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Nancy McIntire

Assistant and Associate Dean

By Martha Coakley

One of the great things about Williamstown is that you might run into anyone, anywhere. In the fall of 1971, I was fetching something I needed at Hart’s Pharmacy. Just on the other side of the aisle was a dean whom some of us new at the College had recently met. But what were we supposed to call her? MRS. McIntire? MS. McIntire? Surely not Nancy...but Nancy it was, and for many decades thereafter, it still is.

She was not that much older than we were in the first Frosh class of women, but she seemed so much wiser and experienced. She was professional yet warm, thoughtful and with a sense of humor. She WAS a Dean, and often a no-nonsense Dean, but her mission was to make the move to coeducation work smoothly for the College and for the female students as well.

She came to Williams in 1970 as a new dean. She had worked at Harvard and Radcliffe before that, after receiving her BA from the University of New Hampshire and her MA from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

When Gwen Rankin and I approached her about helping us start “Williams Women," she found us a space (small!), a budget (small!), and unlimited time and ideas for a successful launch. We invited women artists to be in residence for Winter Carnival; we published our Williams Guide to Health and Sex and we sponsored a silent film starring Clara Bow, the “IT” Girl of the 1920s, during Winter Study.

Nancy worked with us on Williams Women but also with individual women students on issues and problems of any size and scope. She guided Williams’ anticipation and prevention of problems in coeducation. She helped solve them when they inevitably arose. Williams’ passage to coeducation is widely considered to have been a much smoother one than at comparable institutions, and largely because of Nancy McIntire.

In 1983, she became the Assistant to the President, serving five Williams presidents in total until her retirement in 2006. She still resides in Williamstown and cheerfully attends our reunion activities (as she does other classes), and has connected women alums across the decades. She is always happy to catch up in Williamstown, or Boston on her trips here, and I consider her friendship and advice throughout my career after Williams to be priceless.

She is an integral part of the Northern Berkshire Community, with service ranging from trustee of Berkshire Community College to the Williamstown Visiting Nurse Association, and as a treasurer for the Greylock Chapter of A Better Chance.

One of my fondest memories of the spring of my senior year was driving with Nancy to Amherst College, just as Amherst was planning to become coeducational. They asked to “pick our brains” about what had worked and what had not at Williams. We spent the good part of a day sharing our insights about the admission and matriculation of women with grateful deans and staff at Amherst.

Ever since 1821, Amherst has tried to follow Williams’ lead. At least in 1975, they were wise enough to consult with Nancy McIntire before implementing coeducation.

Nancy McIntire
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