The 1960s marked another decade of expansion and leadership change, along with significant upheaval resulting from the dramatic social changes that defined the times. At Hawken, the debate over the advisability of acquiring the Circle W Farm for the Upper School campus continued. Liv Ireland argued that “the split campus would be like life itself; a small boy could grow up on a small campus through Grade 8, then advance, as in life, to a larger world, the upper campus.” Others feared that the acquisition of the property was too risky and would lead to deficit operations. Finally, however, on March 7, 1960, the Board approved the plan to purchase Circle W. Phase I would cost $655,000; Phase II, $227,000.
In September of 1961, the Circle W campus opened its doors to 80 boys, 45 in the 9th grade and 35 in the 10th grade. Tuition for the new high school was $1000 a year. Facilities included the main house used for dining, a barn that was used for athletics and shop, and a new academic and administration building. In a letter written to James Hawken that year, Dick Day wrote, “The dedication of the new land in Chesterland brought out close to 700 people. The show was a happy affair. All generations of the school family were present to enjoy each other’s company and to explore the new grounds and buildings.”
The original Circle W faculty included Rodger Rickard, Hamilton Eames, and Charles “Chuck” Stephens. Dick Day called the younger Stephens a “worthy chip off the old block” and wrote to his father Charles, “I am sure I could not have made a better appointment than this. What a great strength and comfort he is going to be to all of us.” Gerald Wilson, Tucker Fox, Peter Relic, and Jim Young were also among the first to join the faculty at the new campus. Young, Rickard and Relic are credited with developing the Hawken School Team Sports Program, an upgrade from what had primarily been an intramural program. While the Upper School was overseen by some of the younger staff members, Dick Day maintained his office on the Lyndhurst campus, where plans were underway for upgrades and expansion at a cost of $573,000.
In the early 60s, Hawken was all male and all white. Dick Day brought the idea of integration before the Board members, who, along with the faculty, supported the decision. As a result, Hawken became the first private school in Cleveland to recruit and admit black students, welcoming Charles Jordan ’65 to campus in the fall of 1962. While there were also discussions about mergers between Hawken and Laurel, no consensus regarding coeducation was reached.
In June of 1963, Headmaster Day resigned to take the position of headmaster at Phillips Exeter Academy. However, he made an agreement with Exeter to postpone his start date for one year so that he could see the Class of 1964, the first graduates at Circle W campus, receive their diplomas. While Day was not universally loved, James Hawken saw Day’s departure as “an immeasurable loss,” and Charles Stephens praised him for his vision and accomplishments: “Dick lifted Hawken well above the other three independent schools – he was looking into the 21st century.” That same year, the Board of Trustees also underwent a change in leadership when, after 32 years of service, Liv Ireland turned over the position of Board president to Char Bolton.
The search for a new head yielded 70 candidates, which the search committee narrowed to five before choosing Edward Kast from Short Hills Country Day School. Kast was not known to be an innovator, but he was a respected administrator. When he arrived on campus, enrollment was at 560. New programming that was developed during Kast’s tenure included the Senior Project, the AFS program; an ethics course; sex education; the Karamu House inner city tutoring program; the Festival of the Arts; and the Outdoor Leadership Program. The school also experimented with the somewhat controversial Leicestershire Program, which emphasized learning by doing and which many felt lacked sufficient structure and guidance.
In the mid-60s, Kast appointed a long-range planning committee of faculty who undertook a study of Hawken’s entire educational program, which resulted in a 10 year projection report that addressed the physical and aspirational needs of the school. Their conclusions emphasized independent, self-directed study, less reliance on textbooks and more on source material, team teaching, flexibility for individual progression, independent lab projects, arts opportunities, and service. Kast explained in the very first Alumni Review in 1967 that “Hawken as an independent school has a responsibility to lead education in American and to try new ideas and approaches.”
Implementation of the plan began in 1968 when Meacham Hitchock ‘42 began working to bring computers to campus, resulting in “a time-sharing computer console installed at the Upper School on a trial basis.” The pilot project proved to be successful; by 1970 program was underway with a consortium of four schools. Some of the School’s facility needs were met with the opening of the north wing of Ireland Hall in September of 1968, providing classroom and study space, faculty conference offices, audio-visual learning center, an “assembly room,” a reception area, and a headmaster’s office.
Admissions underwent significant changes in the 1960s. The Board had been involved in the decision making until Dick Day appointed faculty member Tucker Fox to oversee the process. After Fox died suddenly, Janet Hoerr was appointed Director of Admissions in December of 1962. Hoerr instituted significant changes by forming the faculty admissions committee and inviting applicants to visit classes. Hawken was highly competition during this era; in 1966-1967, 36 of 50 applicants were admitted to kindergarten. For all other grades, 254 applied for only 6 openings. About 10% of the boys received scholarship support. Moreover, a student’s admission did not guarantee tenure through graduation; of the 46 students who left Hawken that year, 30 were at the request of the school for academic reasons.
In spite of the healthy enrollment numbers, the 1960s were financially challenging. The split campuses were more costly, and all of the money that was raised went toward buildings, leaving nothing for the endowment. Liv Ireland reviewed the School’s future needs for expansion at Lyndhurst and Gates Mills and announced in 1965 that that they were facing an immediate annual deficit of $54,000. While all agreed with Kast that the answer was ultimately to build the endowment, Ireland met with Frances Bolton and explained to her the School’s plans and immediate needs. Once again, Hawken’s “fairy godmother” answered the call, telling him, “Well, I’ll underwrite that – provided you can continue to decrease deficits and get this institution in the black.”
The late 60s, however, brought additional deficits. The School decided to launch a capital campaign to fund expansion at Gates Mills and Lyndhurst at a cost of $3,750,000. This would be the largest capital campaign in the history of the School, and Char Bolton wanted $2 million of the total funding to come from the Trustees. Hawken hired its first development director, Harry August, to help oversee the campaign, which held its kick-off in the grand ballroom of the Sheraton Hotel on April 22, 1969.
The campaign’s momentum, however, was abruptly brought to a halt on graduation day 1969, when the student speakers delivered their now infamous, uncensored speeches. The 60s culture of rebellion and free speech was unexpectedly and harshly unleashed on the Hawken community, who sat shocked and stunned by the insults and negativity. Efforts by the student council, the administration, and the trustees to mitigate the damage were unsuccessful, as indicated by a letter to community written by Student Council President Mark Lowry that September: “These speeches sparked off a chain of reaction against policies of the Upper School which has yet to dissipate. This reaction took many forms: a considerable volume of critical phone calls and letters was received by the administration and faculty; several people withheld money promised in the building drive; at cocktail parties and other social events unusually slanderous and often irresponsible remarks have been made against Hawken.” Trustee Meacham Hitchcock ’48 tried to continue with the fundraising and oversee damage control. Although the campaign reached half of its goal by October, Hitchcock wrote that same fall, “As I feared, the ripples caused by our Graduation Exercises have grown into waves.” Within months of graduation, the capital campaign came to a halt, and Kast submitted his resignation, having accepted a position as head of Germantown Academy.
The decade of the 1960s marked a period of unrest and instability for Hawken. Constituents at every level were upset, the Board was divided, faculty turnover was high, a capital campaign was stymied, and there was no leader at the helm. Hitchcock declared: “If we are ever going to improve Hawken’s ‘image’ in the community, we are going to need a band of active trustees, convinced that what we are doing is correct and ready to do some missionary work.”
But image does not reflect reality in every instance, and clearly not all semblance of decorum was lost. An English teacher by the name of Lawrence Nelson described his first day at Hawken years later in the Spring 2003 edition of the Review: “September 1969: The all-male class stood at attention when I entered Room 9 on my first teaching day at Hawken. Seconds passed; I was perplexed. After several seconds, a thoughtful young man said, ‘You must tell us to sit down, sir.’ So I said ‘Be seated,’ and 16 boys, clad in coats and ties, settled into their seats.”