The faculty members whose retirements are featured in this issue of the Scene have this in common: Marian Blanchard was at Colgate to write the announcements of their arrivals. That is a distinction that no future new faculty member will be able to claim, for Marian herself will retire at the end of this month.
A Hamilton native, valedictorian of her high school class, Marian Lang began her higher education at Cornell. Her return home after her sophomore year coincided with the return from the service of her childhood sweetheart, John "Milt" Blanchard. Marian put off returning to Cornell for her junior year. She soon married Milt and the two built a house on the corner of University Avenue, where they raised a son and daughter. It was a short walk from their home across what is now the rugby field to what was then the Administration Building.
She went to work in that building on March 31, 1961, in a part-time position on the alumni magazine edited by Bob Smith. She was also an editor of Hamilton's newspaper, The Mid-York Weekly. In 1966 she had offers to become editor-in-chief of the Mid-York or assistant director of the Colgate News Service. Those of us who work with her give thanks each day that she chose as she did.
Marian has worked in the administrations of five of Colgate's 13 presidents: Everett Case, Vincent Barnett, Thomas Bartlett, George Langdon and Neil Grabois. She watched the old Ad Building burn and helped make the move to new administrative quarters in the "old" library that was vacated when Case Library opened.
A window in that old library's turret, where she has kept her office for the past 15 years, looks down the Hill to the site of the former Ad Building.
She saw the college debate coeducation and admit its first class of women in 1970. She witnessed the turmoil that gripped this campus as it did others nationwide when ideologies conflicted in the 1970s. She reported as the college adapted its historic general education core, then adapted it again, and again. She saw the student body increase from 1,300 men to 2,750 men and women. She wrote about annual increases that took tuition from $1,375 to $21,525 over those 35 years.
Marian became a font of Colgate knowledge by dint of her years of observing the place, first as a Hamiltonian, then as a reporter and member of the staff. For the Scene, where she is managing editor, and for the communications office, where she is associate director, she is the final authority on questions of Colgate history.
Her abilities as an editor and writer, which those of us who rely on her every day have come to regard as a gift, are the product of years of consistent, diligent, creative hard work. She has had the last word on questions of grammar, punctuation, spelling and style, and she is the proofreader to whom everyone has turned when the writing had to be just right (how I wish I could show her this). For all these years she has written the majority of the university's press releases, edited everything from admission publications to the faculty newsletter to commemorative plaques, answered questions from the press, and managed this office between directors or in their temporary absence. She is a trusted adviser who has pulled our bacon out of the fire repeatedly.
Twenty-four years ago Marian and Ella Wilder, who was then the university's designer, conceived and engineered the conversion of the alumni periodical from a magazine to its current tabloid format. She has shepherded the Scene through every issue since then, including the development of one of the most ambitious class notes sections of any alumni periodical in the country. Class notes have grown around her to become the section where our readers turn first. And the editors who write those notes have come to count on her every other month as those of us in the office count on her every day. Her office in the turret is a regular stopping place for visiting class editors, as it is a daily stop in the routine of those of us in communications.
For in addition to all her skills as a writer, editor and historian, Marian is a gracious and thoughtful friend who has taken an interest in our lives as she has shared with us hers.