In Memoriam: Ruth M. Adams


The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution announces with great sorrow the death November 10, 2004 of Honorary Trustee Ruth M. Adams at her home in Hanover, NH. She was 90.

Ruth Adams had a long association with the Institution. She was elected a Member of the Corporation in 1973, and served on the Executive Committee from 1980 to 1987. She was elected an Honorary Trustee in 1987. During her service to WHOI she was instrumental in enhancing the climate for women at the Institution.

Ruth Marie Adams was born in New York July 10, 1914 and grew up on Long Island. She received a B.A. degree in 1935 from Adelphia College in Queens, NY, and taught at Mepham High School in New York for several years before earning a master's degree from Columbia University in 1943. For the next three years she was a housemistress at Radcliffe College and a teaching fellow and tutor at Harvard University from 1944 to 1946. She received a Ph.D. degree from Radcliffe College in 1951 and had a special interest in Victorian literature. She received a Ford Foundation grant in 1953.

After receiving her doctorate, Ruth Adams began a career in higher education at the University of Rochester, starting as an instructor and later serving as assistant professor and associate professor of English and director of the honors program. In 1960 she joined the faculty at Rutgers University, where she was named a professor of English and dean of Douglass College. She moved to Wellesley College in 1966, serving as president and professor of English until 1972. While at Wellesley Ruth Adams established a cross-registration program with MIT, recruited a more diverse student population, and reaffirmed Wellesley's commitment to remain a women's college.

In 1972, shortly after the Dartmouth College Trustees voted to adopt coeducation, Ruth Adams was asked to join the faculty as Vice President and Professor of English, a position she held until her retirement in 1988. She was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the Modern Language Association. She contributions to higher education were recognized with honorary degrees from Adelphia College, Russell Sage, Rutgers University, Northeastern University, University of Massachusetts, Bates College, St. Lawrence University and Union College.

Although she spent most of her life in the Northeast, Ruth Adams traveled extensively throughout the world. An avid reader, she also enjoyed theater, dance and opera and was a fan of New York Times crossword puzzles. She celebrated her 88th birthday with a ride in a hot air balloon, and was pleased to see the Red Sox win the World Series in 2004.


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