Ina Gittings

Areas of Achievement: 
Higher Education

Honored By

Honored by: Wilkening, Laurel L.
Date submitted: October 24, 2006
Gift: Gateway Entry and Two Arches with Seating

A Wilber, Neb., native, Ina Estelle Gittings earned a bachelor of arts degree in physical education for women from the University of Nebraska in 1906.

Gittings began a career as a physical education teacher at a high school in Lead, S.D. She returned to the University of Nebraska after one semester, serving as a physical education instructor from 1906 to 1909. Gittings served as chairman of the department of physical education for women during her tenure, however records are not clear as to the exact years. She was director of women's gymnasium from 1907 to 1916.

During Gittings' NU tenure, interclass basketball replaced the intercollegiate program and a departmental track and field meet became an annual event.

In a 1912 paper to the ACA, included in the University Archives, Gittings reviewed the "needs of a university girl." She reported a shortage of space for both women and men on City Campus - noting that seven "toilets are practically the only ones used" by 1,300 women students. Her final recommendation was for the creation of a Women's Building to provide women, "the proper facilities for health, culture and study on the campus."

The report drew a positive, hand written response from a Sarka Brbkova of the Department of Slavonic Languages and Literature, but drew criticism from chancellor S. Avery.

Gittings left NU in 1916 to become the director of physical education at Montana University. In 1918, she aided the World War I effort by serving in the U.S. Army medical department as a physiotherapist at Walter Reed Hospital. In 1919, Gittings went to Turkey as a relief worker with the U.S. Near East Relief Organization, helping rehabilitate Armenian refugees.

Gittings received a masters of arts degree from the University of Arizona in 1925 and engaged in additional graduate work at Columbia University in 1929-1930. She joined the University of Arizona faculty as the institution's first director of physical education for women, a post she served until her retirement in 1955.

Under Gittings' guidance, the women's physical education department at the University of Arizona was developed into modern status. Gittings' training produced a number of tennis, golf and swimming standouts.

Gittings died at 81 in 1966. Ina Road, north of Tucson, Ariz., was named after Gittings. The road is located in an area of Pima County where Gittings homesteaded 480 acres of land from 1929 to 1933.