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Hood presidents through the years

Frederick News Post
April 16, 2015

In 1977, I interviewed Hood College’s seventh and first woman president, Martha Church, for my editorial page column, “A Second Look.”

“When you come into a job like this,” Church said, a year and a half into her presidency, “you know fund raising, budget, where you’re heading with your faculty and students. It’s the side effects that keep things really interesting.”

Those included outdated electrical circuits overloaded with 1,000-watt hair dryers, electric curlers, toasters, corn poppers and stereo systems, a bag of mislabeled chemicals being dumped into a swimming pool, deciding whether to continue having horses available when the college’s longtime stable manager retired, and converting an old dairy barn into a nifty dormitory. Remember, it was an all girls’ college then.

On her desk was a large photo of the Colorado River, and we became friends discussing our trips rafting down that river, hers including being thrown from the raft and dragged while downing rapids — and being airlifted out for repairs. We were among the first women invited to join the Rotary Club of Frederick, when the law no longer allowed men-only groups.

After 20 years with Church as president, Shirley Peterson came to campus after heading the IRS. We met when she asked Love & Co. to change Hood colors from blue and gray to purple and gold, and create fresh admissions materials. The resulting packets won several awards and, we were told, helped draw a bumper crop of new students. However, we learned later that the color change was only the first of many steps that alienated trustees, faculty, alumni, students and others. Within five years Shirley departed.