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GREAT SCOTT!: 125-year-old college still a leader in women’s education
by Christine Fonville
March 11, 2014 12:08 PM | 3052 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Katherine Frye / President Elizabeth Kiss reflects on the history and achievements of Agnes Scott College.
Staff / Katherine Frye / President Elizabeth Kiss reflects on the history and achievements of Agnes Scott College.
Agnes Scott College is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year and President Elizabeth Kiss said readers should know that although the college has a rich history in the downtown Decatur community, it also offers a 21st-century approach to education.

The college, originally named Decatur Female Seminary, was founded in 1889 by elder members of the nearby Decatur Presbyterian Church who felt it was important to educate girls and women in order to make the community stronger.

“The vision for Agnes Scott from the very beginning was very intellectually ambitious,” said Kiss. “The first president, Frank Henry Gaines, said the school was established to provide an education second-to-none and up to the highest standard.”

A generous donation from George Washington Scott, a member of the church, helped save the institution from financial ruin and helped it to grow.

“Scott requested the school be renamed after his mother because he said he ‘owed all of the finer aspects of his character to her,’ so that’s how the college got its name,” Kiss said.

Throughout the years, the campus itself has been recognized and won awards for its unique architecture and picturesque landscape, which Kiss said has been preserved through sustainability efforts.

Today, Kiss said she speculates that none of the founding members of the college could have imagined the diversity of the students on campus and what they have achieved.

“We currently have students from 39 different states and 35 different countries enrolled here,” she said. “We’ve produced Fulbright and Rhodes scholars as well as exceptional female leaders.” And leadership is something the college will continue to focus on in the future, Kiss said.

Plans for future “Scotties” include a four-year leadership development process and increasing the percentage of students who travel abroad from 50 to 100 percent.

“We’d like to expand upon the idea of preparing more girls to be in the forefront of a global society because the world needs more leaders who are women,” she said.

For more information on Agnes Scott College, visit

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