Mary Dorothy Lyndon
2019 Inductee, Georgia Women of Achievement
"Ms. Lyndon continued to be influential both on campus and in the community. She continued her pioneering spirit by founding the women’s basketball team, the rifle team, the Pioneer Club, and UGA’s first sorority, Phi Mu.
-Libby V. Morris
August 13, 1877
April 5, 1924
City, Town, Region
Born on August 13, 1877 in Newnan, Georgia, Mary Dorothy Lyndon graduated from Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, in 1896 with the first dramatic arts degree ever awarded by the college. She was a graduate of the State Normal School and studied dramatic arts and history at Columbia University in New York before returning to Georgia where she earned her master of arts degree in 1914, becoming the first woman to graduate from the University of Georgia.
After graduation, she taught English at Athens High School before being selected as the first Dean of Women for the university in 1919. For many years, Lyndon was a faculty member of the Lucy Cobb Institute and traveled extensively around Georgia and abroad to enhance the experience of college women.
Affectionally known as “Miss Mary,” Lyndon was involved in many aspects of campus and community life and was an active member of numerous organizations focused on civic, state, and national progress.
Most notably, she established the Thalian Dramatic Club; the woman’s basketball team at UGA; the first sorority on campus, Phi Mu; and the Pioneer Club. She also served as recording secretary for the Athens YMCA; secretary of the Daughters of the American Revolution chapter; wrote for the Athens-Banner Herald; and taught Sunday school at the First Methodist Church of Athens.
Lyndon passed away on April 5, 1924 in Washington, Georgia, from pneumonia while on a visit to relatives and died a few days later at the age of 46. She is buried in Oconee Hill Cemetery in Athens, Georgia. Her portrait, painted by Kate Edwards, was dedicated to the university and currently hangs in Mary Lyndon Hall.
In 1936, an all-female resident hall on UGA’s south campus was named in her honor. Today, Mary Lyndon Hall is home to UGA’s language communities in French and Spanish, which gives students the opportunity to blend both their residential and academic experiences to enhance college life.
On May 21, 1964, UGA President O.C. Aderhold hosted Mary Lyndon Day to pay tribute to a pioneer in education for women. In an Athens-Banner Herald article published in 1924, Lyndon’s character and passion for helping women attain an equal and responsible place in society exemplifies how her service influenced one of the most important phases of American and world history:
“Without seeking even public acclaim as a leader or one in pursuit of personal honors, she was always interested in those things that builded towards character, love, enlightenment, and social betterment. She was a pioneer in the efforts to give the women of the state equal chances at the state’s university with men and when that was accomplished, she was selected as the first and only Dean of Women of the institution.”