A specialist in rhetoric and homiletics, she is serving in her third post as a university president—this one at the University of San Diego. But Mary Lyons began her career as a teacher and administrator in the Navy and credits much of her success in civilian life to what she learned in uniform. Here’s her story.
If I were to tell one of the young women in today’s Navy how I spent my three years on active duty in the early 1970s, she’d probably stare in disbelief.
These days, female officers are fighter pilots, shipboard officers, unit commanders, astronauts, and even mothers, when they want to be. When I was a junior officer, women were barred from sea duty and aviation; pregnancy was a cause for dismissal, even if you were married. Mine was one of the last groups to attend Women’s Officer Candidate School, with its emphasis on classroom training, drilling, and multiple inspections. On one occasion, our male counterparts were driving Yard Patrol boats around Aquidneck Island, Rhode Island, while my class listened to a representative from Max Factor instruct us on the proper wearing of makeup.