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Vol.26, No. 11 Dec. 23, 2000

Millicent McIntosh Dies at 102, Former Barnard College President

By Lucas Held

Millicent McIntosh, a distinguished educator and advocate for women who led Barnard College for 15 years died Jan. 3 in her sleep at her home in Tyringham, Mass., at the age of 102.

Born Margaret Millicent Carey on Nov. 30, 1898, McIntosh brought a warmth, zest and intelligence to her work and personal life that was still evident at her 100th birthday celebration at Barnard in 1998.

McIntosh was graduated from the Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore, and went on to earn a degree in English magna cum laude from Bryn Mawr College. She studied at Newnham College, Cambridge, and earned her Ph.D. in English from Johns Hopkins.

McIntosh took her first job in higher education in 1926 when she joined Bryn Mawr as an instructor of English, and became dean of freshmen in 1928. In 1930, she was named head of the Brearley School, a private school for girls in New York City, a position in which she remained for 17 years and during which she raised five children.

In 1932, she married Rustin McIntosh, a pediatrician, who was Carpentier Professor of Pediatrics at Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, and director of the New York Babies Hospital. He died in 1986. In November 1946 she was named as Barnard’s fourth president, taking office in July 1947.

Serving as president until 1962, McIntosh oversaw a period of substantial growth in endowment and facilities, including the building of Lehman Library in 1959 and Reid Hall in 1961. She also broadened access to the college, paying special attention to the children of World War II refugees; she enhanced faculty salaries and increased the exchange of courses and teachers between Barnard and Columbia. In 1969, the college’s new student center was named in her honor.

Judith Shapiro, a cultural anthropologist and current president of Barnard, said: “She was an inspiration to all Barnard women who wanted a full life of career and family. The wisdom and graciousness she brought to being president at Barnard were with her to the end.”

On the occasion of McIntosh’s 100th birthday celebration at Barnard, Mary Gordon, the writer and Millicent C. McIntosh Professor of English at Barnard, wrote: “You have always represented the most felicitous combination of the mind’s life enriched by a humanity that allowed you to live imaginatively, generously, and intensely. You have insisted, always, that a woman need not live partially and incompletely.”

There will be a memorial service for her in Tyringham, Mass., in the late spring or early summer. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent in her honor to The American Friends Service Committee, 1501 Cherry Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19102, or to Barnard College.