Mattfeld Presidency

The Jacqueline Anderson Mattfeld Presidency

Quickly identified (July-November 1975) and unanimously selected by search committee (Helene Kaplan, William Golden, Bernard Barber…)
Committee had been concerned about shallow pool of academic women with administrative experience; also the strained president-trustee relationship at end of MAP presidency.


50 years old at appointment; had been married to Victor Mattfeld, a musicologist (divorced sometime after 1963); two daughters, Stefanie (b. 1952) and Felicity (b. 1954)

Academically more credentialed than her predecessor:
Curtis 1947; Goucher 1948; Yale PhD in musicology 1959
Befriended in New Haven and mentored by Marry Bunting
Becomes involved in Radcliffe Institute upon Buntings’ becoming president of Radcliffe

MIT’s first dean of women – still married in 1963 when she came to MIT
Sarah Lawrence College – becomes provost in 1965
To Brown in 1971; made Brown’s first female provost in 1974; [subsequent rumors of Brown grateful to be relieved of her??]

Selection and acceptance in November 1975
On campus in February 1976 for familiarization process as president-designate
Early strained dealings with McGill and VP James Young — Mattfeld resists engagement with issues without trustee mandate; pushing for outside consultants (including Mary Bunting) to be funded by Ford Foundation;
McGill not enthusiastic about idea; Barnard goes it alone with Ford-underwritten “Plan for Planning”)

May 18, 1976 — takes over presidency from acting president Breunig
September 1976 — Open Letter to Barnard Community – relates her strained summer dealings
with McGill/Young; charges McGill with setting new conditions…
October 1976 – Appoints her VP Finance (Harry Albers) upon Forrest Abbott’s retirement;
charged by trustees with ending 6 years of deficit budgets
November 8, 1976 – “Lavish” inauguration at Riverside Church ($35,000)
November 22, 1976 – Mattfeld’s “The Life Story of a Maverick and a Rebel” to Women’s Center audience; has many in audience in tears…
December 16, 1976 – Arthur Altschul becomes chairman of BC trustees; soon cools on Mattfeld;
Mattfeld under trustee mandate to cut faculty 5-10%
1977 – Sets as presidential goal to securing of BC faculty pay parity with CU;
faculty appreciative of her efforts while trustees troubled with the budgetary implications
March 1977 – McGill no longer in contact with Mattfeld –
WJM on JAM — “trying to draw [me] into a public debate
May 18, 1977 – Spectator – “BC-CU stalemate inspires trustees to try for accord.”
July 1977 – Charles S. Olton as Dean of Faculty – untenured outsider; American historian
October 1977 – Albers to leave as VP Finance – not dealing with JAM (Other VP in-and-out Doris Critz, Development out 9/77)

Mattfeld dealing with deficits and persistent inflation/rising fuel costs by increasing enrollments; raising room rents (attempt to increase spring rents in spring 1980) – leads to housing shortages, and pushback on room rents; shaky security at off-campus housing on 110th and 70th Streets
Mattfeld problems with black students and their call for separate housing; health service complaints
By spring 1980:
JAM on the outs with outgoing McGill; no dealings with incoming Sovern
Trustee dissatisfaction with her fiscal management – “manipulative and suspicious” – Helene Kaplan
Not talking with chair Altschul except with Kaplan present
The final straw? — Two sets of numbers on faculty increases budgeted for 1980-81??
Trustee number lower than one conveyed to faculty?
Student critics – Paula Franzese/Marcia Cells (student rep to trustees)
70 faculty still with her: For her salary efforts; also OK with those not wanting closer ties with CU

May 29, 1980 – Mattfeld resigns presidency – rumored that she was fired — no other job in the offing
Her statement: “all major goals accomplished” à balanced budget; raise faculty salaries; streamline administration; lauded by faculty for raised salaries
Trustees move quickly (4 weeks or so) to secure temporary replacement from within their ranks; no discussion with faculty over Ellen V. Futter’s selection; acceptable to incoming CU president Sovern, who had been her law professor in early 1970s.

Last updated: May 14, 2014
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