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Records of the President's Office

Identifier: 1DB10-Newell

Scope and Content

The records date from Barbara Newell's arrival as President of Wellesley College early September 1972 until Nannerl Keohane's arrival July 1, 1981. There is some earlier material announcing Newell's appointment. The records include those of Barbara Newell, Carol Johns and Maud Chaplin. There is a significant amount of correspondence and other records that appear to be those of Doris Drescher, Executive Secretary to the President.

Newell's records relate to many aspects of college life. There are files from Academic Council, Senior Staff and Advisory Committee on Budgetary Affairs. These files include correspondence, minutes, notes and occasionally reports. There is correspondence and general information from senior officers of the college, particularly the Vice President for Financial and Business Affairs, the Deans and the Director of Resources. There are some Trustee and Trustee Committee files in the restricted portion of the collection.

There are Annual Reports from Academic Departments and Administrative Offices as well as general Academic Department files. Administrative Office files are generally filed under the name of the office (e.g., Admissions, Career Services, the Chaplaincy, Residence, Student Services and other aspects of student life). There are also files on matters relating to the faculty.

Newell focused the college's attention on the recommendations of the Commission on the Future of the College and her records support this concern. The files of the Commission on Community Life, Affirmative Action, Harambee House, Mezcla and Foreign Students reflect the growing diversity of the college community. Student opportunities away from campus are discussed in files relating to Boston Latin School, Internships and Study Abroad. The desire to improve counseling is documented in the Counseling Committee files and College Relations files reflect the effort to improve communications.

Barbara Newell's concerns for women and women's education are detailed in her records of international and national organizations such as the International Women's Year, the American Association of Colleges: Women's College Coalition and the Concerns (Womens). There are also files of the Seven College Conference and many other college and university associations as well as other colleges and universities themselves.

As always the President's role is to represent the college to the alumnae and the rest of the world. Newell traveled a great deal and records of these trips can be found in her Alumnae, Alumnae Club, Outreach and Trip files. These travels spread information about the college and gave Newell opportunities to ask for support of the college. These fund raising activities are reflected in the folders listed as well as Centennial Campaign, Foundation, Fund and Resources files. Portions of these files relating to individual donors or potential donors are in the restricted part of the collection.

The funds raised allowed for a number of changes in the Wellesley of the 1970s. The Slater International Center was dedicated in October of 1972, a gift of the Slater family. The Center for Research on Women (Women, Center for Research on) was partially funded by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation. The Stone Center was funded by a gift from the Stone Family. The new Science Center and the expanded Library were built in the mid-1970s with funds raised from many sources. A number of Professorships/Chairs were endowed during Newell's presidency and the grant funding of many research projects and studies are covered in the Foundation and Fund folders. They include correspondence, proposals and reports.

1975-1976 was Wellesley College's centennial year. A number of special events took place including the granting of honorary degrees at commencement, a rare occurrence at Wellesley.


  • 1970-1988
  • Majority of material found within 1972 - 1981


The following types of materials are restricted:

1. Student records generated and maintained by the college covered by FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act): grades, work, faculty/class evaluations, questionnaires, recommendations, et cetera.

2. Minutes and other records of the Board of Trustees. Access to this material is granted only through the Trustees. Requests for access should be directed to the Clerk of the Board of Trustees.

3. Information relating to specific salaries, pensions or financial transactions between the College and individual employees.

4. Materials relating to reappointment, promotion and tenure.

5. Recommendations and performance evaluation of individual employees, as well as evaluations of candidates for College positions.

6. Materials published by consortia of colleges and universities, specifically the Consortium on Financing Higher Education (COFHE) and the Higher Education Data Sharing (HEDS), which conduct surveys of various institutes promising confidentially.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright in some papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the holder(s) of copyright before publishing quotations from any material in the collection.

Biographical/Historical Note

Barbara Warne Newell, the tenth President of Wellesley College, arrived in early September 1972. Newell graduated from Vassar College in 1951 with a B.A. in Economics. She continued her education at the University of Wisconsin, receiving a M.A. in 1953 and a Ph.D in 1958. Newell taught at the University of Illinois and at Purdue University before returning to Wisconsin as an administrator. In 1967 she moved to the University of Michigan as presidential assistant and acting vice president of student affairs. In 1971 she became associate provost for graduate study and research and professor of economics at the University of Pittsburgh.

In the years just prior to Newell's arrival, 1969-1971, Wellesley College created the Commission on the Future of the College to review and evaluate the goals of the college. The Commission final report made a number of recommendations relating to the education program, minorities, counseling and the composition of the student body. The recommendations called for more variety of learning experiences, foreign study, field work and broader cultural perspective. The presence of women on the faculty was emphasized as well the needs of working women. The importance of increasing the minority presence was recognized, and steps to accomplish this were put in place. Other recommendations included a study of the counseling facilities, increases in the size and diversity of the student body and improvement of communications. Newell's experience with affirmative action for the employment of women and her work on better minority student recruiting at the University of Michigan, as well her work on Black student recruitment and computer services at the University of Wisconsin gave her an understanding and sensitivity to some of the issues Wellesley College was facing in the 1970s.

The President of the college serves as the head of administration under the Board of Trustees. She oversees all aspects of college life and its senior staff. All offices report through senior staff to the president other than the Treasurer's office, which reports directly to the Trustees. Throughout the early 1970s the organization of the college experienced a number of changes including a reduction of those offices reporting directly to the president, the addition of a Vice President for College Relations to improve internal and external communications and the reestablishment of the position of Dean of Students to serve as the coordinator of all aspects of student services including counseling. Search procedures were broadened to include members of the community.

The Commission on the Future of the College recommendations urged a broader approach to education. The Black Studies major was established in 1973, the Chinese Department grew and the History Department moved beyond its Eurocentric focus. The Continuing Education Program expanded: starting with 26 students in 1970, 101 had graduated by 1978. Winterterm was introduced as a venue for non-credit educational experiences. Exchanges with other colleges and in other countries were strengthened and the Office of Educational Research and Development was established to develop interdepartmental and experimental courses, faculty seminars, et cetera.

The Commission on Community Life was formed in 1973 to study and evaluate relationships among the college's various populations. Their charge was to recommend programs and changes that would increase diversity and train members of the community in greater sensitivity to and knowledge of all its members.

In 1973 Wellesley College and the Federation of Organizations for Professional Women established the Center for Research on Women in Higher Education and the Professions with the help of a grant from the Carnegie Corporation. Its goal was to conduct research on issues relating to women's education and professional life. Much knowledge resulting from these studies found its way into the Wellesley curriculum. The Center also offered conferences and workshops based on its research and provided a link to other similar institutions addressing the concerns of women.

The Stone Center for Developmental Services and Studies was established in 1979 with a gift from the Robert S. Stone family as a counseling center for the college as well as a program and research center for mental health and development concerns. The founders hoped that it would serve as a model for preventative mental health care for undergraduates.

One of the major roles of a college president is to raise funds for the college. Barbara Newell was president during the college's centennial decade (1972-1982) and thus became the chief fundraiser for the Centennial Campaign. The campaign set a goal of a little over $70 million to support faculty salaries, financial aid, new and renovated buildings (e.g., Science Center, Library and Pendleton Hall) and the general endowment. During this period Newell traveled all over the United States visiting alumnae, corporations and grant funding institutions. She made several trips abroad, including a lengthy trip to Asia in the summer of 1975. The Wellesley Today and Tomorrow program was established to bring potential donors to the college to get a better sense of the needs of the college community.

In the summer 1979 Joseph Califano, then Secretary of Health Education and Welfare, sent Barbara Newell's name to President Carter, proposing her for the position of undersecretary. The Trustees voted her a three-semester leave of absence and elected Carol Johnson Johns as Acting President of Wellesley for an eighteen month period from July 1979 through December 1980. By the time Newell arrived in Washington Califano had resigned as Secretary of H.E.W. and had been replaced by Patricia Roberts Harris who decided not to name Newell for the position. President Carter did appoint Newell U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Educations, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), based in Paris.

Carol Johns, a 1944 graduate of Wellesley College, received an MD degree from Johns Hopkins in 1950. At the time of her appointment as acting president of Wellesley she was an Associate Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She had been a member of the Wellesley College Board of Trustees since 1971.

In the spring of 1980 President Newell resigned from the college. Johns remained at Wellesley through December 31, 1980. Nannerl Keohane was named the eleventh President of the college in December 1980, but would not take office until July 1, 1981. Maud Chaplin agreed to accept the acting presidency for the six months starting January 1, 1981.

History of the Office

1875-1881 Ada Howard

1881-1887 Alice Freeman Palmer

1887-1894 Helen Shafer

1894-1899 Julia Irvine

1899-1910 Caroline Hazard

1911-1936 Ellen Fitz Pendleton

1936-1949 Mildred McAfee Horton

1949-1966 Margaret Clapp

1966-1972 Ruth Adams

1972-1981 Barbara W. Newell


54.2 Linear Feet ( (130 file boxes))

Language of Materials



Records of the President's Office during the administration of Barbara Newell (1972-1981) consisting of correspondence, reports, statistics, minutes, and bylaws; arranged alphabetically by subject; concerning Academic Council and its committees, academic departments, buildings and grounds, admission policies, relations with the Alumnae Association, and administration.

The records contain some material from the previous administration.


The records are arranged alphabetically by subject. Where there is more than one folder on the same subject, they are arranged chronologically. Restricted materials have been removed from the main sequence.

Acquisition Information

Transferred from the President's Office, 1973-1994.
Records of the President's Office, 1970-1988, bulk 1972-1981 : a guide.
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Wellesley College Archives Repository