"The trend is towards coeducation and I'm all for it," said Beachley, 95. "I think it's great."
Volpe and an executive committee spent more than five months collecting and analyzing the statistics, surveys and testimony that eventually built such a strong case for coeducation that board members - half of whom are alumni - voted unanimously in favor of the move.
"From an emotional standpoint, it wasn't easy for the trustees," Volpe said. "But this decision was driven not by history or traditions, but by the financial and future well-being of the college."
Many Hood officials saw the writing on the wall and weren't secretive about the impending change; they had been talking about the possibility of coeducation for several years, Johnson said.
"This has been openly discussed since I was a freshman," she said. "It's impossible to be an active participant on this campus and not to have knowledge of this."
Students were under the impression, however, that the move wouldn't happen until at least 2004, she said. Volpe agreed that plans moved more quickly than expected after board members reviewed and discussed the data.
"They said, 'Why wait?' "
Unfortunately, Volpe said, the board's decision was leaked to the press the night before he and Dean of Students Olivia White planned to announce it to the campus community. Some students said they were hurt and angry when they learned about the decision in the newspaper and from friends off-campus.
"This is a community. It was like someone outside the family telling you that a family member is sick," Marrero said.
Jolted but not surprised by the fallout from the information leak, Hood officials are striving to keep students and their parents, faculty members and alumni informed about issues related to the coeducational transition, Volpe said.
The college's Web site has a page devoted to the topic, and school leaders have met personally with students, parents and alumni to discuss the move and address their concerns, he said.
Change hits home
Alumnae Magaly Mauras Green, past president of Hood's Alumni Association, has no worries about a change that really hit home last week when she received a letter about the college's new Heritage Scholarship, she said.
The scholarship offers the male children and grandchildren of Hood alumni first-year tuition rates equal to those paid by their mothers and grandmothers, Volpe said.
"I'm saving this letter as an historic momento," said Green, of Frederick. "I think this is a very exciting time.
"My love for Hood is forever. And I want the college to be there for my children and my children's children."
Hood opened its classrooms to male commuter students in 1971. Men now comprise about 13 percent of each graduating class and about 10 percent of Hood's alumni pool, according to information from the college's Office of Communications and Public Relations.
College officials tentatively estimate that between 30 and 40 more men and women will enroll next fall at Hood because of the residential policy change - a number that could at least double by fall 2004, Volpe said.
Though more men are expected on campus starting next year, females are expected to significantly outnumber males for the foreseeable future, Volpe, Foys and others said.
"Nobody expects a 50-50 ratio," said associate journalism professor Alden Weinberg, who was Hood's first male commuter student.
Weinberg said he "fully believes in and supports" Hood's missions and traditions as a primarily single-sex school. Like Marrero, he said women generally voice their opinions more freely among other women. And, like Morse, Weinberg cited the notable achievements of some women's college graduates.
Yet he said he realizes Hood must admit men to its dorms to stay in the black and to stoke the residential experience for its boarding students.
Class size unaffected
The addition of a few hundred students in the coming years will transform resident life but will not affect the small class sizes prized at Hood, Volpe said.
The average student-to-teacher ratio in most undergraduate classes is 9:1, he said.