WILLIAMSTOWN -- On Friday, April 5 and Saturday, April 6 Williams College celebrated the legacy of John Edward Sawyer, who served as the college's president from 1961 to 1973.
Members of the community and returning alumni gathered in Chapin Hall on Friday for a panel discussion on how Sawyer helped shape Williams into a more selective and diverse community.
James Kolesar, assistant to the president of public affairs at the college, said the event was scheduled to coincide with campus meetings of the college's Board of Trustees and the Executive Committee of the Society of Alumni.
The panelists were Catharine Bond Hill ‘76, president of Vassar College; Stephen R. Lewis Jr. ‘60, president emeritus and professor of economics emeritus at Carleton College; and Francis C. Oakley, president emeritus, Edward Dorr Griffin Professor of History emeritus and Senior Oakley Fellow at Williams College. Lewis and Oakley both knew Sawyer, and all three panelists directly experienced the transformative affect of his presidency.
Led by Williams College President and Professor of Physics Adam Falk, the panel explored events in the college's history that included the Williams Afro-American Students occupation of Hopkins Hall in 1969 to demand greater recognition of minorites on campus, the phasing out of the fraternity system in the 1960s and the first coed class in 1970-71.