|1. Presidents List, ca. 1919. This image
represents a framed, hand-inked list of the
presidents of St. Stephen’s College, along
with their degrees, dates of service, and
deaths where applicable. This was probably
completed soon after the arrival of Bernard
Iddings Bell in 1919.
2. George Franklin Seymour, 1860. Seymour was the first warden of St.
Stephen’s College. The title of warden
reflected its English use, to indicate a
college president. Rev. Seymour had, for
several years prior, served as missionary of
Annandale and had been tutoring students
in the classics to prepare them for entrance
into the General Theological Seminary.
These six students represented the core of
the first class of St. Stephen’s College. Rev.
Seymour presided over the College’s first
commencement in 1861, with two students
receiving degrees. Warden Seymour
resigned soon after, and eventually became
the Bishop of Springfield, Illinois.
3. Rev. Thomas Richey, ca. 1862. Rev.
Richey accepted the position of warden in
1861and remained for two years. Aspinwall
was built during his administration,
greatly expanding dormitory capacity for
4. Robert Brinckerhoff Fairbairn, ca. 1870. Known as “The Great Warden,” Fairbairn
headed the College from 1863 until 1898.
Under his steady guidance, St. Stephen’s
grew into an institution recognized for its
academic rigor. The historic architectural
core of campus was also established during
his tenure, including the construction of
Ludlow-Willink (1866), the Stone Row
buildings Potter and McVickar (1885),
North and South Hoffman (1891), and the
Hoffman Library (1893). He died within two
weeks of John Bard in 1899, effectively ending
the “early years” of St. Stephen’s.
5. Rev. Lawrence T. Cole, ca. 1900. Rev.
Cole was not yet thirty when he accepted
the position of warden at St. Stephen’s in
1899. He introduced a modified elective
program, and abolished the traditional
“Preparatory Course,” for those students not
yet prepared for the advanced Latin and
Greek in the College’s curriculum. He left in
1903, but remained on good terms with
St. Stephen’s, returning years later to serve
6. Rev. Thomas Robinson Harris, ca. 1905. A veteran of the Civil War, Rev. Harris was
warden of the College from 1904 to 1907.
Though plagued by ill health, he brought
enrollment up by replacing the “Preparatory
Course” altogether. At his retirement, Rev.
George B. Hopson served as acting warden
at St. Stephen’s.
7. William C. Rodgers, ca. 1910. Appointed
in 1909, Rodgers brought new energy to
St. Stephen’s. Signaling the changes he
was to make, Rodgers changed his title to
president, (though B.I. Bell again carried
the title of warden for several years). Under
the Rodgers administration, the campus
was modernized: Electricity, a sewage
system, and central heating systems were all
installed. The Chapel was remodeled, and
Gerry House was built to house the president’s
family, as well as serve as a gathering
place for entertaining students, staff, faculty,
and guests. To make way for Gerry House,
it was necessary to move the observatory
down the hill, where the structure still
stands as the chaplain’s office. Dr. Rodgers
resigned in 1918.
8. Rev. Bernard Iddings Bell, ca. 1920. Rev.
Bell was the last administrator to carry
the title of warden. His vision and energy
permanently altered the physical and social
geography of the College. Under his tenure,
many buildings were constructed, science
was emphasized, a nationally renowned
athletics department was created, and
legions of students were deeply impacted
by his educational philosophy and personal
charisma. Under Dr. Bell, the College sought
to “give men four years of classical and cultural education as a background for life,
and as a basis for graduate specialization
or professional study.” It was through his
leadership, as the College faced one of its
many financial crises, that St. Stephen’s
merged with Columbia University in 1928.
Bell resigned in 1933
|9. Nicholas Murray Butler, 1930. As president
of Columbia University, Butler was the
official president of St. Stephen’s, renamed
Bard in 1934, while the three men who
headed Bard between these years, 1928–
1944, carried the title of dean. Dr. Butler was
a strong supporter of Bard’s educational
potential, and he worked closely with the
College’s administrators and trustees to
reach this potential, despite the intervening
years of the Depression and WWII.
10. Donald Tewksbury, ca. 1935. In 1934,
Tewksbury was appointed dean of the
College by Columbia’s president, Nicholas
Murray Butler. Tewksbury outlined a progressive
new educational program for the
College that was approved by the board of
trustees. To signal these modern curricular
changes while still honoring its roots, St.
Stephen’s was renamed Bard College. Under
this plan, sometimes called “the inverted
pyramid,” teaching was personalized to the
interests and abilities of the student, the
classics requirements were eased, and the
fine arts were promoted as a division of
study equal to other branches of the curriculum.
The concepts of what have become
moderation and the senior project were also
introduced at this time. Tewksbury resigned
in 1937 as financial pressures mounted.
11. Harold Mestre, ca. 1938. Mestre was a
distinguished biophysicist appointed dean
in January 1938, as the College, facing insolvency,
almost closed its doors. Grass roots
efforts on the part of the students, alumni,
and even the local communities provided
hope in the coming year, but Dr. Mestre
died suddenly on the second day of the fall
semester in 1939. His term was completed
by Bennington President John Leigh, then
on sabbatical. Dr. Leigh provided the trustees with a six-year plan to improve
enrollment, modernize the campus, and
balance the budget, with continued support
from Columbia and the board of trustees.
He nominated his fellow Bennington colleague
Charles Harold Gray for the position
of dean to implement the plan.
12. Charles Harold Gray, ca. 1945. Appointed early in 1940, Charles Harold
Gray was a Rhodes Scholar. Under Gray,
students engaged in issues of campus
governance, reflected seriously on the
purpose of a Bard education, and on the
nature of progressive education in general.
Fraternities and intercollegiate athletics
were phased out during this time. Pearl
Harbor and America’s subsequent entry into
WWII necessitated the hosting of a unit of
the Army Specialized Training Program at
the College, which Dr. Gray oversaw with
care. With the closure of this program, Dean
Gray became President Gray as Bard broke
from Columbia with its decision to accept
women as students, thereby effectively
increasing its enrollment, and permanently
changing the social fabric of the Bard community.
President Gray resigned in the fall
13. Dr. Edward Fuller, ca. 1948. Dr. Fuller
replaced President Gray in October 1946.
Fuller had taught chemistry at Bard since
1935, and, during the war, had worked on
the Manhattan Project based at Columbia.
As president, Fuller oversaw the development
of an innovative integrated introductory
course in the sciences (combining
chemistry and physics), promoted Bard as
a progressive college, and presided over
events such as the international students’
conferences; the 1948 poetry conference;
and student-led projects, including the organization
of the Bard Fire Department and
the founding of the campus radio station,
WXBC. Coeducation and postwar educational
subsidies ensured strong enrollment
for a time, and the College prospered briefly.
Dr. Fuller resigned in February of 1950 to
resume a career in teaching. Photograph by
Elie Shneour ’47.
| 14. James H. Case, early 1950s. Case became
president in July 1950, and served in
this capacity for ten years. President Case assumed
the challenge of leading the College
with an energy that bred high expectations,
many of which were met: In 1951, the 825-
acre estate Blithewood was deeded to the
College, ultimately fulfilling the wish of John
Bard, who had lost the property to foreclosure
a half century earlier; in 1952, the
Common Course, now First Year Seminar,
was inaugurated and developed under the
direction of Heinrich Bluecher; in 1957,
President Case opened the College for the
Hungarian Student Program, the humanitarian
impacts of which are still celebrated
today; and in 1959, “The New Dorm”
(renamed Tewksbury Hall) was completed,
further expanding the capacity for student
enrollment. President Case resigned in 1960.
15. Reamer Kline, ca. 1960s. Kline was
President of Bard College from 1960 until
1974. An Episcopal priest, his presidency
was marked by civility, even during this
most turbulent time in the America’s social
history. In 1963, the College purchased
the Ward Manor property, substantially
increasing housing capacity, which in turn
helped to increase enrollment. He increased
faculty salaries, and supported the founding
of the nursery school. He and his wife
Louise opened their home to students
and Bard families for memorable holiday
parties, helping to build a College community.
He hosted a Bard Family Reunion,
bringing Bard descendants back to campus,
and reminding the College of its roots.
Relationships with alumni/ae and the
Episcopal Church were likewise reaffirmed,
and the academic program was strengthened
through hiring which emphasized the
arts. New programs were introduced—including
the Higher Education Opportunity
Program (HEOP), the Independent Studies
Program (ISP), and the Community
Regional Environmental Studies program
(CRES)—and buildings were constructed,
among these Proctor Art Center (now Fisher
Studio Arts), new dormitories called Ravine
Houses, two additions to the library, and
the Kline Commons dining hall. President
Kline supported students during the drug
raids of the late sixties. His final gift to Bard
was the completion of his deeply human
institutional history, Education for the
Common Good: a History of Bard College the
First 100 Years, 1860–1960, without which
the College would be much poorer indeed.
Photograph by Fabian Bachrach.
16. Leon Botstein, ca. late 1970s. The year
2010 marks the happy coincidence of the
150th anniversary of the College and the
35th year it has been served by President
Leon Botstein. In 1975, at the age of 27,
President Botstein accepted the same
challenge faced by most of his predecessors:
to lead a small college with a strong
academic record, but with fragile financial
resources. Like his predecessors, he is an
educational innovator with both the vision
and practicality to put his ideas into effect.
He has been an intuitive administrator and
has taken care to cultivate and work with
talented people both on the board of trustees
and on the faculty and administration of
the College. He has overseen the construction
of bold new buildings, chief among
which are the Olin Humanities building,
the Stevenson Gymnasium, the Stevenson
Library, several dormitories, the Milton and
Sally Avery Arts Center, the Bertelsmann
Campus Center, the Richard B. Fisher Center
for the Performing Arts, and the Gabrielle
H. Reem and Herbert J. Kayden Center for
Science and Computation; and he has also
expanded the Bard name to an array of innovative
graduate programs, early colleges,
and international institutions. President
Botstein also maintains an active conducting
schedule as the principal conductor of
the Bard Conservatory Orchestra and the
American Symphony Orchestra, and pursues
his commitment to teaching, which he
exercises annually in First Year Seminar.