Interviewed by Douglas C. Wilson
August 18, 2003
[0:00] Doug Wilson: Today is August 18, 2003, and I'm Doug Wilson, College Editor, retired, and I'm here today in the Frost Library with Hugh Hawkins, who is the Anson D. Morse Professor of History and American Studies, Emeritus. Hugh has taught at Amherst for– you taught at Amherst for 43 years from 1957 to 2000.
[0:29] Hugh’s got a wide range of expertise in the fields of History and American Studies, but he's particularly specialized in the history of higher education, so there's no one more appropriate to talk about this microcosm at Amherst College and the Amherst community that he's seen over that, the years–Hugh, 43 years, I calculate, is about a fourth of the college's entire history.
[0:59] Hugh D. Hawkins: What a lovely thought. [[both laugh]] And I know anecdotes that go even further back.
[1:04] Wilson: Good, good, good. Well, we hope to hear them. You– first I wanted to ask you, you started a course for freshmen in memory. And I'm sure that in teaching that course you learned things about memory that make you wary of people's recollections, and what, what would you say about this kind of exercise today that people should be watching for?
[1:36] Hawkins: Oh, very good. I'm happy to say something about that. They should watch for my mistakes, mis-memories, creative memory. I learned that you don't remember everything, you can actually construct false memories, and that the more often you tell something, the more it freezes into a certain frame–
[1:54] Wilson: And it gets better, too.
[1:55] Hawkins: Well, it’s a better story. [[both laugh]] But when I was a PhD candidate in History. it was to find out the Absolute Truth. And I had great faith in the ability to track that down. [crosstalk]
[2:05] Wilson: Yes, yes. Objectivity.
[2:06] Hawkins: That's right. And if people didn't tell everything, I thought that was very bad. I think now both people don't remember, maybe it's just as well they don't remember, and there's some things that posterity doesn't really need to know.
[2:19] Wilson: [[laughs]]
[2:19] Hawkins: So I, [[laughs]] I might even conceal. So, so, the people in that course, wonderful staff, psychology, literary studies, anthropology, did help me see the limits of memory. [crosstalk]
[2:30] Wilson: That's still being taught.
[2:32] Hawkins: I believe it has survived as, uh–
[2:34] Wilson: For 20 years or more, would you say?
[2:36] Hawkins: I think it’s maybe one of the longer lasting ones, that and the one on evolution that lasted very long. I also learned the limits of memory when my colleagues, mostly Ted Greene and Gordon Levin, say, “well, Hugh, are you sure that's quite right?” and then they give a more accurate version, so it's too bad they're not here.
[2:53] Wilson: I like one thing you told me when we talked earlier, about certain things that you don't really have to worry about because you can look it up.
[3:01] Hawkins: Yes. And I might even ans–, ask, answer some of your questions that way.
[3:05] Wilson: Okay, you can look it up.
[3:06] Hawkins: If it’s a matter of, you know, a date or how long or what year was something done, that's in the written record. And I hope I won't talk much about that.
[3:14] Wilson: Well, you do want to talk, as I understand it, and I hope, about the Amherst College community and its various constituents and figures and officials and students and alumni. Should we start with deans and deans of the faculty and–
[3:33] Hawkins: Good, I'd like to do that.
[3:34] Wilson: –see where that leads.
[3:35] Hawkins: I have thought a little to refresh my memory. The reason I don't want to talk about presidents is, everybody talks about them, there’s focus there, the history is organized around their administrations, and there's a lot you could look up–
[3:48] Wilson: [[laughs]] Right.
[3:49] Hawkins: –including their many speeches and people's diaries. So I have a lot of respect for the presidents I've served under. I do have anecdotes, but they could surface elsewhere, other people may be telling them. [crosstalk]
[3:59] Wilson: Are you saying that there's less record in the case of–
[4:02] Hawkins: Yes.
[4:03] Wilson: –subordinates, or?
[4:04] Hawkins: Yes, I think Dean C. Scott Porter, who was dean of the college when I came here–
[4:08] Wilson: Right.
[4:08] Hawkins: –is somewhat fading from memory. There's a Porter House that's named after him. He was a faithful member of the fraternity that used to be there, DU, so it’s appropriate but I think people who live there don't even know who Porter, “who’s this Porter,” a lot, there’s lots of Porters. [crosstalk]
[4:23] Wilson: “Who is this Porter?”
[4:24] Hawkins: Uh, C. Scott Porter, when I came, was fairly well along in years. He had been dean since 1931. And he remained in office in 1966. [crosstalk]
[4:35] Wilson: My goodness.
[4:36] Hawkins: So that's a long time to be a member of this institution. [?] [crosstalk]
[4:38] Wilson: Presidents came and went, and he–
[4:40] Hawkins: That's right. I, he–
[4:40] Wilson: He was the bedrock.
[4:42] Hawkins: His wife once told me, “well, he came laughing and said, ‘well, I broke, I'm breaking in another one now.”
[4:48] Wilson: [[laughs]]
[4:48] Hawkins: When I think, perhaps, Calvin Plimpton came into office. So he had a great deal of power, often behind the scenes. From 1945 on he was also secretary of the faculty, an office as– though, it’s the role that you played at faculty meetings for some years. [crosstalk]
[5:07] Wilson: Took the minutes.
[5:07] Hawkins: Yes. And there is a certain power–
[5:09] Wilson: Well, my sympathy goes out to him.
[5:10] Hawkins: Well, you know, writing it down or not writing it down, being challenged, even though you wrote it down literally–his strategy was to write down nothing of the debate except the people who spoke, I’ve looked at some of those records, and that if the motion was passed, “yes, this passed” and then it moves on. [crosstalk]
[5:25] Wilson: So there wasn’t much of a record there, either.
[5:26] Hawkins: So you couldn’t the flavor. You did, it was such a pleasure once you began doing it.
[5:32] Wilson: It wasn't really a pleasure to do it, but, uh–
[5:35] Hawkins: Right. My sympathy. [[laughs]]
[5:36] Wilson: –I found that people complained if you left anything out, so–
[5:40] Hawkins: Oh, so it got longer and longer and longer.
[5:42] Wilson: Got longer and longer. Now, as a student, Porter was still dean and for some reason students called him the “Sea Scout,” did you ever hear that?
[5:50] Hawkins: Sea Scout. No, that's rather affectionate.
[5:52] Wilson: Yes, it was.
[5:53] Hawkins: Yeah, students had good reason to like him because he was certainly their friend. I saw more than one case of that. He said when he was going on leave and somebody was going to be acting Dean, his parting words were, “make sure all the seniors graduate.” That’s right. [[laughs]] And it's nice somebody’s taking that point of view. He was dean of the whole college. His success rate was the–
[6:15] Wilson: Right. Was that the title, actually, “dean of the college”? [crosstalk]
[6:16] Hawkins: Dean, dean, his title was dean, what was he dean of? Dean of Amherst College. And I'm pretty sure that every other dean was subordinate to him– the deans of freshmen, associate deans. Uh, and his successor was called dean of the faculty, and then the deans of students somewhat separated off.
[6:34] Wilson: Now was his power, if you will, or influence notably different from what the dean of the faculty is today?
[6:46] Hawkins: Yes, I think today it’s often done through mutual respect with the president; constant, constant consultation. I honestly don't know if that went on, but I rather doubt if Charlie Cole was advised deeply by Scott Porter, uh, I'm, I'm really not quite sure. But a close friend of President Cole’s once said to me, in this era, “we need a new dean.” So there may have been a sense that “well, but what can you do? He's been here for years and years.” [[laughs]]
[7:15] We, we know that problem. He was very conservative on the, for the faculty. Things were perking up a little bit in 1957, not as much as later of course, and something would be suggested and faculty members get excited about it, and he would say, “well, if the faculty wishes to do that, of course I can, of course we can. But we did do that a few years back,” with the tone that it didn't work. [[laughs]]
[7:40] Wilson: I've been there, right.
[7:41] Hawkins: So yeah, throwing cold water things. He also checked roll at faculty meetings. I came there early and I saw him sort of looking up, looking up, I thought maybe just checking on some bitter absentee but in fact, he had the entire list and whether you were president or not was written down.
[8:00] Wilson: Uh huh.
[8:00] Hawkins: His successor told me that he found this list in the office.
[8:03] Wilson: Well, that's more of a record than in my time.
[8:06] Hawkins: [[laughs]] That's right. And I'm not even sure it wasn't sometimes used because I can remember discussions in the History Department about whether a younger person should be kept on or not, and a close friend of Dean Porter said, “well, this is not a very good citizen,” you know, not faithful in faculty attendance and so on. So, yeah, there's that kind of power. I was very much intimidated by him. I was easily intimidated in those days. [[laughs]] But when I finally got a course of my own–not finally, fairly early on–in Southern history, he said, “come into my office, I want to show you how that’s scheduled.” And here was a huge blackboard with the entire scheduling for the next semester. [[crosstalk]]
[8:45] Wilson: Oh, he did that as well.
[8:46] Hawkins: Yes. And every faculty member would come in and say, you know, “is this agreeable with you? You’ll, you would be conflicting with this and that.”
[8:54] Wilson: Oh my goodness.
[8:54] Hawkins: He had the eraser in hand, and if I, younger, I was afraid, said, “well, you know, that’s a bad hour for me.” [crosstalk]
[8:59] Wilson: Notch you in somewhere else. [crosstalk]
[8:59] Hawkins: “Well, I don’t wake up that early.” [[laughs]]
[9:01] Wilson: Well, that, that is a big difference right there, there, because over the years I'm sure there's become much, much more specialization and more administrators who do their own specific thing like the registrar's–
[9:15] Hawkins: the registrar’s, the registrar's office, that would be from. I'm sure that would be.
[9:18] Wilson: Did the registrar ever invite you in to consider your–
[9:22] Hawkins: I think the chair is allowed to look at the schedule and say this isn't working and could check with an individual member. But you're right, we've become more and more bureaucratic. And in his day, a lot was concentrated right in his office. There was a rather touchy moment when I was in there looking at the blackboard–I felt more warmly toward him because of this–and he kept on chatting and pointed out that when he earned his master's at Clark University–didn't have a PhD, and this may have been something of a sore point–he was in a field of mathematics that really has taken off. And the implication was that, had he stayed with that instead of devoting himself to Amherst College, he would have been at the cutting edge of a mathematical field. And that was rather touching because I could see that he had given something up. And he admired people who arrived with their PhDs, building careers. So after, after that I felt more warmly toward him. Later, he did develop cancer and people realized how much they valued him.
[10:20] Wilson: Yes. What other personal qualities did he have besides conservatism?
[10:28] Hawkins: I'm sure he was, had his own warmth and his own circle. He wasn't in the president’s circuit. He wasn't the president's poker club. And I think–
[10:35] Wilson: Which president?
[10:36] Hawkins: Oh, Charlie Cole.
[10:37] Wilson: Oh, I see.
[10:38] Hawkins: That's right. He did–
[10:39] Wilson: Because Cole was president when you came here.
[10:40] Hawkins: That's right, Cole was the president.
[10:42] Wilson: That's where we really started.
[10:43] Hawkins: Yeah, he carried over. You know, it's sort of limited. He certainly had a social life and a circle of friends.
[10:48] Wilson: Now I bet he wasn't in the president's fishing club either.
[10:51] Hawkins: No, that's all we–you know about. [[laughs]]
[10:53] Wilson: Bill Wilson and–
[10:54] Hawkins: That’s right, Bill Wilson–
[10:55] Wilson: –Charlie Cole.
[10:56] Hawkins: Al Lumley, George Rogers Taylor. There were a group, and I'm sure Cole was a strong enough individual. He did the right thing for the College, but it didn't hurt for these people to have his ear.
[11:06] Wilson: Now I understand there was also a coffee group where I've heard decisions were really made. That Cole was there, and was Porter at that? Do you know?
[11:17] Hawkins: Um, I honestly don't know. But that's worth talking about. I hadn't, I hadn't thought of that. In Valentine, certain chairs of departments, older professors, some administrators would come over, have their coffee break there, and very important exchanges would take place. Frank Trapp, who was the director of Mead, said he often went over there and got things done just with a little exchange that would have had to go through a lot of writing and discussing otherwise. And George Taylor was the chair of American Studies. And he was very fond of the coffee hour in Morgan Hall every morning. And he, in his benevolent way, would pontificate, and many of the anecdotes I know about earlier eras come from that.
[11:55] Wilson: And they got, probably got better with the retelling.
[11:57] Hawkins: That, well, [[laughs]] that’s right. Well, they were, they were deeply embedded in my mind, I must say so. I must have heard them many times. But occasionally he’d say, oh, sorry, I've got to go over to Valentine for the coffee hour today, you know, something would have come up.
[12:09] Wilson: Well, it probably was, in a way, the same as a staff meeting, which presidents subsequently had.
[12:16] Hawkins: That's right, the so-called first floor?
[12:18] Wilson: First floor meeting, and… no, the first floor meeting is dean of students and related people, but the president's staff was, at least under Pouncey, and I think his predecessor, Gibbs, was every Monday morning. Start off the week with whatever the good news, bad news was. [[laughs]]
[12:41] Hawkins: That sounds like a good strategy. Perhaps Cole had something like that in addition. The thing about the Valentine coffee hour: a faculty member could go over there.
[12:48] Wilson: Oh, okay. It wasn’t–
[12:50] Hawkins: When I bought my house from Al Lumley, “Meet me over at Valentine,” and I'm not quite sure why he wanted to do it there, you know, to show himself as a mover and shaker. It was the only time I was ever there. And we conducted our real estate business–which had nothing to do with the college–in, at the coffee hour. And I looked around, and you know, it was people who wanted to achieve something.
[13:10] Wilson: Mm hmm.
[13:10] Hawkins: Mostly there.
[13:12] Wilson: So then Porter was–I don't want to leave him, but he was succeeded by?
[13:17] Hawkins: Prosser Gifford. There was a year in between with an acting dean. I want to talk about the acting deans. They all did, did very well. They were colleagues and had certain insight and didn't, maybe didn’t… [[trails off]] But Prosser Gifford is somebody I would like to talk about. I think he's in danger of being forgotten. And he was very important…
[13:33] Wilson: I won't forget him. He was a tall rooster of a man with a–
[13:36] Hawkins: That’s right.
[13:37] Wilson: –raucous laugh–
[13:38] Hawkins: Very good.
[13:39] Wilson: –that filled a room.
[13:40] Hawkins: It’s interesting that we both have thought of that laugh.
[13:43] Wilson: That’s probably the most unimportant thing that could be said about him.
[13:46] Hawkins: No, I was going to bring that up too, because he was very agreeable, easy to get along with. I like him very much indeed. He was dedicated to doing the right thing by Black Studies.
[14:00] Wilson: Good.
[14:00] Hawkins: He had his own field. He was a Rhodes Scholar, a law degree from Harvard and a PhD in African history. And he, you could see that that is a respectable field. There's a lot you could do in Black Studies. He and I both cared about that. So I knew him even better because of that. But when somebody would say something embarrassing or teasing or gossipy in his presence, which as dean he couldn't say, “oh, yeah,” or “tell me more” or anything. The hearty laugh would burst out. [[Laughs]]
[14:25] Wilson: As a, as a smokescreen?
[14:28] Hawkins: That's right. He was committed to nothing. And I thought that was a wonderful strategy. I'm sorry I haven't been able to internalize it.
[14:34] Wilson: You mentioned founding Black Studies and so forth. Of course, he was dean during the periods of protest. How did he come down on, in, in that tension?
[14:46] Hawkins: He was sympathetic with the student rebels, as we mostly all were. Early on in the Cole era, of, President Cole was saying, “Oh, they don't have any causes. It's not like the 30s. I do wish the students cared about something…”
[14:59] Wilson: And he wrote an article about that, I think.
[15:01] Hawkins: Oh, okay.
[15:01] Wilson: I forget, I forget the title.
[15:03] Hawkins: You could look it up. [[Laughs]]
[15:04] Wilson: You can look it up, exactly–
[15:05] Hawkins: But he said that to me–
[15:06] Wilson: –and maybe you won't find it.
[15:07] Hawkins: No. [[Both laugh]] During, during an interview–well, good researchers.
[15:12] So the students had become active, maybe beginning around ’59-’60, it was percolating. And, a very interesting phenomenon to be part of. And those are the most exciting years I lived through here, but Prosser Gifford was understanding, sympathetic. The letter written to Nixon, I think in 1961–
[15:32] Wilson: About the war.
[15:33] Hawkins: About, well, people always remembered about the war. If you read the letter carefully, it does not criticize the war, because Calvin Plimpton said that he wouldn't sign it if it did. It criticizes great expenditures on the military and ignoring problems at home. So it had to be put that way.
[15:49] Wilson: Uh-huh.
[15:50] Hawkins: Prosser Gifford is the author of that letter. I have this from Leo Marx, who everybody thought was the author of the letter because he thought of that strategy and pushed it.
[16:01] Wilson: Marx did.
[16:01] Hawkins: Leo Marx.
[16:02] Both: Yes.
[16:02] Hawkins: And everyone then assumed, well, of course Marx wrote this. And in fact he said no, that is, that is not true, Dean Prosser Gifford wrote that. And he did have a very eloquent pen. He wrote, he wrote some very fine things. His farewell remarks to the faculty when he left, maybe 12 years, after 12 years here. I hope they're preserved–
[16:22] Wilson: About ’77 or ’78.
[16:24] Hawkins: It was ’79, perhaps.
[16:28] Wilson: ’79
[16:28] Hawkins: Yeah, when Bill Ward left the presidency, he left the deanship. Yeah, he was, he was hired by Plimpton. And I heard from somebody who knew the inside story, “Well, Plimpton likes him.” Plimpton knew his father.
[16:40] Wilson: Oh…
[16:41] Hawkins: And they're both from elite families.
[16:46] Wilson: Cape Cod, both of them? Eastern, Massachusetts.
[16:49] Hawkins: Probably, the same summer resort. It's not my world.
[16:53] Wilson: I've heard a story about Plimpton that he used– when he was hiring new faculty. He would say “What did your father do?”
[17:00] Hawkins: Yes, he probably has many questions that are now illegal. I don't think that one is illegal.
[17:05] Wilson: It’s probably not illegal, it's just irrelevant.
[17:07] Hawkins: We noted that he tended to hire very tall people.
[17:11] Wilson: People he could look in the eye.
[17:13] Hawkins: And I once saw his notes after an interview. Ah, we are talking about presidents, I'm not able to control myself. It's just this one anecdote. He read often, you know, he had written about this interviewee for a position in history and he said “This little man would do to fill in for a year.” [[Both laugh]] So the lack of height hadn't helped. Well, not to get into the presidents.
[17:34] Maybe I want to say more about Prosser Gifford? Very hard-working. Everybody here liked him. And I've heard it said from people who I think know, someone on the search committee, that he could have succeeded Plimpton as president of Amherst College. He was a candidate, and more or less at the last minute, through soul-searching, he decided that he didn't really know what he wanted to do with that office.
[18:01] Wilson: But I heard he was very much a candidate, putting himself forward when Bill Ward left and Gibbs was hired.
[18:11] Hawkins: Yes. Now that's, of course, that's a different search.
[18:16] Wilson: Meaning?
[18:17] Hawkins: That's right. Well, in that case, when Bill Ward resigned, the chair of the Board of Trustees said that, “and we are certainly going to try to get an alumnus of the College.”
[18:29] Wilson: Oh, and so we did.
[18:32] Hawkins: That probably is illegal today ’cause all the alumni were men. And I don't know that about Prosser. But it would not have displeased–
[18:39] Wilson: I'm fairly sure that based on my source, as they say–
[18:42] Hawkins: It would not have displeased me if he had stayed. But I can see how he might have felt, “12 years, I've done what I can do here, I know maybe too much. I should move out and move on.”
[18:52] Wilson: You said he was a discrete man. What other qualities?
[18:58] Hawkins: Uh, a pleasant sense of humor. We, we– across– easy to reach across racial lines. He had pictures of Black Africans hanging on his wall and African art. And some people were so naive in those days as to make comments about that.
[19:13] Wilson: Oh my. And he could–
[19:14] Hawkins: And you can imagine how he–
[19:16] Wilson: You can tell people apart on the basis of that, no doubt.
[19:19] Hawkins: And he became secretary of the faculty, and Bill Ward, who was wise enough to keep him on, though he'd been hired under Plimpton, said “This, this is ridiculous. He's taking notes here, and one needs his council.” And I knew that within the Committee of Six, actually somebody else was brought in then to take the notes. And when did you begin to take notes at the faculty meeting?
[19:42] Wilson: Oh, gosh, um…
[19:44] Hawkins: Pin, pin you down for a date.
[19:46] Wilson: It totaled about 14 years, but there were breaks. And I think it was perhaps under, under Ward!
[19:54] Hawkins: [[inaudible]] This, that would fit.
[19:55] Wilson: Because I remember at the end of Ward's term when things were going a bit roughly for him and the faculty meetings were difficult. I sat down at the front table with my legal yellow pad and he was there, of course, and I remember irreverently scrawling a dateline on my legal pad “plaza de toros,” and he [[both laugh]]–
[20:23] Hawkins: I hope those have been preserved.
[20:24] Wilson: And he, he, he laughed, so.
[20:26] Hawkins: Oh, he looked over and saw it?
[20:27] Wilson: Oh, yes, he saw it.
[20:27] Hawkins: Yeah, that’s good. Yeah, the president needs some support down there. When you're sitting at that table looking up at the–
[20:32] Wilson: It’s an awful room for, for adversity.
[20:34] Hawkins: People are staring down at you.
[20:36] Wilson: Yes, and throwing the darts if they are that–
[20:39] Hawkins: That was, Plimpton designed that room, though it’s named after, now, President Cole. That's probably all I can say helpfully about Prosser Gifford. The one other dean I hope we'll have time to talk about is Catherine Bateson.
[20:53] Wilson: We're going to talk about her next. May we?
[20:55] Hawkins: Oh, very fine. You know, we’re leaving out acting deans and short tenures.
[20:59] Wilson: We’re leaving out–?
[21:00] Hawkins: So some people were acting deans or had short tenure who'd done it very recently.
[21:04] Wilson: The ones I remember Collery, Beals…
[21:08] Hawkins: Collery, Beals, Kennick, Whitney…
[21:10] Wilson: Kennick, yes.
[21:11] Hawkins: Bruce Morgan, a colleague of mine who was so good at the job that he went off to Carleton and became dean there. So they did, I would say, all of them did very well. And it's helpful to have faculty see things from the administrative perspective from time to time.
[21:25] Wilson: Yes. In fact, some institutions rotate faculty into that job, don't they? Williams, Williams does that?
[21:32] Hawkins: In Williams, the candidate must be a member of the faculty and recently with Lisa Raskin, for instance, she did come from the faculty and did very well. Well, Catherine Bateson: great excitement when she was hired.
[21:48] People kept saying that she's, you know, brilliant. Even in the interview, we began to talk about not questioning her except that “when you come and take the job?”–this was the search committee. The first thing you heard was that, well, her mother was Margaret Mead.
[22:02] Wilson: Not “Who was your father?” but “Who was your mother?”
[22:04] Hawkins: Fortunately, her father, who–she's even more distinguished and perhaps is right–Gregory Bateson.
[22:11] Wilson: Oh, yes.
[22:12] Hawkins: Very, very important figure indeed of a very distinguished intellectual family, British family. Someone heard that about her. She was a marvelous public speaker. Her first talk at the faculty club, told about her, her being in Iran, what Iran was like, what was behind the Iranian Revolution. She had had to leave–she was going to found a women's college there. And then she realized with the revolution she couldn't go on with that. It wasn't that she was afraid, she said, but she wouldn't, couldn't do what she wanted. So what a fascinating background, and, and she was a linguist and so on. So she was hired. There had never been a woman dean, you know, high time Amherst did that. And in she came.
[22:56] Wilson: We were co-ed at that point… Yes, because…
[23:00] Hawkins: Yes, okay, well, yes, that would fit all the–
[23:02] Wilson: But just newly so.
[23:04] Hawkins: Fairly recently, let’s see. So this is probably... [[Laughs]] I knew we'd get into it.
[23:11] Wilson: Dates, dates, dates. You can look it up–
[23:13] Hawkins: It was probably seventy–
[23:14] Wilson: –you can look it up.
[23:14] Hawkins: Yeah, you could look it up. I would think ’79 or ’80. So, but yes, we are co-educational. And more and more women faculty are coming in. One thing she wanted very much to do was get more women on the faculty and have them get tenure. And she fought quite hard for that.
[23:32] One anecdote that I thought perhaps was worth telling. She had a strong suspicion that one department–you could figure out, a historian could figure it out, but I won't say which department–was filled full of sexism. And they had never hired a woman and they always made sure that they wouldn't, and they had a search going on. She very much wanted them to find a woman for what would be a position that might well lead to tenure, didn't look like it was moving that way. And so after a lot of, sort of, double-talk from the department, she wrote a letter directing that they turn over all records of this–
[24:09] Wilson: She impounded their files? [[Both laugh]]
[24:11] Hawkins: Yes.
[24:12] Wilson: It was like the Saturday night massacre. [[Laughs]]
[24:15] Hawkins: Within the, within the hour before you could, before they could be purged, I think that’s what she feared.
[24:20] Wilson: Or shredded.
[24:21] Hawkins: So this caused great brouhaha because it was resented. Other faculty thought this was a dangerous play for power on the part of the dean, a letter of protest was written that was widely circulated by a friend of somebody in that department. And she was able to force them to look more seriously at one woman candidate and bring her to campus, but then really, pretty clearly, was not the best candidate, and a man was hired.
[24:53] Wilson: But I suspect there were other departments with less forethought, were also in a pattern of not going the extra distance to ensure that qualified women were–
[25:08] Hawkins: You, you, that's right. And I don't, I certainly don't mean to belittle her doing this. She cared a lot about it, and as the first woman–
[25:15] Wilson: Right.
[25:15] Hawkins: –being appropriate that she did. Affirmative action has gotten something of a bad name, and I don't know if we used it much in those days. But probably we did feel that we had to advertise positions. And then you thought that members of minority groups and women would apply. And then you look carefully and if they were the best, they got the job. Or even if “all else was equal,” as the phrase went, they got the job because you wanted to add variety.
[25:39] Wilson: And yet it became acceptable to do a kind of reverse “old boy network” and get on the phone and find out about minority candidates and try to bring them… I say that approvingly.
[25:52] Hawkins: And, and knowing that it happened. Is that the case?
[25:56] Wilson: I, I, well…
[26:00] Wilson: You’re questioning my memory, as you should.
[26:03] Hawkins: Well, actually, I know a contrary case where somebody at the institution where this candidate, desirable because of affirmative action considerations, was teaching. And this person who had once taught at Amherst College said, “if they had only given me a phone call.” So I think maybe it wasn't done in every case, certainly.
[26:25] Wilson: I think it was done in the administration, certainly. You could get on the phone–
[26:28] Hawkins: And then it's not in the written record. And…
[26:32] Wilson: True, true.
[26:34] Hawkins: But the college very much wanted women on the faculty and African Americans on the faculty, which is the only minority group that much attention was paid to in those days, and, and…
[26:45] Wilson: She was good in that.
[26:46] Hawkins: Catherine, she pushed that hard, but then later I heard it said by somebody whose judgment I trust, as a result, she was very hard on young women faculty. You know, like, you know, why haven’t you published anything? [[Laughs]] Or you do a more exciting, or, I don’t know, I don't know quite what she said to them, but they felt pressure and did not become great fans of hers. So I have heard.
[27:06] Wilson: In the staff meetings that I went to during her deanship, I was constantly impressed by the sharpness of her mind. She, I wish I had an example, but she would go straight to the heart of something and summarize it. And it would save hours of discussion–
[27:27] Hawkins: Very good, I–
[27:28] Wilson: –and beating around the bush and–
[27:29] Hawkins: I agree, and I perhaps should have started with that instead of her ancestry. Because she was, she was impressive in, in group debate, assertive, and another member of the Committee of Six said to her, “you've caught on to our way of doing things at Amherst faster than any newcomer that I've seen.” So she did understand–
[27:49] Wilson: She was quick–
[27:49] Hawkins: A quick study, eloquent. Actually, I liked her very much. I was on the Committee of Six when she came as dean, and at that point she bonded a bit with some of the faculty members because we could be helpful to her in a certain way. So it was exciting to have her here.
[28:07] There, there was, of course, a sad… denouement, and that's another reason I thought we should talk about her. And that is that when Julian Gibbs died very suddenly, she was the dean, logical successor. And in what I feel sure was a mistake, the chair of the Board of Trustees called and said, you know, “You’ve, you've got to back us in this crisis. You've got to be the acting president.” Maybe he talked to one or two other trustees, but faculty were utterly unconsulted in this decision. And the Amherst faculty does not like not to be consulted in decisions like that.
[28:45] Wilson: Uh-huh. A nuance I heard, and I shouldn't be throwing these things in–
[28:49] Hawkins: By all means.
[28:49] Wilson: –but that she was told, she was invited to act as president.
[28:56] Hawkins: Sounds like a cover story to me.
[29:00] Wilson: And not to be acting president. Of course, Armour Craig became acting president.
[29:04] Hawkins: That’s right.
[29:04] Wilson: She, she–
[29:05] Hawkins: But when I came back–I was, I was on leave at the time, so that's what I know this story so well. Well, partly I was curious–
[29:11] Wilson: Were you on that Committee of Six?
[29:12] Hawkins: No, I was not, but I had been on it the previous year, so these were my friends, and the situation was clear to me. And I said, well, you know, it can't have been that big of a disappointment. She had already moved into the president's office across the opening room from her own office! And then the Committee of Six got wind of this, sort of just by quick gossip [[laughs]]–
[29:35] Wilson: Which can be very quick.
[29:36] Hawkins: –and said, “No way is the acting president going to be–or, president who will act–going to be chosen without our input.” They then met without her–and this hurt her very much, she felt she had a right to be there–and talked about it. The big issue just then was fraternities, and it was clearly in the wind that fraternities would be abolished sooner or later, one way or another. A white paper had been written by Julian Gibbs, not yet finished or published. Well, to have a woman, not an alumnus of the College, obviously, lead, take the lead during that era didn't seem right to people, whereas Armour Craig, a member of that Committee of Six at the time, and he'd been Dean of Freshmen for a while too: highly respected, senior, had been a member of a fraternity. And they went around the room in the Committee of Six, you know, [gesturing to various members of an invisible audience] “Would you do it? Would you do it? Would you do it?” He said, “Yes, I'd be willing to do it.” Now I know the story because I wasn't there. [[laughs]]
[30:39] Wilson: Uh-huh.
[30:39] Hawkins: And he was chosen. I was out in California at the time, I thought–
[30:43] Wilson: And he loved it.
[30:44] Hawkins: Yeah, he was, he was so pleased, his wife was so pleased, they moved halfway into the house. His wife really thought they should have dropped the word “acting.” He should have been called “president.”
[30:53] Wilson: He was acting president for two years?
[30:56] Hawkins: The last half of that and the next year. Year and a half I believe.
[30:59] Wilson: I see.
[31:00] Hawkins: They found Pouncey pretty quickly. So this hurt Catherine deeply. She felt betrayed, and when I came back, I got an earful–from both sides, as it turned out–and she said to me, “I'll be writing a little book in which I tell much this story.” And sure enough, Composing a Life came out–
[31:21] Wilson: Yes, Composing a Life.
[31:22] Hawkins: –which is about several different women's lives and how they must adjust. And her stories just fit in from time to time, including this episode and Amherst College. Amherst College doesn't look good in that book, and she made–
[31:36] Wilson: I think there is one misleading thing there–
[31:40] Hawkins: What, what did you spot?
[31:40] Wilson: –which is that she doesn't, she implies strongly if she doesn't say outright, that the Committee of Six was all-male, and it was not.
[31:51] Hawkins: That’s right, Rose Olver was a member–
[31:51] Wilson: Rose Olver was a member.
[31:53] Hawkins: –and was at that meeting, and they all agreed.
[31:56] Wilson: They were unanimous.
[31:58] Hawkins: So that was simply a mistake that made us look more sexist than we were. We were, we definitely let women to the–
[32:02] Wilson: We’re only five-sixths sexist. [[Laughs]]
[32:05] Hawkins: Five-sixths, not six-sixths. [[Laughs]]
[32:07] No, Rose was elected very often and pushed because she was the first woman with tenure. And she's done a wonderful job and deserved it on many other grounds, too. But why was she on the Committee of Six? Because people knew a woman had to be on there. And she's not the only woman elected by a long shot.
[32:21] Wilson: Do you know about, I know Mary Catherine taught as well. Do you know anything about her teaching?
[32:28] Hawkins: Only a guess that she would have been a very lively but demanding teacher. She could have stayed on in anthropology where she had tenure.
[32:36] Wilson: How do professors learn about colleagues’ teaching other than in their own departments?
[32:40] Hawkins: Hey, that's a very fine question. Used to be absolute, you know, grapevine, a student is in your office and happens to mention a terrific lecture by another professor. And once a professor said to me, “I was walking by your classroom. That really must have been a good session, I heard this hearty laughter.” Well, the laughter was probably some terrible mistake I’d made. [[Both laugh]]
[33:03] Wilson: Like backing into another professor’s car.
[33:06] Hawkins: Yeah, so that kind of scuttlebutt got control for so long. And then under Bill Ward, things were much more regularized in, for reappointment and tenure. You know, he was not a bureaucratic sort, but it was time because women, Blacks, people didn't fall easily into an old boy network, needed protection. So it became much more regularized. Another woman on the Committee of Six, Ellen Ryerson had a lot to do with this. She wished to be part-time with tenure. And before it was, she was done, the rules allowed for that, which was reaching out to women who might have responsibilities that would make them…
[33:45] But how did you–? So at that point, it was required that a letter go out to the students of any faculty member coming up for tenure. I think not for reappointment, although maybe it moved on to that. And they were asked, “What do you think of this teacher? Write a letter.” Not if, you didn't fill out a form or check things. Students did that on their own. But that was not even used at the Committee of Six. You know, “student run, inaccurate.” But these letters from the students, some were trivial. Good many students didn't bother to write, but you might get three or four that were carefully written. You thought, “This student really has insight into what good teaching is.” And when when I read those letters, I not only learn more about many of my colleagues, but I learned some ways I might be a better teacher if I did what they were praised for doing. So I think that's one of the more important changes. Students, I fear, don't realize how much power they have.
[34:41] Wilson: There is also the instrument called Scrutiny Magazine–
[34:44] Hawkins: Yes.
[34:44] Wilson: –which I think most faculty rather disdain, don't they?
[34:48] Hawkins: Yes, I was a supporter.
[34:50] Wilson: Which evaluates classes–
[34:51] Hawkins: Faculty teaching, and the students don't get it together and it skips a year or loses a year, it's trivially done. One professor sued– [[Laughs]]
[34:58] Wilson: Sued?
[35:00] Hawkins: Threatened to sue the editors if they, if they didn't retract and, and tell him who had written the article. And he did [[inaudible]] then “Well, yeah, I wrote the article, and I admit that I said, this is wrong, you didn't have us do that.”
[35:16] That was maybe a little low point. When I was on the Committee of Six once, there was a motion, you know, to stop, stop this, because you know, it's not well-run, student… and I was, I went to, I took the faculty member who was most against it to lunch with the then-editor of the Scrutiny. And really, this colleague had not understood a lot about it, that it’s always a student who is in the course, they know whether the student has made a lousy grade and would not pick somebody like that, it's always a student known to the editors. They don't just pull a name out of a hat. So, uh–
[35:51] Wilson: Well, there's no squelching student expression in any case.
[35:55] Hawkins: Oh, it would have been very un-Amherst to do that.
[35:57] Wilson: Well, it might have back–had a backlash, too.
[36:00] Hawkins: But, well, that's right. I once tried to mention something from Scrutiny at a Committee of Six meeting and another member said, “This is outrageous. We have agreed that we will never, never use anything that is in Scrutiny in our tenure discussions.”
[36:16] Wilson: Other deans, you…
[36:17] Hawkins: Okay, let's talk no more about deans, on with…
[36:20] Wilson: No more about, how about committees. Committee structure?
[36:23] Hawkins: Well, yeah, I do have some things to say about that, as you know. Again, that's something a lot of faculty–“Terrible, oh I got stuck on this committee. Don't they know I'm a teacher and a scholar. I don't have time for this.” That's not my point of view. And maybe a few share it with me–
[36:41] Wilson: Well you've certainly shouldered much, much responsibility over the years. You've been on the Committee of Six itself five or six times?
[36:49] Hawkins: I think five times. I was on the CEP. I was on the Select Committee on the Curriculum back in the 70s. And that meant a great deal to me. Wonder, wonderful calling.
[36:57] Wilson: The ILS–
[36:58] Hawkins: – that came up with that curriculum for the Introduction of Liberal Studies. Not that it was a great curriculum, not that there wasn't wild politics getting even what got through through, but exchanging serious talks, interviewing colleagues, interviewing students. That meant a lot to me. But that to one side, I think it's very good for faculty to be on committees because they meet people from other departments, they're not just enclosed in the single department. In my case, being in American Studies, I already knew lots of people in Political Science, Philosophy, English. But for others, that's the one time they find out that their department isn't God-like or the only thing appropriate for the College. And sometimes they do good work.
[37:43] Wilson: Do you–? People groan around the world about committees being inefficient ways to do things. They design camels instead of horses and things like that. Did you find great inefficiency in committee work or do they get a bump rap?
[38:01] Hawkins: At Amherst College, in ways, it's a, it's a bum rap. The reports often very well-written, good historic sources, which means a lot to me. There's intellectual interchange that stimulates the minds of the people on that committee. It makes them reach out to their colleagues. “Well we're thinking of doing this. What do you think?” The standard, you don't, you don't keep it in to yourself. You talk to people about what's going on in the committee. The CEP is supposed to be full of young turks, and then the Committee of Six are older, more conservative.
[38:32] Wilson: Well I, I guess I should have perceived that over the years, but that's an interesting…
[38:37] Hawkins: The initiatives take place there that uh… Then the ad hoc committees have been important. Two that I think of that–initiated by faculty, maybe, and students. One was the Black and White Action Committee. You can look it up, I won’t talk about, that but it analyzed the way the College had been treating racial minorities and I think made a lot of difference. And then another one, the Group on Disadvantaged Students. Where on earth did this come from? A letter in the Student saying “Why don't we have more Black students?” Even though I'm sure the Admissions Office, they thought they were doing well. Gordon Levin and I said, you know–
[39:18] Wilson: Roughly what period would this have been?
[39:20] Hawkins: Late ‘60s? Late ‘60s.
[39:23] Wilson: Okay.
[39:25] Hawkins: And Gordon Levin and I met in the hall, and you know, “What about this? You know, is that really true?” “Yeah, yeah, there are a lot of bright Black students in there. Harvard grabs them up, or they're forced to go to inferior Black colleges, and we ought to do more.” So our strategy was to write a letter to the Committee of Six raising this issue. And instead of sending it to the Secretary of the Committee at Six, I think we sent a copy to every member. So they had six colleagues, some of whom were likely to pick it up. And as I recall, Ben DeMott and Leo Marx grabbed the ball, ran with it, and put, “Yes, why don't we set up an ad hoc committee?” Not, uh–
[40:00] Wilson: There was also an ad hoc committee on women at Amherst. I'm not talking about the one, the–
[40:08] Hawkins: The formal one.
[40:09] Wilson: –pre-dating coeducation, but reviewing how it was working and how it, what problems were lingering.
[40:16] Hawkins: Was that official? Yeah, it was, that–a carefully appointed, or there– was this after the trustees turned down the original request that we become, quote unquote “coeducational”?
[40:27] Wilson: No, this was after coeducation was actually in place. And there were– there was some feeling that the college hadn't done enough to –
[40:36] Hawkins: David Sofield–
[40:36] Wilson: –make women feel welcome.
[40:37] Hawkins: The David Sofield committee.
[40:39] Wilson: Probably.
[40:39] Hawkins: Yes. They worked a long time, and I–there was quite a bit of disappointment that the Committee of Six kept putting off talking about that, the argument being “we're so busy with the tenure cases this year that we can't get around to that,” and others felt that was an important issue and not to be shoved aside. That was the moment that–one of the times–when the Committee of Six was at a low point in estimation of the faculty. That's true.
[41:06] Wilson: The Committee of Six is almost a unique kind of thing at Amherst. In other words, other colleges don't have equivalents, do they?
[41:19] Hawkins: So I have heard and in my research of how faculty participate in governance, that is largely true. It, it has unusual power in that it's advisory to the president. That's fine, yes, to listen to faculty opinion once a week, whether he wants to do or not.
[41:35] Wilson: He would anyway!
[41:36] Hawkins: He would here, but, but with people that he has been working with all year, he gets to trust, maybe even they come to, come to like each other. It is the tenure committee, quite unusual to have this in that, the executive committee of the faculty. That saves a lot of time there. And then it sets the agenda to the faculty meeting, and that, you might think, “Well, so, it’s like the agenda, what does that matter?” It's amazing how much power can reside in that.
[42:06] Wilson: Just deciding what you're going to talk about–
[42:08] Hawkins: The order you're going to talk about it. I've been on other campuses where it was clear the administration didn't want something talked about; it was put at the bottom of the agenda. They never got around to it, people wandered–
[42:17] Wilson: It's 11pm, or something.
[42:18] Hawkins: –you know, they wandered out. Or if it were at 4pm, they’d get hungry and who [[inaudible]]? So in fact, among the things that led to the final frustration of Charles Cole–I think maybe he was ready to leave for other reasons, too–was when he was challenged on the floor of the faculty for putting something on the agenda that had not been put there by the Committee of Six. I happen to be sitting back–I wasn't ready to tell presidential stories, was I? [[Laughs]]–I happened to be sitting in the back of him then, which in the Babbott room you could do. And I actually saw the hair on the back of his neck rise.
[42:51] Wilson: Oh, my goodness. Well, to be told you can't even, as president–
[42:56] Hawkins: Set the agenda!
[42:57] Wilson: –have an agenda item.
[42:58] Hawkins: The phrase was, “It is the Committee of Six that sets the agenda around here.” Said by a very senior respected member.
[43:06] Wilson: Hugh, have you seen any trends in certain committees becoming stronger and others becoming weaker over time? Or does it, is it a pendulum that depends entirely on composition?
[43:21] Hawkins: I'd have to think a lot about that. I know that the admissions committee was very weak for a long time under the thumb of the dean of admissions, Dean Wilson, highly respected. I was on it once, and the dean of admissions kept bringing other people, assistants, so the room was full of other people, you really couldn’t–
[43:39] Wilson: Pack on the court!
[43:39] Hawkins: Yeah, you couldn't get much done and you know, very cheery and sort of reports on what was going on. But at least twice that committee has sprung into action and been very effective. Once they managed to bring an end to the right of the dean of admissions to admit a student immediately at the end of the interview, you know, “You are for us and I hereby admit you to Amherst College.” Maybe you've heard that story.
[44:05] Wilson: The laying on of hands.
[44:06] Hawkins: Yeah, and so when you get to the decision in the Spring, you know, 30 good places are already taken by the decision of one person. The other time, very recent, and I didn't pay close attention ‘cause I was teaching less and less and finally not at all is getting the statistics on the role that athletics play in admissions. They very much didn't want to give those to anybody and didn't want them to be made public. But there's a very numerical schedule of how you rank students, how you–
[44:35] Wilson: Yes, and we finally got a lecture on that in a recent faculty meeting.
[44:40] Hawkins: By the present dean of admissions!
[44:42] Wilson: Yes.
[44:43] Hawkins: Who comes–
[44:44] Wilson: Overwhelmed people with data! [Both laugh, overlapping] They were sort of stunned by the end of the evening.
[44:49] Hawkins: Yeah, I see Gordon Levin right along, and–was something he cared a lot about, so I could hear about the progress. He wasn't actually on the Admissions Committee at the time, others were you could look it up. But I think that's a case where a committee sort of came into its own for a while and briefly was the most important active committee…
[45:07] Wilson: Back in the days of Bill Wilson under Cole, and, and I guess he came with Cole.
[45:14] Hawkins: That's right.
[45:14] Wilson So that was the first president he served in. But subsequent years, too, he was very much a [[pointing from side to side]] “you're in or you're in and you're out and you’re..”
[45:23] Hawkins: So it passed down from his era.
[45:26] Wilson: Yeah. And I, I wonder–
[45:28] Hawkins: You were in on, he, was he the dean–?
[45:30] Wilson: No, I never met him until I came here. I got in, well, I would say…
[45:34] Hawkins: Tell the story!
[45:38] Wilson: I got in, uh, mostly in spite of my record. [[Laughs]]
[45:43] Hawkins: Outrageous!
[45:44] Wilson: String pulling. [[Both laugh]]
[45:47] Hugh, I hear in what you've said earlier about the Committee on Educational Policy, briefly, sort of affection. Is it as effective as it might be, every time there's to be a new curriculum or a proposal for a new curriculum, it seems to come from a special committee rather than the CEP.
[46:04] Hawkins: That, uh, that is, that's true. You can select more carefully if it's a so-called Select Committee, whereas, the other one, there are people left over…
[46:15] Wilson: Oh, I see, you can select the membership.
[46:16] Hawkins: Yeah, this is, you know, one thing, “Focus on revising the curriculum. Who would do it, who would be a good chair?” and then select them and they're not tied down to all these other duties.
[46:25] Wilson: But isn't that a bit of a slap in the face to the CEP, which is there for, presumably, that reason, among others?
[46:31] Hawkins: An insightful comment, but they get over it. At least they don’t have this chore.
[46:37] Wilson: They have no pride. [[Both laugh]]
[46:38] Hawkins: In fact, the CEP, when the ‘70s Select Committee was appointed, had just brought in a report that says, “You know, we're doing fine, we don't need anything. We don't need any courses whatsoever.” And you can imagine alumni interesting reaction to that. And so this committee came up with something, at least, fresh– freshman seminar. I have happy memories of the CEP. It was the first significant committee that I was ever on. And the strategy when I came on, I won't mention any names, was for an hour, do the busy work that has to be done. Very well run, things checked off, things arranged.
[47:11] Wilson: There's a lot of that, I'm sure.
[47:13] Hawkins: A lot of that, but do it right, then bring out the alcohol, and we'll have a cocktail hour and then for the next hour, a little freewheeling–
[47:22] Wilson: Is this what hour of the morning? [[Laughs]]
[47:23] Hawkins: Oh, no, this is the afternoon. It was the cocktail hour–
[47:26] Wilson: Oh, okay.
[47:26] Hawkins: Probably four to six, something like that. But one other thing before we leave the Committee on Educational Policy: there, that of all committees, people didn't want students on. When the big reform movement was on to put students on committees, you know, library committee, okay, but the CEP? No, no. And the argument was, “On this committee, you're forced to talk about faculty personalities, and we won't be able to do that if students come on it.”
[47:51] Wilson: Well how so? Why the CEP and not any other committee as well? Particularly–
[47:57] Hawkins: Well, admissions doesn't talk about faculty and their course offerings, the library committee–
[48:02] Wilson: I see.
[48:03] Hawkins: –you might say a faculty member had been ordering too many books, but it would be unlikely. [[Laughs]] But the CEP, you know, the curriculum… The faculty handbook says the faculty control the curriculum, and the trustees have said this, and that's our baby. So, a great sense of possessiveness.
[48:20] Wilson: I understand that, on the other hand, the student perception on curricular issues would be valuable.
[48:27] Hawkins: To me, that was my position at the time and still is. It did go through in spite of this. I happened to be on that committee at the time of the transition. I think maybe one of the three students kind of was a no-show, you know, elected for the honor to put on the, his record but didn't appear very much. Another one, very quiet. But one, very active, really a contributor in important ways. Insight into how students perceive courses in the curriculum.
[48:54] Wilson: Was that true, did that happen as well on other committees that students came to? Were they…?
[49:00] Hawkins: On the Select Committee on the Curriculum at first there were no students, then there was protests and then two were put on. Again, it wasn't easy to arrange that. They were thoughtful and helpful. And maybe we spoke a little differently in the presence of students. Not as important there, maybe, as when the CEP is talking about “Well we only, we can only have one new appointment. Which will–what do–where do we think it should be? You know, there's only so much space to add faculty, where do we think that should be?”
[49:33] Wilson: Well, let's talk about students…
[49:35] Hawkins: Okay.
[49:36] Wilson: …and what you've seen of changes and continuities in the student body over 43 years.
[49:45] Hawkins: Good to, good to shift to that. I came in 1957. Amherst had a terrific reputation. I had taught for one year at Chapel Hill, and people congratulated me but also warned me that I would have to work very hard to teach in the courses up there and I'd have to learn new stuff every year! [[Both laugh]] Which is true. It's also the beauty of–
[50:06] Wilson: Oh my gosh.
[50:07] Hawkins: –of teaching here, and I dropped right into the required sophomore American Studies course, which of course you experienced.
[50:14] Wilson: Yes.
[50:14] Hawkins: And that's one, the one time we've shared a curricular experience directly. I did learn a lot in my first lecture. I worked harder on that than many a published article. Because I’m in front of the entire sophomore class–
[50:28] Wilson: And your colleagues.
[50:29] Hawkins: –all my colleagues.
[50:31] Wilson: Was there a Theodore Baird of American Studies? Was there a giant among the dwarves, as he was called?
[50:37] Hawkins: Yes, George Rogers Taylor plays that role, and I hope he isn’t forgotten when people talk about Arnold Arons and Theodore Baird. They had two required freshman courses that were startling, very difficult. In the sophomore year, one of the advantages of the course were people were so grateful to be out from under those two courses. But they had learned to write much better.
[51:02] And so these short 750 word papers that were written every-other week to defend a position were, were sometimes very well written. The discussions where students had written the paper ahead of time, they were often very high quality. And the students–what we should be talking about–lots of bright students. At Chapel Hill, I had nice students, but I did mostly lecturing. If they were bright, they didn't have a chance to show it.
[51:27] And here, they were competitive. They wanted to get into Amherst because of its reputation, this tough freshmen thing, so highly… It was self-selecting on that basis. A few wandered in like “What did I get in the middle of?” [[Laughs]] But they were–
[51:43] Wilson: I think I was in the latter group there. [[Laughs]]
[51:46] Hawkins: But Dean, Dean Porter would still get them through one way or the other. So sometimes they just came to say how grateful they were, how they had suffered in English, how unfair things were.
[51:57] Wilson: Were you involved as well in the booklets that were published by the American Studies Department? The–
[52:03] Hawkins: Yes, the first–
[52:04] Wilson: The new, what was that called?
[52:05] Hawkins: Those, uh… “Problems in...”
[52:06] Both: “... American Civilization.”
[52:08] Wilson: Yes.
[52:09] Hawkins: The first time I'd ever heard of Amherst was when I was told that to go to one of those selected anthologies, and read that through, or the introduction and the headnotes, at least, was an excellent preparation for your doctor's orals.
[52:24] Wilson: Aha.
[52:25] Hawkins: Because if you hadn't read anything about the Jackson–
[52:26] Wilson: Well, fabulous. Well, they were mostly used in high schools, weren't they?
[52:30] Hawkins: Well,interesting you would say that because one reason the course was undercut is that some of the brightest students would arrive and say, “We already–I already did that back in high school! Why are you making me do it again?”, and you could not opt out of this course on an AP basis.
[52:44] Wilson: I found it a very exciting course. I wonder, the pedagogy of having a student take a side on an issue and either be for something or against something was rather black and white [[both laugh]] and smacked a little of pre-law, I think.
[53:03] Hawkins: Well, there indeed were some–
[53:06] Wilson: Oh, there were a lot of that?
[53:07] Hawkins: –pre-lawyers in that course.
[53:07] Wilson: But it was very exciting. And that made up for any–
[53:10] Hawkins: And it led to debate in the seminar later.
[53:13] Wilson: And in the dining halls and in the locker rooms, and I mean that, the discussion–
[53:18] Hawkins: So you know that from the student side.
[53:19] Wilson: Yes, the discussion of whether Jackson should have abolished the Bank–
[53:25] Hawkins: The Bank of all questions, a tough question.
[53:28] Wilson: –was the subject of heated argument at dinner and in the fraternity.
[53:33] Hawkins: Everybody's dream of what of course should do, and it doesn't happen very often, does it?
[53:38] Wilson: No.
[53:39] Hawkins: And yeah, I heard one sophomore student say at 10pm the night before the papers are due, all over the sophomore dormitory, you heard the typewriters clicking away as people are writing their papers.
[53:51] Wilson: It was much more social kind of… It lent itself to more social interaction than the English 1 course did, where you really had to sit down and do your own thing as a capital “W” Writer.
[54:07] Hawkins: And issues of current social relevance were brought up in that course, as they were not very many places at all, you know, not in economics–
[54:15] Wilson: In which course, the…?
[54:16] Hawkins: American Studies, Problems of American Studies.
[54:19] Wilson: Yes.
[54:20] Hawkins: Segregation was brought up, other, immigration, other issues that were–it was one of the few places in the college back then–now they're all over the place–where if you were interested in current politics and political issues, you could feel involved. The political science department may have had a little of that, but they were very theoretical, I believe. You would have found less of it there. So it was exciting to teach. I cared about those social problems myself. There was no sociology department, so–
[54:51] Wilson: It should be said here that Hugh was very active politically and went to Selma during the Civil Rights period. Was that with a group of students?
[55:02] Hawkins: Yes, that, yeah. The importance of students, the more I reflect back, at least, for some of the faculty, we were influenced by them in many, many ways. And I went to Selma because a student called me up and asked me, I believe the chaplain of the college also called and suggested it.
[55:20] Wilson: Was that David King at the time?
[55:22] Hawkins: No, he had left by then. You could look it up.
[55:28] Hawkins: Lew Mudge, Lew Mudge–
[55:30] Wilson: Okay
[55:30] Hawkins: –would be the one, right.
[55:33] Wilson: Student–
[55:34] Hawkins: But maybe that's enough about that. But yes, I was somewhat of an activist in the ‘60s, close to students because of that. I valued that experience tremendously. Like anything else, it can be pushed too far. And like anything else the student revolt was, was pushed too far. I certainly wasn't sympathetic with burning professors' research notes, and I didn't approve of breaking up classes.
[55:57] Wilson: Did, did that happen here?
[55:58] Hawkins: Not here, at Columbia. That was really heartbreaking.
[56:02] Wilson: Yes.
[56:03] Hawkins: I've taught a lot about the ‘60s since, so I've had a chance to rethink this, but it's not for us to redo it here.
[56:09] Wilson: You saw tides come and go in student activism, conservative–
[56:13] Hawkins: Right.
[56:13] Wilson: –periods.
[56:13] Hawkins: I was a little sorry when that one went away.
[56:16] Wilson: When which one?
[56:17] Hawkins: The, the activism of the ‘60s. And I remember feeling–
[56:20] Wilson: I think there is a nostalgia in the faculty for the moratorium, and–
[56:26] Hawkins: Yeah, it, it was a little like the religious revivals of the early 1800s of Amherst College. Nothing was more important than facing this issue. That, that's true, though. Is it ‘69, ‘70, along in there, at the time that the moratorium… Were you present at that time or was that–?
[56:43] Wilson: No, that was just before I came back. I was a newspaper reporter and found that in that role, I was really on the outside of all of it because I had been schooled in objectivity.
[56:54] Hawkins: Ah.
[56:54] Wilson: Not, not becoming involved–
[56:56] Hawkins: You didn’t dare to become too involved.
[56:57] Wilson: I didn't want to put a bumper sticker on my car. I didn't want to protest. I wanted to go out with my notepad and report it, quote, “objectively.”
[57:07] Hawkins: Well, I think that role was much appreciated–
[57:08] Wilson: And I feel I missed something very–
[57:10] Hawkins: By not [[tapping hands on chest]] having a passionate moment when you–
[57:12] Wilson: Exactly.
[57:13] Hawkins: Yeah, willing to risk anything, you know.
[57:15] Wilson: Right.
[57:16] Hawkins: One–when I was at Selma, not that I want to go on about that–one person there teaching at Yale, younger, said, “And at a moment like this, tenure doesn't mean a thing.” [[Both laugh]] Meaning you don't try to finish your book and do that. This, this is more important.
[57:31] Wilson: It’s a priority.
[57:32] Hawkins: So those were great days, and the students deserve quite a role. One thing I might mention, just in passing: Frederick Rudolph is also a historian of higher education at Williams College. Interesting that the two of us have that interest in common, teaching these two supposedly competitive colleges. He was very helpful to me in my first book, and I invited him down to give a lecture called, The College– The American College Student as a Reformer, and this would have been early ‘60s. And I, in his book, that's one of the themes that he was [[inaudible]]–
[58:04] Wilson: Does he go back into the 19th century?
[58:06] Hawkins: Yeah, it's a, it's a survey of the entire history up to the 1960s that he wrote this classic survey of American higher education. And he gave it, it was very lively, students did come, including some from a course of mine that had to come. But I can remember “Oh, yes, yes, the students used to be more active than they are today. If we can stimulate a little bit of that, wouldn't it be wonderful?” And not that, that one lecture opened the doors, but people yearning for student activism, and then when they get it, getting more than they opted for.
[58:41] Wilson: Yes, like a building takeover and–
[58:44] Hawkins: Oh, yeah. Yeah, taking over the library. Ah, bad, bad.
[58:50] Wilson: Hugh, before we run out of time, we do want to talk about a very personal issue, which is an important one, and that is what it was like, what it has been like to be a gay member of the faculty going back to the 1950s, and…
[59:04] Hawkins: Okay, I'm glad to talk about that. We agreed ahead of time it was important to bring out because every interview, we can't talk about that [[laughs]] because most of them haven't experienced it from the inside. So as I think, as I generally think back of it, “Oh, well, Amherst was fine from the beginning I never had any problems, what a tolerant institution.” And then I'll come across a letter I wrote at the time, or maybe a diary entry or something, and I can see, it was, it was full of anguish and tension and worry. It was, it was rough. I was delighted to be here. I thought I could do what was wanted. But there was this side of my life, which would have meant sudden death at Amherst College.
[59:45] Wilson: So you had to be quite secretive about, about it?
[59:49] Hawkins: Yes, I would say that my first year here, my sex life took place mostly in New York City and a little bit in Boston. Then after one year, I entered a stable relationship with a partner, and my feeling there was: some people, this is so unthinkable they would never think of it. Others will read this as a nice friendship of two young bachelors, and others will perceive what's going on, but they’ll be sophisticated, and “Well, that's a side of life that we don't talk about, but it's all right.”
[1:00:26] That was my situation. And I was determined I would–this part of my life was important. I was not going to fake heterosexual marriage, or not find fulfillment and love. So I would have been willing for it to be sudden death at Amherst College if that's what had happened. And rather disturbingly, I heard my good friend and mentor, my mentor more than anybody else, George Rogers Taylor, close friend of Charlie Cole, say in my presence to a larger group, “You know, it's odd, but Charlie has told me–I know of three cases with Charlie where its come out that somebody is a homosexual, and of course they've had to resign immediately.”
[1:01:10] One of these cases I had even heard about before I came to Amherst because it was in the grapevine in New York City. [[Laughs.]]
[1:01:16] Wilson: Now tell me about the “of course” in that sentence, because, was this a matter of raw homophobia, or was there a policy veneer that couched it? A pedagogical argument?
[1:01:33] Hawkins: What was going on in Charles Cole's head? I, of course, I can't speak for his thoughts. His family or his… might, might know about this. I think he cared desperately to protect Amherst College and its reputation. And there had been scandals. I think Stephens College has gotten a terribly bad name when a whole nest [[exaggerated hand movements, laughs]] of homosexuals was uncovered there. You wouldn't want that to happen. It's also the Cold War era, the McCarthy era isn’t entirely over. The State Department had been declared to be honeycombed. It was, you were a security risk. So I think it, well, I don't know that he disapproved morally. I'd be rather surprised if that were the case. I think it was his sense of his duty to the institution, which he loved dearly. And this, this was something that would just be intolerable if people knew that a known homosexual were kept on, teaching “our boys.” But not that it was better– good to teach girls either, because it didn’t help to be a women’s college. But my guess–
[1:02:41] Wilson: Was– Stephens was a women's college.
[1:02:42] Hawkins: And Stephens was a women's college but it was still a big scandal.
[1:02:47] Wilson: Yeah, yeah.
[1:02:47] Hawkins: So I, he is a person I admire immensely. I would think that you might well say he was the most important president of Amherst College in the 20th century.
[1:02:56] Wilson: Oh, can we just–
[1:02:57] Hawkins: Why?
[1:02:58] Wilson: –parenthesize there and say why?
[1:03:00] Hawkins: He opened up the faculty, the student body. He revolutionized the admissions process, got Bill Wilson there to make sure it was done. Although in one case, I heard that he had simply turned down a department recommendation as well. He never did that. Why did he do–? And this is somebody who had been in trouble at Harvard. Somebody who had been a communist, refused to talk about who other communists were and was essentially blacklisted. And my feeling, I couldn't prove this, is that he was in that circle and that the presidents of colleges at that time said, “Well this is the one you don't want. He’s bad news.”
[1:03:42] Wilson: I see, I see. And yet, again, just to continue the brief digression: The trustees and the president rallied around people like Colston Warne, who were–
[1:03:53] Hawkins: Yes, I'm so glad you brought that up.
[1:03:55] Wilson: –who were accused of, or at least, subpoenaed or something before McCarthy, McCarthy-like committees.
[1:04:03] Hawkins: Yes, the Colston Warne story. I hope somebody looks that up and writes it out. He was the founder of the Consumers Union and sympathetic with labor. A left winger, not a communist, but sophisticated enough that he associated with them in good causes. And the story that I heard was that it was Stanley King who would write back letters saying, “No way is this person in any danger at Amherst College. This is a fine teacher, and what are you trying to pull here?” This is Stanley King. I don't know that Charlie Cole had to protect him, but maybe he did.
[1:04:38] Wilson: Now getting back to homosexuality: in the ‘50s there was, right across the river, a scandal about, uh, although I guess it–was it kept quiet at the time?
[1:04:47] Hawkins: Oh, no, [[laughs]] it was front page.
[1:04:49] Wilson: Professor Arvin–
[1:04:51] Hawkins: Newton Ar–
[1:04:51] Wilson: –who was American Studies wasn't he?
[1:04:52] Hawkins: That's right. Newton Arvin, highly respected–
[1:04:54] Wilson: That must have been a little bit too close for comfort.
[1:04:56] Hawkins: –figure. Yeah, indeed it was. I didn't want to start with that because that was not the central event for me, although it certainly was important. And if I had been a little overconfident about surviving here, that was a challenge. I had actually met Newton Arvin at a small dinner party where nothing untoward happened. But the subject of, that “we're all gay here” came up. One comment he made, I recall, is that “Well, in the old days, we were so badly paid that that was the explanation of not being married. You couldn't afford it.”
[1:05:28] Wilson: Couldn’t afford to be married?
[1:05:29] Hawkins: This was, uh, understood and accepted.
[1:05:32] Wilson: Was there a gay subculture? You'd mentioned this party.
[1:05:35] Hawkins: Yeah, I didn't get deeply into it because I had a single relationship, and you know, this could stir jealousies. Smith, at Smith College, not at, uh, at Amherst there was one place, it was, several bachelors lived together. I don't know beyond, beyond that but I always assumed they were, they were homosexual. But my strategy, and I think many people’s, was “don't become buddies with another faculty member that you think may be gay.” That's a very sad part of it.
[1:06:08] Wilson: Yes.
[1:06:08] Hawkins: You didn’t form a community. At Smith, I think there was a lot of of socializing together. At Amherst it was more “have heterosexual friends, have friends who are married couples.”
[1:06:21] Wilson: Mm-hmm. And were they mostly unsuspecting, do you think, or did they understand?
[1:06:27] Hawkins: I, my guess would be that it varied wildly, never discussed. But you know, my partner would also appear with me at some, sometimes at a dinner party. And these are dear friends. [[Laughs]] I’m glad to have them.
[1:06:44] Wilson: After you heard, after you heard George Rogers Taylor's remark that you mentioned, in the presence of Cole and others, how did you react?
[1:06:56] Hawkins: Um, I think I blushed.
[1:06:57] Wilson: Did you–?
[1:06:58] Hawkins: I tried to– [[Both laugh]]
[1:07:01] Hawkins: And those, as I said, I'd heard of one of those stories before. I found out more about others later. And one, I think, I believe I have it right, that one tenured member of the faculty resigned very abruptly in August and went elsewhere for no good reason that–
[1:07:17] Wilson: There wasn’t–?
[1:07:18] Hawkins: –that anybody could see.
[1:07:19] Wilson: There wasn't any verboten fooling around with students or–?
[1:07:23] Hawkins: No. Well, I don't know. In that case I–
[1:07:26] Wilson: I mean, in the case of resignations and departures.
[1:07:29] Hawkins: Uh-huh. And in another case, the person had been out cruising, was beaten up and went into the President’s–“Oh, I've been, I've been beaten up, isn't this awful. I might not be able to meet my class for a day or two.” And rather than getting sympathy was told to “have your letter of resignation on my desk within the hour.”
[1:07:43] Wilson: Oh.
[1:07:44] Hawkins: I'm partly creating, but that's the way the story where it got told. So it was–
[1:07:49] Wilson: Certainly a chilling effect to say that least.
[1:07:51] Hawkins: Yeah, I wouldn't have wanted that to happen to me. I've got, I liked it here very much. I liked what I was doing and felt that I would be good at it.
[1:08:00] The Newton Arvin case: I'd met him at this dinner party, very affable, cheery, older man. He had taught with my Doktorvater. They’d both taught for a while together. So that was something to chat about. But then when he was arrested, I was told by the host of that party–and of course, they also seized his diary. And I thought, “Gee, I wonder if the, I wonder if the party gets mentioned in the diary.” So I was a little worried and uh, “a little bit”–
[1:08:28] Wilson: Yeah.
[1:08:28] Hawkins: –maybe I was a lot worried. I asked the ACLU please to send me their pamphlet, “what to do if you are arrested.” So you can–
[1:08:37] Wilson: Now was the ACLU enlightened about these things in those days, or–?
[1:08:42] Hawkins: Uh, a little bit. They've gotten much more so.
[1:08:44] Wilson: When did it–maybe I'm jumping ahead too soon—but when did it begin to change?
[1:08:49] Hawkins: The at–
[1:08:49] Wilson: Slowly.
[1:08:50] Hawkins: The ACLU or…?
[1:08:51] Wilson: No, the whole–
[1:08:52] Hawkins: At Amherst College–
[1:08:52] Wilson: –status of…
[1:08:53] Hawkins: Even at the beginning, I knew there were people who were sophisticated in these matters. Mary Taylor, George Taylor's wife, said things in my presence that were comforting. My colleague, Ted Greene, said sophisticated things about sexual orientation. And his brother Thayer, who had–
[1:09:12] Wilson: –was a minister.
[1:09:13] Hawkins: –been a chaplain of the College, even, for a time, became a psychotherapist and wrote a book for young men, which I devoured and found that it had a very sympathetic presentation of what it was like to be a gay young man. So that was, that was comforting. And Plimpton’s coming to help somewhat to change things, because you felt that he came from that kind of world, sophisticated, urban world.
[1:09:38] Wilson: Before Plimpton–were, did you, were you subject to innuendo or any kind of, uh, hassle, as they say?
[1:09:48] Hawkins: Never.
[1:09:49] Wilson: Never?
[1:09:49] Hawkins: Never. You know, it's a place that respects people's privacy. You know, Amherst is that way. Maybe New England, er, is also…
[1:10:00] Wilson: So then Plimpton came?
[1:10:02] Hawkins: Yes. I liked him perfectly, well, he was president when I was assured that I had a future at Amherst College. And I heard from a friend on the Committee of Six that he said, “Well, you know, this is all right with a faculty member just so they don't do it with students.”
[1:10:23] Wilson: So there it took on a policy–
[1:10:24] Hawkins: That's right.
[1:10:25] Wilson: –cast.
[1:10:25] Hawkins: And I think I would more, pretty much agree with that.
[1:10:29] Wilson: Well, they also say that now about heterosexual–
[1:10:32] Hawkins: That’s right.
[1:10:32] Wilson: –professors.
[1:10:32] Hawkins: That’s right, that you should immediately–
[1:10:34] Wilson: –as long as they don't do it with students.
[1:10:36] Hawkins: You could look that up in the minutes of the faculty.
[1:10:38] Wilson: Right.
[1:10:39] Hawkins: But I believe some faculty member said, “No, no, you can imagine a case where this would be acceptable. You know, this is a love–
[1:10:45] Wilson: Yes, I–
[1:10:46] Hawkins: –between a faculty member and a student. So it's, you must remove yourself from any power role–
[1:10:51] Wilson: And another faculty member who may have made similar remarks actually married a former student, not an Amherst former student, but another, from another institution so I imagined he would be questioning it.
[1:11:06] Hawkins: Yeah, it's a hard, it's a very serious issue. And to give the faculty credit: it was debated quite, quite seriously and not just on homosexual-heterosexual terms. But faculty-student… there is such a thing is sexual harassment, and it's very dreadful and probably there was a great deal more of it than was recognized over the years, so prevention of that is highly appropriate.
[1:11:29] Wilson: Would you say then that Amherst in the context of the larger world, larger academic world, was relatively enlightened, even in your early years, or–?
[1:11:41] Hawkins: Yeah, I would rank Harvard ahead of it.
[1:11:45] Wilson: Okay.
[1:11:45] Hawkins: I think there in the 1930s, most people knew, understood and who was and who wasn't. Yale certain had alumni, gay alumni organize before we did, although ours came through nobley in the long run and played a very important–
[1:12:00] Wilson: Yes, you and I were both in communication about that because I was editing the magazine and ran an article about the formation of Amherst GALA, which was followed by the most hateful, not flood, but a number of hateful letters from readers, quite homophobic. But that, in turn, was followed by another wave of letters, castigating the people who had written the first wave, so…
[1:12:32] Hawkins: I was very proud of you for your courage as an editor and deeply appreciative–
[1:12:37] Wilson: Well, I… Thank you, I don't think it took much courage. It was reporting the news, and…
[1:12:42] Hawkins: I can remember the group talking about it. “Well, now how can we get word out that we exist? And would they–?” They were not sure.
[1:12:48] Wilson: Well, I must say in the administration, there were a couple who questioned–
[1:12:52] Hawkins: But, and we're talking late now.
[1:12:54] Wilson: –our doing that. Yeah.
[1:12:56] Hawkins: ‘80. ‘80s, maybe.
[1:12:57] Wilson: ‘80s? Yeah.
[1:12:58] Hawkins: As to the general atmosphere, I think I should say that certain, I'm feel sure, straight members of the faculty took this issue up very strongly in a very helpful way. Don Pitkin, the first professor of anthropology, he taught with Vicky Spelman in philosophy, a course called Deviancy. And it began with three deviant groups. But I think before it was done, it was maybe all about homosexuality.
[1:13:23] And that was an eye-opener for the students who took it. And I would think that maybe questioning students took it and figured out things about themselves. So to know that Don was doing that was very helpful. John Petropoulos was dean of freshmen, I believe, and elsewhere too, took a leading position in this. Bob Romer in the physics department pressed the college to stand up for its standards and not let people on campus trying to hire people for jobs if they didn't have an orientation acceptance statement as generous as Amherst’s. This is a very strong position.
[1:14:05] And I didn't, ironically I didn't agree with it and on the Committee of Six, he and I had quite a bit of arguments about this. I thought our standard is “We have an open campus, anybody can come, but they have to be ready to debate.” So the outcome there was, I believe the military stopped coming and the CIA stopped coming. I'm pretty sure that's right.
[1:14:23] Wilson: I think they still don't come.
[1:14:25] Hawkins: Okay. Well, “the hell”– you know, the Amherst College position, “The hell with them!” But if you're getting federal money, it could be there to be pressure.
[1:14:33] Wilson: Right.
[1:14:33] Hawkins: That may change for the worse. But we finally agreed just that they could come but they had to debate. The one case that I know where that happened was General Electric sent three people, including one Amherst alumnus that they had hired, to present their position of why they didn't have a sexual orientation permissive statement in their hiring. And I went to that. Bob Romer was there and said, “I didn't particularly want to come, but I thought of all people, I have to come.”
[1:15:00] He had spoken on the floor of the faculty too. John Petropolous was there, students were there, and the Resident Advisors in the dorms, a couple of them were gay. And these fellows, I almost felt sorry for them because they had a very weak position. They were out-argued at every point. And what I heard was, well, “General Electric won't be back.” [[Laughs]] I don't believe we changed their policy.
[1:15:26] Wilson: You, backing up, as a gay faculty member, you must have been aware of students who were also gay or were coming to grips with their orientation. Did you have any opportunities to be a mentor in a helpful, sympathetic, supportive way or… or not?
[1:15:48] Hawkins: I think I would have been happy to do that. It's hard to put myself in that position. I might have been frightened of being involved or exposed, I know that sort of thing could happen. But one student did come in once that, “why had the paper not been written?” and tearful, and then “well, look at this.” And it was a statement about how much he loved his roommate. And I didn't say “Oh, I'm gay, too.” [[Both laugh]] But I did say, “There's nothing here that is surprising. This, these emotions exist. You have a right to express them, and why don't you turn this paper in when you get it ready?” So in the little, tiny way I was comforting. And I have met that student since, and, uh, he's done fine.
[1:16:27] Wilson: It probably was a helpful moment.
[1:16:30] Hawkins: Well, I, I would hope at least, you know, just giving students a postponement can be helpful, although there are certain rigid types that refuse to do it.
[1:16:39] Wilson: What do you think of things like Gay Studies getting into the curriculum and…?
[1:16:44] Hawkins: Oh, in a certain point I’ve come out rather conservative. I think the way we do it is fine. It doesn't have to be a sub-category program. As far as courses on that subject, I know they've meant a lot of students. They're very well taught. Eve Sedgwick, who was on the faculty–
[1:16:59] Wilson: Oh, yes.
[1:17:00] Hawkins: –is a leading figure in Queer Studies.
[1:17:03] Wilson: Is she still at Duke now?
[1:17:04] Hawkins: No, she went to New York. I think maybe she teaches at City College of New York in a very elevated position. I think she invented the term “Queer Studies,” and she gave a Chapel Talk to the graduating seniors that was full of you know, in-jokes, and “here come the faculty in drag.” So hiring somebody–
[1:17:22] Wilson: She wrote an article, well, it was based on a talk, but appeared as an article in the mag– alumni magazine called “Sabrina Doesn't Live Here Anymore.”
[1:17:42] Hawkins: Ah-hah.
[1:17:42] Wilson: That wasn't of course about Queer Studies, but it was about co-education having reached its fruition, and…
[1:17:43] Hawkins: Uh-huh, ah, and–
[1:17:44] Wilson: I love, I always loved that title–
[1:17:44] Hawkins: The joke’s about Sabrina.
[1:17:45] Wilson: –“Sabrina doesn't live here...”
[1:17:46] Hawkins: That’s right, the nude female figure in chains that is the symbol of Amherst College.
[1:17:51] Wilson: And groped by alumni, returning alumni who want to have their pictures taken with it. [Hawkins laughs.] I refu–I always call it “it.” I refuse to call it “her.”
[1:18:00] Hawkins: Ah. That's right. Now, of course, an active feminist could have written the same article. I don't know it that was particularly homophile–
[1:18:09] Wilson: No, I agree. [[inaudible]], yeah.
[1:18:10] Hawkins: –article. But her address included that part. Yeah, no, that–those courses are important. Certain faculty members who had perhaps been closeted actually teach those courses now. I'm not terribly, terribly well informed on that. The crucial moment, and this I certainly wouldn't want to leave out, was a Student. Once again, it was students who took the initiative. There was a very small student gay group, and they wrote a letter to the Amherst Student saying, you could look it up, saying, “We're abandoning our effort here because it's so unsympathetic. The environment is so unsympathetic here, and we just are going to give up.” And in response, all sorts of students turned out in a candlelight protest–
[1:18:54] Wilson: Yeah, yes.
[1:18:54] Hawkins: –on the steps of Frost Library.
[1:18:56] Wilson: That wasn't so many years ago.
[1:18:58] Hawkins: No, I wish I had been there. But that, that was really a turning point. It felt like, well, you know, the student opinion has tilted on this in spite of the sad experience of this group, and from then on there were groups of, you know, mixed Gay-Straight Alliance type, and then becoming more and more clearly a student group. Then there were the Coming Out Day programs–
[1:19:20] Wilson: And chalked sidewalks.
[1:19:22] Hawkins: And chalked sidewalk, yeah. So suddenly, all this activism is nothing to be afraid of. By comparison, I'm conservative. I did talk at one of the Coming Out Day panels. There had been four, I think: Kannan Jagannathan, the famous Jagu in the Physics Department–
[1:19:39] Wilson: Yes.
[1:19:39] Hawkins: –was there once or twice as the faculty gay person talking. Then it would be a student, a member of the staff, and a parent would come. A wonderful professor of Phys Ed at Springfield College, I believe, who would come up representing PFLAG. And they talked really eloquently, movingly, the Babbott Room was jammed for these. And you know, you’d look around. Maybe people came because they were gay, but maybe not. But, very sympathetic audience and lots of in-jokes. I agreed to speak at the last one that was held, and it wasn't as well-attended. Sort of, this had done its work. And I don't think any souls were saved by my comments there, but I felt a lot better.
[1:20:23] Wilson: What did you talk about?
[1:20:24] Hawkins: What it was like to have been gay all my life, to be gay at Amherst College, and hopefully somebody in the audience saw somebody having a decent life who had opened up to this and that it helped somebody. I know that at least one student was there who was in the course of mine. She blossomed after that. She began to talk in class, her papers were more carefully worked on. So in that case, without ever having face-to-face conversation about it, I know there was additional rapport. Gee, I don't know what else there is to say on that.
[1:20:59] Wilson: Well, that's a lot well said, so…
[1:21:02] Hawkins: Thank you.
[1:21:04] Wilson: Um, we have other categories of constituents to talk about. We've talked about students. Never enough, but we'll move on–
[1:21:13] Hawkins: Right.
[1:21:13] Wilson: –if that's all right. Admissions. Have you seen a Dean's, Dean of Admissions’s imprint on the kinds of students who are here? Are Wilson’s students different from Wall’s students different from–
[1:21:26] Hawkin: Oh, yeah.
[1:21:26] Wilson: –different from Reynolds’s students?
[1:21:31] Hawkins: I think that could be done by a very careful study. [[Laughs]] Dean Wilson is the dramatic breakthrough figure. He went for a national constituency, emphasized intellectual promise, thought a lot about it, wrote a book on it, was a leader of national groups of admissions officers…
[1:21:54] Wilson: The dean of deans of admissions.
[1:21:55] Hawkins: The dean of–yes, you may have heard that. And Charlie Cole, when he accepted the presidency, he would accept only on, with the understanding that the then-dean of admissions would go and he would bring in his choice.
[1:22:08] Wilson: Where did, where did he get Wilson? Do you–?
[1:22:09] Hawkins: He, I believe he may have already been here as a dean of freshmen and teacher of English. A very interesting figure, deserves deep research, in fact. He was a Quaker, a conscientious objector during World War Two, which takes a lot of courage–
[1:22:25] I admired him a lot. I must say, however, on the two breakthroughs that occurred after I got here, not to let in ethnic variety and Jewish students without any quota, which I think he had a lot to do with. I couldn't back that up.
[1:22:40] Wilson: That was a breakthrough not to have a quota?
[1:22:42] Hawkins: Not to, not to, not to say, “Well that, we have enough Jews in this class.” I don't think he thought that way. And there were a great many Jewish students. It was sort of striking when I came here in ‘57. On the issue of Black students and women students, he was conservative, and the Black students, I think he thought he had already taken care of that. And you know, there's always a token–
[1:23:02] Wilson: Meaning…?
[1:23:03] Hawkins: That “we have Black students.”
[1:23:05] Wilson: There were, there was one in my class.
[1:23:07] Hawkins: See, but he was qualified.
[1:23:08] Wilson: That “took care of it.”
[1:23:10] Hawkins: Yeah, “checked it off.” Or two, one to be the roommate with the other. And that was, that was resisted. This group, [[sigh]] disadvantaged students–
[1:23:22] Wilson: And yet that was a little retroactive because in the ‘20s–
[1:23:25] Hawkins: That’s right.
[1:23:26] Wilson: –under Meiklejohn–
[1:23:27] Hawkins: That’s right.
[1:23:27] Wilson: –there was a–
[1:23:29] Hawkins: Some very important Black students came–
[1:23:30] Wilson: –a group of Black students from Dunbar High School in Washington.
[1:23:33] Hawkins: Exactly. In fact, the book Black Men of Amherst traces that group–
[1:23:37] Wilson: Right.
[1:23:37] Hawkins: –sort of came to a halt under Stanley King, I wouldn't go into why. But I remember the author of that book, of Students, Black Students, Black Men of Amherst, of course–
[1:23:51] Wilson: Right, right. There’s now a Black Women of Amherst.
[1:23:54] Hawkins: Yeah, tried to balance that out. You can get the boxed set, I understand. That student said to me, or, one Black student, very proud of this book and it being printed by the College, “Williams could never publish such a book.” [[Wilson laughs]] And I guess it is true that we, we had done better than they did on that.
[1:24:12] Wilson: I think to this day, maybe I shouldn't get into this, but Amherst has a better record on diversity and the student body.
[1:24:22] Hawkins: Well, you know, we work hard at it–
[1:24:24] Wilson: We’re not in a mountain, behind a mountain fastness.
[1:24:26] Hawkins: I think it's the location, all that snow and all those white people–
[1:24:29] Wilson: Location, location, location.
[1:24:32] Hawkins: Yeah, five– There's a whole conversation to be had about Five College cooperation, its drawbacks and its strengths. But one of its strengths is students, some students come here because they're attracted by this sophisticated place with a lot of academic groups. What else about Dean Wilson?
[1:24:48] Wilson: Parents? Parents?
[1:24:49] Hawkins: Oh, let me say a little more about Dean Wilson–
[1:24:50] Wilson: Yes, do it.
[1:24:51] Hawkins: –if I may. I do remember with this group on disadvantaged students was working, he somewhat mocked us, saying, “They call themselves the gods,” and some of this was just administrative self-protection and understandable. But I did hear him say, I'm sorry to report because most of his record is so good, “If we admit more Black students, there aren't enough Black female students at Mount Holyoke for them to have dates and they will be forced to date white students.” I'm sorry to say, I did hear him say that, this is not secondhand. I, in my researching mode, then dug into the statistics and, and found that the opposite was true!
[1:25:32] Wilson: The opposite was true.
[1:25:32] Hawkins: That there were Black women students at Mount Holyoke–
[1:25:36] Wilson: Who were all–
[1:25:36] Hawkins: –who would be forced to date white men at Amherst because of the lack–
[1:25:39] Wilson: We're all guilty of lapses like that.
[1:25:41] Hawkins: That’s right.
[1:25:42] Wilson: It makes me think of one of my own, which was when a professor told me that I should change the catalog so that department chair-men were department chairs.
[1:25:54] Hawkins: Yes.
[1:25:56] Wilson: I poo-pooed it–this was when I was very young– and looked in the Mount Holyoke catalog where all of the department heads were called chairmen.
[1:26:05] Hawkins: See?
[1:26:06] Wilson: And I said, “See?”
[1:26:08] Hawkins: Research!
[1:26:08] Wilson: And now I'm ashamed of that. [[Laughs]]
[1:26:10] Hawkins: Yeah, we, you know, of course, there's buried sexism and racism in all of us, and I have been caught up on some. It's very, very revealing too, on both of those matters. So I, I forgive him that, and he came, he came around strongly once he was convinced. Horace Porter, a Black graduate, about seventy–
[1:26:29] Wilson: Oh, a wonderful writer.
[1:26:30] Hawkins: Yes, he published, part of his memoirs published. I've read the whole memoir, and Dean Wilson is one of the heroes because Dean Wilson kept writing to him down in Georgia–
[1:26:41] Wilson: Oh, my.
[1:26:41] Hawkins: “Come to Amherst, you will like it. Yes, we want you.” And even at the end of the book, he’s still saying how much he blesses Dean Wilson. So, once converted [[laughs]] it was very–
[1:26:51] Wilson: Right.
[1:26:51] Hawkins: On women, I won't go into that, but the same thing: he did not want Amherst to become co-educational.
[1:26:55] Wilson: Oh, there were so many at Mount Holyoke and Smith.
[1:26:57] Hawkins: That's right, “we're surrounded.” And I think I began feeling that way too, for the worst of reasons. I thought there was a higher prestige in being at a men's college.
[1:27:08] Wilson: But what, in the marketplace, we wouldn't have survived.
[1:27:11] Hawkins: Oh, it was the right–
[1:27:11] Wilson: I mean, just to be crass about it.
[1:27:14] Hawkins: –the right thing to do for a million reasons, but–
[1:27:17] Wilson: You know the two men's colleges left in the country are, one is your old rival, Wabash–
[1:27:21] Hawkins: Wabash, Indiana.
[1:27:24] Wilson: –rival of De Pauw, your alma mater.
[1:27:26] Hawkins: Right.
[1:27:26] Wilson: And the other is Hampden-Sydney, I believe, in Virginia.
[1:27:31] Hawkins: They're probably suffering as a result, or maybe–
[1:27:33] Wilson: I looked it, I looked it up once and they were accepting up to 80% of their applicants.
[1:27:39] Hawkins: Okay. But let's hope we didn't just do it for that reason. And I think when Amherst did it, it was not for financial reasons. Some institutions felt they had to. It would be financially better off. At Amherst is really was–
[1:27:50] Wilson: High moral ground.
[1:27:51] Hawkins: Yeah, a long, hard-fought battle. A story that I trust others like Rose Olver will tell, and I had a moment of conversion. I think having Ellen Ryerson as my colleague in American Studies definitely played a role, that, you know, she caught me up in unconscious sexist attitudes. And when I converted, I converted all the way, though I wasn't on those committees that pushed it. I voted right. How's that? [[Laughs]]
[1:28:17] Wilson: Good, good. Um, alumni relations, and…?
[1:28:24] Hawkins: Okay.
[1:28:27] Wilson: Why are they so successful at Amherst? We get a bigger percentage contributing every year to the Annual Fund.
[1:28:34] Hawkins: You know, I bless them, and it isn't just luck. I think a lot of them are grateful for what happened here. Because you meet them and talk to them. And you know, how lucky they were to have that kind of education. They may partly want their children to have it too, but they want it to keep going.
[1:28:52] Wilson: “What happened here” being the education?
[1:28:55] Hawkins: A challenging education that opened them up to themselves, showed them the possibilities. It might have happened other places because they're very promising people, [[laughs]] but they associate it with this. And, and I don't know a lot about how alumni relations are organized here, but they do a terrifically good job. I do know, talk about history I couldn't have lived through, back in the 1870s, I believe, Amherst was one of the very first colleges to insist that alumni be allowed to elect some of the trustees. Up until that they just continued for life and elected each other and were very much controlled by ministers.
[1:29:33] Wilson: Now, I think, I don't know the number, but it's, uh, 50% at least are…
[1:29:38] Hawkins: Are alumni?
[1:29:38] Wilson: Are ch–
[1:29:38] Hawkins: Are chosen?
[1:29:40] Wilson: One every year, so six year term, no, it wouldn't be 50%.
[1:29:43] Hawkins: No, it’s not that many–
[1:29:44] Wilson: It wouldn’t be 50%.
[1:29:45] Hawkins: –and of course, other trustees tend to be alumni, that's right. I think an important shift was giving up the life trusteeship; we've discussed this before. But I think you are–there's no such thing as being a trustee for life, after, I think, two terms you do go off. You may hang around and be “of counsel” or emeriti, and you may attend meetings forever and ever.
[1:30:06] Wilson: Right.
[1:30:06] Hawkins: But, but–
[1:30:07] Wilson: But you don't have a vote.
[1:30:08] Hawkins: You don’t have a vote, and I think that's good.
[1:30:10] Wilson: I read in something you wrote, going back to this alumni loyalty, that the average liberal arts college size for the student body in the 1960s was about 1600, or a little over 1600 students. Amherst was much smaller, and I wonder if the smallness of the place and the intimacy of it is a factor in that loyalty.
[1:30:36] Hawkins: That's right, our smallness–
[1:30:37] Wilson: Places that were bigger, were less intimate–
[1:30:40] Hawkins: More impersonal–
[1:30:40] Wilson: –less intense, if you will.
[1:30:43] Hawkins: [[inaudible]] through. Here, anybody you meet here, you think you may meet them again. It's a real community. We can pretty much talk about the same thing. We've gotten a little more diverse, partly as it has gotten bigger. People are more tied to their departments. You don’t–when I came, every young faculty expected to know everybody on the faculty, and there were ways to, to guarantee that. And now, people pass through, I don't know them. You know, I'm sorry, but there just wasn't time.
[1:31:10] Wilson: Was the faculty club an instrument of that,or…?
[1:31:12] Hawkins: Yes, that helped. And that's a story in its own right.
[1:31:16] Wilson: Tell it!
[1:31:16] Hawkins: How, its decline and disappearance. When I first came, I’ll just give that version here, what it finally ended up was abolition, but it was in the base–
[1:31:27] Wilson: Or euthanasia. Was it ab–, as it a mercy killing?
[1:31:29] Hawkins: Oh, no, they kept trying and trying to save it. They had, Bill Kennick tried to save it. And then they admitted all staff members, and then they met less often, and then it was a fancy dinner meeting–instead of the men going down for big chunks of roast beef [[Wilson laughs]] after drinking heartily in each other's houses. How did we get off on the faculty club? Oh, the alumni, right. There is something I thought I should put on record about the alumni in case it's forgotten because you can't look it up as such. When I first came here, the Alumni Weekend or gathering preceded commencement. And the idea was that they would bond with the seniors. The seniors would know they too were alumni now, they sang together, and then alumni could attend commencement and so on. It turned out that alumni misbehaved at such a pace– [[Wilson laughs]]
[1:32:19] Wilson: Wasn’t it ever–
[1:32:20] Hawkins: And there was drunken revelry, understandable. That, is this what we want our seniors to go away thinking about?
[1:32:28] Wilson: But then they had the two weekends together, commencement and reunion.
[1:32:34] Hawkins: Did you ever experience that?
[1:32:36] Wilson: No, but it was right up until the year I came back here, which was ‘75. At least for a few years, the weekends were together. And it became logistically unwieldy–
[1:32:48] Hawkins: Oh, just where you’re going to house people.
[1:32:49] Wilson: Housing people and having enough tents for everything.
[1:32:53] Hawkins: That could be that alumni began to behave better. I know that's been very well redesigned. It's an intellectual experience now to come back here for alumni–
[1:33:01] Wilson: Kent Faerber gets credit for that.
[1:33:03] Hawkins: Well, good for him.
[1:33:04] Wilson: He said this shouldn't just be a beer blast, which it–
[1:33:09] Hawkins: Had–
[1:33:09] Wilson: –to oversimplify–
[1:33:09] Hawkins: –tended to–
[1:33:10] Wilson: –it had been.
[1:33:11] Hawkins: Right?
[1:33:12] Wilson: He said we need to rekindle the intellectual experience and the educational experience. And so there had been panel discussions. And I hear people wandering around on Alumni Weekend saying, “I don't know whether to go to the panel on this, the panel on that, or the, to hear Professor So-and-So” because they were all scheduled at the same time.
[1:33:32] Hawkins: There was too much!
[1:33:32] Wilson: Too much going on. Embarrassment of riches.
[1:33:35] Hawkins: That’s right, I’ve attended some of those panels or those lectures. I was on one once, I think. Gordon Levin is on them all the time to talk about Israel-Palestine problems. They're impressive. And also you see these people you remember as students, they've been successes, they developed the way you would hope, and it's just a great pleasure to have them back on campus performing that way.
[1:33:57] Wilson: And they're not misbehaving.
[1:33:58] Hawkins: They're no longer misbehaving.
[1:34:00] Wilson: Have you done the alumni circuit going to alumni associations?
[1:34:02] Hawkins: Oh, yes, I have done that. Let's see. I was in Providence, Cleveland, and Los Angeles. I didn't do a lot of it. But the, Providence, they, we sent a faculty member, an administration member, and a student. And on the way down it seemed like “Oh, yeah, this is a real good one. They, they have good martinis.” [[Wilson laughs]] Or something like that. And that one was a little bleary-eyed and nostalgic.
[1:34:24] Wilson: You have to sing.
[1:34:25] Hawkins: Yeah, a lot of singing in Providence.
[1:34:27] Wilson: A lot of singing.
[1:34:28] Hawkins: Yeah. But I like doing it. Made me feel part of, part of the College in a different way. In Cleveland, I happened to know a lot of the alumni there. And it was a great pleasure to see them. And I think I talked about, maybe, Black Studies.
[1:34:40] Wilson: Was there a geographical reason for that?
[1:34:41] Hawkins: Um, well, Cleveland has sent students, and it, by chance, perhaps.
[1:34:51] Wilson: You're not, you don't have Cleveland in your own background.
[1:34:53] Hawkins: No, it wouldn't, it wouldn't have been that. Maybe Southern history appealed to them. And then Los Angeles. I just happened to be on the West Coast, so I went down there and that was, that was…
[1:35:03] Wilson: They're always very feisty, aren't they?
[1:35:05] Hawkins: Yeah, the curriculum was a topic in Los Angeles.
[1:35:07] Wilson: And I would almost say proprietary.
[1:35:09] Hawkins: It can be bad. [[Wilson laughs]] I can, I can remember one director of advancement or whatever it was called them, who said “I go around circulating during the cocktail hour, and I find out who is being unusually rude to the president or browbeating him, and then it is my duty then to take that person along and listen–”
[1:35:27] Wilson: Ease them away.
[1:35:28] Hawkins: “–with great sympathy.”
[1:35:31] Wilson: Let them vent, as they say. The trustee board, you mentioned that it was early to add alumni-elected trustees. Have you found that–? You’ve been on Committees of Six enough that you've had a lot of dealings with trustees. Have you found the boards have changed their character over the years? When I came here, there seemed to be a very hands-off tradition.
[1:35:58] “We're above getting involved in management and operations. And we're here to be a sort of sounding board.” I oversimplify, but it seems to me that that–
[1:36:16] Hawkins: Has changed?
[1:36:17] Wilson: Has changed.
[1:36:18] Hawkins: You probably know better than I do. I've heard, some years back, trustees say, “There really two things that are very much our responsibility: choosing, making sure the new president is well-chosen and keeping the finances prudentially.”
[1:36:31] Wilson: Fiduciary.
[1:36:32] Hawkins: Those are, those are the important things. But there is the curriculum committee of the trustees, and every trustee belongs to that, and they come separately and meet here, and then they do talk to the CEP and visit classes.
[1:36:43] Wilson: The curriculum committee of the trustees?
[1:36:44] Hawkins: Yes. Even though they don't control it. They are, they are int–
[1:36:49] Wilson: It's called the instruction committee.
[1:36:50] Hawkins: Instruction.
[1:36:51] Wilson: Instruction, right.
[1:36:52] Hawkins: Thank goodness that you ask me the questions. Okay. Well, I told you at the beginning–
[1:36:55] Wilson: But–
[1:36:56] Hawkins: The instruction committee.
[1:36:57] Wilson: But would you go so far as to say it's none of their business?
[1:37:00] Hawkins: No, no, I think it's very good that they enter… and when they've been in my classes as–well, once it was terrifying, but generally it's been stimulating. Tom Wyman came to one of mine and–
[1:37:11] Wilson: Oh, wonderful.
[1:37:12] Hawkins: –contributed to the discussion in a valuable way, and others… And the exchange with the CEP: It is interesting that people who had the required so-called “new curriculum” back in the late ‘40s, ‘50s, on into the ‘60s, at the time, all sorts of protests about what they were–at least when I got here–being forced to do, and now, they probably are more conservative on that issue than any other group and wish that we go back to maybe even exactly that, which would be impossible, but at least some kind of requirement other than the “fig leaf” that we now have.
[1:37:50] Wilson: A fig leaf that you helped to design–
[1:37:52] Hawkins: That’s right.
[1:37:52] Wilson: –[[laughing]] at one point. The ILS– I was going to ask you about ILS, although jumping around here a bit. Were you disa– seriously disappointed to see that it turned out to be the remarkable shrinking curriculum?
[1:38:04] Hawkins: Of course.
[1:38:05] Wilson: It went from a fairly ambitious program to a very minimal–
[1:38:09] Hawkins: It was supposed to be two semesters. You had to be a teaching faculty member, you couldn't do it your first year, you couldn't be brought in to do that. All of that gradually went by the board.
[1:38:19] Wilson: And it had–you may have just said this–but you had to have at least two–
[1:38:22] Hawkins: And it had to be at least two people–
[1:38:24] Wilson: –professors.
[1:38:24] Hawkins: –and now it is a mere figure–
[1:38:27] Wilson: And there was also something called an adjunct program.
[1:38:29] Hawkins: That's right, never actually went into effect. Yeah, it was–the faculty finally can do what they want to do. So it's very important to have a good faculty, and a lot of faculty didn't want to do that. It almost got abolished like the third year, I think Don [[?]]–
[1:38:45] Wilson: And yet it, in its current form, it struggles on.
[1:38:50] Hawkins: Yeah, even now it's sort of a totally voluntary freshman seminar that other places do. The one strong–it is good for freshmen to be together in a single course with only freshmen. That, that helps.
[1:39:00] Wilson: And to do a lot of writing.
[1:39:03] Hawkins: Yes, I'm not sure they do that in every case.
[1:39:05] Wilson: Okay.
[1:39:06] Hawkins: But the fact that those courses count toward a major is heartbreaking to me because hopefully it was, this was to be general education outside of all departments.
[1:39:16] Wilson: On trustees, did you have a favorite trustee?
[1:39:22] Hawkins: Well, Trustee Hastie was very impressive–
[1:39:25] Wilson: Yes.
[1:39:25] Hawkins: –because it was proof that we had Black alumni who had achieved, and he was highly respected by all of us. I know Bill Ward took his advice very seriously.
[1:39:35] Wilson: Bill was devoted to him, I think.
[1:39:37] Hawkins: So [[inaudible]]–
[1:39:37] Wilson: And his daughter is now on the board, which is–
[1:39:43] Hawkins: I didn't know that, that's marvelous.
[1:39:44] Wilson: And she had a son here.
[1:39:48] Hawkins: I believe, I believe in the family tradition of linking families to the institution. I mean, okay, you shouldn't get in just because you're a legacy. But I think one strength of the College is that–
[1:39:58] Wilson: I– Legacies, get a bum rap, and I br– I'm not a legacy myself, but I bristle a little to hear that the children of alumni might not measure up to other people's children. You know, that’s–
[1:40:10] Hawkins: No, yeah, and I think maybe I've made the mistake of saying, “Oh, your father went here. Gee, I would never have guessed that.” [[Covers mouth with hand]] Whoops!
[1:40:18] I also once, said once to a student, “Gee, I would never have guessed that you were a football player. You're so, you're such a serious student.” And he later used that in an article to talk about faculty prejudice against athletics.
[1:40:31] Wilon: Oh my. Um, staff.
[1:40:34] Hawkins: Okay, yes, I did have a couple of things I thought I should say, because talking about getting left out: the non-trustee appointed people are just hired. They're an important part of the community here. They work hard. As the years go by, you have a sort of loyalty to them. I thought I'd say a little about what were called “secretaries” when I came who have advanced and advanced, and I looked in the catalog a day or two ago, and they're now “academic department coordinator.”
[1:41:05] Wilson: Oh my goodness.
[1:41:05] Hawkins: Now you'll see, this, that counts. You should be well-paid to be academic–
[1:41:09] Wilson: Just the way the personnel office has become human resources.
[1:41:12] Hawkins: Yes. I think the whole elaboration of the personnel system here–it had to come, and it was terribly bureaucratic. Things were ranked, numbered. In the old days, I knew all the staff people around Morgan Hall very well. George Taylor had sort of an open coffee hour where the secretary, his research assistant, the typist, Rena Durkan, the archivist, all gathered to listen and be amused and chat generally, so I knew them very well. And–
[1:41:43] Wilson: That’s nice to hear because one sometimes thinks there's a gulf.
[1:41:46] Hawkins: Yeah, and in that case–
[1:41:48] Wilson: It’s nice to hear that even then–
[1:41:50] Hawkins: In the physics lab–
[1:41:50] Wilson: –it was bridged.
[1:41:51] Hawkins: In the physics labs, too, I think they're– they’d become buddies. I knew quite a bit about the struggle of the women employees to have justice done to them. Because they didn't do physical labor, they were sort of discounted. And so they managed to get– they called in an outside body to analyze every job. And what they did was very hard in many, many ways–weren't lifting boxes. Madeline Casey in the English department had a great deal to do with that. She was a real leader and somebody who had a feminist awakening and applied it to Amherst College.
[1:42:27] The custodians, who maybe were called janitors when I came here. I think, I think they play an important role. I know that some students, their confidant is the custodian of their–
[1:42:38] Wilson: Or their favorite campus person.
[1:42:40] Hawkins: That’s the adult here that they can really talk to.
[1:42:44] Wilson: I had a custodian like that at Phi Psi, Bob Bosworth.
[1:42:49] Hawkins: Bob Bosworth, see?
[1:42:50] Wilson: A wonderful–
[1:42:50] Hawkins: And Newport–
[1:42:52] Wilson: –confidant.
[1:42:52] Hawkins: –Newport House was named after the Newport family. One member was the custodian in that fraternity for years and years. And then Ted Greene, who worked out these names for the former fraternity houses, discovered that his father was an even more important member of the Amherst community because he was a trainer–
[1:43:09] Wilson: Athletic trainer, yes.
[1:43:10] Hawkins: –athletic trainer and did important things, so… Yeah, the renaming of those houses is a very nice episode, I think, in Amherst history, and it's very much Ted Greene's work.
[1:43:20] Wilson: I was delighted when they named one for my favorite professor, Rolfe Humphries.
[1:43:25] Hawkins: Yes. They were reaching to name families if they could, but individuals. [[inaudible]] Humphries House.
[1:43:35] Wilson: Did– When I first came here in the mid ‘70s, staff tended to call me Mr. Wilson, which I bristled at [[Hawkins laughs]] and I, and that has changed, thank goodness. I think there's much more first name basis–
[1:43:53] Hawkins: There is, there is.
[1:43:54] Wilson: –than there used to be, but–
[1:43:56] Hawkins: Well, good.
[1:43:57] Wilson: To have a– to be 35 years old and have a 60-year-old custodian calling you Mr. Wilson just was...
[1:44:05] Hawkins: That’s un-American to have that–
[1:44:06] Wilson: [[Laughing]] Un-American!
[1:44:07] Hawkins: –that much social hierarchy.
[1:44:08] Wilson: Not un-New England but un-American.
[1:44:10] Hawkins: No, “Mr.” How to be addressed. Yeah, how people name each other is a very interesting question. There was a brief period in the late ‘60s, early ‘70s when students first-named professors, and I enjoyed it, but it didn't last.
[1:44:26] Wilson: Did others enjoy it? Did other professors enjoy it?
[1:44:30] Hawkins: Let's hope the students were smart enough to see who would–
[1:44:32] Wilson: [Both laughing] –which ones?
[1:44:32] Hawkins: –enjoy it and who wouldn’t. But Professor Levin has been “Gordy” to generations and still is.
[1:44:38] Wilson: Hugh, there must be things you intended to say that we haven't covered, so now is your chance.
[1:44:44] Hawkins: Well, you've done a wonderful job, and our friendship has been a nice basis for this–
[1:44:49] Wilson: Good subject.
[1:44:50] Hawkins: –and you worked hard, getting things prepped. What have I left out? Oh, the ethos of Amherst College.
[1:44:57] Wilson: The ethos?
[1:44:58] Hawkins: The ethos, a student– a colleague, rather, when I was on a year's leave, living in Cambridge, Massachusetts, asked me “What's the ethos of that college?” And I thought a while, and I remembered something that Ed Rozwenc, my senior colleague, had said. I said, well, “It's really not as well-known as people at other institutions, and we don't have great, famous books coming out, and we don't publish at the same rate. But we're just as sharp as they are.” [[Wilson laughs]] And this person said, “Yeah, I sort of suspected that.” And there's also a relaxed quality about the place. Many of the rules have the word “normally” in it, and I have thought that's characteristic of Amherst. You know, normally, we do it this way, but that doesn't mean this is a rigid rule! And we're intelligent enough to look at the context, the context of the situation. I heard Prosser Gifford once say, “I'm trying to be a good bureaucrat,” and that meant knowing when to bend the rules.
[1:45:54] Wilson: Our new president, Mr. Marx, “Mr. Marx”– also known as Tony, I guess– apparently has been quite struck by the diversity of interests that faculty members have individually. The physicist who may be interested in ballet, and well, Jack Pemberton would be a prime example of the historian of religion who is interested in African art and taking that and run with it.
[1:46:23] Hawkins: And music, so many of the colleagues, music is a side of their life, others–
[1:46:27] Wilson: Bill Pritchard playing the piano!
[1:46:29] Hawkins: Others have private planes and fly. Well, that's, that's good. I– That hadn't crossed my mind. But I would say that’s a well-taken point and shrewd of him to have observed it so early. [[Wilson laughs]] That we don't just talk about academics. Gee, thanks so much for this.
[1:46:49] Wilson: Well, thank you. Thank you. You're on the record now, and we can look it up.
[1:46:53] Hawkins: All right. [[Laughs]]
Hugh D. Hawkins was the Anson D. Morse Professor of History and American Studies upon his retirement from the faculty in 2000 after forty-three years of teaching at Amherst. In 1976, he was the principal architect of the first-year Introduction to Liberal Studies curriculum and helped build both the history and American studies departments. He is a distinguished scholar of American higher education, the American south, and of cultural and intellectual history. The History Department at Amherst College established the annual Hawkins Lecture in his honor.
Douglas C. Wilson, class of 1962, joined Amherst as secretary for public affairs in 1977. He was editor of the college's alumni magazine for twenty-five years and was the author of several books and many articles on the history of Amherst College.
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