A Defining Decade

Williams President Emeritus Jack Sawyer
President Jack Sawyer. Photo provided by Williams College Archives

With the induction of John Edward Sawyer as Williams president half a century ago, the college ushered in a period of dramatic and fundamental change that still reverberates on campus today. During Sawyer’s time Williams increased in size by 50 percent; began to admit women and diversify the student body; overhauled the curriculum; and moved from a fraternity-based to a house-based system of residential life.

In celebration of the 50th anniversaries of these important moments in the college’s history–and in honor of Sawyer–the Williams Alumni Review asked award-winning author and historian Michael Beschloss ’77 to interview Sawyer’s colleague and successor as president, John Chandler. As Chandler observes about Sawyer, “In so many ways he had such vast peripheral vision.”

Author and historian Michael Beschloss, Williams Class of 1977, (left) and Williams President Emeritus John Chandler.
Author and historian Michael Beschloss '77 (left) and Williams President Emeritus John Chandler met in Williamstown last fall to discuss the leadership and legacy of Jack Sawyer. Photo by Kris Qua

You can read the entire interview in the online January 2012 Williams Alumni Review. Or read the text-only version here.