Trustee Emerita Laura Bornholdt Remembered as a Pioneer

College salutes advocate for liberal arts colleges and historically black educational institutions

July 20, 2012 by John Finn

WOOSTER, Ohio — The College of Wooster notes with sadness the passing of Laura Bornholdt, a member of the Board of Trustees at Wooster from 1967-77 and Life Trustee Emerita from 1977-2012. A leading advocate for liberal arts colleges and historically black educational institutions, Bornholdt is remembered as a pioneer among women chosen to serve as leaders in higher education. She passed away in April at the age of 93.

A graduate of Smith College, where she was inducted into the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa honor society, Bornholdt earned her Ph.D. in history from Yale University. She then taught at Smith College, the University of Pennsylvania, and Wellesley College. She also served as Dean of Women at the University of Pennsylvania and Dean of the College at Wellesley and Sarah Lawrence College.

Bornholdt’s many achievements include being selected as the first woman vice president for the Danforth Foundation and Lilly Endowment Inc. She created the Danforth Postdoctoral Program in Black Studies and the Lilly Faculty Open Fellowships — two programs designed to enable faculty members to further their learning and bring new excitement to the classroom. Even in retirement she stayed active as special assistant to the president of the University of Chicago and director of university-school relations.

In addition to her role as a trustee at Wooster, Bornholdt held similar positions at several other colleges and universities. She was also on the board of directors of the Institute for Services to Education and National American Studies Faculty, the advisory board for the National Coalition for Research on Women’s Education and Development, and the editorial board of The Journal of Higher Education. She held memberships in the Yale University Council, the Council on Library Resources, and the National Advisory Council on Black Higher Education.