A Tale of Three Administrations: Rev. Warner Traynham’s Experience as both Student and Dean

“The philosophy faculty teaches the philosophies of various people: Nietzsche, Hegel, Mills and so forth. The clergy don't do that. Our business is not educating people with respect to the realm of ethics. Our business is to take positions as Christians with respect to moral issues. That's what I did.”
—Rev. Warner Traynham, 2022

As a Dartmouth student, one of my most rewarding opportunities has been performing research at Rauner Special Collections Library, specifically on Dartmouth's institutional history. Thus, before even learning I would have the opportunity to speak with Reverend Warner Traynham, member of the class of 1957 and Dean of the Tucker Foundation from 1974 to 1983, Warner Traynham was a name that I knew. During the summer of 2022, while exploring how Dartmouth supported LGBT students throughout the twentieth century, I had learned about Traynham's unprecedented support for gay students who were looking to form community in the 1970s. However, at the time, I did not have the chance to learn much else about his own experience at the college, as both a Black student in the 1950s, and as an administrator with a unique role in relationship to student life.

On October 24, 2022, I had the honor to speak with Reverend Traynham as part of the Dartmouth Black Lives Oral History Project to hear about his experiences as a Black student and member of Dartmouth’s administration during two distinct yet crucial points in Dartmouth’s history. This exhibit will explore Traynham’s experiences at the College alongside the legacies he left behind.