Remembering former Wheaton College President Dale Rogers Marshall

Champion of equity, academic inclusiveness led the institution from 1992–2004

Former Wheaton College President Dale Rogers Marshall died on January 14, in Berkeley, Calif. She was 83.

Photo by Danielle Mourning ’99

She served as Wheaton’s sixth president, from 1992 to 2004. At Wheaton, President Marshall pushed to recruit and hire academics from under-represented groups, as she had at Wellesley College, where she served as dean of the college from 1986–1992 and acting president from 1987–1988, and at University of California, Davis, before that as associate dean in the College of Letters and Science.

Under her leadership, Wheaton underwent a planning process that led to great economic and academic expansion. The number of students applying to the college doubled; Wheaton grew in reputation as a leading liberal arts institution; and students regularly won many national awards and scholarships, including Watsons fellowships, Truman scholarships and Fulbright honors.

President Marshall oversaw the Campaign for Wheaton that raised $90 million in support of student scholarships and academic inclusiveness, creating more than 70 new student scholarship funds, 12 new endowed faculty chairs, new programs such as the Davis International Fellows program and the Jane E. Ruby Lecture Series, as well as several new facilities. The campaign was capped by the construction of the Mars Arts and Humanities building and renovation of Meneely and Watson Fine Arts.

The year she began at Wheaton in 1992 the college experienced two other milestones: the graduation of the first coeducational class and the enrollment of the largest freshman class in the college’s history at the time. The growth encouraged the construction of Keefe and Beard residence halls.

Her presidency also marked a re-commitment to the college’s Global Awareness Program and emphasis on multiculturalism. Her commitment to diversity and social justice enabled the college to recruit a diverse and exceptional group of scholars to join the Wheaton’s faculty, and to institute new programs aimed at increasing diversity on campus. In April 2005, Wheaton named the Marshall Center for Intercultural Learning in recognition of her.

In an email sent to the campus community noting her passing, President Dennis M. Hanno
said, “President Marshall remained connected to Wheaton long after she served as its president and maintained close relationships with the many people she became friends with here. I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to meet with her many times during my time at Wheaton and she became a good friend and an amazing mentor. Each time I spoke with her, I was reminded of how fortunate I was to be following in the footsteps of someone as great as President Marshall.”

President Marshall attributed her interest in equity to her years as a teenager in segregated Washington, D.C. Born on March 22, 1937, in Ithaca, N.Y., where her parents were students at Cornell Law School, President Marshall’s family moved often while her father, William Rogers, served in the Navy. The family settled in Bethesda, Md., in 1950, when Rogers took a position as counsel to the United States Congress. He would go on to serve as Deputy Attorney General and Attorney General under President Dwight Eisenhower, and Secretary of State under President Richard Nixon.

When President Marshall announced her resignation at Wheaton, Patricia A. King ’63, chair of the Board of Trustees at the time, expressed personal appreciation for her guidance. “She has been a very skillful, collaborative leader who understands how to build consensus and inspire others to commit themselves to the college’s advancement.”

In recognition of her successful leadership of Wheaton, President Marshall was the 2002 recipient of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce Pinnacle Award for women leaders.

In an interview published in the 2004 issue of the Wheaton Quarterly, President Marshall was asked what she enjoyed most about her time as president. She replied: “I’ve thought about that a lot. I feel good about all of the positive things that have happened at Wheaton during my term. Yet when it all boils down, it comes to the most common point. It’s platitudinous, but it’s really the people that you get to know and connect with while working on meaningful projects. When you get to meet such interesting people—on campus and all over the world—you develop an insight in different lives, different worlds and different generations. It’s extremely rewarding.”

While serving as president, she remained active as a scholar and a faculty member, regularly teaching and writing in her field of concentration. Her own research underlined the importance of equal representation in positions of power—in particular for those making low incomes, people or color and women.

A political scientist who specialized in urban politics, President Marshall was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and earned her bachelor’s degree, with high honors, in government from Cornell University in 1959. There, she met her future husband, engineer Donald Marshall. They married shortly after graduation and moved to California.

She received a master’s degree in political science from University of California at Berkeley, where she studied as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and earned a Ph.D. in 1969 from UCLA, where she held a Regents Fellowship.

An accomplished author and editor, she co-wrote Protest is Not Enough: The Struggle of Blacks and Hispanics for Equality in Urban Politics (UC Press, 1984). The study won the 1985 Ralph J. Bunche Award for best book on ethnic relations and the 1985 Gladys M. Kammerer Award for best book on U.S. national policy. She also co-edited Racial Politics in American Cities (Longman Pub Group, 1990, first edition).

She chaired the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Massachusetts and the American Council on Education’s Leadership Commission; was elected to the National Academy of Public Administration in 1987; and became a member of the board of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in 1996.

She also served on numerous public and private boards. Like her mother, Adele Rogers, before her, President Marshall was a member of the Cornell University Board of Trustees. She also served as vice president of the American Political Science Association and president of the Western Political Science Association.

After her retirement from academia, she was a devoted volunteer, working with Girls, Inc., as a mentor for the East Bay College Fund, a writing coach with WriterCoach Connection, and as a docent and board member at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre.

President Marshall is survived by her husband; three children—Jessica, Cynthia and Clayton Marshall; and six grandchildren—William and Helena Belhumeur, and Maia, Dominik, Nina and Robert Marshall.

The family’s wishes are for memorial contributions to be made to Wheaton to support either the Dale Rogers Marshall Fund for Global Education or the Dale Rogers Marshall Wheaton Fund Scholarship, both of which support programs she created.