BERNIE ADAMS OFTEN wore a smile, despite serving as Ripon College’s president through some of the institution’s most turbulent times. 				         RCP file photo
BERNIE ADAMS OFTEN wore a smile, despite serving as Ripon College’s president through some of the institution’s most turbulent times. RCP file photo

    When folks gather at Ripon College this coming Oct. 6 to celebrate the grand opening of the new, remodeled and expanded Storzer Center, they might want say a little prayer for Bernie Adams.

     He was president of the college when the original Storzer was opened in 1967.

     Adams died Feb. 26 at the family’s home in Denver. He was 88.

    While Ripon College’s ninth president and his wife, Natalie, lived at 1 Merriman Lane from 1966 to 1985, the college opened Storzer, constructed Rodman Center for the Arts, built Todd Wehr Hall, expanded Lane Library and the physical plant, restored East Hall and renovated West and Middle halls.

     So much happened during the Adams administration, in part, because he was here for so long. ...    

     During his almost two decades of service to the institution, Adams oversaw an endowment that increased more than three-fold, from $2.7 million to $9.8 million. That’s chickenfeed (Red Hawk feed?) to the college’s current $85 million nest egg, but it helped set the stage for the non-ending capital campaign mode Ripon has adopted.

     The Adams administration also initiated curriculum updates that included study-abroad, interdisciplinary and independent-study programs.
In their book, “Ripon College: A History,” former faculty and  historians George Miller and Bob Ashely title the two chapters on Adams “Ups and Downs: I” and “Ups and Downs: II.” Just as the late ’60s and early ’70s were turbulent times for America, so too did they present unique challenges for college administrators.

     Adams had his share of challenges ...

     At a time when the average college president’s tenure was eight to 10 years, Adams doubled that time in Ripon, deftly navigating strained relations between conservative trustees and faculty, staff and administrators holding diverse views.

     Throughout his tenure, Adams was a gracious leader known for being direct, sincere and polite. ...

     While his time at Ripon was marked by “ups and downs,” the Miller/Ashley history quotes Adams’ wife, Natalie, as writing a letter to the couple’s two children, Deborah and David, in which she notes that “There are hurts along with the joys, but ... one would quickly, even eagerly, say ‘yes’ to the opportunity to serve Ripon all over again.”  ...

— Tim Lyke

     To read the entire editorial, see the March 9, 2017 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.