Guide to the Oral history interview with Ruth M. Adams, 1996 May 29Manuscript DOH-18

Biography

Ruth Adams was born in New York on July 10, 1914. After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1935 from Adelphi College, she taught high school English for several years. A Masters of Arts at Columbia University followed in 1943. Subsequently, she was a housemistress at Radcliffe College from 1943-45 and a teaching fellow and tutor at Harvard from 1944-46. She earned her Ph.D. from Radcliffe College in 1951 and received a Ford Foundation grant in 1953-54. Victorian literature was her area of special interest.

Through 1960, Dr. Adams was instructor, assistant professor and associate professor of English and director of the Honors Program at the University of Rochester. From 1960-1966, she was professor of English and dean of Douglass College at Rutgers.

Dr. Adams moved to Wellesley College as president and professor of English in 1966. She remained at Wellesley until 1972, leading the institution through many changes: curricular innovations allowing students more flexibility in their academic programs, creation of interdepartmental majors, establishment of a cross-registration program with M.I.T. and membership in the Twelve College Exchange, recruitment of a more diverse student population, increased flexibility in social regulation of students, construction of the Schneider Student Center, and reaffirmation by the Board of Trustees of Wellesley's commitment to remain a women's college.

In 1972, when the Dartmouth Trustees voted to adopt coeducation, Dartmouth President John Kemeny asked Dr. Adams to come to Hanover as Dartmouth's vice president for five years to help in this historic transition. In addition to her administrative duties, Dr. Adams served as a tenured professor of English from l972 until her retirement in l988. She died in Hanover on November 10, 2004.

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