Memorial for Former President Everett M. Woodman
Everett M. Woodman, who served as president of Colby Junior College from 1962 to 1972, passed away at age 91 on Tuesday, July 31, in New London, N.H., following a period of declining health. A memorial service for him was held on campus on Saturday, Aug. 25.
President Woodman led Colby Junior, then a women's college, through a decade of growth and transformation. During his tenure, the sports science center (now Mercer Hall) was built, and Austin Hall was converted from a gymnasium into a residence hall.
In a time of national and campus unrest related to the Vietnam War, President Woodman emphasized the importance of an international perspective in education and promoted new campus events such as United Nations Day and Reaching the Questioning Mind Overseas. He was known as a collaborative leader who cultivated strong relationships with the college's faculty, staff, students and alumnae.
President Woodman was born in Franklin, N.H., on Feb. 11, 1916, and was educated at Phillips Exeter Academy, Dartmouth College (A.B.) and Boston University (Ed.D.). His first teaching position was at Colby Junior College from 1939 to 1941, when he departed for military service in World War II. As a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, he served in France and participated in the D-Day Battle of Normandy. After three years in the service, he returned to Colby Junior College to teach until 1946.
In 1941 President Woodman married Colby Junior College alumna Ruth Randolph '40, and they became the parents of four daughters: Betsy, Lee, Jane and Deborah. After completing his doctoral studies in 1948, he taught at the University of Illinois and was appointed a Fulbright Lecturer at the University of Lyon and Strasbourg in France.
From 1952 to 1954, he worked in Madras, India, as a cultural affairs officer for the U.S. Information Agency and as acting public affairs officer for South India. For the next four years he served as an attaché at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi and as director of the Educational Exchange Program between India and the United States.
In 1958, President Woodman joined the Ford Foundation as an educational consultant to the Government of India's Ministry of Education and held that position until his appointment as president of Colby Junior College in 1962. Following a decade of service at Colby Junior College, he became president of the Nature Conservancy in Washington, D.C., and was later appointed director of the Peace Corps in Morocco.
Colby-Sawyer College presented President Woodman with an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters in May 1995. Long after his presidency he and his wife lived in the New London area, where he remained intensely interested in the college, participated in campus activities and engaged in many friendships across campus.
Colby-Sawyer President Tom Galligan, who became acquainted with the former president in the last year, said the college community will cherish President Woodman's legacyboth as an influential college leader and a close friend of the college.
"He expanded the reach of Colby Junior College through his broad international experience and desire to connect the college to the global community," he said. "He and his wife Ruthie are beloved and respected members of our community, and we will miss his presence on campus. On a personal note, President Woodman welcomed me to the college and New London, and I enjoyed our time together, whether we were talking about his meetings with the Dalai Lama, his time as President, his ideas about the future or baseball. We will miss him very much."
Margaret Wiley, assistant professor of Humanities, often saw President Woodman at the Susan Colgate Cleveland Library/Learning Center, where he was a frequent visitor and had placed his papers in the Cleveland, Colby, Colgate Archives in 1996.
"Everett Woodman had a deep love for Colby-Sawyer College and its students," Professor Wiley says. "He'd come into the library on his quad canes and go up to students, asking them their majors and what they were working on. He'd respond with great interest to their answers, drawing them out about whatever interested them. I was always impressed by how generous he was with his attention: he had a real gift for making others feel valuable."
Professor Wiley also recalled President Woodman's expansive world view. "His personal interest in the well-being of the college community was matched by his concern for all of humanity," she says. "A keen follower of world events, he felt strongly that global education and dedication to lifelong learning was necessary in today's world."
The legacy of President Woodman will live on in part through the recently established Everett M. Woodman Scholarship at Colby-Sawyer College. This $8,000 annual award seeks to make the college more affordable and accessible for transfer students. President Woodman was enthusiastic about the new scholarship and eager to learn about the students who were to receive them for the upcoming academic year.
In a recent interview, President Woodman expressed satisfaction that the scholarship would help students to continue their education. "I'm very pleased; I feel honored," he said.
Gifts in President Woodman's memory can be made to Colby-Sawyer College, Office of Advancement, 541 Main Street, New London, NH 03257 or the Clough Center, 273 County Road, New London, NH 03257.