Permeal Jane French was the first woman elected to state office in Idaho and was considered one of the best known and best loved educators in Idaho of her time. She was Superintendent of Public Instruction in the state from 1899-1903 and served as first Dean of Women at the University of Idaho from 1908-1936.
Prior to her appointment in 1908, the position had existed in a similar form, but French placed more significance on the role. She built the University's first student union building, the Blue Bucket, using her personal funds. During her 28 years of service she touched the lives of many students with her thoughtful counsel. According to university historian Rafe Gibbs, Dean French treated each and every student with personal attention and courtesy.
As Dean, she established many traditions at the University, including women's residence halls. During the Depression, when parents were sending sons, not daughters, to college she toured the state to lecture on the importance of education for women.
Jane graduated from the College of Notre Dame in San Francisco in 1887 and held graduate degrees from George Washington University and the University of Idaho.
- Dowager of discipline: the life of Dean of Women Permeal French, Dick D'Easum.