Charles Lewis Cocke followed the lead of opening an academy that provided an education for both male and females in 1842. The Valley Union Seminary, located in the hills of southwestern Virginia, catered to the elite families in the surrounding areas. By 1852, President Cocke restructured the institution as an all-female institution and renamed it the Hollins Institution in 1855. For most of southern history, administrators “opposed coeducation and integration longer and harder than…elsewhere” (McCandless, 1), yet the seminary started as a coeducational institute. Instead, Charles Cocke attributed his decision to make Hollins a single sex institution to the lack of devotion the male students possessed for learning. The males displayed rowdy, immoral attitudes and the females could not be exposed to the behavior as it would harm their education and morals (Niederer, 10).
President Cocke had high expectations of his students in providing them “the cultivation of sound learning, virtuous feelings, and independent thought” (Niederer, 10). Hollins served as one of the most sound and lasting all female institutions in Virginia. Yet even at school that bragged about the progressive liberal arts education provided to the women, the liberal arts education mainly served to instill proper values and learning in the women as mothers and wives.