Caroline Colvin

Caroline Colvin was an American academic. She served as chair of the University of Maine history department from 1906 to 1932, making her the first woman in the nation to head a major university department.

Dr. Colvin came to the University in 1902 at a time when the land grant University was expanding its liberal arts programs to accompany its strong engineering and agricultural programs.

Dr. Colvin's service at the university was marked by a series of firsts. In addition to being the first woman in the nation to head a major university department, Dr. Colvin was also the first woman on the University of Maine faculty, the first woman to lead a University of Maine department, and the University's first dean of women.

As dean of women, Dr. Colvin advocated increased women's sports, and was a supporter of the Women’s Student Government. She was the first ever honorary member of the All Maine Women honor society.

Dr. Colvin is the namesake of Colvin Hall, a facility used by the University of Maine Honors College. The facility houses both the Thomson Honors Center and a residence facility for Honors students. It was initially an all-women's dormitory where Dr. Colvin herself resided as House Mother. In the 1970's, it housed a campus co-op program where residents prepared their own meals until 1999 when it became the honors building.

Dr. Colvin continues to live in University folklore. The Northeast Archives of Folklore, at the Maine Folklife Center (also at the University of Maine), contains interviews of numerous people who attest to seeing a female ghost roaming the halls of Colvin Hall--some speculating it to be Dr. Colvin herself.


  • "Dr. Caroline Colvin Honored," by Dr. Ava Harriet Chadbourne ’15. October 1930 issue of The Maine Alumnus
  • University of Maine Honors College -- Colvin Hall

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