On Veterans Day, Wellesley Hosts Ceremony, Remembers College President and Pathbreaking Leader, Naval Captain Mildred McAfee

November 10, 2017
Mildred Mcafee

This weekend, Wellesley will celebrate its 2nd Annual Veterans Day Ceremony to honor the men and women who have served the nation’s armed forces. The ceremony will take place on Sunday, November 12, 2017, from 10:30 am to 11:30 am in the Houghton Memorial Chapel and Multifaith Center. Guest speakers will be on hand, as will a color guard representing Navy, Air Force, and Army cadets. The event is sponsored by the Wellesley and MIT ROTC program and the Dean of Students Office.

Veterans Day is also a time to remember Mildred McAfee, Wellesley’s 7th president, who led the College from 1936 to 1949. Amidst her tenure, however, she made history. In 1941, during World War II, she took a temporary leave of absence from Wellesley to serve as the first director of the Navy’s newly established WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). Later, McAfee was appointed to the rank of Lieutenant-Commander, becoming the first woman to be commissioned as an officer in the United States Navy. In November 1943, after Congress passed new legislation, she was promoted to the rank of Captain. After guiding the growth of the WAVES to a force of more 80,000 Navy women in a variety of occupational specialties, including officers, she returned to Wellesley in 1945. That same year she was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. McAfee residence hall was named in her honor in 1951.

Read more about McAfee’s remarkable life in this Daily Shot from 2012.