Rosemary Park, 97, Led Colleges



Copyright 2004, New York Sun, Associated Press. Reprinted with permission.

By Stephen Miller, Staff Writer
2004

Rosemary Park, who died April 17 in Los Angeles, was president of Barnard College for five years in the 1960s and for several decades was one of the leading advocates for women in higher education.

In a career that also included 15 years as president of Connecticut College, then an all-woman institution, and five years as vice chancellor at UCLA, she made her mark as an administrator, builder, and reformer of curricula.

After coming to Barnard in 1962, Park planned an ambitious building program that led to the first campus student center, a new residence hall, and a classroom and laboratory science building. She also led a curricular reform to give female students an education that would be relevant to the careers that women increasingly were entering.

"Usually one associates an accomplishment of this sort with fairly long tenure in the office: ten or fifteen years or even longer," wrote David Truman, Dean of Columbia College.

An outspoken advocate of women's education, Park was often sought out by reporters eager to get the lowdown on the younger generation. In an interview with the Washington Post in 1964, she said, "It's a very matter of fact, ambitious,unsentimental group with no great sense of revolt against my generation. I think they think we are irrelevant."

In remarks delivered during Barnard's 75th anniversary celebrations in 1964, she assailed the "count me out attitude" she detected among a student body concerned only with private matters. "I am suggesting," she said, "that you may not be quite awake." Barnard students were certainly not the stereotypical demonstrating hippies of popular memory.

One of Park's less remarked-upon reforms was an agreement in 1963 with Columbia University, located just across Broadway, that Barnard women be allowed to visit Columbia men in their dorms every other Sunday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. The only restriction was that the men had to leave their doors open "the width of a book." One waggish editor of the Spectator chimed in, "The catch is, we don't know what size book." Columbia's president, Grayson Kirk, warned that the privilege would be revoked if there were a repetition of a notorious panty raid the previous year. The sexual revolution was on.

Park was born into a family of academics; her father was the longtime president of Wheaton College and her brother became president of Simmons College. "There was no assumption that I would do anything else," she told the New York Times in 1961. "When I was installed as president of Connecticut College, my father remarked, "This family has spent all its life walking in academic processions."

She attended Radcliffe and then did graduate work in German literature at the University of Cologne during 1932-34, an experience she described as "terrible." After working as a German language and literature instructor and dean at Wheaton and Connecticut College, she was named president of Connecticut College in 1947. She was 39 years old.

Park quickly embarked on an ambitious building schedule and initiated the first organized fund-raising campaign in the college's history. During her tenure, the student population rose by a third.

Her career at Barnard was cut short by her marriage, at age 58, to Milton Vasil Anastos, a professor of Byzantine Greek at UCLA. Park moved to California to be with him and was named vice chancellor for student and curricular affairs at UCLA. She also taught courses on education and became professor emeritus in 1974.

In later years she served as a trustee of several institutions,including the Defense Intelligence College and Notre Dame, where she served as a special adviser when the college went co-ed.

In the 1970s, she traveled the country as a Phi Beta Kappa lecturer, speaking on educational administration, the position of women in the university, the future of the liberal arts, and the history of education. She served as chairman of the American Association of Colleges and was a member of President Johnson's Commission on the Status of Women.

Park published a book on Richard Wagner's opera "Tristan and Isolde," as well as two German textbooks. She was the recipient of honorary degrees from 25 universities and colleges and numerous other academic awards.

Diminutive, fond of cooking, and quick-witted, she stayed involved in academic affairs well into her 90s. She was still attending meetings of the UCLA Plato Society until shortly before her death.

Park Anastos: Born March 11, 1907, in Andover, Mass.; died April 16 in Los Angeles; her husband, Milton Vasil Anastos, died in 1997; she leaves no survivors.