Virginia Alice Cottey
Educator, Founded Cottey College —
VIRGINIA ALICE COTTEY was a woman of vision. Guided by the belief that women deserved the same education as men, she founded Cottey College in 1884 to educate women to be “knowledgeable, thinking, mature adults.”
Virginia Alice Cottey selected Nevada, Missouri, as the site for her school. She opened the Vernon Seminary on September 8, 1884, in a two-story red brick building with 28 students from kindergarten through a two-year collegiate course.
As time passed, Virginia Alice Cottey realized that she could not guide her college forever and she began to search for a group that could sustain her dream after she was no longer able to do so. In 1926, she accepted an invitation to join the P.E.O. Sisterhood, a philanthropic educational organization. As the organization’s educational purpose became clear to her, she realized that the ideals of the P.E.O. Sisterhood were the same ideals by which she guided her College. Deciding that P.E.O. and Cottey belonged together, she presented the College to the P.E.O. Sisterhood in 1927.
Virginia Alice Cottey's dream continues. Cottey College, its alumnae and friends, and the P.E.O. Sisterhood have forged a strong partnership to realize the Founder's premise that women should have excellent educational opportunities.