CHARLESTON, S.C. — The Citadel graduated its first female cadet Saturday, ending a male-only tradition at the military school that stretched more than 150 years before ending as a result of a federal court fight.
Nancy Ruth Mace, a magna cum laude graduate in business administration, received her degree from her father, Emory Mace, the school's commandant of cadets.
In a news conference after the ceremony, she told reporters she does not regard herself "as a pioneer" in ending single-gender education at The Citadel.
Mace was the best-known of the 386 cadets to graduate during ceremonies that featured Republican presidential hopeful Patrick J. Buchanan warning about declining American military power.
She was greeted with applause as she accepted the degree. There had been some hissing during a ceremony earlier in the school year when she received her senior ring.
Neither Citadel officials nor Buchanan mentioned Mace or the school's admission policy during the ceremony.
Mace entered The Citadel in 1996 after the school dropped its all-male admission policy. That change came after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a similar policy at Virginia Military Institute.
The Citadel had fought a three-year battle started by Shannon Faulkner, who sought to join the corps of cadets. Faulkner was admitted in 1995 under a judge's order but quit in less than a week.
Three other women entered with Mace. Kim Messer and Jeanie Mentavlos quit after the first semester, saying they had been hazed and harassed. Both women sued the school. Messer's lawsuit has been settled; Mentavlos' case is pending.
The other woman, Petra Lovetinska, next year is expected to become The Citadel's first four-year graduate. Mace graduated in three years by transferring credits from a community college.