Family Celebrates Four Generations of Women Living on Campus

Kay Patten Beasley lived in the very same UT residence hall her daughter and granddaughter did.

But their very different experiences show how college and society have changed since the days when Kay and her mother lived on campus.

The four generations of women in Kay’s family—Marchbanks, Patten, Beasley, and Goetzinger, all still living—recently put together a history of their experiences. This week, they presented their story to UT’s Division of Housing and Food Service.

“It struck me how different UT is today from when I was here or when my mother was here,” Kay said. “I never gave it a thought because I kind of morphed along with it.”

Kay’s mother, Frances Rey Marchbanks, came to UT in fall 1932. She lived in Littlefield Dormitory (Kinsolving, where the next three generations of her family would live, wouldn’t open for another 25 years). Littlefield was just five years old at that time, having opened in 1927.

Despite the Great Depression’s hardships, Frances and her family believed in education. She was both traditional and ahead of her time: she was a Bluebonnet Belle, but also a business major. She went on for a master’s in education. Today she still lives in a retirement community in El Paso.

Kay’s own times were just before the tumult of the ’60s. She arrived in 1959, when Kinsolving was less than a year old, and majored in math.

The all-female dorm was like a sleepover party, she said—young women ran around in their pajamas and left their doors open. They swapped clothes. Their rooms felt bigger because there were no refrigerators, microwaves, or TVs.

The student body numbered around 20,000, then mostly white and with comparatively few foreign students. The dorms weren’t integrated.

Kay’s daughter, Kendall Beasley Goetzinger, had a different experience. An accounting major, she came to Kinsolving in 1982. (“Her daddy said, ‘Well, you can go to school anywhere you want, but this check’s going to UT,'” Kay remembered.)

The young women watched soap operas like All My Children and Guiding Light together in the TV lounges, and they did Jane Fonda video workouts there together, too.

The buffet lines were institutional, Kendall said (although fried food, chocolate cream pies, and Blue Bell ice cream were plentiful). The Kinsolving gals knocked on each other’s doors and headed down together for fixed meals en masse.

The much more diverse—but largely “preppy”—student body topped 48,000 by then. Dorms were open to all races and backgrounds.

For Corinne, who moved into Kinsolving last fall, technology had changed the social landscape. TV and laptops keep the young women in their rooms, doors shut. Corinne still marvels that she never met her neighbors across the hall her entire freshman year.

Having her own bathroom was Corinne’s main dorm requirement, but later she realized that without community baths, residents were less likely to get to know each other, she said.

Dining halls were full of healthy options, Corinne found. Meals were flexible, tailored to allow individuals to eat at any time of the day or night, but big communal dinners didn’t often happen.

“I was expecting doors open, screaming girls running down the halls…and it was like, crickets,” Corrine said.

The student body —a wildly diverse set of some 51,000 high achievers—feels real academic pressure, the soon-to-be kinesiology major said.

Reflecting on the commonalities between the different generations’ experiences, Kendall said living on the Forty Acres put all the women in her family at the heart of UT. “Being on campus, so close to what’s going on; hearing the bells,” she said. “That doesn’t change.”

Photo: Kendall Beasley Goetzinger (left), Corinne Goetzinger, and Kay Patten Beasley on the day they moved Corinne into Kinsolving Hall. Photo courtesy Kay Patten Beasley.


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