Arlene Elizabeth Gorton, class of 1952 - First Interview

Arlene Elizabeth Gorton, class of 1952 - First Interview

Arlene Gorton graduated from Pembroke College in 1952 with an A.B. in English literature. While at Pembroke she played softball and badminton, captaining the softball team her senior year and ranking as the top singles badminton player. After graduating, Gorton went to the University of North Carolina for two years, before returning to New England where she taught at Connecticut College for seven years. In 1961, she returned to Pembroke as the Director of Physical Education and as a professor in the Physical Education department.

This interview summarizes the career of Arlene Gorton with Pembroke College and Brown University’s Athletics Departments. Gorton graduated from Pembroke College in the class of 1952, and then served as Pembroke College Director of Physical Education and Athletics, 1961–1971, and finally as the Brown University Assistant Athletic Director from 1971–1998.

Gorton begins by explaining her professional tenure at Brown University including her rank as Director of Physical Education and Athletics at Pembroke and then her demotion after the Pembroke-Brown merger in 1971. She emphasizes that she was one of the few tenured faculty women at Brown – a status that preserved her employment after the merger. She also discusses the previous director, Bessie Rudd, and Rudd’s strong and favorable opinion of women’s athletics at Pembroke. Throughout the interview, Gorton identifies inequalities between women’s and men’s athletics at Brown, such as access to facilities and financial distribution. Additionally, she elucidates difficulties she encountered with the Brown administration during her fight for women’s sports. 

Gorton also discusses her position on the Ad Hoc Committee for the Louise Lamphere case – a landmark class action lawsuit that in 1975 charged Brown University with sex discrimination. She also discusses her involvement in a 1996 Title IX case that charged the University with discrimination against women when it demoted its women's gymnastics and volleyball teams from university-funded to donor-funded varsity status.   

Recorded on May 18, 2010

Warwick, Rhode Island

Interviewed by Jane Lancaster