Cottey College

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Cottey College
Motto For Women, By Women, About Women
Type Private Women's College
Established 1884
Affiliation P.E.O. Sisterhood
President Jann R. Weitzel, Ph.D. (June 2015)[1]
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Students 307[4]
Location Nevada, Missouri
37°50′17″N 94°22′13″W / 37.8381°N 94.3704°W / 37.8381; -94.3704Coordinates: 37°50′17″N 94°22′13″W / 37.8381°N 94.3704°W / 37.8381; -94.3704
Campus Small town
Colors Blue, Yellow, White,
Athletics Basketball, volleyball, softball, swimming, cross-country
Mascot Comets (The Mascot of Cottey Sports Teams,) The Duck (The "Senior Class" Mascot, more often associated with Cottey than the Comet.)

Cottey College, located in Nevada, Missouri is an independent, liberal arts and sciences college for women. It was founded by Virginia Alice Cottey Stockard in 1884 and is currently owned and supported by the P.E.O. Sisterhood, a philanthropic women's organization. It is the only nonsectarian college in the United States owned and supported by women for women.[1]

Cottey has 307 enrolled students.[4] Cottey has a student to faculty ratio of 10:1.[5] Some classes meet with fewer than 10 students. Faculty includes both men and women, with over 90% holding the terminal academic degree in their field.[5]

Cottey is situated on 66 acres (26.7 ha) of land in Nevada, Missouri, the county seat and a rural town of 8,171 people (by the 2012 estimate). The main campus is situated on 11 city blocks.[6] Five blocks south of this is B.I.L. Hill, a 33-acre (13.4 ha) wooded area owned and used by Cottey for recreation, concerts, bonfires, picnics, suite nights, and other traditions.

The official colors of Cottey are yellow and white. Additionally, the senior class color is navy blue and the freshmen class color is "baby" blue.[7] The senior class mascot was originally known as "Hermann the duck" and was adopted by the senior class in 1924. The current senior mascot is known as Hermitrude the duck. The freshmen class chooses their own mascot every year (see Past Freshmen Mascots). The daisy was chosen by the first Cottey students to represent their school. Daisies are used as garlands and other regalia in traditions such as convocation and commencement.

Student life[edit]

Residential life[edit]

Blanche Skiff Ross Memorial Library

Students generally represent over 40 states and 20 different countries.[1] In the 2007–2008 school year, international students came from Japan, Bulgaria, France, Zimbabwe, and nine other nations.[8]

Cottey students live in one of three campus halls (P.E.O., Reeves, and Robertson), each having between 10 and 14 suites with several bedrooms, a bathroom, and a kitchenette arranged around a living room. Student rooms have typical college furnishing. Suites have between 8 and 12 students. Most suites are sponsored by a P.E.O. chapter, and suite members usually receive several care packages from these P.E.O.s during the year. Sponsorship of some suites has changed over time, their names changing as well.[9]

Residence halls[edit]

P.E.O. Hall is the oldest of the existing dormitories, and was erected in 1939. It has 10 suites, housing about 100 students. It was the first building to be paid by the P.E.O. Sisterhood after they acquired the college.[10]

Reeves Hall was built in 1949 on the site where a prior Cottey dorm, Missouri Hall, had burned down in 1940.[11] Like P.E.O., it houses 10 suites and about 100 students. It is noted for having the largest basement of the three halls, and a foyer reminiscent of a classic hotel lobby.

Robertson (Robbie) Hall

Robertson Hall (Robbie) was the last Cottey dorm to be built, being erected in 1959. It houses 14 suites (about 150 students) as well as the college's dining facility, Raney Dining Hall and the Centennial Room. It is noted for being the only hall with air conditioning and an elevator, and for having the smallest basement.

Each hall has recreational rooms, computer suites, laundry facilities, and quiet study rooms elsewhere in each building.

Cottey has had several prior dormitories, including Rosemary Hall (est. 1903) and Missouri Hall (1928–1940). Main Hall was also used as a dorm from 1884 to 1939.[12]


Cottey's sports teams are called the Comets and compete in intercollegiate basketball, volleyball, and softball (beginning in spring 2009),[13] with cross-country and tennis (added in fall 2014). All five are scholarship sports.[14] Currently, the swimming team, Swimmin' Women, competes largely as exhibition, since no other two-year colleges in the area have swimming programs. Cottey's teams compete in Region XVI of the National Junior College Athletic Association playing teams in their region, as well as teams from community colleges in eastern Kansas.

International experience[edit]

In 2000, Cottey College took their senior class on a weeklong trip to London, England over spring break. Since then, each second year class has travelled to one of several destinations: Paris, London, Barcelona, Madrid, Rome, or Florence. For each European destination, the cost of airfare and hotel stays have been paid by the college. Alternative trips to destinations including Japan, Peru, Thailand, Guatemala, New Zealand may incur additional fees. In 2017, Cottey students will be traveling to Italy, New Zealand, Thailand or Tanzania.[15]


Traditions have historically played an important role in Cottey residential life. Without other forms of entertainment, the women of Cottey College created and passed down many traditions, which are one of the distinguishing marks of the college today. Participation in traditions today is optional.

Co-Thom passdowns

Until the 1960s, first-year students were known as juniors and second-year students as seniors ("cSc"). In 1967, juniors became known as freshmen ("fcc").[7] Seniors have passed down denim jackets with ducks painted on the back for approximately 40 years; most traditions, however, remain surprises to the freshmen.


One of the most prominent of Cottey's traditions is the passing down of objects from seniors to freshmen. Each suite has passdowns, which are unpacked at the beginning of the school year and placed on special shelves in the common area. In addition, each student is given passdowns through several traditions during the year. These are usually kept secret from the freshmen until the event. Duck Jackets are passed down at the end of each year.

Founder's Day[edit]

Each year Cottey College hosts a reunion of its classes on a weekend around the birthday of Virginia Alice Cottey in the end of March. The event is marked with many traditions, performances, a grand dinner and fireworks, as well as fundraising efforts.

List of traditions[edit]

  • The Duck Game
  • Saturday Night Suppers
  • Sunday brunch
  • Suite feeds
  • Centennial Dinner
  • Suite sleepovers at B.I.L. Hill
  • Signing of the Cottey Book
  • Step Sing
  • V.A.C. Hour
  • Dottey Cottey
  • fcc Days
  • S.p.u.h.
  • Meet the Suites
  • Senior/Freshmen Chapel
  • G.P.
  • Tearing of the Square
  • Hanging of the Greens
  • Susprise
  • Quad-C Week
  • President's Dinner
  • Emanon
  • FUN Dinner
  • Campus Work Day
  • Senior Ring Dinner
  • Yellow and White Dinner
  • Capping
  • Commencement & the Daisy Chain
  • Skinnamarinking

Freshmen mascots[edit]

Listed beside their graduating year.

  • 1991 – Egghead: Duck Egg with Duck feet
  • 1993 – Snapping Turtle
  • 1994 – Dot the Dragon
  • 1995 – Pat the Alligator
  • 1996 – Foxanne the Fox
  • 1997 – Grace the Swan
  • 1998 – One Eyed, One Horned, Flying Purple Duckie Eater
  • 1999 – CeeCee the Baby Blue Seal
  • 2000 – Spank the Monkey
  • 2001 – D'Eater the Blowfish
  • 2002 – Plucky the Wolf
  • 2003 – Elmer FudDuck
  • 2005 – Georgina the Giraffe
  • 2006 – Phoebe the Fox
  • 2007 – Suzie the Swan
  • 2008 – Pirate Fox
  • 2009 – Buzz the Buffalo
  • 2010 – Phoenix
  • 2011 – Fox
  • 2012 – Platypus
  • 2013 – Panda
  • 2014 – Wolf
  • 2015 – Athena the Aligator
  • 2016 – Simon the Shark
  • 2017 – Goose the Moose


Singing traditional Cottey Songs is an important part of student life. Many songs have been passed down from class to class for many years. Some songs have been altered (both in melody and lyrics) from generation to generation. While some songs are reserved for special traditions or Holidays, many are often enjoyed without occasion.

Individual residence halls (P.E.O., Reeves and Robertson) have specific songs as well. These songs have also changed over the years.

Cottey College, however, is one of only a few colleges in the nation to not have an official Fight Song for their athletics program. In early 2014, a songwriting duo composed the "Comet Song: Cottey College Fight Song" to fill this void.[16]

List of songs[edit]

  • Build Me a Castle
  • The Beaver Song
  • Ava Gardner
  • Mary Margaret Truman
  • Share This Walk Together
  • Daisies in the Sun
  • Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, There Goes my Wagon
  • Friends We Are..Till We Meet Again
  • Come Saturday Morning
  • It's a Long Road to Freedom
  • One More Town
  • Up with People
  • Nevada Water
  • C-C-C Cottey
  • Dottey Cottey
  • Hail to the, our Alma Matre
  • Hark the Dottey Cottey shouts
  • (I just want to be a) Bad Girl
  • Skinnamarinky Dinky Dink (Cottey lyrics are different from the traditional lyrics.)
  • Bring Me a Rose
  • Christopher Robin
  • Follow Me
  • Friendship
  • God Be With You
  • Greenback Dollar
  • Rock Island Line
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (for soon we will be free)
  • We Love you Seniors (or Freshman)
  • Follow the Drinking Gourd
  • Aloha
  • Donna, Donna, Donna
  • Copper Kettle
  • Four Strong Winds
  • Hey Friend
  • Hey Look Me Over
  • If I had Wings
  • One for the Money
  • Friends We Will Remember You

P.E.O. Hall Songs

  • These Old Walls
  • P.E.O. Hall Rap
  • Picture a Place



Cottey College, circa 1910

Cottey College was opened by Virginia Alice Cottey in 1884, and was originally called "Vernon Seminary."[12] After teaching at Central College in Lexington since 1875, Alice (as she was called) decided it was time to establish the school she'd always wanted. She had $3,000 saved, and her sisters Dora and Mary lent her nearly $3,000 of their own savings to begin her school.

Several towns bid for the opportunity to host the new girls' school, including Fort Worth, Texas and several towns in Missouri. After much thought, Alice accepted Nevada's offer, even though it wasn't the most generous. Nevadans donated 6 acres (2.428 ha) of land upon which Alice erected a three-story brick building, which came to be known as Main Hall.

Vernon Seminary opened its doors in 1884 as a primary, intermediate, and collegiate school.[12] In those early years, before educational standardization in the U.S., placement depended more upon accomplishment than age. In 1886 the school's name was officially changed to "Cottey College," and by 1932, only the college department remained.

In 1927, Alice offered the college to the P.E.O. Sisterhood on the condition that they raise a $200,000 endowment for the school (about $2.5 million in 2008 dollars).[12] The P.E.O.s accepted, and have since owned and operated Cottey College.


Enrollment grew from 28 to 72 students during the first year,[12] and by 1910 there were 250 students.[17] Attendance dropped during the 1930s and '40s, but rose to maximum capacity of 350 by the 1970s. Cottey experienced a slow decline in enrollment during the 1990s and into the 2000s, which they are presently attempting to reverse,[18] which they have mostly, with a present enrollment of 307.[4]

Paranormal activity[edit]

Tales of ghostly happenings at Cottey have been told for decades. The most propagated story is of hearing a piano being played in Main Hall or Rosemary Hall at night, when no one else is there. The music is usually attributed to the ghost of Vera Neitzert, a high school student who attended Cottey in 1920. In May of that year she was cooking candy in a chafing dish in Main Hall when her nightclothes caught fire.[12] She incurred serious burns all over her body and died a few days later in the Amerman Sanitorium, which stood where the Blanche Skiff Ross Memorial Library is today. While she didn't die on Cottey's campus, her ghost is said to roam Main Hall and Rosemary Hall (before it was razed due to a failing foundation) and will wander all over the campus. Others believe that the piano is being played by Madame Blitz, head of Cottey's music department at the turn of the 20th century.[19] As well, in 1904, a Mme. Blitz drank carbolic acid and died in her home across the street from Cottey, and her spirit is still said to walk the campus.[12]

Notable alumnae[edit]

Dora Dougherty Strother in front of B-29 "Ladybird"


  1. ^ a b c "DR. JANN WEITZEL TO ASSUME THE PRESIDENCY OF COTTEY COLLEGE". February 13, 2015. [permanent dead link]
  2. ^ "Faculty". Cottey College. Retrieved February 10, 2017. 
  3. ^ a b "Faculty/Administrative Staff Directory". Cottey College. Retrieved February 10, 2017. 
  4. ^ a b c "Cottey College Stats, Info and Facts". Retrieved May 30, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "Cottey Fact Sheet" (PDF). Retrieved 20 December 2017. 
  6. ^ "Cottey College" (PDF). Retrieved 18 February 2016. 
  7. ^ a b "Webmaster – Cottey College, Nevada, Missouri". Retrieved 1 February 2016. 
  8. ^ "Webmaster – Cottey College, Nevada, Missouri" (PDF). Retrieved 18 February 2016. [permanent dead link]
  9. ^ "Suitelife". Retrieved 18 February 2016. 
  10. ^ "Cottey College Is the Only College In the U.S. Maintained By Women." Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune. Chillicothe, MO. 15 Apr 1939.
  11. ^ "Missouri Hall". Retrieved 18 February 2016. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f g Troesch, Dr. Helen DeRusha. The Life of Virginia Alice Cottey Stockard. Wayside Press, Inc., 1955.
  13. ^ "Cottey College". Retrieved 10 February 2017. 
  14. ^ "Cottey College for Women – Comet Athletics". Retrieved 18 February 2016. 
  15. ^ "International Experience". Cottey College. Retrieved May 30, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Now let's all sing the new "Comets Song" for P.E.O.'s Cottey College". 7 February 2014. Retrieved 20 December 2017. 
  17. ^ "Nevada Souvenir". Archived from the original on 16 February 2012. Retrieved 18 February 2016. 
  18. ^ "Noel-Levitz partners with Cottey to increase enrollment". Archived from the original on 2013-05-22. Retrieved 20 December 2017. 
  19. ^ "Madame Blitz". Retrieved 18 February 2016. 
  20. ^ "Dora Dougherty Strother". Retrieved 18 February 2016. 
  21. ^ Jules Heller; Nancy G. Heller (19 December 2013). North American Women Artists of the Twentieth Century: A Biographical Dictionary. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-135-63882-5. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Campbell, Elizabeth McClure. The Cottey Sisters of Missouri. Parkville, MO: Park College Press, 1970.
  • Cottrell, Debbie Mauldin. "Mount Holyoke of the Midwest: Virginia Alice Cottey, Mary Lyon, and the founding of the Vernon Seminary for Young Ladies." Missouri Historical Review, vol. 90, no. 2 (Jan 1996), pp. 187–198.
  • Stockard, Orpha Loraine. The First 75 Years: Cottey College.
  • Troesch, Dr. Helen DeRusha. The Life of Virginia Alice Cottey Stockard. Wayside Press, Inc., 1955.

External links[edit]