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Cottey College, located in Nevadamarker, Missourimarker is a private, two-year women's college offering the Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees. It was founded by Virginia Alice Cottey Stockard in 1884 and is currently owned and supported by the P.E.O. Sisterhood, a philanthropic women's organization.

Cottey College offers the Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees. The type of degree a student receives is based upon the core curriculum and distribution requirements she completes. Students choose subjects of their interest and/or intended major. There is no obligation to declare a major while at Cottey; however, students usually complete prerequisites or requirements for their future field of study. Over 95% of graduates transfer to four-year institutions, including Smith Collegemarker, Stephens College, Salem College, and Mount Holyoke Collegemarker.

Cottey has a student to faculty ratio of 10:1, and the average class size is 13. It is not uncommon to have courses with fewer than 10 students. Faculty includes both men and women, with 94% holding the terminal academic degree in their field . The college's mission is stated in the college Catalog: "Cottey College will educate qualified women in the arts and sciences to prepare them for transfer to programs beyond the associate's degree by enhancing their intellectual ability, their store of knowledge, their personal skills, and thereby their capacity for contribution to society and their chosen fields."

The college has a nationally recognized leadership program known as LEO. The Center for Women's Leadership provides structured leadership training for current students and women from the area, as well as high school students.

Cottey is situated on of land in Nevadamarker, Missourimarker a rural town of about 9,000 people. The main campus is situated on 11 city blocks. Five blocks south of this is B.I.L. Hill, a wooded area owned and used by Cottey for recreation, concerts, bonfires, picnics, suite nights, and other traditions.

The official colors of Cottey are yellow and white. Additionally, the senior class color is navy blue and the freshmen class color is "baby" blue. The senior class mascot was originally known as "Hermann the duck" and was adopted by the senior class in 1924. The current senior mascot is known as Hermitrude the duck, while the freshmen class chooses their own mascot every year (see Past Freshmen Mascots). The daisy was chosen by the first Cottey students to represent their school, and plays an important role in traditions like convocation and commencement.

Student Life

Residential Life

Blanche Skiff Ross Memorial Library
Students generally represent over 40 states and 15 different countries. In the 2007-2008 school year, international students came from Japanmarker, Bulgariamarker, Francemarker, Zimbabwemarker, and nine other nations.

Cottey students live in one of three campus halls (P.E.O., Reeves, and Robertson), each having between 10 and 14 suites with several bedrooms, a bathroom, and a kitchenette arranged around a living room. Student rooms have typical college furnishing. Suites have between 8 to 12 students. Most suites are sponsored by a P.E.O. chapter, and suite members usually receive several care packages from these P.E.O.s during the year. Sponsorship of some suites has changed over time, their names changing as well.

Residence Halls

P.E.O. Hall is the oldest of the existing dormitories, and was erected in 1939. It has 10 suites, housing about 100 students. It was the first building to be paid by the P.E.O. Sisterhood after they acquired the college.

Reeves Hall was built in 1949 on the site where a prior Cottey dorm, Missouri Hall, had burned down in 1940. Like P.E.O., it houses 10 suites and about 100 students. It is noted for having the largest basement of the three halls, and a foyer reminiscent of a classic hotel lobby.

Robertson (Robbie) Hall
haRobertson Hall (Robbie) was the last Cottey dorm to be built, being erected in 1959. It houses 14 suites (about 150 students) as well as the college's dining facility, Raney Dining Hall and the Centennial Room. It is noted for being the only hall with air conditioning and an elevator, and for having the smallest basement.

Each hall has recreational rooms, computer suites, laundry facilities, and quiet study rooms elsewhere in each building.

Cottey has had several prior dormitories, including Rosemary Hall (est. 1903) and Missouri Hall (1928-1940). Main Hall was also used as a dorm from 1884 to 1939.


Cottey's sports teams are called the Comets and compete in intercollegiate basketball, volleyball, and softball (beginning in spring 2009). Currently, the swimming team,Swimmin' Women, competes largely as exhibition, since no other two-year colleges in the area have swimming programs. Cottey's teams compete in Region XVI of the National Junior College Athletic Association playing teams in their region, as well as teams from community colleges in eastern Kansasmarker.

International Experience

In 2000, Cottey College took their senior class on a weeklong trip to London, Englandmarker over spring break. Since then, they have taken each senior class to one of several European destinations: Parismarker, Madridmarker, Londonmarker, Romemarker, and Florencemarker. For all of these trips, airfare and hotel stays are paid for by the college. In 2009, students will have the choice of going to Italymarker, Guatemalamarker, or New Zealandmarker. Due to the broadening of Cottey's destinations, what was originally dubbed their "European Experience" is now called an "International Experience." The Cottey Senior Class of 2010 will travel to London, Englandmarker, or have the choice to spend two weeks in New Zealandmarker at an additional expense.


Traditions have historically played an important role in Cottey residential life. Without other forms of entertainment, the women of Cottey College created and passed down many traditions, which are one of the distinguishing marks of the college today. Participation in traditions today is optional.

Co-Thom passdowns
Until the 1960s, first-year students were known as juniors and second-year students as seniors ("cSc"). In 1967, juniors became known as freshmen ("fcc"). Seniors have passed down denim jackets with ducks painted on the back for approximately 40 years; most traditions, however, remain surprises to the freshmen.


One of the most prominent of Cottey's traditions is the passing down of objects from seniors to freshmen. Each suite has passdowns, which are unpacked at the beginning of the schoolyear and placed on special shelves in the common area. In addition, each student is given passdowns through several traditions during the year. These are usually kept secret from the freshmen until the event. Duck Jackets are passed down at the end of each year.

Founder's Day

Each year Cottey College hosts a reunion of its classes on a weekend around the birthday of Virginia Alice Cottey in the end of March. The event is marked with many traditions, performances, a grand dinner and fireworks, as well as fundraising efforts.

List of Traditions

  • The Duck Game
  • Saturday Night Suppers
  • Sunday brunch
  • Suite feeds
  • Centennial Dinner
  • Suite sleepovers at B.I.L. Hill
  • Signing of the Cottey Book
  • Step Sing
  • V.A.C. Hour
  • Dottey Cottey
  • fcc Days
  • S.p.u.h.
  • Meet the Suites
  • Senior/Freshmen Chapel
  • G.P.
  • Tearing of the Square
  • Hanging of the Greens
  • Susprise
  • Quad-C Week
  • President's Dinner
  • Emanon
  • FUN Dinner
  • Campus Work Day
  • Senior Ring Dinner
  • Yellow and White Dinner
  • Capping
  • Commencement & the Daisy Chain
  • Skinnamarinking

Past Freshmen Mascots

Listed beside their graduating year.

Cottey Songs

Singing traditional Cottey Songs is an important part of student life. Many songs have been passed down from class to class for many years. Some songs have been altered (both in melody and lyrics) from generation to generation. While some songs are reserved for special traditions or Holidays, many are often enjoyed without occastion.

List of Songs

  • Build Me a Castle
  • The Beaver Song
  • Ava Gardner
  • Mary Margaret Truman
  • Share This Walk Together
  • Daisies in the Sun
  • Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, There Goes my Wagon
  • Friends We Are..Till We Meet Again
  • Come Saturday Morning
  • It's a Long Road to Freedom
  • One More Town
  • Up with People
  • Nevada Water
  • C-C-C Cottey
  • Dottey Cottey
  • Hail to the, our Alma Matre
  • Hark the Dottey Cottey shouts
  • (I just want to be a) Bad Girl
  • Skinnamarinky Dinky Dink (Cottey lyrics are different from the traditional lyrics.)
  • Bring Me a Rose
  • Christopher Robin
  • Follow Me
  • Friendship
  • God Be With You
  • Greenback Dollar
  • Rock Island Line
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (for soon we will be free)
  • We Love you Seniors (or Freshman)
  • Follow the Drinking Gourd
  • Aloha
  • Donna, Donna, Donna
  • Copper Kettle
  • Four Strong Winds
  • Hey Friend
  • Hey Look Me Over
  • If I had Wings
  • One for the Money
  • Friends We Will Remember You



Cottey College, circa 1910
Cottey College was opened by Virginia Alice Cottey in 1884, and was originally called "Vernon Seminary." After teaching at Central College in Lexingtonmarker since 1875, Alice (as she was called) decided it was time to establish the school she'd always wanted. She had $3,000 saved, and her sisters Dora and Mary lent her nearly $3,000 of their own savings to begin her school.

Several towns bid for the opportunity to host the new girls' school, including Fort Worthmarker, Texasmarker and several towns in Missourimarker. After much thought, Alice accepted Nevadamarker's offer, even though it wasn't the most generous. Nevadans donated of land upon which Alice erected a three-story brick building, which came to be known as Main Hall.

Vernon Seminary opened its doors in 1884 as a primary, intermediate, and collegiate school. In those early years, before educational standardization in the U.S., placement depended more upon accomplishment than age. In 1886 the school's name was officially changed to "Cottey College," and by 1932, only the college department remained.

In 1927, Alice offered the college to the P.E.O. Sisterhood on the condition that they raise a $200,000 endowment for the school (about $2.5 million in 2008 dollars). The P.E.O.s accepted, and have since owned and operated Cottey College.


Enrollment grew from 28 to 72 students during the first year, and by 1910 there were 250 students. Attendance dropped during the 1930s and '40s, but rose to maximum capacity of 350 by the 1970s. Cottey experienced a slow decline in enrollment during the 1990s and into the 2000s, which they are presently attempting to reverse.

Paranormal Activity

Tales of ghostly happenings at Cottey have been told for decades. The most propagated story is of hearing a piano being played in Main Hall or Rosemary Hall at night, when no one else is there. The music is usually attributed to the ghost of Vera Neitzert, a high school student who attended Cottey in 1920. In May of that year she was cooking candy in a chafing dish in Main Hall when her nightclothes caught fire. She incurred serious burns all over her body and died a few days later. While she didn’t die on Cottey’s campus, her ghost is said to roam Main Hall and Rosemary Hall (before it was raised). Others believe that the piano is being played by Madame Blitz, head of Cottey’s music department at the turn of the 20th century. As well, in 1904, a Mme. Blitz drank carbolic acid and died in her home across the street from Cottey, and her spirit is still said to walk the campus.

Notable Alumnae

Dora Dougherty Strother in front of B-29 "Ladybird"
  • Dr. Carol Belt '73 - Meteorologist; Completed Astronaut Training as a major in the United States Air Force.
  • Jo Anne Youtz McFarland '67 - College President; First woman appointed to head a Wyoming Community College
  • Carol Littleton '62 - Oscar-nominated editor of the film E.T.
  • Kelley Smith Tunney '60 - Former Vice President, Associated Press; First female general manager of the associated press
  • Marilyn Harris Springer '51 - Best-selling author of the Eden series and Hatter Fox.
  • Francine Irving Neff '46 - Treasurer of the United States from 1974-1977
  • Dora Dougherty Strother - Women Airforce Service Pilot, one of first two women to pilot a B-29.


  1. Cottey Fact Sheet
  2. Cottey Center For Women's Leadership
  3. Cottey College Campus Map
  4. Cottey College Handbook, 2006-2008
  5. The Cottey Spectrum. 28 Sep. 2007.
  6. Cotteyphile: Cottey Suites
  7. "Cottey College Is the Only College In the U.S. Maintained By Women." Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune. Chillicothe, MO. 15 Apr 1939.
  8. Cotteyphile: Missouri Hall
  9. Troesch, Dr. Helen DeRusha. The Life of Virginia Alice Cottey Stockard. Wayside Press, Inc., 1955.
  10. Cottey Athletics
  11. International Experience
  12. Cottey International Trip Letter 2009
  13. Nevada Souvenir
  14. Noel-Levitz partners with Cottey to increase enrollment
  15. Cotteyphile: Madame Blitz
  16. National Museum of the USAF - Dora Dougherty Strother

Further reading

  • Campbell, Elizabeth McClure. The Cottey Sisters of Missouri. Parkville, MO: Park College Press, 1970.
  • Cottrell, Debbie Mauldin. "Mount Holyoke of the Midwest: Virginia Alice Cottey, Mary Lyon, and the founding of the Vernon Seminary for Young Ladies." Missouri Historical Review, vol. 90, no. 2 (Jan 1996), pp. 187–198.
  • Stockard, Orpha Loraine. The First 75 Years: Cottey College.
  • Troesch, Dr. Helen DeRusha. The Life of Virginia Alice Cottey Stockard. Wayside Press, Inc., 1955.

External links

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