About Margaret Cuninggim
Margaret Louise Cuninggim was a Nashville native, daughter to Jesse L. Cuninggim, former president of Scarritt College in Nashville. Her childhood was spent roaming the Scarritt College campus with her brother, Merimon Cuninggim (A’31), who later became a Vanderbilt Trustee. Although she would eventually move away to attend college, her roots were here in Nashville and it’s where she made her mark.
Cuninggim was the fourth dean of women at Vanderbilt, serving from 1966 to 1973. During her tenure, Vanderbilt witnessed many changes across campus due to the burgeoning women’s and civil rights movements. Dormitory rules and regulations were overhauled to keep up with the times, student government saw significant changes, and as part of the upheaval that marked the late 1960s and 70s, the need for separate deans for men and women seemed outdated so the two offices were combined and duties divided. Cuninggim became Dean of Student Services and would serve in this capacity from 1973-76.
Her office was responsible for overseeing counseling programs, orientation of new students, working with sororities, fraternities and honor societies, and the special concerns of minority students and women.
Cuninggim earned three degrees: a bachelor’s degree from Duke University in 1936; a master’s from Columbia University in 1947; and lastly a doctorate of education from Northwestern University in 1958. Before she came to Vanderbilt, Cuninggim held several student affairs positions including positions at Ripon College, Hockaday Junior College, Tennessee Tech, and nine years as Dean of Women at UT at Knoxville. She was president of the Tennessee Association of Women’s Deans from 1958-60. She was named an honorary member of Mortar Board, and even served as national editor/archivist for the Alpha Lambda Delta Scholastic honorary society for freshmen women.
Outside of student affairs, Margaret Cuninggim loved arts and crafts and in her early adulthood had a thriving business making decorated boxes for Neiman-Marcus and Marshall Field’s. Her early career included a position teaching art at Alabama College in Montevallo.
Cuninggim passed away on July 4, 1986 in St. Petersburg, FL after a long illness. Her memorial service was held in Wightman’s Chapel of Scarritt College.
The Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center was named to honor her legacy to women and to equity.