March 3, 1985
Sarah Gibson Blanding, sixth president of the college from 1946-1964 and first female president of the college, died at age 86. An enthusiast of modernism, she broke with the college’s conservative tradition in commissioning buildings from architects Marcel Breuer and Eero Saarinen.
An outspoken critic of McCarthy-ism, she refused the demand of the House Committee on Un-American Activities for a list of the college’s books—although, through a spokesman, inviting the committee to come and inspect the Library’s 260,000 volumes—and declared, “If the request was made for the purpose of examining textbooks and supplementary material, it strikes at the very heart of academic freedom.”
President Blanding served on several presidential commissions in the Roosevelt and Truman administrations.