Miss. In the early years, the Dames helped host University social events, but today our primary purpose is to help new members of the University community connect with one another and with their new hometown, Oxford. We host four events during the academic year, gathering to enjoy a meal or refreshments, and to socialize, share information, and conduct organization business. At the Holiday Luncheon, we announce the recipient of the UM Dames Book Scholarship, awarded each year to one of the University Scholars to defray costs of their course materials.
Members also join smaller “Interest Groups,” some of which meet monthly. Current information about these groups is available on our Facebook page.