“Our problem seems to be one of modesty. We do not brag about Hawken’s excellent accomplishments. We are so proud of our dedication and professionalism that we forget unless we say something positive about all that is going on, no one else will…. We must go out and brag about ourselves and do everything in our power to help the school carry its beliefs onward – to maintain our history of sound, forward-looking education…. In my three roles as a member of the Hawken family, I see daily at school that the better self is prevailing and each generation is introducing its successor to a higher plane of life.” - Charles L. (Chuck) Stephens

U.S. History: 1970s

Many issues and trends of the 1960s carried over into the 1970s, including civil rights, government disillusionment, the women’s movement, the environment, and space exploration. Over time, many ideas that were considered radical in the 1960s became mainstream in the 70s. Cleveland, with a population of just over 750,000 in 1970, ranked 10th in the list of most populated urban places in the United States.

The 1970s marked the beginnings of the digital revolution. Products including televisions, calculators, microwaves, and computers became more affordable and commonplace in the home. The first video games were introduced in the 1970s, ushering in an entirely new form of home entertainment, and the introduction of the jumbo jet enabled greater numbers of passengers to travel across continents. Other inventions and technologies introduced in the 70s include floppy discs, microprocessors, VCRs, MRIs, neutron bomb, recombinant DNA, email, barcode scanners, and laser printers. The first test tube baby was born in 1973.

Notable events of the 1970s include the legalization of abortion with Roe vs. Wade, the first Earth Day, the Kent State shootings, Watergate, the resignations of Spiro Agnew and Richard Nixon, the fall of South Vietnam to communist forces, the Arab oil embargo, and the landing of NASA’s Viking 1 on Mars.

Sports became a big business in the 70s. Free agency led to skyrocketing salaries for athletes, who were able to supplement salaries their earnings through television appearances and product endorsements. Other developments in sports in the 1970s included the introduction of ESPN, the 3 point line in basketball, red and yellow cards in soccer, and Divisions I, II, and III in college football.

  • Lava lamps
  • Rubik’s cube
  • Pet rocks
  • Mood rings
  • Streaking
Fashion Trends:
  • Hip huggers
  • Hot pants
  • Platform shoes
  • Leisure suits
  • The Bee Gees
  • Aerosmith
  • The Eagles
  • Fleetwood Mac
  • Led Zeppelin

Hawken in the 1970s

Many of the growing pains of the 1960s carried over into 1970s, but nonetheless the 1970s was a time of tremendous change and progress. Bud Kast’s departure led to the appointment of James Young as interim and, soon thereafter, as permanent headmaster. In spite of some lingering tensions, school morale had significantly improved by 1972, according to letter from Jim Young to Charles Stephens: “The attitudes and the spirit of the students have been far more positive and constructive this year when compared to the last two or three.” He referenced the strength of Hawken’s college admissions record, decrease in turnover, and competitiveness of admissions.

Tensions that had been brewing between constituents continued into the early part of the decade but began to ease as a result of informal meetings between the faculty and the board to discuss “mutual concerns.” Headmaster Young addressed unrest among the student body through empowerment, giving them more responsibility as community members. The Senate was established and had its first meeting in December of 1971; they got straight to business and by the end of that meeting had drafted a proposal to change the dress code from coat and tie to “neat and clean.” In an attempt to diversify the student body, the Senate also organized a fundraising effort among students and faculty, raising $4,000 in supplementary scholarship funds; the Board answered the student challenge to match those funds by more than doubling their contribution. The Senate also addressed concerns regarding the balance between athletics and academics by making a motion that a study of Hawken athletics be undertaken to assess its philosophy and approach. A more controversial motion was passed by the Senate in March of 1973, when they determined that failing grades should not be noted on student transcripts, a policy that was discontinued in 1978.

Discussions about coeducation were brewing in the early 70s, and a Coeducation Committee of faculty and trustees, chaired by Howard F. Stirn, was appointed; it was the first time women were represented on a board committee. Even as they were undertaking their study, 12 girls from Laurel and Hathaway Brown joined art classes at Hawken through a cross-registration agreement between the independent schools in the area. The committee performed an in depth study of potential advantages and disadvantages of undertaking coeducation and also surveyed the community for feedback. Students and faculty were overwhelmingly in favor, and parents were split. At the December 1972 board meeting, the committee endorsed coeducation. A memo from David Weir in early January, 1972 indicates that the committee recommended that Hawken “undertake coeducation when financially feasible” and that is was to be brought about “by a merger arrangement with Laurel or Hathaway Brown or both.” It further stated that if that plan did not work out within a reasonable amount of time, the committee recommended that the Board of Trustees “consider the possibility of establishing a coeducational school on their own.” 

Hawken School | Lower & Middle Schools, 5000 Clubside Rd, Lyndhurst, OH 44124
Upper School, PO Box 8002 (12465 County Line Rd), Gates Mills, OH 44040
Gries Center, 10823 Magnolia Dr, Cleveland, OH 44106