Interviewed by Tom Gerety
[0:00] Tom Gerety: Hi, I'm Tom Gerety, the 17th President of Amherst College. And we're here today to have a conversation with Chuck Longworth, who graduated in the class of 1951. And whose great fame in life is that he was the chair who led the search to hire me, at least in my life. So I wanna start, Chuck, if I may, by saying, tell us about your first contact with Amherst College. I know you've had some family ties to the place, but I'd love to hear how you ended up here just at the outset. [crosstalk]
[0:35] Charles R. Longsworth: I was thinking about that this morning on the way over here. When I was at Wellesley High School, I received the Harvard Book Award, which is supposed to be significant of Harvard's regard for somebody, one male in the high school whom they hope would come to Harvard.
Well, Harvard, was to a boy from Indianna, a little bit effete, I thought, my simple sort of teenage analysis. And then the Dartmouth alumni who have a vast network of recruiting, came to Wellesley and had a big affair and they, and they got a lot of us there and they throw your arms around you. And I thought that was not my style either. So I took Dartmouth off the list. And my father went to Ohio Wesleyan, and he, he sort of encouraged me to go there. But that was a little, a little back where I came from in the Midwest. And then I had an Aunt Lois from Pittsburgh who said she'd gone to a dance at Amherst College and that was a nice college she thought so I came to look at Amherst. [laughter]
And I got seduced by Bill Wilson and here we are. [laughter]
[1:40] Gerety: And do you remember, Chuck you may not, but do you remember your first sense of the hills here? Where, uh I mean, how did you come in the old days? Did you come on the road from Worcester, or?
[1:48] Longsworth: Came on the, on Route 9 from the Boston area. And at that point you came over the crest to Route 9, I guess you still do, and looked down and saw the campus. And
that was the first impression. And then when my father and mother brought me to Amherst for my first day, freshman day, we stopped at that view. And my father who’d been the football captain at Ohio Wesleyan had said, “now, Charles, I don't care whether you play football or not,” I was all 149 pounds at that point, said “but I want you to do well on your studies.” Well, of course, that determined that I was going to play football if I could. And so we arrived.
[2:27] Gerety: And you were out practicing the next day or that very afternoon.
[2:30] Longsworth: No but I had, as a freshman I had several competitors who weighed over 200 pounds. So it took me a long time to beat them down and win out the job.
[2:40] Gerety: Yeah, who was the coach in those days?
[2:41] Longsworth: Well, uh, Lloyd Jordan was the head coach.
The freshman coach, name I forget, unfortunately, it was a very, very good guy, I thought. And in those days, you know, we played both ways and home and away it was sort of Iron Men football, but it was fun.
[3:00] Gerety: And Chuck, in those days curricula have obviously evolved over the years. But do you remember the curricular requirements for the uh first few semesters? [crosstalk]
[3:11] Longsworth: Oh, sure. Sure. So that was the New Curriculum. And we were the first class in the New Curriculum.
[3:18] Gerety: So already in ‘40, what was that? That would have been in 19--right after the war. [crosstalk]
[3:21] Longsworth: Fall, fall of, uh, ‘47.
[3:22] Gerety: ‘47, right.
[3:22] Longsworth: Yeah, we were, we were the first class under the New Curriculum. So we had a required Physics-Math sequence or Math-Physics sequence. We had required European History. We had required English One, which is probably the most significant formal educational experience I've ever had. [crosstalk]
[3:34] Gerety: You’ve ever had, yeah.
[3:35] Longsworth: And I think most of my classmates would agree with that. And then we had to take a language. And, um, that was it.
[3:52] Gerety: And do you remember whom you had, and who was your teacher for English 1?
[3:59] Longsworth: You know, I don’t remember his name. The whole faculty taught English One. And I don't know how the faculty thought about it. The English faculty, I think, liked it. It was a, it was a Ted Baird--
[4:11] Gerety: Creation.
[4:11] Longsworth: Yeah. You know, primarily, he was the principal philosopher and author of that. But it was a, it was an extraordinary experience to, to take English One. It had a daily, a daily paper. This paper was, the length was proscribed by the kind of typewriter you had. You had an elite type or pica type at different size paper to do this precise, precise daily paper. And the assignments were such things as, um, “You're standing in front of the Amherst College Library. What is a library?”
Or, “What is a mountain?” Or “You're in the middle of the Amherst campus, how do you know where you are?” And it gets you down to fundamentals. Now people would say a library is a big building with pillars full of books. Well, that's not a library. A library is an organized form of keeping material available. You finally figure that out after a while. [laughter] It was a, it was a really challenging and exciting course. I'm still excited about it.
[5:17] Gerety: Do you remember it as, uh, humiliating at all? Or were those sort of experiences--the sorts of experiences that people described with Ted were occasionally--?
[5:26] Longsworth: No, I don't remember it being humiliating for anybody. I thought, and I wish I could remember the person I had was an instructor, not in English, and he was, he, I think he was the one who said “I am, I am a communist. I'm a registered communist.” But he didn't try to proselytize and uh--
No, I think everybody liked the course as I recall it anyway. Everybody was excited about it. Everybody was challenged by it. It was very engaging,
[5:59] Gerety: And then Chuck as the, as your, as you progressed through those first couple of years, was it a system like that one we know now where in sophomore year you start to focus on a major or what?
[6:09] Longsworth: No sophomore year was, was, there was more flexibility but it was pretty limited. And you really didn't, you get into major perhaps in your sophomore year if I remember correctly, I'm not sure I do. But it was a, it was a more simplified stratified progression to your senior year when you, when you, if you want an honors, wrote a thesis, and there were no double majors. Maybe there were a couple, I don't remember any, no double majors and you know, you got into the department and you progressed.
[6:39] Gerety: And your department then would have been what?
[6:41] Longsworth: American. American Studies.
[6:42] Gerety: American studies! So you also had a pioneer in Amherst history. [crosstalk]
[6:45] Longsworth: Well, I had, we had, uh, minors then. You know, major-minor. I had a minor in English. I probably was as much of an English major in, in the sense of how many courses I took because I was American Studies.
[6:54] Gerety: And did you write an honors thesis?
[6:56] Longsworth: Oh, yeah.
[6:57] Gerety: And yours was on what?
[6:58] Longsworth: John Dos Passos. The failed American dream of socialism.
[7:04] Gerety: So that, that initial communist instructor got you thinking.
[7:08] Longsworth: [laughter] Yeah, I guess so. [crosstalk] It was, and I’ve reread the thesis. It was, oh, it's passable.
[7:15] Gerety: It must have been a little more than passable since I know you graduated the very top of your class.
[7:19] Longsworth: Well, no, I was a magna [cum laude]. But, you know, there were--
[7:21] Gerety: You were Phi Beta [Kappa] though-- [crosstalk]
[7:22] Longsworth: There were, there were 4 summas.
[7:24] Gerety: Okay.
[7:24] Longsworth: [laughter] That's all we had in those days. We were about 20 magnas, 25 maybe. Yeah, I was Phi Beta.
[7:29] Gerety: And tell us a little bit about those years, your living arrangements, the freshmen dorm and so on, tell us--
[7:34] Longsworth: Well, the famous James and Stearns dormitory, uh, which were designed with rooms for two, you know, a little bedroom and a study room. And from the inception, there were three occupants in those rooms.
[7:51] Gerety: Right from the start, we were tripling those rooms. [crosstalk]
[7:53] Longsworth: Right from the start, yeah. And, and I was in a room with two others. And that was the way it was, and it was noisy, and it was crowded.
[7:58] Gerety: And it was memorable.
[8:05] Longsworth: We, we didn’t know any better. And most of us came from homes, which in those days often meant shared bedrooms. We didn’t all each have our own bath and bedroom at home like so many kids do these days, including mine. I'm not criticizing anybody. [laughter, indistinguishable crosstalk]
But, uh, then it was fine. Then we moved to North College as sophomores, uh, Tom Wyman was one of my roommates, bless his soul. And there were four of us there in, in a bedroom that had double bunks stacked up. Tiny place, you could reach across and touch the guy on the other side of the room-- [crosstalk] But no--
[8:40] Gerety: Strict rules in terms of girls and the like, I mean, was this a fairly tough regimen here?
[8:45] Longsworth: [laughter] I don't know whether there--I mean, there were strict-- There were, there were rules and there were inhibitions. I don't know what some of my classmates found to do in their spare time with girls. I know for me it was pretty much dancing, maybe a kiss here. [laughter]
[9:05] Gerety: Yeah. And how ‘bout liquor, Chuck, was that an issue in those days or no? [crosstalk]
[9:08] Longsworth: Oh, that was, look, drinking was big.
[9:10] Gerety: Because you were all entitled to do it legally as--
[9:13] Longsworth: Well, where we, I don’t know. All of us weren’t 18. Or no, 21 was the rule, wasn’t it? I think so.
[9:17] Gerety: I think 21 came in later. But go ahead with your own, right now. [crosstalk]
[9:20] Longsworth: There was no, there was no respect for the, for the law as far as drinking went and it was the same pattern every time. It started on, on Thursday night. And people would drink beer in the fraternity bars and then Friday night, drink more beer and then Saturday night, drink a lot of beer. [laughter]
And then, and the girls you know, the, the girls as we called them, the women had to be back at Smith and Mount Holyoke at prescribed hours: 10 o'clock, weekdays; 1 o'clock, Sunday morning. And so the goal was to leave as late as possible and still get your female friend in on time--
[9:56] Gerety: On time.
[9:56] Longsworth: And Spike Beitzel--whom you know well of course, was Chairman of the Board, once removed from, from my term, class of ‘50--and I both had Ford convertibles and our goal was to leave the campus, this campus last and arrive at Mount Holyoke--[crosstalk]
[10:15] Gerety: First.
[10:15] Longsworth: First. Kiss our girlfriends good night, and then drive all over the Mount Holyoke campus on the sidewalk, and then drive home and should be first here and then drive all over the Amherst campus on the sidewalk. Isn't that responsible behavior? [crosstalk]
[10:29] Gerety: Yeah, right--
[10:29] Longsworth: For two not, two sober young men who became chairmen of the Board? [laughter]
[10:33] Gerety: That’s good, that’s good stuff. And Polly entered your life at that point during, as an undergrad, during undergraduate years or much later? [crosstalk]
[10:40] Longsworth: She was, she wasn't a freshman till a year after I graduated, freshman at Smith. But she came into my life because she was a roommate at Smith of my brother's first wife, and Polly and I sort of converged at my brother’s and Nellie’s wedding in Georgia. I was in the Marine Corps and my brother was in the Air Force, and the man to whom Nellie, to whom Polly was engaged was in the Army. We all arrived at my brother's wedding. And that didn't work out, not because of me, but later that summer, Polly and I got acquainted.
[11:19] Gerety: That’s nice. Alright, so you graduated in 1951?
[11:21] Longsworth: Right.
[11:21] Gerety: You've written this paper on socialists--
[11:24] Longsworth: John Dos Passos, right.
[11:27] Gerety: What are your next steps in life? What are you thinking about your career, your vocation? I mean--
[11:31] Longsworth: I never, never had any plan or any thought about what I would do. I didn't know what I was going to do. You know, I've been doing well. I did well at Amherst, it was “do something else now.” So my father said, “Well, you ought to go to Harvard Business School.” So I thought, “Oh, that's a good idea, Dad, I will.” So I applied to Harvard Business School. And the Dean of Admissions said, “Why do you want to be a businessman?” And I said, “I don't want to be a businessman. I just want to go to Harvard Business School.” So I went.
And you know that was not a lot of fun, and not terribly exciting I didn't think. But it was okay. I did reasonably well considering that I was not a, not a person with any literacy in business at all.
[12:14] Gerety: Were numbers of little interest to you? I mean it does sound as if you were a more literary kind of guy.
[12:19] Longsworth: Yeah, and yeah numbers, you know, I was okay but not great. I did, I was in the, probably the top third of my class there. And uh, but I didn't like the Babbitt-like atmosphere. It seemed to me that, that pervaded the place. [crosstalk]
[12:32] Gerety: Yeah, everybody wants to make a lot of money at a place like that. [crosstalk]
[12:36] Longsworth: Yeah, and, uh, and a lot of boosters, and it didn't appeal to me much. But if I, I made some good friends there, a lot of Amherst friends there. Uh, John Keidel and John Kendall and David Sheldon and Tom, uh, and Tom Bushman and, and others. And then Kendall, John Kendall to whom I referred, decided to enlist in the Marine Corps, and he persuaded me to do that, so--
[13:02] Gerety: On graduation, after two years there? [crosstalk]
[13:03] Longsworth: Yeah, on graduation. So we enlisted in the Marine Corps and became Marine Corps officers. And we spent, we spent most of our first nine months out of two years in the Marine Corps together, in training and then in, in tank school, and then on a rifles team, and so forth
[13:20] Gerety: And no Overseas Service?
[13:21] Longsworth: Oh, yeah, I went to, went to Japan.
[13:23] Gerety: I thought you would have, really.
[13:24] Longsworth: Yeah, I went to Japan in ‘54. Japan was still very much in the throes of recovery.
[13:29] Gerety: Right.
[13:29] Longsworth: So it was an interesting place to be, and we spent a lot of time--we had a lot of free time--we'd go out in the countryside and walk and photograph and talk with people. And we spent a lot of time in Tokyo and Kyoto, and it was, it was a fascinating time to be in Japan. People were immensely friendly and accommodating. But Tokyo but nothing like it is now. It was a series of, the Ginza was a series of one- and two-story shops. No big buildings, very little neon.
And uh, beginning it, but still, still in, in, in recovery. No, no great economic revival at that point. They had Toyotas and, and Datsuns, they were little tiny things [laughter] And they had a lot of Renaults, little, little tiny Renaults running around the streets. No, it was good, it was good.
[14:20] Gerety: And, and Chuck now take us, the interest--one of the fascinating things about your career is just how many years and over what time and what a variety of roles you've been involved with the College and I know it wasn't: so here you were a Marine Corps officer. You've gone through Harvard Business School. You've been out of Amherst for a couple of, for a few years. It didn't take you long to come back to the College, so take us through your, your short career in genuine business and your return to the College. [crosstalk]
[14:46] Longsworth: Well I just, I, I went to work for Campbell’s Soup Company. I went to work for Campbell's Soup company as their first marketing trainee in Camden, New Jersey. And, uh, that was a miserable experience. [laughter] It was really good. It was really good because it persuaded me that I never wanted to work for a major corporation. [laughter]
I was a trainee. I was supposed to keep my nose clean, my mouth shut and be there for 25 years and I might have some responsibility. Well, here I was, you know, full of energy out of the Marine Corps thinking I was really hot stuff and I was gonna do something important, and I wasn't doing anything important and it was miserable. Polly and I were married. We lived in Haddonfield, New Jersey, and had our first child Amy, and she wrote her first book, and uh--
[15:28] Gerety: What was Polly's first book?
[15:29] Longsworth: It was, it was a book about cave exploring called Exploring Caves.
[15:33] Gerety: As a sporting matter, or as a--
[15:35] Longsworth: Yeah, as a sporting matter--
[15:36] Gerety: Wow.
[15:36] Longsworth: --written for teenagers, published by Thomas White Crowell, and it was a well-regarded children's book-- [crosstalk]
[15:42] Gerety: Yeah, it sounds like a nice book.
[15:42] Longsworth: --because that was her start. So, um, I finally persuaded David Ogilvy in New York to hire me away from Campbell, which he did.
[15:52] Gerety: And David having been, and how did you know him? How was it--
[15:56] Longsworth: David, David was, David had Campbell’s business and used to appear there every once in a while.
[16:01] Gerety: Gotcha.
[16:01] Longsworth: David was, David was, I loved David Ogilvy. He was an elegant, elegant, charming Scott. And one time he and I were thrown together, alone in a conference room. David Ogilvy, the great advertising man and Chuck Longsworth, the little marketing trainee.
And so, Ogilvy said, “I understand you have a foreign automobile.” And I said, “Yes, I do.” He said, “What have you?” And I said, “Well, I have a Volkswagen.” He said, “Oh, well, I have a Rolls. We must exchange rides.”
[16:34] Gerety: Yes, excellent. [laughter] A beetle and a--well, that’s great. [laughter]
[16:39] Longsworth: But anyway, Ogilvy, Ogilvy hired me away. Well, Ogilvy accepted me and I went up there to my first day in New York, moved to New York and I come in the office and Ogilvy claps me in the shoulders: “At last we have you!”
[16:52] Gerety: That’s nice.
[16:53] Longsworth: I was about the fifth account executive in a year for the Pepperidge Farm business which he had.
[17:00] Gerety: Started by my parents’ neighbor out there in Southport, CT, yeah. [crosstalk]
[17:02] Longsworth: By Maggie Rudkin. But she was still alive and still running the business. And, uh, that worked out alright. And I was there for a couple of years. And then Charlie Cole had asked me to come back and be an assistant dean in 1957, I think.
[17:18] Gerety: And how did Charlie get to know you, how, how--
[17:20] Longsworth: Well he was, he was President when I was an undergraduate and-- [crosstalk]
[17:23] Gerety: And you were a student here and--
[17:25] Longsworth: And I had, and my great advocate Al Guest was here, and Al Guest you know, everybody knows Al Guest, was always pushing to get me back here to do something. So he persuaded Charlie that I should be the Assistant Dean, whatever it was. I didn't accept that ‘cause I really didn't think I could afford it.
Uh, so anyway, then Cal Plimpton, with, with Al Guest, urging again, invited me to come be Assistant to the President, which really was a disguise for Chief Development Officer and Amherst hadn't done fundraising at that point of any significance except the Annual Fund.
It never had a capital campaign that amounted to a hill of beans and the Board was persuaded that Amherst, and I heard this in a Board meeting, “Amherst can't raise money.” And other Board members said Amherst alums, they don't have any money. Well Cal and I sat down, we toted up about a half a billion dollars in net worth, you know, in five minutes among alumni. So it wasn't true.
So I got an, a leave of absence from Ogilvy for, um, to come do this. And I went to him for advice: David, “you think I should do this?” He said, “you should do it,” said, “if you don't do it, you'll think of those nice fall days when you weren’t up in Amherst. And he said, “you just need to get older here to have more responsibility. So I'll give you a five year leave of absence. You come back in five years, and you'll be on your way to a really big career in this firm.” I thought that was generous of him. And he announced that at the Christmas party launch with his leaving, he'll be back. So I came up here as Cal Plimpton’s assistant, and we started planning a capital campaign.
And incidentally, about 20 years thereafter, and I've never communicated with Ogilvy. Never did a thing about going back, never told him anything. I was a total ingrate. And I was in Lon--Polly and I were in London, the Connaught Hotel, sitting in a little sidebar having a martini, all alone, incomes Ogilvy, all alone. And he says, “Chuck.” I said, “David.” And he sat down. And I said, “David, before you say anything, I want to say something.” I said, “I’m a total ingrate. I never expressed my appreciation to you for giving me the leave of absence. I never communicated with you. I never came back. And that's just unforgivably rude and I apologize.” And he said, “I had wondered if you thought about that the same way I did.” [laughter]
[19:43] Gerety: Very nice. Touché.
[19:44] Longsworth: And then we sat there and Ogilvy started boring in on us. He knew exactly what I was doing. He knew about Polly and Emily Dickinson.
[19:51] Gerety: Oh my goodness.
[19:51] Longsworth: His wife came in and said, “David, we're late for dinner.” He said, “you go ahead. I don't want to drink. I want to talk with my friends.” For a half an hour, we had this intense interrogation by David Ogilvy.
[20:02] Gerety: That’s lovely
[20:02] Longsworth: He's a really, really interesting man. I didn't see him ever after. Well, I corresponded with him. So anyway, um--
[20:08] Gerety: Back up at the campus--
[20:10] Longsworth: Back up at the campus.
[20:10] Gerety: Now you’re, you’re--Cal invites you here. You're--
[20:12] Longsworth: Right.
[20:13] Gerety: The President's office at that point in Johnson Chapel.
[20:15] Longsworth: Johnson Chapel, up in the back.
[20:16] Gerety: Upstairs, yeah.
[20:17] Longsworth: I came in and he greeted me and he said, “well, you'll have to find an office somewhere.” And, I, he-- [laughter]
[20:23] Gerety: No, no where that I can see, yeah.
[20:24] Longsworth: I found one, finally, in, in, in what was, where the Frost is now, where we sit now upstairs. It used to be the president's office in, what was the building?
[20:35] Gerety: And when you say where we sit now, right here in, oh, oh, in Walker Hall.
[20:39] Longsworth: Walker Hall, of course yeah.
[20:39] Gerety: So in the library.
[20:41] Longsworth: Yeah. I was. There was--
[20:43] Gerety: Way up in the beautiful, uh--
[20:45] Longsworth: There was an office in the back with a sort of a bay window and it had been the president's office at the time of Hitchcock. And I occupied that; it was a wonderful office.
[20:53] Gerety: So great office. Did you have an assistant or anybody to help you out or were you all on your own? [crosstalk]
[20:56] Longsworth: Yes, I had Rose, Rose, uh, Rose Goetzl, secretary. And, uh, Rose was wonderful. And we went to work. We planned this campaign for Amherst to raise money. Amherst’s first capital campaign. We're all ready to go. The board gets, board is being presented with the plan. And one of the board members says, “oh, the market went down yesterday. I don't think we should start yet.” [laughter] So that's what we were dealing with.
[21:33] Gerety: And Chuck, did you have it, was that, when you look back on it, were the techniques and, uh manners of approaching--the methods--similar to today? For instance, did you have a quiet phase in which previous to announcement, you got commitments from board members and others to make large gifts?
[21:41] Longsworth: Yeah, we had a consultant, Bob Conway. He was a wonderful man. He liked, Cal liked him a lot. We had a quiet phase, we had a case statement. Nothing changed. I mean, fundraising--
[21:51] Gerety: Very similar--
[21:51] Longsworth: Fundraising is lists, and objectives, and asking people. [laughter]
[21:55] Gerety: Yeah.
[21:56] Longsworth: Cal was good at asking people.
[21:57] Gerety: Yeah. And did you often go with him? Did you travel a lot with Cal, or was--?
[22:01] Longsworth: I traveled with him, but mostly to alumni meetings, and--
[22:04] Gerety: The larger groups.
[22:05] Longsworth: Yeah. And to, you know, regional alumni gatherings. No, Cal would go off on his own pretty much and he did some wonderful things. You know, he talked, he talked some $25-donors into million dollar gifts.
[22:18] Gerety: Do you recall any of the person--I mean, I think at this point, we could probably talk personalities since many of them are gone, and who, who were the great givers of that era?
[22:26] Longsworth: Pond, Pond, but who was the donor? It wasn't Pond, but he wanted it named after his relative.
[22:36] Gerety: Fascinating.
[22:36] Longsworth: And I, I can't construct it. But he was a guy who, he was a man who wouldn't even take you to lunch.
Cal, Cal really worked assiduously with him and for a long time. And Arthur Vining Davis, course Arthur Vining Davis was our, was our great hope, the wealthy aluminum, aluminum czar. Was a very small man, class of what, 1888?
[23:05] Gerety: Very elderly, yeah. [crosstalk]
[23:07] Longsworth: Before 1900.
[23:08] Gerety: Yeah, yeah. And located in Florida, at the time you were going after him-- [crosstalk]
[23:11] Longsworth: Located in Florida.
[23:11] Gerety: --in Arvida?
[23:13] Longsworth: And Cal just describes a visit to Arthur Vining Davis with I think, not with Cal but with another trustee. Arthur Vining Davis sitting at his desk, seemingly asleep, or almost asleep, while Al is describing the wonders of the campus and why we need a new dormitory. And finally, he says that “Mr. Davis, we wonder if you would consider giving us $250,000.” And Davis wakes up, “No!” [laughter]
[23:44] Gerety: That’s great.
[23:45] Longsworth: And goes back to sleep. But the biggest, the biggest single gifts were from the, were from the, a foundation--God, I can't remember these things, Tom--
[23:57] Gerety: Go ahead.
[23:57] Longsworth: They were from a foundation--
[23:28] Gerety: For Frost Library, or for--?
[24:00] Longsworth: What?
[24:00] Gerety: Was Frost Library part of another gift? [crosstalk]
[24:02] Longsworth: No, this, this was another gift, um-- [crosstalk]
[24:03] Gerety: Or that had already been done?
[24:04] Longsworth: And I don't remember the foundation. I should have brushed up on this. But anyway, it was a $3 million bequest. And then the next biggest gift was for the Frost Library. And-- [crosstalk]
[24:15] Gerety: Oh, I see.
[24:16] Longsworth: --that, of course, as we know, was strictly anonymous. Is it? No, no--
[24:20] Gerety: No. Now we have a plaque up upstairs saying that the Haas brothers did it. [crosstalk]
[24:21] Longsworth: Okay, the Haas brothers did that. [crosstalk]
[24:25] Gerety: And they were young people, then, right? [crosstalk]
[24:25] Longsworth: Class of ‘38 and class of, ‘38 and ‘41, I think. And they had said they'd like to do something for Amherst, and Cal sent them a long letter with the whole range of, of gifts from the library at $3 million down to I think $100,000 everything in between. And they, and they selected the, the library.
[24:47] Gerety: Top gift, yeah.
[24:47] Longsworth: Yeah. And Cal said, “we’d like it named after you.” And they said, “no, we want to be anonymous.” And, “would you care if we name it after Robert Frost?”
“We don't care who you're named after. We just want to be anonymous.”
So that's, that's how that happened, of course, that gave the thing a great boost. We eventually raised $21 million, which seems like peanuts in today's campaigning, by today's standards. With inflation, it might be 60 or 75 million.
[25:12] Gerety: Or more. Yeah, it sounds like a lot. [crosstalk]
[25:12] Longsworth: But it was, it was, it was an achievement for a small college, we were in the range. And for a college that thought it couldn't raise money. [laughter]
[25:21] Gerety: Well Chuck, we did an analysis of the $3 million gift for the Frost Library at the time that we got John Haas to agree to open it up--
[25:33] Longsworth: Okay. Yeah, yeah.
[25:33] Gerety: --and put a plaque on to inspire others. And at least the economic analysis that we did suggests that it might well be up there as one of the largest gifts in the history of the College if you applied inflation and so on to it. In other words, the $3 million in ‘61 or 2 would have been equivalent to the anonymous $25 million gift that we got--
[25:54] Longsworth: Well, I didn’t--
[25:54] Gerety: --on the campaign that you and I worked on.
[25:56] Longsworth: Well, I’ve never done the close, uh, I’ve never done the analysis. I just assumed that inflation certainly made a difference. And, um, it is one of the largest, it may have been the largest living gift to that time.
[26:08] Gerety: Oh, I think it probably was.
[26:09] Longsworth: In fact, I know it was.
[26:10] Gerety: $3 million in that [indistinguishable] [crosstalk]
[26:11] Longsworth: The other $3 million gift or two-and-a-half, whatever it was, we got from the foundation was a bequest, or a foundation--it was a foundation gift, but I think the foundation was a--
[26:21] Gerety: Pass through as a bequest from a particular person?
[26:23] Longsworth: Yeah, I think so. I think so. So, sure. It was, it was a very substantial gift. And, um, but we, as I say we raised 21 million finally. We elevated the, we elevated the annual giving substantially and really got Amherst going on a, on a development program that hadn’t had it til then.
[26:42] Gerety: Now Chuck, tell me this: when, as you say, when you first came in development was almost covert, you were an assistant to the President. There wasn't a special office. Did you, though, get involved in much of the policymaking or the deliberations through your closeness to Cal or otherwise, were you--?
[27:00] Longsworth: Of the College?
[27:01] Gerety: Yeah. Were you involved in College politics, in College policy?
[27:04] Longsworth: Oh, I would say, I would say peripherally. Cal would, Cal would once in a while float something in front of me for a reaction. But I would not make any claim that I was a close advisor or central to any policy decisions. I was here to get that campaign going. And that's what I did.
[27:24] Gerety: And you succeeded.
[27:25] Longsworth: Yeah.
[27:25] Gerety: And just a quick aside, because I know that you and Polly ended up with a pretty good-sized family. You've got a bunch of grandchildren now. Tell us about your family life, where you lived, how that developed in these years that you were--?
[27:39] Longsworth: Well, I mean, when we're here?
[27:40] Gerety: When you first came back to Amherst, yeah.
[27:41] Longsworth: Well, um--
[27:42] Gerety: Where do you live and so on.
[27:43] Longsworth: We, we moved to Amherst, and we didn't, we didn't know where we wanted to live. And we didn't know the town very well. Of course, I'd been here at college. But that doesn’t mean you know much about the town.
[27:52] Gerety: Yeah, [indistinguishable].
[27:53] Longsworth: So we, we thought we'd might look around and try to find a rental. And Ernie Johnson, who was a, a long time senior professor of Spanish, Spanish and Hispanic languages here--you know Ernie, I’m sure--
[28:07] Gerety: Yes.
[28:08] Longsworth: Uh, lived in, in South Amherst on route ni-, on Route 116. Right where you branch off on, um--
[28:17] Gerety: Is that Bay Road, or is it? What branches off there?
[28:20] Longsworth: On, um, on-- [laughter] I can’t remem--on John, John Brown's Raid? No. No, who was the raider in Massachusetts?
[28:28] Gerety: I don't remem--I don’t know.
[28:29] Longsworth: You know at the top of the hill, where you--
[28:31] Gerety: I know exactly where you’re talking about--
[28:32] Longsworth: To go to South Amherst--
[28:33] Gerety: --but I don’t know the name-- [crosstalk]
[28:34] Longsworth: Right, okay, I’m sure you can edit this. [laughter]
[28:35] Gerety: --of that little street. It’s right where the president of Hampshire’s house is, right? It’s right near the president, uh, Adele Simmons’ house.
[28:38] Longsworth: Well, you branch off on 116.
[28:41] Longsworth: And, you know, some of these things seem to fade from memory. Anyway, Ernie Johnson and his wife lived right there. And he was going on leave, and he wanted somebody to live in his house while he was on leave. Well, we didn't really want to live in his house. We had all this furniture and stuff. We wanted to find an empty house, I guess. But Ernie kept pushing and pushing, he finally said, “look, live in my house for $50 a month, and I'll pay the heat and the electricity.” So we figured we had an offer we couldn't refuse.
[29:10] Gerety: That’s pretty good.
[29:10] Longsworth: So we moved, he had a big basement, we moved all our stuff into his basement. And we lived there and started looking for a house. And then we found, uh, we found a house in South Amherst, which we loved dearly, across from the church and on the common and we bought that in 1961, I guess, and, uh, lived there until 1977. Brought one daughter with us and produced three more.
[29:35] Gerety: Yeah, I was gonna say. And Polly's evolution as a writer from that first spelunking, um, book, on. Tell us a little bit about that as your--
[29:44] Longsworth: Well she then did another, she did another book for teenagers on Emily Dickinson, which she had gotten interested in as a result of moving to Amherst.
[29:52] Gerety: I was gonna say--
[29:53] Longsworth: And that was called Emily Dickinson: Her Letter to the World published again by Crowell and that was, that was--and is, though it’s out of print--a very, very good book. And, and it, um, it was one of the New York Times’ selections as one of the best children's books of the year. And it got, it got widely praised.
[30:14] Gerety: That’s neat.
[30:15] Longsworth: And so that got her launched on Emily Dickinson, but she did another book on, um, Charlotte Forten that may have, I think that went after the Emily Dickinson book, I'm not sure. Charlotte Forten, who was a free black woman, young woman in South Carolina, who had lived with the abolitionists in Boston. And it was quite a remarkable story and based on Charlotte Forten’s diary, and that book was highly regarded too, and, and black reviewers thought it was, uh, it was a authentic, authentically done account of a black woman's experience. So that was good.
And then she got into, into Emily Dickinson in serious, in a serious way, and did that marvelous book Austin and Mabel: The Love Affair, and the love, love, love, the Affair and Love Letters of Austin Dickinson and Mabel Loomis Todd, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux; which is a, you know, incendiary book.
[31:11] Gerety: Yeah. Really, uh, hot read, yeah.
[31:13] Longsworth: A central, a central episode in Amherst history.
[31:16] Gerety: Yes.
[31:16] Longsworth: The town of Amherst, and Amherst College too.
[31:18] Gerety: And College, yeah.
[31:18] Longsworth: Yeah, so she's been going off of there. She's been an Emily Dickinson scholar for 40 years, and currently doing a new biography.
[31:25] Gerety: Yeah. And, okay, so now, you’re, you're back in this job, developing the development--
[31:32] Longsworth: Yeah.
[31:33] Gerety: --effort at Amherst--
[31:33] Longsworth: Yeah.
[31:33] Gerety: --and I know one of the major policy things that did fall, in a sense, in your lap, or at least that you played a significant part, in was the development of this idea for an experimental college and which of course, became a very significant part of your life and vocation. Could we start wherever you can, I know you're working on this but what are some of the beginnings of--? [crosstalk]
[31:52] Longsworth: Yeah, well I’ve, we still don’t, we still don’t really know what happened. [laughter] Why Hampshire, why Hampshire happened. Some time in the 50s, now I won't go into all the detail here, but sometime in the 50s, somebody had the idea that it might be good to have another college here.
That was pressure from the returning veterans. And there was pressure on Smith, Mount Holyoke, and Amherst to expand and they didn't want to expand, they thought they were the right size. Well, they all did expand eventually.
And it was also a feeling of, of frustration on the part of college presidents, which of course, you wouldn't know, but faculty might be slow to respond to the brilliant ideas the President has--
[31:35] Gerety: Yes, yes. [crosstalk]
[31:35] Longsworth: So we thought, well, maybe we can get, get some brilliant ideas in a new college which is unencumbered by tradition. And then we could look at those and perhaps borrow some of them. So, um, somebody spawned the idea and got some money from the Ford Foundation, got some faculty from the colleges together--and the university--and produced a document called “A New College Plan,” which proposed a very different kind of college. And that document had a lot of circulation. And it, it had a lot to do with the founding of Evergreen College and, uh, Verrazano College, and, and a number of others that were spawned in this, in the, in the early 60s, late 50s.
But, the idea came and went as far as the five, the Four Colleges were concerned because the presidents turned over, and, and nothing happened until Harold Johnson, an Amherst, Amherst alumnus class of ‘18 came along and said to Cal Plimpton, “I have $6 million. And, uh, if that idea of a new college is still around, I'd like to explore that.”
Well, Cal, Cal took the ball and Cal really deserves 99% of the early credit for getting this thing going because he went to the other presidents and focused them on the idea, and got their agreement that this would be a good idea to do. And then he kept Harold Johnson, uh, in the waltz, and uh. So then he came to me and said, “we met at the university club one night,” and he said, “how would you like to help found a new college?”
So he told me the story. And the Amherst campaign was over, and I didn't know what I was going to do. And this seemed like an exciting idea.
[34:06] Gerety: You were still on the payroll, up here though, yeah?
[34:07] Longsworth: Still on the payroll here, yeah. So, so I said, “yeah, I'd really like to do that. That sounds exciting.” So I got, I got switched over to, to that. And we formed a thing called the Hamph--, we called the, uh, Tinker Hill Educational Trust. Well, Tinker Hill is out in--
[34:23] Gerety: Right.
[34:23] Longsworth: --the range owned by Amherst College. And it was a ski area at one point, and so I put this guise up and, and started buying, identified a site. Polly and I went one day in our Volkswagen bus and prowled over the valley in the snow, and decided this was the place it ought to be. And, um, I met Harold Johnson, Harold Johnson approved of me, and we started buying land and organizing the thing.
[34:48] Gerety: Now tell us a few stories about that. You would buy land by, I mean, would you just knock on doors, or were you waiting till things were offered? [crosstalk]
[34:54] Longsworth: No, you see that, what the beauty of this situation was that you have, you have Southeast Street, Bay Road, and then Middle Street in Hadley, and the town line of Amherst and Hadley runs down the middle of that. And there's, there's about 1800 acres. Well, and then on the other side is, uh, Moody Bridge Road. That's, it's a square, big square of about 1800 acres. And a lot of it is vacant land--
[35:18] Gerety: Yeah.
[35:18] Longsworth: --with, well, not, not vacant. That's that's poor, poor way to speak of our farmers, but it was farmland, and some was, was woodland, of course. And we were trying to do a little informal operations analysis of where a new college could be located that would be more or less equidistant in time from Smith, Mt. Holyoke, Amherst, and the University because obviously it was going to be a cooperative venture.
So, it looked to me like, it looked to Polly and me, because she was involved in this, like, that area down there was the place to be. And I went to Alan Tory, who was then the town manager, and said, “if there was, if there was to be another educational institution in Amherst, would that be too much? (After the University and Amherst take land out of circulation.) And he said “no, I think it'd be wonderful.” So I had the, kind of a green light from him.
The main piece of land, the most important piece was owned by a, by a farmer named Bob Stiles and his sister Cornelia Montague, who was a widow. Bob was a, had never been married. And Bob was a, was a very nice old Yankee farmer with a small herd of dairy cattle and not much future. And I wanted to buy his farm.
And I found Roy Blair, who was an Amherst alumnus classmate of Harold Johnson's, had the insurance agency here, Blake, Blair, Cutting and Smith. And George Mae, who was, who was--no this was, it was--yeah, George Mae who was the treasurer of Amherst. They knew Bob Stiles. Roy knew him because he was Bob Stiles’ insurance guy. So I, I confided in George and Roy what we were trying to do, and said, “would you see if you can buy Bob's farm?” So then--
[37:06] Gerety: How many acres was Bob’s farm?
[37:07] Longsworth: It was 175 acres.
[37:09] Gerety: That’s a good size.
[37:09] Longsworth: And it's the key, it's the key land on which Hampshire sits right now. That and, and, and, uh, Howard Atkins’ orchard on the, on the south and west side. So they went to see Bob Stiles and Cornelia, and said, “somebody would like to buy your farm.”
And Cornelia began to talk about Wayne, their, their deceased brother who had been a teacher in small secondary schools in the south and said “Wayne always hoped there'd be a school on our land someday.” And Roy Blair said, “well, I'm not at liberty to tell you what the people who want to buy your land want to do with it. But I can tell you Wayne would be very happy.” [laughter]
[37:49] Gerety: That’s lovely.
[37:49] Longsworth: They sold. And we hired Bob. And then I went on, I had to do with, I bought land from 18 different owners.
[38:00] Gerety: And some of it must have taken some wheedling?
[38:02] Longsworth: Oh Andy Weneczek, the Ukrainian dairy farmer just over the hill, down Bay Road. I think I called him about 15 times, always in the morning when he was milking his cow. I'd be out there at 5 o'clock. And he was very, he was very cunning, but eventually, you know, persuading him that he could have life, a life estate, we'd give him a job. And it's a lot better than being a dairy farmer.
[38:27] Gerety: Yeah.
[38:27] Longsworth: And he was terrific. He and Bob were both terrific. They, they were beloved by the students, Andy Weneczek could do anything. I mean, he was a farmer who could weld or cut or saw or be a carpenter. And Bob Stiles was the postmaster and the students loved him. And it really was, it added a lot to the flavor of Hampshire in the beginning, that these people whose land, who right there, I mean, we're building on their land and they were staying in their homes. So, we did that with a number of people and I say we bought from 18 different people and put together but 500 acres, and--
[38:58] Gerety: How much of the, in that initial phase Chuck, do you, do you recall, even roughly, what kind of investment, an investment it was to buy those hundreds of acres? [crosstalk]
[39:07] Longsworth: Oh yeah, I had I had, I had been given authority to spend up to a half million dollars on land. And we didn't spend that much, but we probably spent 200-- 250,000 maybe. And it was a neat arrangement. I was still on Amherst payroll.
I would go out in the field with blank checks, personal checks, and if I could get an option on a piece of land, I'd write a personal check. I would take the option number to Stanley Teele, who was the treasurer of Amherst, and he would cover the check, and then Harold Johnson would reimburse Amherst College. That's how we operated. And Winthrop--
[39:51] Gerety: Very quietly, in other words.
[39:52] Longsworth: --and Winthrop Dakin, Winthrop Dakin, who was a renowned, leading citizen of Amherst, Winthrop Saltonstall Dakin--Winthrop Saltonstall Dakin-who became an Amherst, or uh, Hampshire trustee was an attorney in Northampton. When I started this land buy, I didn't know anything about buying land. I never bought a piece of land in my life except a house lot. And I said, “who, who around here do I trust?” And I didn't, I couldn't think of anybody except Winthrop Dakin, and I didn't know him very well. So I went to see him and I, and I said, “here's what we're trying to do. Will you help me?” He said, “of course I'll help you.” Toby Dakin, he was called.
So he helped me in all sorts of ways, told me about options, and deeds, and searching titles. And, and about six months later, I said, “Toby, you know, you've been giving all this help. And this is detracting from your attention to your law business.” Course he was a pretty gentlemanly lawyer anyway, but, “law business,” he said, “that's just the practice of law. This is making history.”
[40:52] Gerety: Oh, that's wonderful. Yeah. And did you have that sense too, that this was quite a vision that was coming into being? [crosstalk]
[40:57] Longsworth: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. And it was in the Amherst tradition. You know, Amherst had helped found Mt. Holyoke, and the University, and the AUB, and Amherst’s, uh, you know, Terras Irradient applies to institutional formation as well. [crosstalk]
[41:10] Gerety: Yeah, even back home.
[41:11] Longsworth: Yeah.
[41:11] Gerety: And did Cal have a sense that he was, with Mr. Johnson's money that he was, in effect sacrificing a gift that might have been made to the College that he was being--
[41:20] Longsworth: No, we knew about that.
[41:21] Gerety: --or was, was Mr. Johnson bound and determined to do something different.
[41:26] Longsworth: He’d, he’d given, he had given Amherst in the campaign maybe $100,000, or something like that. And he'd been saving his money for a grand philanthropic gesture. He only had, he only had $12 million. And he thought he would give it to, I think Planned Parenthood. But he explored that and concluded that he couldn't make enough dent that way. So he got around to think about this idea. And the Ford Foundation had originally told us that if we raised six, they'd give us six. So he pledged the 6 million, half his net worth.
[42:07] Gerety: That’s amazing.
[42:08] Longsworth: He was a great investor; in a year, he'd made it up. But-- [laughter]
[42:11] Gerety: That says something. Probably got him going.
[42:13] Longsworth: And he just dolled it out as we needed it. We’d just call him and say, “Harold, we need 100,000.” And he’d transfer it.
[42:19] Gerety: Now, now Chuck, that would have taken you up into what years, you're still on the Amherst payroll--
[42:23] Longsworth: Yeah.
[42:23] Gerety: --but you’re beginning to spend more and more time on this new vision of an experimental college. [crosstalk]
[42:27]Longsworth: See, I, I started on this in, um, in early ‘65. And I went on the Amherst, I went on the Hampshire payrolls, I think sometime in the summer of, um--no, probably early in, early in ‘66, I would guess, I'd have to go back and reconstruct this exactly from, you know, from-- But--
[42:48] Gerety: Kept your office over at Amherst College, or?
[42:50] Longsworth: Yeah, I kept my office over at Amherst College, yeah.
[42:52] Gerety: Which by now had moved, since Walker Hall was gone. You had to have moved it.
[42:55] Longsworth: Oh, yeah. It was over, it was over in College Hall.
[42:58] Gerety: Yeah.
[42:58] Longsworth: It was over in College Hall, about where, about where Peter Shea is.
[43:02] Gerety: The treasurer.
[43:02] Longsworth: Yeah. Or maybe next to that. [crosstalk]
[43:04] Gerety: Upstairs, on the, you know, where the old-- [crosstalk]
[43:05] Longsworth: Yeah. It’d, we’d redone Walker Hall--I mean redone College Hall--
[43:07] Gerety: College Hall. From the old church. [crosstalk]
[43:08] Longsworth: --at that point, the way it is now.
Yeah, so, so with Cal Plimpton’s leadership, we organized a small board which was the presidents of the other colleges plus Toby Dakin, Harold Johnson. And then we--Charlie Cole was on the board. And then we set out to get authority to grant degrees and we got that. We didn't have a college but we had authority to grant any degree except a medical degree. And that was nice to have.
[43:47] Gerety: Yes, very good.
[43:38] Longsworth: So, so then we, we started, we, we reinstituted, we reinstituted a planning phase whereby I recruited faculty from each of the colleges and the university to relook at the new college plan and produce an up-to-date version. And then we started a search for a president. And, that search went along until we found Franklin Patterson, who was at Tufts, and had been a Southern California political scientist, very much caught up with Jerry, um--
[44:16] Gerety: Bruner was a psychologist.
[44:17] Longsworth: --Bruner, with--
[44:18] Gerety: Jerome Bruner. Yeah.
[44:19] Longsworth: Yeah, with Jerry Bruner, Jerome Bruner. And a lot of other people who were getting federal money and were in Boston, there was a lot of turmoil--
[44:24] Gerety: Experiments, the beginnings of Headstart--
[44:26] Longsworth: Yeah.
[44:26] Gerety: --a lot of educational experimentation, yeah. [crosstalk]
[44:27] Longsworth: A lot of stuff going on that was exciting and interesting. And math programs and so forth. And Patterson was very much caught up in that business. And he was successful, he was recruited successfully and, and he was the right man. He came on. And, um, I remember him going out in the snow, he hadn't decided whether to do this. We went out to look at the Stiles fields in the snow. And I thought, “I don't know if he'll do this or not.” It was pretty barren looking. But he, he took it on and he was appointed president, and then he asked me if I would please stay on and be the vice president. So there'd be two of us. [laughter] So, I said sure. [crosstalk]
[45:05] Gerety: So that was the payroll. Well, you had--
[45:07] Longsworth: Well--
[45:08] Gerety: --then Mr. Stiles, and your--
[45:09] Longsworth: Well, we did. Yeah. We had Stiles. And we had, we got a couple of assistants, a couple of, of aides. Ruth Hammond, who had been, who had been an assistant to Hutchins at University of Chicago--
[45:26] Gerety: So she knew something.
[45:27] Longsworth: --and she worked for Patterson, and Ginger Aldrich worked with me. And then we each hired an assistant Ken Rosenthal, Amherst graduate, lawyer. And, uh, and, uh, I can think of it if I'm not sitting here with a camera, David Matz, who was a Harvard lawyer.
[45:47] Gerety: Dan Matz.
[45:47] Longsworth: He was a graduate of Brandeis and Harvard Law School and Ken was Amherst and Yale Law School. And they came on as assistants to Patterson and me. But before that happened was Patterson and I, but mostly Patterson, and he, he deserves the bulk of the credit for this conceptualization, sat down in the summer of ‘66. And wrote The Making of a College published by the MIT Press.
[46:12] Gerety: Right.
[46:12] Longsworth: Patterson would work on this from 10 in the morning till 2 the next morning.
[46:17] Gerety: Wow.
[46:17] Longsworth: Day after day after day. And he and I discussed some ideas. And I wrote, I wrote one chapter and I did the financial planning and so forth. But Patterson created the ideas that created the excitement that helped enlist faculty, and helped recruit students and help raise money and really get the place going. And it was, there's no question it was Patterson's college in, in, in the conceptualization of an institution and, and that's what it became. And so, we went forward, you know, we raised money. We did all sorts of stuff, there are endless stories here, but I won't [laughter] recite them all.
But we got, we got on Bertha Wilkins’ list, which was essential if you were going to get federal money. Bertha Wilkins kept a list of accredited colleges. We weren't accredited, and we weren't a candidate for accreditation. But we got the New England Association of Schools and Colleges to adopt a third category which is, which is “Correspondent of the Commission.”
[47:23] Gerety: Yes.
[47:23] Longsworth: And that got us on Bertha's list. Then we get federal money. Ken Rosenthal and I go to Washington and scoop it up, it was great.
[47:29] Gerety: That’s terrific. And, and when did you actually open your doors, and--?
[47:33] Longsworth: We, we opened in 1970. Fall in 1970. We accepted--
[47:38] Gerety: With a freshman class? Or did you have a four-year class? [crosstalk]
[47:40] Longsworth: We had, we had--no, we just had, we had about a dozen fellows who were transfers. So we would, we would get a few graduates in due course. And then we had 250 first-year students, never called ‘em “freshmen,” you know, and we had accepted 252. And we got 250.
[48:02] Gerety: So this was a place that had a hell of a yield?
[48:03] Longsworth: We had plenty of, plenty of applicants. So they were terrific young people, and all excited about this new Jerusalem which it turned out not to be of course, you know, it was still people doing, doing a college. [laughter]
But we opened in ‘70. And we had one dormitory and we had 250 students. And we had a faculty, you know, deans, so forth. And then at the end of the year, Patterson decided to resign.
[48:28] Gerety: And what was that all about, Chuck? I mean, is that worth inquiring into? [crosstalk]
[48:31] Longsworth: Well, it was all about a lot of things and it was partly about, partly about his domestic situation, which was not ideal, I guess. It was partly about, um, his feeling, which he always did, that somehow as a Southern Californian, a Southern Californian and a lapsed Roman Catholic that he wasn't quite accepted. He used to say, “I'm not really clubbable.” That was his favorite term, “you’re clubbable. I'm not really clubbable.”
But it was driven more by the domestic situation, I think. Because he went off to University of Massachusetts with a tenured professorship, and his wife were divorced and he married another, another younger woman. And that wasn't a happy time for anybody, including him, I think.
[49:29] Gerety: And you, you just immediately succeeded him? Or did, when did you become president? [crosstalk]
[49:33] Longsworth: Not immediately; I think it took the trustees quite a long time to draw their, to draw their breath. [laughter]
[49:39] Gerety: And was it a big deal? You were in Hamp-
[49:41] Longsworth: This was May.
[49:42] Gerety: Yeah.
[49:42] Longsworth: This was May of the first year.
[49:43] Gerety: So you, had you graduated, or you hadn't even graduated this year?
[49:46] Longsworth: No. And the founder, and father of the place is resigning.
[49:52] Gerety: After, yeah. A terrible blow.
[49:54] Longsworth: Yeah, so the trustees, the trustees didn't have a lot of options. I was excited about it. They, they decided to take their chances on me. So, there I was, you know, not an academic, and this didn't sit very well with a lot of the faculty. But I got, I think, I think I gained some faculty support and friendships over the way, over the years. And, uh, we went forward.
[50:23] Gerety: Yeah, you spent a good seven years there, right?
[50:25] Longsworth: Built the place. We went from one dormitory to, went from 250 students to 1300. We built 18 buildings, raised about $35 million.
[50:35] Gerety: Amazing. Wow.
[50:36] Longsworth: Yeah, you know, so it worked out.
[50:37] Gerety: Worked out, yeah.
[50:38] Longsworth: Wasn’t me.
[50:38] Gerety: Yeah.
[50:38] Longsworth: I mean, it was, we had, we had some really terrific people there. Terrific people and a wonderful board, but a lot of help from Amherst College and a lot of help from the other colleges and the University and, you know, it was a happy, it was a difficult, difficult, rewarding experience.
[50:53] Gerety: Yeah.
[50:54] Longsworth: I mean, our budgets were such that we used to argue over $100.
Every meeting we had with students would end up on Vietnam and nuclear war and investing in South Africa no matter what the subject of the meeting. So it was, it was, it was a frothy time there. And the absence of traditions is a plus. But it's a real negative too. Because--
[51:16] Gerety: What do you mean?
[51:17] Longsworth: --there's no way you've done things before you're doing it for the first time. [laughter]
[51:19] Gerety: You’re always deciding everything.
[51:21] Longsworth:Yeah, you decide everything anew.
[51:22] Gerety: Tell us a little bit about the decision, the change in your own vocation,--
[51:26] Longsworth: Well--
[51:27] Gerety: --and then the return.
[51:28] Longsworth: Well, Colonial Williamsburg was strictly a bit of dumb luck.
I really shouldn't have had a long tenure at Hampshire because I built it, but it needed, it needed an infusion of academic talent and leadership that I wasn't going to provide. And Adele Simmons did provide it. And Bob Bernie, of course, who was the Vice President of Education provided it, so that was a, that was an opportune time for somebody to come along and say,
“why don't you, why don’t you come and look at Williamsburg?” And college presidents, even, even as strange of one as I was, are well qualified for it, for the Williamsburg job.
[52:05] Gerety: Right.
[52:05] Longsworth: Because it's housing--
[52:07] Gerety: Campus.
[52:07] Longsworth: --it's education--
[52:08] Gerety: Yeah.
[52:08] Longsworth: --it's a campus, it's fundraising, it's a not-for-profit. And, you know, I was, I was well-suited for that. And, and I liked it, it was really an exciting job. I went from a budget where we argued over $100 to 30-- 3,500 employees and a very ample budget, a big endowment, and, and really an opportunity to do things. So, you know, that was, that was really a great, great change. And it was an exciting, exciting experience to live in the South. It was very different, very different, it was hard on my kids. My daughters didn't like it down there.
[52:43] Gerety: Huh. They would have been how old at that point?
[52:46] Longsworth: Well, the younger ones were only five and six.
[52:48] Gerety: So they really grew up--
[52:49] Longsworth: Yeah, they spent quite a lot of time there. They loved the historic area, and they loved dressing up as, as 18th century girls, but the school system was, was really sexist. Really sexist.
[53:00] Gerety: Was it racially integrated, Chuck?
[53:02] Longsworth: Racially, very racially integrated. Yeah, very racially integrated. Thanks to, to Lewis Powell who had been, who had been chairman of the Williams board, Williamsburg board and was, was chairman of the, of the Virginia State School Board.
[53:19] Gerety: Yeah.
[52:19] Longsworth: And he really, he really--
[53:21] Gerety: Championed.
[53:21] Longsworth: --promulgated integration, and was a great man. And became chairman of our, like I said, chairman of our board, as well as a Supreme Court justice. But, um, the schools were integrated. So then they were, then they were segregated by, by aptitude. And so you really had, our girls were in classes that were almost all white. And there were two or three levels in the fourth grade, and then there were--
[53:49] Gerety: And the boys were to do certain things and the girls?
[53:51] Longsworth: Yeah, but the black kids, the black kids were all at one level. Even though the school was integrated. They never intermixed much because of--
[54:00] Gerety: And was it hard on Polly? Because you'd see--
[54:02] Longsworth: Polly was--
[54:02] Gerety: Polly seems to me like the quintessential New Englander, uh, an expert on Emily Dickinson-- [crosstalk]
[54:05] Longsworth: Yeah. It was hard on her in a couple respects. It was hard on her in that, um, there wasn't much Emily Dickinson scholarship at the College of William and Mary, and not much interest. You know, Emily at that point was emerging from being a great New England woman poet--
[54:22] Gerety: Woman, yeah.
[54:22] Longsworth: --to where she is now, which is one of the world's great poets. [crosstalk]
[54:25] Gerety: Great world’s poets, yeah.
[54:25] Longsworth: Never mind that she's a woman or a man. [laughter]
So that was hard on her. Secondly, she had, she had a lot of responsibility, because it was assumed that we were a couple, a team, like it was assumed in those days at colleges, many places, ministers, so forth. On the other hand, she had a wonderful house, she had help. She had an unlimited entertainment budget, she had a big travel budget, and she got lots of rewards out of that.
Our European trips and dealing with outstanding French and German chefs and so, and learning a lot and she was good at it, chefs loved her. So it turned out, except for Emily Dickinson, to be to be a very rewarding experience for her but not forever and we were there for 17 years, for a long time, uh, and--
[55:19] Gerety: And how did your re-engagement with the College then occur? Because here you'd had these invitations, you had it, you, you, Charlie Cole had picked you out, Cal had picked you out--
[55:29] Longsworth: Yeah.
[55:29] Gerety: --Al Guest had been your great proponent, uh--
[55:32] Longsworth: And also Spike Beitzel. Spike and I were, were and are close, close friends and I had gotten him involved in the Amherst campaign as Chair of one of the phases of the campaign and that was really his first serious engagement with, with Amherst as an alumnus, I think his first serious engagement. And he did such a good job that he was subsequently invited to join the board. And then he became Chairman of the board. And as Chairman of the board, he persuaded the board that I ought to be invited to join the board. And so, so in ‘81 I was invited to join the board which I accepted with great excitement and gratitude. And I became a board member.
[56:18] Gerety: Tell us about that. So Spike was now the Chair--
[56:20] Longsworth: Spike was Chair.
[56:20] Gerety: --this was ‘81, you've been down to Col--, you're well established at Colonial Williamsburg--
[56:22] Longsworth: Yeah, I’m up there at Colonial Williamsburg, so I’m coming back and forth. And Spike had succeeded George Shinn. The board was, was a very different board from the one I described when I was Assistant to the President. It was a much more diverse board in every sense: occupationally, age, sex.
And that was a good board and Spike was a strong, strong board leader, he was a, of course, a very senior guy at IBM. And he had a pretty good sense of the Academy. He had a strong sense of, of the business side of Amherst and of the traditions, he loved Amherst. He was a distinguished graduate and that was all fine.
And he had been established as Chair by a new process that some of us cooked up, whereby the Chair without a term would nevertheless normally serve six years. And the Chair would be chosen in a, in a confidential process, with the aid of a former trustee, interviewing each board member individually, asking “what you think is going on with the board? How well is it doing what could we do better? Who should the next chair be? And if you were chosen, would you serve?” I mean, those are the questions they were asked confidentially, one at a time.
And then that retired trustee came to the, came to the Chairman, then Chairman, and would say, “okay, it looks like the board wants Spike as the next chair,” and then that would be it. No politicking. No, no, no, heir-in-waiting as the Vice Chair or anything. So Spike was chosen by that process, and subsequently, so was Tom Wyman, who was one of my college roommates. And so was I. And so it was Amos Hostetter.
[58:08] Gerety: Amos Hostetter, yeah. Presumably this system will in one way or another go on for years.
[58:13] Longsworth: I hope so, I hope it does. I think that--
[58:15] Gerety: What it achieves, let's just go over that with some care. The concern you had, those of you who designed this system, the concerns I should say, in the plural were what exactly? I mean, politics, chiefly? That there would be rivalries emerging through backstabbing or back gossip?
[58:32] Longsworth: Harry Knight came to me and said, said, “we've got to choose a new Chair. Do you have any ideas?: Well, I, I guess I have to say I cooked this thing up, I cooked, I wasn't on the board but I cooked up the idea of doing this, this, this interviewing process, and Harry liked it. And he, he took it to the board and they adopted it. And that's how that, that's how it came about.
[58:52] Gerety: And if you were to talk to future boards or the present board and say why this is a good way, a better way than any alternative way or, then, the alternatives we know, what would your account be? What would you have to explain? [crosstalk]
[59:03] Longsworth: Well the, the principal reason, I think, is because it minimizes politicking. The principal disadvantage is that it precludes, not entirely, but it probably precludes some of the conversation would occur if there were candidates and people were discussing them.
[59:59] Gerety: Right.
[59:20] Longsworth: But it means that there is neither a candidate running for it, nor somebody promoting his friend or colleague or ally--
[59:28] Gerety: Or cutting down another one.
[59:30] Longsworth: Yeah. And it is, it has been so well done. It's been so confidential that people only speculate about who the, who the candidates might be. Because all you know is that “I thought that x ought to be the new Chair.” And what happens is that enough X's come together to form a consensus, but nobody's ever been unanimous. It has been, I mean, bare majorities most of the time. So--
[59:57] Gerety: Yeah.
[59:57] Longsworth: --we’ve had good competition and good, good candidates among the people who could be chairs. And it's, it's, it's been very interesting. And it also avoids what I think is a, is a problem with many boards where somebody is elected Vice Chair in anticipation of his/her succeeding. And then the dynamics change, and lots of things change. And then you have the situation where you don't necessarily want that person, but you're stuck.
[1:00:24] Gerety: Chuck, I remember when you hired me as President, you mentioned that Amherst College, although it technically has on the board, an executive committee doesn't actively have an executive committee.
[1:00:38] Longsworth: True.
[1:00:38] Gerety: And, as I think you said to me, the only time you need an executive committee is, as when Julian died on the ski slopes--
[1:00:44] Longsworth: Yeah.
[1:00:44] Gerety: --the, some emergency occurs--
[1:00:46] Longsworth: Yeah, yeah.
[1:00:46] Gerety: --and you have to convene an authoritative portion of the board virtually overnight or in a big hurry. What has been, I mean, tell me a little bit about your own, tell us a little bit about your sense of board governance and what the ideals are. Why, why executive committees don't make sense. They're very common in other schools.
[1:01:03] Longsworth: I learned, I learned a lot about governance, uh, frome Spike Bietzel. And he learned a lot about governance at IBM, but it's also ‘cause he's smart. And I learned about, [the] executive committee idea was, was something I learned from him. You have to have an executive committee if the board is too big. But if the board isn't any bigger than ours, say 20, it was 18 at that time, then an executive committee creates two classes of Trustees.
[1:01:38] Gerety: Right. The inside and the outside, yeah. [crosstalk]
[1:01:39] Longsworth: And this is what you want to avoid, because the executive committee gets to be the source of primary, of the work and of decisions, and the board becomes something that simply rubber stamps what the executive committee has concluded.
[1:01:54] Gerety: It's as if there were a real board and a kind of a show board. [crosstalk]
[1:01:57] Longsworth: That’s right. I was on a big bank board. And I was on the executive committee; we had about 25 Trust--, 25 directors, and the Executive Committee met every month. We decided virtually everything. And then it went to the board, and it went through the same agenda. And they decided the same thing we did. So it was not only, not only boring for those of us who went through it twice, but it was wasteful.
But it's mostly in a situation like this, you know, the not-for-profit boards are such fragile things. And they, they depend so much on trust, and on truthfulness, and on openness, and on equality. And if you don't have those qualities, you have an unhappy board. And if you have an unhappy board with anger or frustration, then you can't be open and you can't get things done. And creating two classes of Trustees is an invitation to, to resentment and envy and the things that follow. So I think it's, it's very wise.
The Amherst board is, has been an exemplary board in that regard. You know, the, the fact that some trustees are elected by the, by the alumni and some by the board has not meant a, meant a thing and my experience as to whether the person who is elected has standing and authority, you earn your authority by your performance.
Amherst trustees come to almost all meetings, they seldom miss. They leave their egos outside, they, it doesn't matter who he or she is in real life, here, you're an Amherst trustee and you're doing your best for this College. And I really am impressed with what we've done as a board. And it's, it of course, it doesn't just happen. It gets established through tradition and good leadership. And we've had a lot of that, I think, in the presidencies and in the board chairs.
[1:03:41] Gerety: And did you, it's often said, Chuck, by members of the board to younger new members, when they join, “you need to pick something out, work on a committee, become knowledgeable in one area, and then generally thoughtful across the range of the board's interests and decisions.” Did, looking back on it now, you came to the board as someone who had enormous and deep knowledge of the town, of the Five College arrangements, because you've been a president within the Five Colleges--
[1:04:13] Longsworth: Yeah.
[1:04:14] Gerety: As you emerged as a board leader, and I know you might have been too modest to say that in the old days, but looking back, you clearly did. What, how did your interests develop on the board, independent of the interest you had had as a Hampshire president and as Assistant to the President?
[1:04:28] Longsworth: Well, it is followed, followed through, Tom, followed suit. I was interested in, in the development activity, I was interested in buildings and grounds. I was, I was interested in, well it wasn't formalized, but, but the relations between the board and the faculty. So when we had Committee of Six meetings or, or educational policy meetings, that was of great interest to me, and, and I was interested in, in the management of our finances, which I think is, uh, very, very important--our budget and our finances.
And, and I think I, I think I introduced formally the idea of financial equilibrium, where we grow our, our income and expenses at the same rate, we protect the purchasing power of the endowment. We, we, we, we maintain the campus in perpetuity, and we maintain the quality of salaries and benefits and recruiting ability. So we have the right staff and faculty.
[1:05:29] Gerety: And Chuck, that's an interesting point because it seemed to me as I came in, as President nine years ago, succeeding Peter, the towards the end of Peter Pouncey’s 10 years as president, the priorities planning effort had, had formalized the articulation of this, formalized this principle of financial equilibrium, what I guess I would call more informally using the jargon of environmentalism, sustainability--
[1:05:57] Longsworth: Yeah, that’s right, that’s right.
[1:05:58] Gerety: --and all the various factors that play financially, and thus otherwise, are workable over a long, long haul.
[1:06:05] Longsworth: Yep.
[1:06:06] Gerety: It is notable that from your period with Cal through your period with me, I think there, had there been another capital campaign? Or was, did you in fact have a major hand in both of the significant capital campaigns? Or was there a third? [crosstalk]
[1:06:24] Longsworth: No, there was a capital campaign in the 80s.
[1:06:26] Gerety: Which would have been under--
[1:06:28] Longsworth: Under, um--
[1:06:30] Gerety: So you had Cal’s that would have ended in the ‘60s, right? Then did Bill get to do one? [crosstalk]
[1:06:34] Longsworth: Cal, the campaign with Cal ended in, uh, ‘64 or 5.
[1:06:40] Gerety: Right.
[1:06:41] Longsworth: And then there wasn't one for a long time, um--
[1:06:45] Gerety: So Bill Ward [crosstalk]
[1:06:46] Longsworth: --I think it may have ended with Peter Pouncey.
[1:06:48] Gerety: So at the outset of Peter, there's something concluded there early on in the passage from Julian Gibbs--
[1:06:54] Longsworth: When did Peter, when did Peter come, come on?
[1:06:56] Gerety: He must have come in ‘84, uh, I think that I--
[1:07:00] Longsworth: Well I think it was during his tenure.
[1:07:02] Gerety: An early portion of it.
[1:07:03] Longsworth: Yeah.
[1:07:03] Gerety: And would that have been finishing off when the Julian had started?
[1:07:06] Longsworth: No, I don't think so. I think it was started afresh. I think it was about $50 million.
[1:07:10] Gerety: A small campaign.
[1:07:11] Longsworth: John-- well, that wasn't so small at the time.
[1:07:12] Gerety: Okay.
[1:07:13] Longsworth: John Callahan was the development chief, and uh--
[1:07:17] Gerety: Okay. Yeah, I guess the numbers look so different when you look at our period. [crosstalk]
[1:07:20] Longsworth: And, uh, and Ed Ney was, Ed Ney was Chair of the thing, I believe. Yeah, Ed was. But we'd had a long gap and that, that's something that we learned we shouldn't do. We had a long gap from the one, the first we were talking about with Cal, until the one we're talking about now. And other institutions like Williams had one in between and Amherst suffered I think. [crosstalk]
[1:07:39] Gerety: And maybe bigger ones, I don't know.
[1:07:40] Longsworth: Yeah, I don't, I don't know either, but I, and I think Amherst suffered from not, from, from irregularity.
[1:07:46] Gerety: Well, I need to underscore this, Chuck, that when I came on, it was, one of the headlines in the hiring discussion from you to me, from the search committee and the board to me, we are going to run comprehensive capital campaigns regularly and--
[1:08:05] Longsworth: Yeah.
[1:08:05] Gerety: --fiercely, if you will. And we're going to do it successfully. We're going to build on the fact that we have a loyal alumni body--
[1:08:11] Longsworth: Right.
[1:08:11] Gerety: --and that they're giving every year, to ask for larger gifts and, and punctuate that decade by decade--
[1:08:17] Longsworth: Yeah, that’s right.
[1:08:18] Gerety: --period by period.
[1:08:18] Longsworth: Well, its continuous campaigning with, with bursts of public campaigning, that's what it amounts to now.
[1:08:22] Gerety: Yeah.
[1:08:22] Longsworth: Continuous campaigning, continuous cultivation, continuous accumulation of capital gifts, then once in a while you go public and try to escalate and escalate and escalate. So your total giving increases every year.
[1:08:35] Gerety: But there's a, you could draw a line through it that would show up.
[1:08:38] Longsworth: That’s right.
[1:08:38] Gerety: A progressive, steady increase. [crosstalk]
[1:08:40] Longsworth: That’s right, that's right.
[1:08:41] Gerety: Now, this notion of sustainability or equilibrium, has many features, but a couple of, perhaps no feature more prominent than the notion that we should not be drawing down on the endowment overly aggressively.
[1:08:55] Longsworth: Right.
[1:08:56] Gerety: And I think it is true to the history of the College, in the, in the period that you came aboard, that that principle emerged somewhat slowly. These were stressful times, the Carter years of high inflation and so on had preceded it.
When did the board begin to say, “we need to draw down at a lower rate on our endowment.” When did it, because it seemed to me to represent some kind of an insight competitively into the situations of Wellesley and Williams and others that they were doing, that they had perhaps more discipline with their, with their expenditures. [crosstalk]
[1:09:30] Longsworth: This, uh, this coincided with my becoming Chair.
[1:09:32] Gerety: Okay. Putting in modestly. Yeah. [laughter]
[1:09:35] Longsworth: It, uh, we were drawing down 8% prior years, and that's just not sustainable.
[1:09:41] Gerety: And was that out of unselfconsciousness, Chuck? Just a, a--
[1:09:44] Longsworth: Well, I can't say it was, because after all--
[1:09:47] Gerety: You were on the board. [crosstalk]
[1:09:47] Longsworth: Tom Wyman was Chair, and Tom Wyman was a mighty smart guy and, and he had been chairman of the Finance Committee.
There’s some, there's some relationship between that drawdown and the commitment the, the board made to faculty salaries. But that wasn't all of it. And I think we'd gotten a little bit negligent perhaps. So we worked our way down pretty rapidly a couple of points, a point and a half or so a year. Took three or four years--
[1:10:12] Gerety: Yeah, I remember.
[1:10:12] Longsworth: --to get down to around four and a half percent. But we got a lot of, a lot of help from, uh, I mean, nobody, nobody had a problem with that. We had a lot of help from Sharon Siegel, who did an excellent job as treasurer.
[1:10:22] Gerety: Did you and she come in at the same time, you as Chair and she as treasurer, or no?
[1:10:27] Longsworth: Um, no.
[1:10:27] Gerety: When, when did you become Chairman of the board?
[1:10:29] Longsworth: In, in, uh, ‘92?
[1:10:34] Gerety: Okay. So she was probably just treasurer a year or so before that.
[1:10:39] Longsworth: ‘92. Was that right? ‘92? Yeah, I think it was ‘92. When did-- [crosstalk]
[1:10:42] Gerety: Oh, a couple of years have years. I became President in ‘94. So you, were you--
[1:10:45] Longsworth: Yeah, that’s right.
[1:10:46] Gerety: --solidly in the saddle, but you weren't, yeah.
[1:10:48] Longsworth: Yeah. We need to talk about, about your search, which is a good piece of history.
[1:10:54] Gerety: Okay, let's. Let's do it. Tell us about the search.
[1:10:57] Longsworth: The search committee was big, 18 people.
[1:11:00] Gerety: Too big, almost?
[1:11:02] Longsworth: Oh, it was, it was very unwieldy.
[1:11:04] Gerety: Yeah. And you decided to chair it, or the board wanted you to. [crosstalk]
[1:11:06] Longsworth: I decided to chair it. Yeah, I decided to chair it. And we had, so we had faculty, we had students, we had staff, we had alumni, we had trustees. And of course there could be trustees who are alumni, but people identified as alumni, not trustees who are alumni. All together 18 people. And--
[1:11:31] Gerety: So John Chandler, the former president of Williams and Hamilton-- [crosstalk]
[1:11:33] Longsworth: John Chandler, former president of Williams was a consultant. It took me a while to persuade the committee, some of the committee, that we should have anybody help us. “Amherst is so attractive, it'll just, we'll have flocks of good candidates, we don’t have to worry about that sort of thing.”
But we finally got John Chandler. I was, I think persuasive with John Chandler because he was really not a search guy. He was a former college president. After all, we know who Williams is.
[1:11:59] Gerety: Yeah.
[1:12:00] Longsworth: And he was in a not-for-profit. All these things were forgiving. So John Chandler came on board. And John Chandler was wonderful, absolutely wonderful. And so was Jerry Mager, and Gerry Mager and John and I used to, used to convene before every meeting, and we met every week. We met every week on Friday night and Saturday morning either in Boston or in New York for about 16 weeks.
[1:12:20] Gerety: Wow.
[1:12:21] Longsworth: It was really remarkable, and almost full attendance. And Gerry and John and I would get together and say, “what do we want to get done today?” And then we'd agree on what we wanted to get done. And then depending how it went, John would chime in with, “well, here's an idea I have.” [laughter] And then we’d find that a good idea and we’d proceed.
But, we searched and we searched, and we had some good candidates, but we were fairly late. And Amos Hostetter, talking with a woman who was president of, of a women's college in Southeastern Massachusetts. So, we, he was talking with her, and he said “we're still looking for the really right person,” and she said “have you thought about Tom Gerety at Trinity?”
[1:13:00] Gerety: This was towards the end, I presume of the 16 weeks. [crosstalk]
[1:13:02] Longsworth: Yeah, this was fairly late in the search. No, we'd been searching since, let's see, this was December. And we'd been searching since Summer I think. And so, Amos came to the committee with, with that name. And it was agreed that I would check it out. So I called Tom Gerety. It was a, it was just about 10 days before Christmas if I remember, Tom. [crosstalk]
[1:13:27] Gerety: Yeah, exactly right.
[1:13:29] Longsworth: And I got you on the phone. And you were very cheerful and friendly. And I said, “we're looking for a president of Amherst,” which of course you knew, “and your name has come up and the committee would like to know if you'd be interested in being a candidate.” Well, you took off and started talking about Amherst, and you were clearly well informed. You talked for 45 minutes about Amherst and how Amherst could be even better than it is. And it was very good, you thought.
And I thought you were really terrific. I mean, I thought, “gee, here’s a guy who knows what he's talking about. And he's been at Trinity. And, and, and he, he has ideas for Amherst that are sound ideas.” So I said, “well, Tom, would you be a candidate?”
And you said, “well, I have to talk to Adelia. And I've only been at Trinity for a little under five years. I'm not, I’m not really sure I could leave here in good conscience. But I'll call you during Christmas week and let you know.” So I said, “fine.” So you call during Christmas week and you said, “I've talked with Adelia and I've thought about it. I can't be the candidate.”
And I was crestfallen. I was really shattered. And I didn’t know what to say. And I, you said I laughed. I did not laugh. I was probably--
[1:14:48] Gerety: I remember it, you were laughing and saying, “well”-- [crosstalk]
[1:14:49] Longsworth --I was probably crying. [laughter] Anyway. So, so I didn't know what to say. So I finally said, “Tom, I am not accepting that answer.” Didn’t I?
[1:15:00] Gerety: I remember that, yeah.
[1:15:00] Longsworth: “I am not accepting that answer.” And we parted on the telephone, and I said, “well, what do I do now? I didn't accept his answer. I don't know what to do.” So I called Pat MacPherson who was president at Bryn Mawr, who was on our board and a wonderful, wonderful trustee.
[1:15:15] Gerety: Now the Chair, by the way, as of, I think, this summer, of Smith, right?
[1:15:19] Longsworth: Yes, that's right. Chair of Smith, and she shared the chair, chaired the search committee that found Carol Christ.
[1:15:24] Gerety: Right.
[1:15:25] Longsworth: So I said, Pat, “here's the situation: I called Gerety. And we talked and he came back and he said, he won't be a trus--, he can't be a candidate.” Said, “do you know him very well?” Said, “oh, yeah, I know him pretty well, we worked together on some presidents thing.”
[1:15:39] Gerety: Discussion group, yeah.
[1:15:40] Longsworth: Said, “you want me to call him?” And I said, “yeah, please call him and see if you can persuade him.” So she said she would and she called. And she called me back and she said, “well, he won't agree to be a candidate. But he'll agree to meet with the committee.”
[1:15:53] Gerety: [laughter] Yeah, I, uh--
[1:15:55] Longsworth: Which was really slicing the bologna pretty thin.
[1:15:57] Gerety: Thin, right. [laughter]
[1:15:58] Longsworth: So, so it all went from there. You came to the committee as a, as a non-candidate. And, uh, and we soon invited you to become president. And you agreed.
[1:16:11] Gerety: Yeah.
[1:16:11] Longsworth: And that was one of the happier--
[1:16:12] Gerety: And Trinity just loved that. [crosstalk]
[1:16:14] Longsworth: Trinity loved it. [crosstalk]
[1:16:14] Gerety: That was one of the great moments of my career [laughter]
[1:16:15] Longsworth: Well, it was too bad. I felt, I felt bad for Trinity. And I'd call Trinity, I’d called, I’d called the dean. I'd call the Chairman of the board. And I'd had glowing reports on you, you know, “he walks on water,” “students worship the ground he walks on,” “trustees think he, think he's next to God.” And they change their minds about you very fast.
[1:16:35] Gerety: Very quickly, yeah.
[1:16:35] Longsworth: And it was not becoming to Trinity, Trinity I think. It was not first-class institutional response. They should have said, “we loved Tom and we'll get somebody even better. And good luck.”
[1:16:46] Gerety: Yeah.
[1:16:46] Longsworth: So anyway, we were blessed and it was one of the happier times in my life and working with you has been one of the happier times of my life.
[1:16:52] Gerety: Yeah, it was, it's been good here. Yeah. You know, before we close Chuck, we oughta say one of the striking features of your involvement with governance at Amherst has been that you've held many a post in effect from “Green Dean,” not quite “Green Dean,”-- [crosstalk]
[1:17:09] Longsworth: Yep. [laughter]
[1:17:09] Gerety: --but from a young man coming in as an Assistant to the President on through Chairman of the board, head of the search committee. Now you're a life trustee and a life chair, you have the honorary role of life chair.
As you look back, one of the issues that continues to linger in boards is, is this issue: how long is a good period of service on a board? And I know you were instrumental in shifting that somewhat, and what sorts of involvements do you feel that you should have in your period after you've left the board as a fully operational chair or member? And I'm just curious for a little philosophy on the board. [crosstalk]
[1:17:50] Longsworth: Well, service, you know, service, I think it's fairly plain what I think because I helped the board initiate a change in the bylaws whereby no one person can serve more than two consecutive terms. And when we wrote that bylaw, I really meant that would be it. Now I gather there's a change in the bylaws now, which allows the possibility of an exemplary trustee who is needed coming back on the board.
[1:18:14] Gerety: Especially a younger one--
[1:18:15] Longsworth: Yeah.
[1:18:15] Gerety: --who may have served very young.
[1:18:16] Longsworth: Yeah. But fundamentally, I think that the idea still, is still very extant, that you can serve two terms. Now, of course, we elect trustees, by the board and we elect trustees from the alumni body. And each, whether elected one way or the other, has a six year term. Then the trustee-elected person is eligible for a second six year term. The person elected by the alumni is eligible to be elected by the board--
[1:18:48] Gerety: For one.
[1:18:49] Longsworth: --for one term. And that, to me, is, is a sound approach. Because it precludes people being here too long, getting stale, getting tired, getting bored. It puts more former trustees out into the body politic to, to praise the skies and understand what goes on at Amherst. It gives more people a chance to serve as trustee, which is the obverse of that.
And it, it helps the college respond to current needs by shifting the composition of the board as the needs of the college change. So I think it's a, I think it's a very solid approach. The risk is that now everybody will have two six-year terms. And so I appointed myself as Chair of the Governance Committee and instituted a change whereby the people in the Governance Committee are entirely persons in their second terms--
[1:19:52] Gerety: Right.
[1:19:52] Longsworth: --so there's no self interest involved. And then we have to make very hard judgments about whether somebody merits a second term. And we went through that initially with a couple of very good trustees whom we just felt oughta turnover, and we ought to get some other people, and I hope that will establish that tradition. So 12 years isn’t automatic.
[1:20:11] Gerety: And I think that has, I mean, it depends on how severe you want to be. But it does seem that about half of the people are not renewed and about half are, so you are getting some kind of subjectivity. [crosstalk]
[1:20:21] Longsworth: I think that’s, I think that’s, I'm glad to hear that. I think that's, I think that's a good thing. I think boards, boards get static, you know, we used to have life trustees, and we, we had trustees like Longsworth, 18 years; Beitzel, 25 years; Wyman, 25 years. And I don't think Beitzel or Wyman got stale, but there were people who did, and you've seen it on other boards, where--
[1:20:45] Gerety: And do you see it, Chuck, as you look in your, over the last few years since you were succeeded as chaired by Amos Hostetter. Your involvement has been much less I think, right. It's been--
[1:20:56] Longsworth: Yeah.
[1:20:56] Gerety: You come to the, my own sense of it is, you come to an occasional meeting, you come to many of the social occasions--
[1:21:02] Longsworth: Yeah.
[1:21:02] Gerety: --but you've pulled back from being a voting member of the board, a full-- [crosstalk]
[1:21:06] Longsworth: Well, this is, this is more personal philosophy time. I'm, I really don't look back. And it's probably a fault, I should look back more and see some of the people whom I grew to know and love and respect. But I think once you have a successor, and you are a predecessor, you really oughta stay out of the way. Now, I didn't want to come to board meetings and sit there and say anything, I can't be quiet. That's not my nature, but I couldn't say anything without it creating, perhaps, sensitivity on Amos’ part that I was critical of him or that I thought we did things better or differently. People who are very adroit, like George Shinn and Ed Ney can get away with that. But I think it's a little different if you've been the chair and, and so I think you do your service and you get out of the way. You do all you can to support your successor and make sure that he/she is successful, do all you can to make sure the College succeeds insofar as you can help it, and you socialize and you offer your experience if it's asked for. And that's, that's it. That's my, that's my point of view on, on the subject.
[1:22:14] Gerety: And Chuck, as we finish up, I think if you were to ask me “what are the two or three proudest things about Amherst,” I would say that it's its diversity, which I take to be a token of its democratic role that is helping to make the world better by educating a leadership class of thoughtful critical people who are very mixed in their backgrounds, their races, their religions, and so on. And that it is a first rate intellectual place, perhaps the best undergraduate college in the world. How do you, how, what are your strongest feelings of pride and emotion about Amherst? I mean, you're an alum, as I am not. And I'm curious how your sense of the College as you get older--
[1:23:00] Longsworth: Well, I think it's a, and I'm not sure that this is a non sequitur or not, but I think it's a, it’s a highly moral institution. And you've, you've contributed a lot to that, ‘cause you've provided strong moral leadership.
[1:23:15] Gerety: Thank you.
[1:23:16] Longsworth: I think Amherst cares about the right things, and tries to, tries to help the young people who come here understand what it means to care, and to do something about it. You know, what--.
Two, I think, the quality is unexcelled. Now, the other day, I saw a quotation from a senior professor at a good place, and I can't quite remember what place, and I don't care about his name. But he was likening some disaster to my having to teach undergraduates again. [laughter] All senior professors at Amherst teach undergraduates, I mean that’s what we--
[1:23:59] Gerety: Day in and day out, yeah. [crosstalk]
[1:24:00] Longsworth: --that’s what we do. That’s what we do. And, and this is a faculty that could be where this guy was, or more so, if they didn't want to teach undergraduates. So the commitment to, to the exchange that occurs between exceptionally gifted young people, and not just intellectually gifted, but emotionally gifted, physically gifted, and, and this, this faculty that, as thorny and difficult as it is, really cares. Really cares about them. Cares about Amherst. That's what it is.
Charles R. Longsworth, class of 1951, is chairman emeritus of the college's Board of Trustees. He served as president of Hampshire College (1971-1977) and coauthored with former Hampshire president, Franklin Patterson, The Making of a College: Plans for a New Departure in Higher Education. From 1977 to 1992, he served as president of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and then CEO and chairman (1991-1994). In 1993, he became director of Saul Centers Inc.
Tom Gerety served as president of Amherst College from 1994-2003. In addition to previously serving as president of Trinity College in Hartford for fourteen years, he was dean of the College of Law at the University of Cincinnati.
Educational, not-for-profit use is permitted without the owner’s permission if the participants and publisher are acknowledged.
For publication and citation information, please see the catalog record for this recording.
For further information contact Archives & Special Collections at email@example.com.