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The Educational Odyssey of a Woman College President

Early in her tenure as president of Mount Holyoke College, Joanne V. Creighton faced crises as students staged protests and occupied academic buildings; the alumnae association threatened a revolt; and a distinguished professor became the subject of a major scandal. Yet Creighton weathered each storm, serving for nearly fifteen years in office and shepherding the college through a notable revitalization.

In her autobiography, The Educational Odyssey of a Woman College President, Creighton situates her tenure at Mount Holyoke within a life and career that have traversed breathtaking changes in higher education and social life. Having held multiple roles in academia spanning undergraduate, professor, and president, Creighton served at small colleges and large public universities and experienced the dramatic changes facing women across the academy. From her girlhood in Wisconsin to the presidency of a storied women's college, she bears witness to the forces that have reshaped higher education for women and continues to advocate for the liberal arts and sciences.

About the Author

Concentrating her scholarly work on authors William Faulkner, Joyce Carol Oates, and Margaret Drabble, Joanne V. Creighton is the author of four books of literary criticism. Her writings also include public commentary on educational policy issues and unwavering advocacy for the liberal arts and the education of women worldwide. In addition to her time at Mount Holyoke, she has held academic and administrative positions at Wayne State University, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Wesleyan University, and Haverford College.


"This piquant 'educational odyssey' took Joanne Creighton from childhood in semi-rural Wisconsin to the upper echelon of American higher education. Honed by an eye for telling detail and flavored by a feeling for narrative layering that she absorbed from her favorite authors (Faulkner; Oates; Drabble), Creighton's incisive memoir brilliantly explores the blend of principle and pragmatism through which she led sometimes unruly campuses to realize their noblest possibilities as sites of spirited inquiry, joyful discovery, and consequential transformation, both personal and cultural. At a time when liberal arts education stands in need of effective advocacy, Creighton offers us an eloquent portrait of its beautiful and enduring power."—Kim Benston, president, Haverford College

"Few administrators could work in such a diverse set of educational institutions as effectively and with such pleasure, and even fewer could recount their experiences with such highly readable, jargon free grace."—Mary Patterson McPherson, president emeritus of Bryn Mawr College and former vice president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

"This memoir is an interesting example of how presidents can bring with them experience gained through their academic work as scholars and teachers in fulfilling their roles as administrators and leaders. The book also reminds us of why colleges deserve presidents who not only understand institutions of higher education, but also love and honor them."—Judith Shapiro, president of the Teagle Foundation and president emerita of Barnard College

"Colleges thrive with skilled, clear-headed, and insightful leadership – people who can both articulate a vision and help a college move towards it. Creighton's memoir tells how she developed those qualities, as she moved from her rural Wisconsin beginnings through the faculty ranks as an English professor, and then into academic administration. Her account of difficult conflicts with faculty and student groups, and how they were ultimately resolved, reveal who she is: respectful, open-minded, fearless, and persistent. All this is carefully located within the tumultuous contexts of profound transformations in women's lives and roles and the very shape of higher education in the US. Eloquently written, articulate and finely wrought, we see an exceptionally effective college president in action."—Penny Gill, professor emeritus of politics, Mount Holyoke College
University of Massachusetts Press

9781625343987 : the-educational-odyssey-of-a-woman-college-president-creighton
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