Sarah Lawrence College

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Founded in 1927, Sarah Lawrence College is a co-educational, four-year liberal arts college. Originally a women's college, Sarah Lawrence first officially opened its doors to men in 1969.

Sarah Lawrence is located in the Lawrence Park section of Yonkers, New York, (though listed in the postal zone of Bronxville, New York), about thirty minutes north of New York City. It has a student population of 1,200 and is renowned for its strong writing and performing arts departments. The college boasts a low 6-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio and a nontraditional but rigorous, individualized approach to academics.

At the undergraduate level, Sarah Lawrence offers a Bachelor of Arts degree where, instead of traditional majors, students take a wide variety of courses in four different curricular distributions: the creative arts (creative writing, music, dance, theater, painting, film), history and the social sciences (anthropology, economics, political science, sociology), humanities (Asian studies, art history, languages, literature, philosophy, religion), and natural science and mathematics (biology, chemistry, physics). Each student is assigned to a faculty advisor, known as a "don," to plan a course of study. Most courses (apart from the performing arts) consist of two parts: the seminar, limited to 15 students, and the conference, a private, bi-weekly meeting with a seminar professor. In conference, students develop individual projects that extend the course material and link it to their personal interests. Sarah Lawrence has no required courses and traditional examinations have largely been replaced with writing final research papers and essays. The College sponsors international programs in Florence, Paris, Cuba, and Oxford, and at the British Academy of Dramatic Art in London.

Sarah Lawrence also offers Master's-level programs in Writing, Child Development, Health Advocacy, Human Genetics, Theatre, and Dance, and is home to the nation's oldest graduate program in Women's History.



Founded in 1927 by pharmaceutical mogul William Van Duzer Lawrence on the grounds of his estate, Sarah Lawrence College was originally constructed as a finishing school for affluent young women in rapidly expanding Westchester County. William Lawrence worked closely with the president of Vassar College, Henry MacCracken, to establish a school that was founded on ideas of educational reform that MacCracken felt unable to apply to Vassar. The College was modeled with the tutorial system of Oxford University in mind, and a low student-to-faculty ratio was considered to be of absolute importance. Followed by Bennington College, Sarah Lawrence was the first Liberal Arts college in the United States to incorporate a rigorous approach to the arts with the principles of progressive education, focusing on the primacy of teaching and the concentration of curricular efforts on individual needs.

Sarah Lawrence began to take its present shape shortly after World War II, when the College began admitting male students on the G.I. Bill, though the school did not become fully coeducational until 1969. During the McCarthy Era, a number of Sarah Lawrence's faculty members were accused by the American Legion of being sympathetic to the Communist Party, and were called before the Jenner Committee. Since that time, activism has played a central role in student life, with movements for civil rights in the 1960's and for student and faculty diversity in the 1980's. In the late 1980's students occupied Westlands, the main administrative building for the campus, in a sit-in for wider diversity. Students have remained active in recent years, with numerous organizations and movements sprouting in response to the Iraq War. For many years, the College has been considered at the vanguard of the sexual rights movement.


The current president is Michele Tolela Myers, who has served since 1998. Born in Morocco and raised in Paris, President Myers holds a Ph.D. and a master's degree from the University of Denver, another master's degree from Trinity University in San Antonio, and a Diplôme in political science and economics from the Institute of Political Studies at the University of Paris. President Myers has seen the recent completion of a $75 million capital campaign at Sarah Lawrence, as well as the construction of several new buildings and facilities on the campus. Dr. Myers announced in late 2005 that she will retire in the summer of 2007.

Noted Alumni

Noted Faculty

Sarah Lawrence College in Quotes

  • "We cannot preserve the loyalty and political integrity of our students and teachers by congressional investigation. We can only paralyze their will to think independently and to act politically. It is the proper function of boards of trustees to protect the educational system from political control by the Government. If education is conceived as a means of telling students what to think and making sure that they think it, this is the most un-American activity of all." -Harold Taylor, President of Sarah Lawrence, 1945-1959.
  • "Sarah Lawrence is a noble intellectual community." -Komozi Woodard, biographer.
  • "Schoenberg and Webern she'd studied at Sarah Lawrence and all that, and I didn't know any of that stuff, and she was turning me on to it, even Bertolt Brecht." -John Lennon, in a 1980 radio interview on the day of his death, commenting on Yoko Ono's influence on the inception of his controversial song, "Woman is the Nigger of the World."
  • "A Sarah Lawrence education teaches you that you have the right and duty to be what some people would call a troublemaker—that is, an independent, intelligent, curious person who wants to find his or her own solutions to things." - Meredith Monk

Sarah Lawrence in Fiction


  • Horowitz, Helen Lefkowitz. Alma Mater: Design and Experience in the Women's Colleges from Their Nineteenth-Century Beginnings to the 1930s. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1993 (2nd edition).

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