Stone Ilchman, former dean of the college at Wellesley and
long-time president of Sarah Lawrence College, Dies at 71
August 14, 2006
Mary Ann Hill
WELLESLEY, Mass. -- Dr. Alice Stone Ilchman, an expert in international affairs who served as the eighth president of Sarah Lawrence College and was former dean of the college at Wellesley College, died on Friday, August 11, 2006. Throughout Dr. Ilchman’s long and varied career in academia, government and philanthropy she was respected and admired for her leadership, her commitment to her ideals, and her ability to “build bridges,” to bring together diverse constituencies to collaborate towards common goals. She was 71 years old.
Ilchman was dean of the college at Wellesley from 1973 until 1978, when she was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to be assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs. While at Wellesley, she also held joint academic appointments as professor in the economics and education departments.
“Alice had a knack, unusual in academe, for making even dull occasions lively and amusing,” noted Mary Lefkowitz, professor emerita of classical studies at Wellesley. “I remember particularly her quick wit and enthusiasm. As dean, she encouraged faculty to expand the curriculum to include all areas of the world and took the lead in establishing new higher standards for faculty evaluation.”
As the longest-serving president in Sarah Lawrence College’s history Ilchman had a profound effect on the school. She established two new buildings, 10 faculty chairs, and three overseas programs; she strengthened the College’s management and finances and helped it find its place in the global community.
In so doing, she advanced the College’s unique approach to education during a time when the liberal arts often appeared to be endangered.
“Alice Ilchman's legacy helped shape a vision for the future of Sarah Lawrence that made it easier for all of us to continue to build on the strengths and uniqueness of the College," said Sarah Lawrence President Michele Tolela Myers, who succeeded Ilchman in 1998. "I am grateful personally for her wise counsel and grace.”
Dr. Ilchman’s dual passions for higher education and international affairs informed her presidency at Sarah Lawrence College. Prior to coming to Sarah Lawrence, Ilchman served in the Carter administration as the assistant U.S. secretary of state for education and cultural affairs, where she was responsible for managing a number of exchange programs, including the Fulbright program. In addition to her tenure at Wellesley, she also served as a faculty member and administrator at University of California, Berkeley, and as a Peace Corps trainer for volunteers in India.
Her legacy at Sarah Lawrence College is marked by the Alice Stone Ilchman Chair in Comparative and International Studies and the Alumnae/i Association’s Alice Stone Ilchman Award for Service, both established in 1998. In May 2006, recognizing her contribution to the growth of science studies at the College, the science center was named the Alice Stone Ilchman Science Center.
Alice Ilchman served on the boards of many organizations, foundations and institutions including the Committee on Economic Development (CED), the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) The Court of Governors, London School of Economics and Save the Children USA. For 13 years, she served as a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation, chairing the board from 1995 to 2000.
In the 1980s, Dr. Ilchman was part of a major national panel on women, families and work and authored two major policy studies. Many of her papers are held in the Sarah Lawrence College Archives. An oral history resides there as well.
Most recently, Dr. Ilchman was director of The Jeannette K. Watson Fellowships program of The Thomas J. Watson Foundation which, provides internships, mentoring, and enriched educational opportunities to promising New York City undergraduates with the goal of increasing their life choices and developing their capacity to make a difference in their own and others’ lives.
Alice Stone Ilchman held a B.A. from Mount Holyoke, a master’s degree from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, and a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics. She received many awards for education and international service, including the Fulbright Award for International Understanding in 1996.
She is survived by her husband, Dr. Warren Ilchman, program director for the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans, son Frederick, of Boston, a curator at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and daughter Sarah Hollinger of New York City, World Area Manager for Africa, Near East and South Asia for the Fulbright Foreign Programs at the Institute of International Education.
A memorial service will be held at Christ Church, Bronxville on Thursday,
September 7 at 4 p.m