7. Against Nostalgia: The McIntosh Era

                                                                                  Chapter  7.
Against Nostalgia:  The McIntosh Era

How poor and miserable we were.
How seldom together!
And yet after so long one thinks:
In those days everything was better.
— Randall Jarrell [1]


The two decades  after World War Two seem in retrospect for Barnard  a period of unusual rapport among faculty, students, trustees  and administrators. Alumnae of the period regularly  recall it as such. This singularly placid interlude in an otherwise non-irenic saga can in part be credited  to the consensual national mood of the post-war period, the blight of McCarthyism notwithstanding. Columbia during these years allowing Barnard to set its own course contributed to the general sense of wellbeing. But so, too, did the attentive and sensitive leadership of Dean (and later President) Millicent C. McIntosh. And while all three favorable conditions persisted into the early 1960s, and have since cast a nostalgic glow over the period, each took time lining up.


  1.    “Mrs. Mac”
    Upon President Butler’s extracted retirement at age 83 in 1945, the 68-year-old Dean Gildersleeve    secured her own release. One local possibility to succeed her  remained Millicent Carey McIntosh, the 49-year-old headmistress of the Brearley School. McIntosh had  been approached by trustee Helen Rogers Reid  back in 1942 when Gildersleeve  broached the subject of retiring, but expressed no interest in the job. When asked again in 1946, and again by Mrs. Reid in the company of Mrs. Eugene Meyer (Agnes Ernst, BC 1909), McIntosh now having been at Brearley for 16 years, again demurred.  Only after talking with her husband (“You might regret not having taken this job for the rest of your life”), did she reconsider. [2][i]A native of Baltimore, Millicent  Carey McIntosh came from that  city’s civic-minded Quaker gentry. Her father was a manufacturer and her mother a member of Bryn Mawr College’s first graduating class (1889), the mother of six children who pursued a lifelong interest in prison reform and civic activism. Millicent attended the Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore, where she learned Greek from the noted classicist Edith Hamilton, before proceeding on to  Bryn Mawr College, where her mother’s sister,  M. Carey Thomas, was president. Upon graduation in 1920, disappointing her aunt by ranking only third in her class, and following a stint of social work in England, she returned to Baltimore  to the Johns Hopkins University.  There  she earned a PhD in English in 1926. [3]

    McIntosh then returned to Bryn Mawr as an assistant professor of English. (Her aunt had retired  four years earlier but remained a presence.) In addition to teaching, she took on administrative responsibilities and found them to her liking. “I’m not, by nature, a scholar,” she later acknowledged. “I have a good scholarly background, but that’s quite different.” Three  years into her appointment and with no top administrative post at Bryn Mawr in prospect, she agreed to talk with the trustees of the Brearley School, New York City’s most academically demanding and socially exclusive independent girls’ school, about their vacant headmistress’s position.  They hired her. Two years into the job, the then 33-year-old Millicent announced her pending marriage. [4]

    Her 37-year-old husband-to-be, Dr. Rustin McIntosh, was an up-and-coming pediatrician and administrator at the Columbia-affiliated New York Babies Hospital. Once married, they proceeded in rapid order to produce four boys, two of them twins, and a girl. The youngest, their only daughter, Alice, was seven when the Barnard search committee, in the persons of  trustees  Reid and  Meyer, along with Professor of German Hugh Wiley Puckett, came calling. McIntosh’s  academic credentials, administrative experience, familiarity  with New York’s wealthy, and not least, her domestic situation as a wife and mother, all commended her  to the two trustees on the search committee.  The board  was especially keen on the prospect of a married woman, having grown weary of complaints from parents about Miss Gildersleeve’s  jaundiced view of the marital state, and of someone for family reasons likely to stay in town. [5]

Some faculty, including Puckett, were less impressed, holding her years as head of a school, even the academically demanding  Brearley, as disqualifying. Meanwhile,  Gildersleeve continued to press for her companion Elizabeth Reynard. In the end, the committee chose McIntosh,  the board concurred and disappointed faculty took to their tents to await developments.

2. “Wolf at the Door”
It was cataclysmic from about 1947 to about 1955. For a long time we  weren’t
even sure we would survive, except as a small unit of Columbia University.
                                                                                                   — Millicent McIntosh, 1966  [6]

Calling on  Gildersleeve after her election but before her installation,  Dean-elect McIntosh heard for the first time the true state of  Barnard’s financial affairs. The College needed an immediate infusion of $10 million.  A  labor contract with the newly unionized facilities staff, repairs to buildings whose maintenance had been deferred by the Depression and war, the need for a third dormitory,  and the imperative  to raise faculty salaries or risk losing the College’s best young teachers: all required immediate attention. [7]
None of the trustees  during the search process  indicated anything near as dire a situation as Gildersleeve  described. McIntosh later concluded  that they  likely did not know  because Gildersleeve and her chief financial officer, Joseph J. Swann, a retired naval officer well  into his seventies,  had systematically spared them the bad news. The $1,400,000 operating budget Dean McIntosh inherited in the fall of 1947 included a planned deficit of $135,000. “Had I known the true state of affairs at Barnard when offered the position as its dean,” she later reminisced, “I might well have stayed at Brearley.”[8]

Part of the financial problem turned on the college’s aging physical plant. In 1947, then in its 50th year on Morningside, the plant consisted of  a 4 ½ acre campus bisected north and south by 119th Street, about  a quarter of it occupied by four substantial buildings:

— Milbank Hall (1897), four stories ,facing inward and south, its back to 120th St., with the
Brinckerhoff wing (1897) on the east facing west with its back to Broadway with the Fiske wing
(1898) on the west facing east with its back to Claremont Avenue;  it housed   administrative
offices, faculty offices and classrooms;


— Brooks Hall (1907), eleven stories, facing inward and north with its back to 116th Street; it served
as a dormitory for 100 residents ;

— Barnard Hall, (1917), four stories, facing outward and  east across Broadway to Columbia at
what would have been  117th St;  it served as a student center as well as an academic space for
athletics,  faculty offices, classrooms and the Ella Weed Library;

— Hewitt  Hall (1925, eight stories), attached to the northeast corner of Brooks, facing inward and
east with its back to Claremont Ave; it served as Barnard’s second dormitory for 250 students;
its northern end consisted of the Deanery where Gildersleeve had resided.

All four buildings needed repair, with the  50-year-old Milbank Hall requiring a major renovation . The most recent addition to Barnard’s building stock, Hewitt,  dated back more than two decades.

The land not taken up by buildings consisted of four tennis courts,  open space and an overgrown section referred to as “the Jungle.” The College also owned the vacant corner lot across Claremont from Milbank Hall on the southwest corner of 120th and Riverside Drive, a gift of the Rockefeller-funded General Education Board in 1936, for which funds  to build upon remained wanting.  [9]

Meanwhile, the wider Morningside neighborhood was showing its age, with many of the its once handsome pre-WW I apartment buildings along Riverside Drive, Broadway and Morningside Drive  and on the cross streets between 96th and 125th Streets now  cut up into ever smaller units until some  had fallen into such disrepair as to be rentable only  as SROs (“single room occupancies”).  Other buildings were abandoned by landlords unable to pay the taxes on them.  Some  became occupied by  squatters  and  were put to various illegal uses, including prostitution and the sale of drugs. Efforts to stem the neighborhood’s decline  became a prime consideration for all its institutional landlords, not least Columbia University and  the Rockefeller-funded Riverside Church.  Both made extensive defensive investments in residential and commercial real estate. [10]

   That trustee Mrs. Eugene  Meyer (Agnes Ernst, BC 1909), journalist, civil rights activist and art patron, and wife of the publisher of the Washington Post, and a member of the dean search committee, was uninformed as to the state of Barnard’s finances in 1946 speaks to the board’s at-a-distance  involvement in the College’s management during the later years of Gildersleeve’s deanship. In the 1920s and 1930s the board had been chaired successively by three distinguished attorneys,  all senior partners  in leading New York law firms – John George Milburn (1918-30); James Rockwell Sheffield (1931-37); and Lucius Hart Beer (1938-1947). All deferred to the Dean on most matters, as did other male members of the board. Board treasurer Francis T. P. Plimpton  told a prospective biographer of Gildersleeve in 1952  that “she babied the trustees too much, and they had little knowledge of what was going on inside the college.” Among the women trustees, Helen Rogers Reid and Agnes Ernst Meyer were  the most knowledgeable about the state of the college but not up to questioning Gildersleeve. “My only lasting contribution ,” Meyer wrote in her autobiography in reference to Barnard, ”was made when Helen Rogers Reid and I sat on Millicent McIntosh’s doorstep until she consented to be the successor of our distinguished retiring dean Virginia Gildersleeve.” [11]

Once apprised of the situation, the trustees and their  new dean promptly launched the aptly named “Operation Bootstraps,” a development  campaign to raise $2,000,000. This was the first Barnard campaign in which trustee members (other than Plimpton back in the day) took active roles in the solicitation process. They were led by Mrs. Reid, who became Barnard’s first female trustee chair in 1947, and Mrs. Frank (Helen Goodhart ’07) Altschul, a recently reengaged alumna  who was elected to the board in 1949. Both became major contributors to the campaign and encouraged other trustees, not heretofore distinguished by their benefactions, to do likewise.  A development officer was hired , a fundraising pamphlet produced, and  McIntosh, Reid and Altschul enthusiastically took to the mendicant trail. The development officer, Jean T. Palmer, a Bryn Mawr graduate and  no-nonsense administrator who had been an officer in the WAVES and initially hired as admissions director, stayed  on at Barnard as General Secretary of the College into the early 1970s. By 1950 the campaign had secured $1,700,000 in gifts from 1,400 donors.  The contrast with the half-hearted fundraising efforts of the Gildersleeve years and the willingness of previously resistant Jewish alumnae to support the College did not go unnoted. [12]

A  $50,000  gift  in 1949 from Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Meyer  to build an Annex to Barnard Hall started  a wave of gift-giving by serving trustees, which culminated in the early 1960s. (The fact that the Meyers, his parents  Alsatian Jews, along with Helen Goodhart Altschul, the daughter of German Jews,  led the way  signaled to Barnard’s  Jewish alumnae and  the wider New York City Jewish community that Dean Gildersleeve had left the building.)  It is also noteworthy that the Meyers’ gift  was for a building  not designed to attract residential students from outside the region but to improve the lives of Barnard’s long neglected  commuting students by providing them with an on-campus  social space  of their own.  Meanwhile, to contain the cost  of boarding,  Brooks and Hewitt residents became  responsible for their own linen. What Mrs. Anderson or Elsie de Wolfe or Dean Gildersleeve might have thought of this declasse cut in services went  unmentioned. [13]

The largest single gift of the “Bootstraps” campaign came from John D. Rockefeller, Jr. The “ask” was  assigned to Mrs. McIntosh and involved several detailed discussions with Rockefeller Foundation officials  before a personal visit was scheduled. When that day came in the spring of 1950 the dean brought along her then nine-year old daughter Alice, home from the Putney School in Vermont.  When the 75-year-old  Rockefeller spotted her in the waiting room and was introduced, he and Alice immediately fell into a detailed discussion of machinery used to milk cows. “He’s very much like a farmer,” Alice said after the visit, without knowing that in the course of their chat, “the farmer” had  doubled his intended gift of $500,000 to a  million. [14]

The Rockefeller gift came in Standard Oil Company bonds, which provided an annual yield of 9%, or $90,000, enough  to cover the anticipated shortfall in the 1949-50 budget. With no matching requirement, it was singularly responsive to the College’s immediate needs. McIntosh later called it for Barnard, “one of the most strategic gifts that was ever made.”  Three years later  the same John D. Rockefeller Jr.  pressed Barnard to sell back the still-unbuilt-upon Riverside and 120th St. site for $510,000,  so that the Rockefeller-financed  Interchurch Center building could be constructed on it. Barnard acceded.  “Some people felt very bitterly about it,” McIntosh recalled in 1966, “But I didn’t feel bitterly, because I knew he had really saved us.” [15]

In 1951 two developments occurred that marked Barnard’s belated entry into the era of 20th– century fundraising. The first was a gift of $300,000 (later raised to $500,000) from trustee Helen Goodhart  Altschul to underwrite the College’s  first internally endowed chair, the Millicent McIntosh Professorship in English. The inaugural  chair holder was Professor of English Cabell Greet,  an expert on pronunciation of English,  followed upon his retirement by David A. Robertson, Jr.,  a scholar of 19th-century English travel literature.  The  gift allowed Barnard to pay its holder what was then the College’s highest faculty salary of $10,000 ($129,000 in 2019). The second development was to establish the Barnard Fund, an annual appeal to alumnae that by 1956 had raised $2,370,000. [16]

It was the imperative of fundraising – as McIntosh discovered in early 1953 when seeking funding from the Ford Foundation —  that led  the Barnard trustees to secure agreement from the Columbia trustees to change the title of head of college from “Dean” to “President.” The former title, Ford officials told her, normally applied to the head of a school within a university and put into question Barnard’s institutional autonomy,   and thus its claims to funding considerations distinct  from those of Columbia. “President”  bespoke the head of a free-standing college. The Columbia trustees and their newly inaugurated President Grayson Kirk  promptly acceded to the request. Dean emerita Gildersleeve opposed the title change as minimizing Barnard’s ties to Columbia, but to no avail. On June 30, 1953, Millicent McIntosh  became the last dean to be head of Barnard College, and a day later its first president. Two years later, when the Ford Foundation distributed $500,000,000 in faculty-support funding to 200 hundred free-standing private colleges, Barnard received $900,000. The same year, upon the retirement of  Joseph Swann as Comptroller, Forest “Duke” Abbott, already on the staff, became the College’s chief financial officer. [17]

                              3.  “Students as Varied and Interesting as New York Itself”

For all Gildersleeve’s tireless efforts to nationalize the Barnard student body, that which she left to her  successor in 1947 retained a distinctly local and non-privileged character. It  consisted of just under 1,200 women,  half of them New York City residents.  Two out of three  Barnard students commuted to campus, half of them  from one of the five boroughs, with  others trekking in from surrounding towns within a 30-mile radius of Morningside Heights.  Less than 10 percent of the graduating class of 1947 hailed from outside the Northeast. [18]


Some commuters did so by choice, but more because the tuition in 1947 of $700 already strained  family resources. Even with a Regents scholarship and after the first year merit-based  financial assistance from the College,  an additional $500 for room and board would have for many commuters made attendance  prohibitive. Financial assistance with room and board remained  limited to students coming from outside New York City, a policy dating back to the start of the Gildersleeve era.  Many  commuters held down jobs back in their neighborhoods, while some  residents worked part-time on campus or down town. As for latter-day equivalents of the “Social Register girls” Zora Neale Hurston recalled meeting at Barnard in the mid-1920s, they were noticeable mostly in their absence. [19]

Somewhere between a quarter and a third of the Barnard students in 1947 were either Jewish or Catholic, with a likely majority of them first  in their families to attend college.   American ancestries seldom extended back more than a generation, while a plurality of Barnard students in the 1950s were  the children of immigrants. The college enrolled fewer legacies  – the daughters of Barnard graduates – than did  the other Sister colleges. Fewer still were the graduates  from  private schools, either the private girls day schools clustered on the city’s East Side – Brearley, Spence, Nightingale — or  nationally known boarding schools. Upwards of  70% of Barnard students in the early 1950s  had been prepared in public schools, half of them in New York City public high schools.  Of those with Manhattan addresses, only a few were from the wealthy East Side, with most from the less affluent  reaches of Upper Manhattan and the West Side.  Students from lower-middle class neighborhoods in the Bronx and Queens outnumbered those from the more comfortable Westchester suburbs.  [20]


This socioeconomic profile of Barnard students was markedly different from those McIntosh had known at Bryn Mawr or Brearley. Yet her  response was not, as Gildersleeve’s had been back in 1911, to try  to make Barnard more like Bryn Mawr and Brearley. Instead, she chose  to applaud the College’s   acquired distinctiveness. “We are blessed,” she declared in her inauguration, “with a student body as varied and as interesting as New York itself.” [21]

Her decision to make lemonade with the lemons to hand may have been at the outset of her deanship just that — an acceptance of the situation as she found it.   But almost immediately  she demonstrated an easy acceptance of – even pride in — what distinguished Barnard from wealthier and more socially comfortable schools. “Because of the nature of our student body,” she told the trustees in 1949 as part of a larger discussion on setting the tuition rate, “it is probably better for us to be a little under some of our more plutocratic women’s colleges.” “We have always drawn from the lower economic groups,” she proudly told her interviewer in 1966: “Barnard has never been a fashionable college.” [22]

A confidential report commissioned by the Educational Testing Service at the request of the Seven Sisters Colleges in 1952  confirms Barnard’s unique position within the Sisterhood. The report’s first finding  is suggestive of all that followed.

Table II. Number and Per Cent of Single Applications Submitted to Each College

College # Applications # Single Applications % Single Applications
Barnard 645 412 64%
Bryn Mawr 536 172 32%
Mount Holyoke 981 420 43%
Radcliffe 980 421 43%
Smith 1,574 525 33%
Vassar 954 296 31%
Wellesley 1,613 507 31%
All Seven 7,283 2,753 38%

Two clear inferences:   Post-war Barnard attracted fewer applicants than any of the other  Sisters except for  Bryn Mawr, which  was substantially smaller and  whose applicants were the least likely to limit themselves, as nearly two out of every three Barnard applicants did, to a single application.  Where else Barnard applicants applied, if they did,  the report does not indicate, but other New York colleges is a  likely guess. Arguable inference:  Most  women who applied to Barnard in the 1950s did not do so because it was part of an elite collegiate sisterhood but for  its academic standing,  propinquity  and  cost. [23]





Other findings support the notion that post-war Barnard applicants came from less affluent and less distant circumstances than those applying to the other Sisters.   Nearly a third (32%) of Barnard applicants requested  financial  assistance, a substantially higher percentage than any but  Radcliffe’s applicants. Only 15% of Smith’s applicants sought financial assistance; 20% of Wellesley’s.  With four of the Sister colleges  located in New England and three in the Mid-Atlantic region, all attracted substantially more applicants outside their respective region  than did Barnard,  with an outside-the-northeast applicant pool of only 12%, half that for all the other Sisters. Finally, a breakdown of applicants by the type of secondary schools they attended had nearly three-quarters of Barnard applicants coming from public high schools, whereas only about half of the applicants of the other Sisters did so.  [24]

Where McIntosh’s  years at Bryn Mawr  and Brearley  did provide guidance was in student services.  Gildersleeve showed little  interest in her students’ lives beyond the classroom, she being decidedly of the “sink or swim” school.  Academic advising had remained ad hoc and makeshift well into the late 1930s, when  it first acquired institutional recognition and formal staffing with the appointment of Lorna McGuire, then a junior member of the English Department,  as associate dean for students. Similarly, the provision of health services and psychiatric counseling under Gildersleeve fell outside the realm of College-provided services. All this changed under McIntosh.  A college physician was appointed in 1948 and in 1953 a member of the French department and Barnard  alumna,  Helen Phelps Bailey (BC 1933),  became the College’s first Dean of Studies, with responsibilities that extended beyond academic matters to the extra-curriculum.  [25]

A more significant administrative adjustment occurred in the wake of the 1946  state investigation into possible instances of religious discrimination in admissions: the elimination of the University Undergraduate Admissions Committee. The job of recruiting Barnard students, a University-wide function for the last 38 years, was now put back wholly in Barnard’s hands. The newly created position of Admissions Director first fell to Jean Palmer, who held it for three years before being put in charge of development (fundraising),  then briefly to Marion Smith, who soon gave way to her assistant, Helen M. McCann (BC 1940), who  became Director in 1953.  McCann shared her boss’s non-elitist perspective on admissions, as suggested by her  statement to alumnae in 1955  concerning Barnard’s few legacies:  “I am not so interested in whether her mother went here or not. I am interested in the daughter.”  [26]

Barnard’s student recruitment effort in the 1950s faced two new challenges. The first was temporary  and common to all colleges: the drop in the college-age population attributable to the decline in births attending the Great Depression and the war. This resulted in  declines  in college enrollments throughout the 1950s, particularly among women’s colleges which did not get the offsetting bump from returning veterans that men’s and coeducational colleges did,  and lasting until the post-war “baby boom” generation came of college-going age  in the early 1960s.  Accordingly, Barnard annual enrollments declined in the immediate post-war years from 1,267 in 1946-47 to 1,046 in 1951-52. Even with  a growing reliance on transfers, graduating classes in the same years stayed around 300.  Any modest increases in the mid-1950s  came in the face of stark  demographic realities. [27]

The second challenge was unique to New York’s private colleges, especially  private women’s colleges, and most especially to private women’s colleges located in New York City  and reliant upon the City’s high schools for a plurality of their applicants:  increasing competition from the state’s newly upgraded and publicly supported coed colleges. Whereas Hunter College earlier represented Barnard’s only tuition-free local competition,  the opening of Brooklyn College in 1930 and Queens College in 1937, both coeducational, and the opening of City College to women in 1951, meant that Barnard now had to compete with three  taxpayer-supported and academically ambitious institutions situated in the very boroughs from which it drew half its commuting students. [28]

A decade later, beginning in the early 1960s, several  once non-competitive state teachers colleges in the State University of New York system were upgraded, while others, such as Stony Brook University on Long Island,  were created from scratch. All  were soon  competing  for the same students from upstate and eastern Long Island, which by the 1950s provided a quarter of Barnard’s enrollments. The proliferation of upstate campuses (Binghamton, Albany, Buffalo) further threatened to undercut what had become for Barnard, thanks to the Regents scholarships, an increasingly fertile recruitment pool.    And unlike the nationwide drop in college-age students, this increased statewide competition came with no  end date. [29]

Barnard’s response was to mount an aggressive recruitment program among the City’s most academically demanding public schools, as well as parochial and Jewish day schools  throughout the New York metropolitan region. It was at admissions director McCann’s urging in 1955 that the faculty begrudgingly accepted Hebrew as a foreign language for purposes of admission, thus accommodating yeshiva students, after  first rejecting the change on the risible grounds that Hebrew lacked a literature. [30]

A network of Barnard graduates teaching in high schools throughout the region joined in this recruitment effort. The result was that between 1951 and 1955 Barnard increased its applications from 569 to 991 (74%),  its admits from 456 to 585 (28%) and its accepts from 212 to 309 (46%). No apologies were made  for the fact that its admit rate hovered around 60% and the proportion of the entering class prepared by public high schools climbed to 75%. Rather than complain, faculty later recalled these years with nostalgia. “I remember happily,” Professor of Philosophy Joseph Brennan recalled in 1977,  “all the bright Jewish students of the 1950s who came to Barnard from the upper 10 percent of the graduating classes of their New York City high schools. What philosophers they made!” [31]

Despite McIntosh’s initial resistance, on advice of the University’s rabbi, early in her administration to a student-formulated proposal for a kosher kitchen, which she later called her worst political mistake,  her relations with Barnard’s Jewish students  were marked by mutual appreciation. One, a transfer from the University of Rochester and a member of the Class of 1962, shared with the author this postcard she received from “Mrs. Mac” at the birth of her first daughter:

Dear Hazel,
I was delighted to get the notice of your little daughter’s arrival, and to read your note.
I can well understand your joy, and send you my congratulations and best wishes.
You will not want to work until your family are well started.
Yours very sincerely,
Millicent McIntosh.

Less commendable in retrospect is Barnard’s post-war record enrolling black women. During McIntosh’s fifteen years at the helm, Barnard never had more than a half-dozen black women enrolled at one time. During that period, Barnard averaged one black graduate per year. None of the other Sister colleges did much better, but  given Barnard’s urban location abutting Harlem in a city where in 1960 more than 1,000,000 African Americans resided,  it  might have done more. The appointment of a black scholar as a viiting lecturer for one semester in 1949 would not be followed up by a fulltime appointment for a decade. [33]

Barnard did better enrolling sthe African American tudents of color from abroad,  McIntosh building upon Gildersleeve’s initiatives. Several  young women from diplomatic families attached to the United Nations attended Barnard in the 1950s, among them  Bhinda Malla, BC ’56, the first woman from Nepal to graduate from an American college. That same year the Barnard Alumnae Magazine reported that Barnard enrolled “more foreign students than any college in the country.” [34]


The second half of the McIntosh era was marked by a steady upswing in enrollments, several successes on the fundraising front, a surge in construction on campus  and a period of singularly cordial relations with Columbia. All followed on initiatives undertaken in the first half. Between 1952 and 1962 Barnard enrollments increased every year, climbing from 1,046 to 1,549. Admittance rates remained in the 60% range, high by subsequent standards, but acceptances from outside the northeast  region modestly increased, so that by the early 1960s  they accounted for a quarter of entering classes. Meanwhile those from within the New York region, reflective of larger demographic trends, were now  coming more from the surrounding suburbs than from Manhattan. [35]

This said, the College’s distinctly urban ethos remained intact, with the daughters of first- and second-generation American families  outnumbering those with longer lineages. Firsts-in-family to attend college were commonplace and public schoolers the rule, even as a few more daughters of trustees were  in attendance than between the wars.


                                                              A Silent Generation?

        Possibly because those who followed were so outspoken and critically disposed, college students of the 1950s have often been characterized then and since  as “a silent generation.”  Philosophy professor Joe Brennan at the time  the 50’s generation at Barnard as “pretty tame in its desires and aspirations, timid in its respect for the law laid down by the social group.” The period does seem in retrospect to have been remarkably free of student  discord.  What little campus attention was given to presidential politics found a majority of polled students in 1952 and again in  1956  favoring Republican Dwight Eisenhower  over  Democrat Adlai Stevenson. Widespread participation in the civil rights movement  was a decade away and  opposition to nuclear testing  little in evidence. [36]
For many students of the 1950s extra-curricular energies focused on their personal lives, specifically using their college years to secure a suitable marriage partner. Many succeeded.  Whereas only 4 percent of the Class of 1940 were engaged or married at graduation, this was the case with 20 percent of the Class of 1960. Substantial numbers of  students leaving before graduation did so upon marrying, while others stayed enrolled but moved out of the dorms to be with new husbands,  and a substantial portion of transfer students came already married.    It may be an exaggeration to say, as some pundits did, that college women of the post-war era were focused on the “Mrs.” degree, or as John Updike allowed, “the 50s… when everybody was pregnant” – at Barnard many were. Otherwise, it was graduate school and securing a PhD. [37]

Keeping young marrieds in college for four years became both an advising challenge for faculty  and for the college  an economic imperative.   McIntosh encouraged Barnard  students eventually to marry and raise families, even while urging – and implicitly offering herself as an example — those who planned to marry to first complete college and acquire the means for economic self-sufficiency but also to give the single life, still  a near requirement for professional careers,  serious consideration. In any event, we have the contemporary testimony of Anne Bernays, BC ’57, who became Anne Bernays Kaplan in 1958  marrying Justin Kaplan, CC ’57, that “The girls at Barnard, first of all, are not conformists. They are a bristling crowd of individualists: irritated, cynical, yes; apathetic, perhaps, conformists, no.” [38]


  1.  A Faculty in Play

A young member of the all-male pre-WW I Amherst College faculty, John Erskine,  described his colleagues as falling into three camps:  “old giants,” “middle lazies” and “young, soon-to-be- gones.” The post-WW II Barnard faculty might be similarly categorized, but with Erskine’s tripartite division  further complicated by gender. [39]
As discussed earlier, one consequence  of the economic distress of the 1930s and the massive dislocations attending World War II  on many faculty was to delay their departure  beyond the normal retirement age. Eight of those staying on into the war years had initial appointments antedating Gildersleeve’s deanship. These pre-Gildersleeve “giants” were followed into deferred retirement  shortly after the war’s end by  five others, and soon thereafter, by three more whose appointments ante-date World War I. [40]
Another factor complicating the faculty situation at the end of the war was the uncertain return of several younger male faculty  who had served in the armed forces. These included  mathematician Edgar Lorch,  physicist Henry Boorse,  geologist Henry Sharp,  economist  Raymond Saulnier,  psychologist Richard Youtz,  American historian Basil Rauch  and a member of the English Department, David A. Robertson.  In the event, Saulnier, Boorse, Youtz, Rauch and Robertson all returned to Barnard and stayed on for their careers, but their return could not have been  assumed. [41]
And then there was  uncertainty to what extent  Columbia would seek to fill its depleted ranks by hiring away Barnard faculty. Lorch and Sharp returned to Barnard  in 1946 but shortly thereafter transferred full-time to Columbia, as did three interwar faculty straddlers:  musicologist Douglas Moore,  Italian scholar Peter Riccio and English literary biographer James Clifford. The botanist Harold Bold left Barnard in 1945, after wartime serviced in the Navy, to return to Vanderbilt, where he taught before coming to Barnard, and then on to the University of Texas in 1957. He was elected to the National Academy of Science in 1973. Historian James Oliver (1936-46), did not return from wartime service but took up an appointment at UCLA. [42]

In all, retirements,  transfers and resignations occurring during the war and immediately thereafter  withdrew  more than a quarter of the 107 full-time faculty  present in 1940 from Barnard classrooms.  Some of these – Shotwell, Montague, Moley, Haller, Moore – had divided their teaching and administrative service between Barnard and Columbia, and were better known through their Columbia affiliation, but had retained professorial standing at Barnard. But others had passed their entire careers at Barnard, with some of the women among them – Maude Hutmann, Jane Perry-Clark Carey, Elizabeth Baker, Gladys Reichard – acquiring outside professional recognition for their scholarship.  All labored long and loyally in the College’s classrooms. Fully as much as the College’s  longest serving trustees and its most committed  alumnae, these teachers provided the sinews  that bound early Barnard into a vibrant teaching and learning community and helped sustain it through the lean years.  Much as the passing of the deanship from Virginia Gildersleeve to Millicent McIntosh marks an  inflection point in the history of the College’s leadership, the concentrated departure of the better part of two  generations of faculty and the arrival of a third  in the immediate post-war era  marks a crucial divide between the Barnard faculty that was and the Barnard faculty that was to be and is. [43]

The situation called for the launching of a faculty-replenishment  of the sort undertaken by other colleges faced with similar challenges.  Instead, as she later ruefully recalled, McIntosh  spent her first years as dean  “cutting down faculty because we were so broke.”  In 1948, Barnard instruction in Astronomy and Portuguese was ceded to Columbia. Responsibility for Italian and Mathematics followed  shortly after, each subject retaining only  a token instructional presence at Barnard. Similarly, all instruction in Music, Classics and Physics beyond the introductory level became the responsibility of the cognate Columbia departments. [44]

The imperative of  faculty  retrenchment became the occasion for a  more sweeping overhaul of Barnard’s long-standing hiring practices, perhaps the most sweeping in the College’s  history.  In 1948, over resistance from  her department chairs and six years before Columbia was to do so,   McIntosh put in place at Barnard the Harvard-pioneered  “up or out” policy as regarded junior faculty.    It required department chairs  to either put forward long-serving junior members for tenure, which required attesting to their scholarly accomplishments,  or to terminate them. Subsequently hired  assistant professors  would serve a probationary period of six years, after which they would  be  promoted to a tenured associate professorship or required to leave. The term of an instructorship, formerly open-ended,  was now limited to four years. With the imposition of this policy, the earlier distinction  between “faculty,”  everyone of professorial rank,  and “other officers of instruction”  gave way to the operative division  between “on ladder” and “off ladder” faculty.  Once occupationally secure,  assistant professors  now became probationers,  while those serving in the non-professorial ranks of lecturer, instructor and tutor, which earlier included upwards of half Barnard’s instructional staff, were now  subject to termination as economic circumstances warranted. [45]

One immediate effect of this new policy was to sharply reduce  the number of full-time women  instructors, many of whom had been  kept on for years because, as McIntosh later put it, “they liked their jobs, and they worked along with starvation wages.”  Among the faculty McIntosh inherited in 1947 were  a dozen women instructors who had taught at Barnard for nearly a quarter century before  being promoted to professorial rank, some only on the eve of their retirement. [46]

While prompted primarily by cost-cutting considerations,  adoption of  the “up-or-out” policy – which later mutated to that of  “publish or perish”  — turned also on the issue of gender equity. “One of the things I saw,” McIntosh recalled of her early days as dean, “was that young women were being kept on as department assistants, without any hope of promotion…. simply because the heads of departments [almost all male] didn’t want to tell them they had to leave.” Whatever the immediate costs, in the long run the new policy advanced  gender parity within the faculty. That McIntosh  began  to transform the character of the Barnard faculty during a period of  serious financial belt-tightening and under a trustee mandate not to increase its size, presents one of the best early examples in Barnard’s history of administrative adherence to the Winston Churchill dictum: “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” [47]

Yet it bears noting that many of the older  faculty and department heads McIntosh inherited never  warmed to her and her ways. Some begrudged her limiting their authority in the matter of staff retention, others her ceding  instructional responsibility for “our” subjects to Columbia. Still others suspected McIntosh of  favoring of Columbia’s core curriculum and even  of a merger with Columbia. Others complained about her expansion of student services, with funds better spent on faculty salaries. Behind much of  this  criticism remained the more fundamental unease of their being led by a school mistress  who made no pretense to being  a scholar and who downplayed her  own PhD by asking to be called  “Mrs. Mac,” noting that her family already had a “Dr. McIntosh.” [48]


The feeling was mutual, as evidenced by McIntosh’s dismissive assessment of the faculty member  on the dean search committee  and later her chief antagonist, the senior Germanist,  Hugh Wiley Puckett. “He had never been anywhere except Columbia,” she later recalled. “He had graduated from Columbia, he was a Columbia PhD, he had all his teaching career at Barnard.”  Similarly,  veteran faculty member, Columbia-trained professor of government, Thomas Peardon, she believed  “regarded anything new with a jaundiced eye.”  In Peardon’s case, however, McIntosh shrewdly made him her first dean of the faculty  precisely because of his conservative bona fides.  She later acknowledged that his counsel had saved her from pressing too hard for reforms that the faculty could not possibly abide.  Referring to her years at Brearley, McIntosh went on: “The experience I’d had running a rather obstinate and contrary faculty of conservative schoolteachers [was] a great help to me,” she later said of Puckett and Company, “partly because I didn’t pay much attention to their complaints.”  [49]

McIntosh found  her allies among the younger faculty she inherited, many just back from  military service.  These included  economist Raymond (“Steve”) Saulnier,  philosopher Joseph Brennan,  chemist Edward King, botanist Donald Ritchie, and classicist Helen Bacon, a Bryn Mawr  AB and PhD who came to Barnard after wartime service in the WAVES and resigning a tenured position at Smith  when a male colleague was fired for being a homosexual.  Others hired in the 1930s but  promoted under McIntosh,  included  sociologist Mirra Komarovsky, BC 1925, and art historian Julius Held (1937-80), both aligned with the new dean. So did appointees from her first years, among them  the American Studies scholars  John Kouwenhoven (1946-1972) and Annette K. Baxter (1952-1983).  Many of the newcomers  took an interest in curricular reform, something that had received little attention at  Barnard after the mid-1920s. Another  hire, the sociologist Gladys Meyer (1948-1975), later said that   McIntosh “took [Barnard] out of this kind of elitism so that the whole atmosphere breathed better.”   Julius Held remembered  her with affection as “the mother type.” [50]

An emblematic  McIntosh–led curricular initiative was the introduction of an Education Program,  intended  to prepare Barnard students for careers as primary and secondary school teachers.  Some faculty objected to the program’s vocational character, and specifically its student-teaching component, seeing it as a departure  from the college’s steadfast commitment to the liberal arts. Others thought such instruction should be left to the normal colleges and that Barnard graduates ought to be directed to careers of a more prestigious character than school teaching. Support from the Carnegie Corporation and Joe Brennan’s enthusiastic endorsement helped McIntosh overcome faculty opposition for the program that since its founding in 1951 has provided a vital link between Barnard and  the City’s schools, public and private. [51]


Other curricular undertakings included the creation of a religion department in 1949, thanks to a $500,000 gift from the estate of Thomas Lamont, to which Ursula Niebuhr, the wife of Union Theological Seminary theologian Reinhold Niebuhr,  was named chairperson. In 1952, the American Civilization Program, begun in 1939 under Elizabeth Reynard, was relaunched with a $75,000 Carnegie Foundation grant, with historian Basil Rauch its director. That same year a drama program was added to the English Department, led by  Howard Teichmann (1946-70), playwright and biographer of George S. Kaufman.  Following the transfer of Douglas Moore to Columbia, Barnard’s  music department  continued first under electronic music pioneer Otto Leunig and then Hubert Doris. [52]


McIntosh advanced  meritocratic principles in the Barnard faculty hiring process  by making appointments on a more universalist basis than earlier. This she did with keeping on Joseph Brennan, whose Catholicism had made him suspect in Gildersleeve’s eyes. She also  approved the appointments of  several faculty of Jewish backgrounds, including the sociologists Herbert Hyman and Bernard Barber, and in English, the cultural critic Barry Ulanov and the Renaissance scholar Eleanor Rosenberg (BC ’29). One of Rosenberg’s students, Anne Bernays, described her as “a soft-spoken middle-aged woman with no particularly striking trait other than her mind.” [53]

Despite an extended  freeze on the size of the faculty, ending only in 1955,  and falling  further behind Columbia in faculty salaries, Barnard managed under  McIntosh  to appoint, promote and retain a new generation of faculty that would serve the college into the 1980s. This post-war generation differed from their interwar counterpart  in two ways:  newer members were now subject to a specified probationary period before consideration for tenure;  their  acceptance of  the reality that effective teaching and departmental service would no longer suffice for permanent retention. These conditions in turn produced a growing commitment to scholarship –  to research and publication – which set a portion of  the post-war generation apart from not only their  Barnard predecessors but most   contemporaries at other liberal arts colleges. The notion if not yet the full reality of the Barnard faculty as a community of  “scholar-teachers,” as distinct from “teacher-scholars,” has its origins in the McIntosh era.

This raising of the scholarly profile of the Barnard faculty, a product of  both changes  in college policy and the ambitions of those entering the academic profession after the war, had its problematic side. It laid the College open  to  faculty raiding by rapidly expanding second-tier universities. Both the absence of endowed professorships and a salary policy of across-the-board raises limited the College’s bargaining power in trying to retain faculty who had outside offers. Beginning midway through the 1950s,  Barnard’s faculty  became the target of new and expanding universities intent on building or upgrading their faculties. Meanwhile,  Columbia continued to lure  promising Barnard  male faculty over to its side of Broadway with the prospect of higher salaries,  lab space and graduate instruction. Defectors to Columbia included  sociologist Conrad Arensberg,  medieval historian John Mundy and  geologist John Imbrie, while  zoologist Aubrey Gorbman  left Morningside altogether for the University of Washington. And no longer was poaching limited to male faculty: in 1952 French literary scholar Jeanne Varney Pleasants  transferred to Columbia and botanist Ingrith Deyrup, BC ‘ 40  decamped with Gorbman for Washington. In 1955 sociologist Renee Fox left Barnard for a full professorship at the University of Pennsylvania. Faculty raiding would only become a more serious problem for McIntosh’s successor. [54]

In addition to the increasing mobility and turnover in the Barnard faculty,  other  long-term changes in its  composition first discernible in the McIntosh administration  bear noting. They include  the gradual reduction in the reliance upon Columbia  PhD programs as the major supplier of starting Barnard faculty. Into the early 1950s upwards of 60% of male faculty appointees had been trained at Columbia, and an even higher percentage of female  appointees.   Less often under McIntosh were Barnard faculty openings quietly filled by the Columbia department chairman sending over to his Barnard counterpart one of his promising graduate students, particularly one of his otherwise hard-to-place  women graduate students. But it still happened. When Gladys Meyer was finishing up her PhD in sociology in the spring of 1948 under Columbia’s Robert MacIver, he discharged his placement responsibilities by telling Meyer, ”Go over [to Barnard] and see Professor Arensberg.”  [55]

If not yet as transparent as  the federally mandated open-search procedures introduced in the late 1960s, the faculty-appointment process in the later McIntosh era had widened the College’s  recruitment range to  include more PhDs from other Ivies, the University of California and Stanford, and especially in the sciences,  from the large state universities of the Midwest.   By the mid-1960s the percentage of  Barnard faculty with Columbia PhDs had dropped below 50 percent and would  continue to decline to the point today where  the Columbia-trained contingent makes up only 10 percent of today’s Barnard faculty. [56]

Even as the two administrations worked more effectively together, the two faculties became  more distinct entities.  On balance this was a positive development, allowing the smaller Barnard to be more innovative in terms of its undergraduate curriculum and less constrained by Columbia’s privileging its graduate programs. But it also had a downside, particularly when the faculty of larger and less integrated Columbia departments lost  contact with their Barnard counterparts which had earlier been maintained  by joint membership  and coordinated hiring/tenure policies. English and Psychology are cases in point, where by the early 1960s the mutual estrangement had reached a point where the senior members of both  departments ceased all but the most pro forma consultations on personnel and curriculum matters. Tenure appointments were made at Barnard in instances where  the cognate Columbia department chose to keep its reservations to itself, while appointments were made at Columbia  in specialties already covered by Barnard faculty.  When such consultation became required in the 1970s, one veteran member of the Barnard English Department referred to his Columbia departmental counterparts at Columbia as being for him and his Barnard Hall mates  “a great distraction.”  But another member, the prolific John Kouwenhoven,  described the department’s  tenuring criteria in the McIntosh era: “The person who hadn’t published a damned thing [but] was a first-rate teacher and a very valuable member of the college community,  the [advisory] committee would almost uniformly recommend promotion all the way up to full professor.”  The old had yet to give way to the new. [57]

  1. Mrs. Mac and McCarthyism
    Post-war Barnard gets high marks on another of the era’s tests of presidential fair-mindedness: how to respond to congressional probes into the political pasts of one’s faculty.  In 1950, in anticipation of being the target of such an investigation, McIntosh proposed  the following response,  taking her cue from Harvard:

    1. If a faculty member is called for questioning, he/she  should be encouraged to answer questions freely;
    2. If the faculty member acknowledges prior membership in the Communist party, but is no longer a member, and that is confirmed, no action should be taken by the College;

  2. If a faculty member invokes the Fifth Amendment, he/she to be suspended with pay while a committee of faculty and trustees investigate the situation.

Her guidelines provided three options: reinstatement of the faculty member with no penalty; reinstatement with probation for a specified time; dismissal. [58]

When McIntosh presented these  guidelines  to the Barnard trustees, they staked out even higher ground by rejecting  the option of dismissing an instructor for invoking the Fifth Amendment. Trustee Samuel Milbank  pointed out  that  in doing so a faculty member was invoking a right protected by the Constitution.   Among other Barnard trustees to take the same principled  public stand on the fraught issue of  ex-Communists in the classroom  were  Agnes Ernst Meyer  BC ‘03 and Iphigene Ochs Sulzberger ’07. [59]

When it  came to an actual case, the proposed hiring  in 1956 of an admitted former Communist, the philosopher Stanley Moore, who had been fired from the Reed College faculty following his refusal to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1954, Barnard held the high ground. Both McIntosh  and the board accepted the philosophy department’s recommendation in 1960 to appoint the then – unemployed Moore as an assistant professor. (Moore left in 1964 for a job at the University of California, San Diego, when McIntosh’s successor declined to recommend his promotion to associate professor with tenure.) Meanwhile, the Columbia administration, despite an otherwise good record in responding to McCarthyism, in 1953 saw fit to terminate the anthropologist, Gene Weltfish, BC 1925,  an avowed radical, after she charged the United States with using germ warfare in Korea. [60]

Moore’s appointment came late in the McIntosh administration, when the economic constraints of  the late 1940s and early 1950s were loosened and the College could afford a cautious optimism about its future prospects. Indeed, looking back six decades later, Barnard in the mid- 1950s appears to have entered a period of quiet prosperity which, if neither the College’s  “Blackberry Winter” nor its “Indian Summer,”  provided  those who partook of it a decade-long respite from the difficult earlier years and the tumultuous ones to follow.
How poor and miserable we were.
How seldom together!
And yet after so long one thinks:
In those days everything was better.
— Randall Jarrell [61]

  1. Bringing In the Sheaves
    By 1956 the modern fundraising structure  that had been installed earlier  began to produce major results.  That year  the trustees announced the creation of a Library Development Campaign, which would  underwrite  construction of a  free-standing library  (150,000 volumes) to replace the Ella Weed Library that had  occupied a portion the second floor of Barnard Hall since 1917. Trustee Iphigene Sulzberger (BC 1914) was campaign chairman and the needed $1,700,000 was quickly raised from four principal sources:
    $750,000 from the Wollman Foundation, where  Sulzberger served on the board;
    $750,000 from the Lehman family in honor of  Adele Lewisohn Lehman ( BC ‘03)
    $125,000 from  Helen Goodhart Altschul ( BC ‘07)
    $75,000 from campaign chair Iphigene SulzbergerThe Wollman Library/Lehman Hall groundbreaking took place in April  1958 and opened  in 1960. The four-story structure  was sited north of the Barnard Annex with its glass front facing Broadway across a swath of lawn, backing on Claremont.  It became  home to the departments of Economics, History and Political Science. In 2016 it was demolished to make way for the  more architecturally striking Milstein Teaching and Learning Center, which opened in the fall of 2018. [62]

    Another major fundraising/building project of the McIntosh era was the construction of Barnard’s third dormitory, Reid Hall, with principal funding from the family of Mrs. Ogden R. Reid (Mary Louise Stewart, BC ‘46) in honor of her mother-in-law  and longtime trustee Helen Rogers Reid. The funding announcement took place in December 1957 and groundbreaking two years later. The 8-story Reid Hall was sited next to Brooks Hall and along Broadway but facing inward to form the third and southeastern side of the Milbank Quadrangle. Upon opening in 1961 with accommodations for 150 residential students, along with an additional 150 with the purchase  of the first of three  apartment buildings (616 West 116th Street)  across  from Brooks/Reid,  allowed the College  to provide  housing to  half its incoming students. [63]


The last major  fundraising/building project initiated in the McIntosh era and  completed later was for a student center. Groundbreaking for what became the  Millicent McIntosh Student Center occurred in May 1962, four weeks before its namesake retired after fifteen years of service. It was a fitting climax to her presidency. Having  inherited a balance sheet with chronic  deficits,  an endowment of $10 million and a moribund fundraising apparatus, she bequeathed to her successor  a  string of budgetary surpluses, an endowment of $20 million ($168 million in 2019 dollars) and  a fundraising apparatus that had underwritten  construction of four buildings and the purchase of a fifth. Having inherited  a 4 ½ acre/4-block campus distinguished by two sets of buildings clustered at the north and south ends with only Barnard Hall  in between,  and the rest occupied  by tennis courts,  some bushes and semi-rustic pathways, McIntosh bequeathed to her successor  a campus with eight buildings taking up most of the campus and   unoccupied space at a  premium. After 67 years on Morningside Heights, Barnard had become as densely urban as its surroundings. [64]

                                                  8. Columbia’s Benign Neglect

Critical to any Barnard leader’s  historical standing has been her relations with Columbia. The two deemed least successful,  Laura Drake Gill and Jacquelyn Mattfeld, have been  judged so largely because of  problems they had dealing with Columbia counterparts. Here  McIntosh enjoyed singular success.  Her administration coincided with the Columbia presidencies  of Dwight D. Eisenhower (1948-53) and Grayson Kirk (1953-1968). She worked well with both and liked them both, if differently. On Ike:  “He was exceedingly kind to me, very pleasant and nice and understanding. But his academic  work was nil. He once told me that he very much resented just being a public relations person.” On Kirk: “I’m one of Mr. Kirk’s greatest admirers. I think he made [this in 1966] an excellent president for the University. He’s a professor’s president.” The feelings were mutual.  [65]

McIntosh’s relations with Columbia’s provosts and professional  school deans, with whom she met weekly, also went smoothly. At these meetings all faculty promotions under consideration at Barnard were discussed, as were proposals to share resources. Here, too, some Barnard faculty thought her too eager to find ways by which Barnard departments might cooperate with their Columbia counterparts on appointments. A few even suspected she was open to a merger with Columbia, a  charge she addressed in her 1966 oral history.

MCM: “Mr. Kirk thinks we should give up our separate identity and be merged with Columbia College.”
Interviewer: “How would you feel about that?”
MCM: “Very strongly against it.” [66]


In 1962, McIntosh and Kirk agreed to eliminate the past practice of Barnard making annual payments to Columbia  for any  imbalance in the student exchange,  even though Barnard students  typically took more courses at Columbia than Columbia students took at Barnard. While subsequent financial exigencies at Columbia (about more in the next chapter) led to the reimposition  of  payments in 1970, its temporary abeyance marks a singularly placid period in an institutional relationship of thirteen  decades  and counting. When later asked about that BC/CU relationship, Mrs. Mac described it as “something that is impossible to explain to anyone,” before characteristically adding: “It’s one of the most interesting things about the job.” [67]
Barnard  students in this period had only limited access to Columbia courses, as did Columbia students to Barnard courses, but some of the fondest memories of Barnard alumnae of their undergraduate years involve venturing across Broadway in search of academic enlightenment.  That some of these trips initiated or cemented relationships of a social nature that led to marriage may also have distinguished the post-war years on Morningside. By one count, 65 of the 333 seniors in 1960 were either married or engaged at their graduation, most of them to Columbia men. [68.]

In 1960, when her husband reached the mandatory retirement age of 65 and prepared to leave his deanship at  Columbia’s  Babies Hospital, Millicent McIntosh informed her trustees that she wished to accompany him into retirement .  Mrs. Reid persuaded her to remain until a replacement could be found, a process in which she was asked to participate.  In 1962 she commenced her retirement on the family farm in North Tyringham, Massachusetts. She thereafter kept in regular contact with succeeding presidents and returned several times to campus, twice to events at McIntosh Student Center. The first was its delayed opening in November 1969, when she was sixty-nine; the second in 1999, during the presidency of Judith Shapiro,  when Barnard and Brearley  celebrated her 100th birthday. She died two years later, in January  2001. Were one to use as a prime measure of administrative effectiveness in advancing a college’s  wellbeing a comparison of the place and trajectory at the outset of one’s administration and the place and trajectory at the close, then  Millicent McIntosh ranks as one of  Barnard’s two most successful leaders to date. [69]


  1. The Rosemary Park Interregnum

During McIntosh’s last year in office, a  presidential search committee found her successor in Rosemary Park, a 50-year-old president of Connecticut College and scholar of German literature. A Radcliffe graduate with a PhD from  the University of Cologne, she hailed  from a family of academic administrators. Her father Edgar Park had been president of Wheaton College  and her brother William   president of  Simmons College. Her fifteen years at Connecticut College  had been marked by great success in fundraising and additions to the New London campus’s physical plant. By all accounts she was  loved by students and alumnae and admired by her faculty.  Her motives for coming to Barnard are not known, other than looking for a change and  seeing the Barnard presidency as a new and exciting challenge. McIntosh had  championed  her candidacy and Dean emerita Gildersleeve approved, calling the appointment  of  a scholarly, unmarried woman “a return to the Barnard  tradition.” Mrs. Mac let  both swipes pass.   [70]

Once installed in November 1962, Park  demonstrated strengths in two crucial areas of presidential responsibility. First, she quickly made good on her reputation as a formidable fundraiser, both among the trustees and with the major foundations. In 1965 she secured from the Ford Foundation $2,500,000 by raising the requisite three-to-one matching funds. The major funding for the Altschul Science Tower,  $750,000, came from the Milbank Memorial Fund. Two more apartment buildings,  at 600 and 620 West 116th St.,  were purchased to be used as student dormitories, as was the Bryn Mawr Hotel on 121st and Amsterdam, as the future site for Plimpton Hall. Even as these capital projects proceeded, Barnard’s endowment  edged upwards to $25 million. [71]

Park also got on famously with Columbia’s President Kirk and with the intellectually formidable University Provost Jacques Barzun, who shared Park’s love of classical music and her habit of sneaking off on Wednesday afternoons to attend  performances by  the New York Symphony.  As she had with Barzun, Park won  the instant respect of her faculty, many seeing  her as the scholar and public intellectual that Mrs. Mac never pretended to be. Several veteran Barnard faculty and administrators when interviewed volunteered to rank Park their favorite president. [72]

But all this good will this did not stop several of  Barnard’s most promising faculty from accepting academic positions elsewhere.  McIntosh had presided over the beginning  of  what Barzun called  “the era of the packed suitcase,” and it was Park’s fate to experience it at floodtide. In 1962, the economist Robert Lekachman left Barnard  for SUNY Stonybrook,  where he doubled his salary; two years later, English professor Marcus Klein left for the University of Buffalo, for  what McIntosh called “a big, fat state university salary.”  Such raids became less common after the  cooling of  the academic job market in the late 1960s in the humanities and then spreading across all disciplines, but constituted a significant challenge for a college with many faculty publishing at rates expected of university appointees. Nor did Park  escape all responsibility for these departures. “Some of these losses I think she could have avoided, “ McIntosh suggested tartly in her 1966 oral history, ”if she had spent more time getting to know her faculty.” [73]

Park’s biggest challenge came in adjusting to the contrast  between the  students  she encountered at Connecticut College and now on Morningside Heights.  Some of the differences  were in part generational (consensual ‘50s vs. confrontational  ‘60s), others demographic ( WASPs vs. first-generational ethnics), and still others  locational (New England suburbs vs. inner city), but together they were differences Park had trouble bridging. At some point she may have stopped trying. Again, her predecessor proved less than  forgiving, seeing her as “cool and aloof” in her dealings with students, while  unsettled by Barnard’s more aggressive  students, reporting them “dirty, beatnik, unpleasant.” As for Barnard’s best and brightest students:  “They’re just alien to her.” One faculty member, the sociologist Gladys Meyer, who was  close to some of Barnard’s more outspoken students, later said of Park:  “Students didn’t like her and she didn’t have much interest in dealing with students except in a formal way.” [74]

Four years into her presidency, the 59-year-old Park  married Milton Anastos, an internationally known scholar of Byzantine history at  UCLA. Shortly thereafter she informed the Barnard trustees of her intention to resign effective June 30, 1967, to take an administrative post at UCLA.  Her departing words on “relinquishing one of the most rewarding responsibilities in all higher education” were characteristically  gracious. This said, Barnard found itself for the second time in five years back in the presidency market. [75]


Park’s presidency of  4 ½ years  was too brief  to be considered successful. Moreover, her unexpected departure left any successor in a tight spot. That campus tensions were higher at her leaving than at her arrival were likely attributable to changing times more than to any specific actions she took during her presidency. Still, it seems she lacked a visceral connection to New York City, perhaps not an absolute requirement for the job, but without it success has historically proved elusive.


The Park presidency did benefit  from good timing,  ending  before the escalation of student protests that began in May 1965 and  would make the Barnard campus a hostile environment for confrontation-averse administrators, faculty and students,  reaching its crescendo in 1968, but only  after her departure for California. The poet Housman’s assessment of his young athlete’s departure, gender and generation attributions aside, fits: “Smart lad, to slip betimes away.” [76]