History of Sarah Lawrence College
extracted from the student handbook
William Van Duzer Lawrence founded the College in 1926 as a two-year diploma granting institution [or junior college] intended, in part, to relieve the overcrowding in women’s colleges around the country. Named to honor his wife, Sarah Bates Lawrence, the College became a four-year degree granting institution in 1931. Originally admitting only women, the College made the commitment to coeducation in 1968, with the conviction that our distinctive opportunities should be available to all. The College welcomes men and women of all races and backgrounds who display evidence of intellectual curiosity and stamina, concern for others, and the potential for personal growth.
Throughout its history, Sarah Lawrence College has promoted new educational ideas and instituted outstanding programs. In 1937, the College founded the Early Childhood Center, a school for neighborhood children ages two through six, where Sarah Lawrence students still serve as interns and engage in research projects. In 1949, the College introduced programs leading to the master of arts degree; since 1969, the College has also awarded the MFA degree in the performing arts and creative writing. In 1962, Sarah Lawrence established the Center for Continuing Education, the first full-scale undergraduate program in the country specifically designed for returning adult students. Sarah Lawrence has pioneered the founding of several outstanding graduate programs that have served as models nationwide: the master’s program in Human Genetics (1969), providing training for health professionals in human genetics and inheritable disorders; the master’s program in Health Advocacy (1980), educating advocates for a broad array of roles within the health care system; and the master’s program in Women’s History (1972), linking teaching and research with the problems of women in a changing society. In 1985, the College began Art of Teaching, a graduate program leading to the MSEd degree, preparing students for teacher certification (nursery through sixth grade). Activities and programs in child development were consolidated as the Child Development Institute in 1987.