College President Helped Shape Two Institutions In New London

Editorial reprinted with permission from The Day Publishing Company

Published April 15, 2003

Charles Shain's death Sunday comes as a shock here. After all, the image he left behind when he retired from public life in Southeastern Connecticut was that of a youthful and energetic man.

Dr. Shain was president of Connecticut College from 1962 until 1974. During those 12 years, he led in turning the college from a small women's college into a coeducational institution that took a place beside some of the best small liberal arts colleges in the United States.

Opening the college to men was a challenging task, but Dr. Shain had the strong character to bring it about. He could be very persuasive. You could not help liking him. He had a charm that had deep roots. He listened thoughtfully. He was nice to people. He was wise and genteel. He was witty. All of these characteristics helped him lead the college through a turbulent period and to make it a better institution in the process.

Connecticut College was not the only institution in Southeastern Connecticut that bears his lasting imprint. The fact that The Day is still independent and serves its readers under a public trust has much to do with Dr. Shain's leadership. As a Day trustee, he took part in the successful defense of The Day Trust when the Internal Revenue Service challenged it. Had the IRS won that case, the newspaper would have had to have been sold, most likely to an out-of-town newspaper chain.

Dr. Shain showed the same devotion to the newspaper that he had toward the college he had led. After his retirement, he commuted from his home on the Kennebec River in Maine to attend board meetings. One of his favorite topics was politics. He believed that as a public trust, the newspaper had an obligation to advance the civic and political discussion in the community, and one way he felt The Day could do this was through endorsing political candidates on its editorial page and offering guidance on local and regional issues.

Dr. Shain was 87 when he died from complications from Alzheimer's Disease. Before his illness, though, he remained active, writing, studying and enjoying life as he always had. Visitors remarked that he never seemed to change.

The many of us in Southeastern Connecticut who knew him are sad to hear of his death. But the region is blessed by good memories of the ever-young Charles Shain, who charmed us and did so much to make our community a better place.