January 24, 2019

Dear Members of the Trinity College Community,

Trinity has lost a historic figure, a leader of transformative impact, and a beloved and devoted alumnus. With deep sadness, I write to share with you that Theodore D. Lockwood ’48, H’81, who served as Trinity’s 15th president, died this week at his home in Vermont at the age of 94.

It is poignant that our community so recently celebrated President Lockwood and all those who contributed to the decision 50 years ago to admit women as undergraduates. His tenure as president—from 1968 to 1981—surely stands as among the most consequential periods in Trinity’s history, for it was during those years that Trinity not only went coed but also grew and diversified its student body, expanded its curriculum, established its Rome program, and strengthened and deepened its connections to the Hartford community.

When Lockwood assumed the presidency on July 1, 1968, Trinity was on the cusp of enormous change. It was a tumultuous time for our world, and college campuses were often at the epicenter of activism—a convergence of the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement, the women’s movement, and more.

It was clear from the moment he took the helm that change was coming to Trinity, and such change required the combination of boldness, determination, and care that Lockwood possessed. As I looked back on the address he delivered at his presidential inauguration, I was reminded that it was in that very moment, in October 1968, that he announced that Trinity would begin an exchange of students with Vassar and would undertake a study of the feasibility of coeducation. By January of the following year, women were arriving as transfer students, and the trustees voted to admit undergraduate women.

In rereading that speech, I also was struck by the similarities between the values and commitments Lockwood expressed that day and those we recently reaffirmed with our strategic plan.

“A college must explore new opportunities to relate itself to the wider community of which it is a part,” he said in committing to work closely with partners in Hartford to advance the community. “The independent colleges must vigorously, and freshly, restate the case for a liberal arts education,” he said in noting its value in an increasingly complex world. “The educational process is not genetically encoded in institutions or men,” he said, affirming that Trinity would “experiment vigorously both inside and outside the formal curriculum to arrive at truly creative learning experiences.”

Lockwood was, indeed, the leader whom Trinity needed then, and he was well suited for the role. As a new president, he had the advantageous perspective of Trinity as a student, an alumnus, a professor, a trustee, and even the son of a faculty member. Lockwood entered Trinity as a student in the fall of 1942, a year before his father, Harold J. Lockwood, was named the first Hallden Professor of Engineering and department chair. The younger Lockwood interrupted his college education to volunteer for military service, serving from 1943 to 1945 with the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division in Europe (he was an avid skier and accomplished mountain climber).

Back at Trinity in 1945, Lockwood lettered in football, distinguished himself academically, and held a number of leadership roles. He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and graduated in 1948 as valedictorian. He went on to earn a doctorate in modern European history from Princeton University, and, before assuming the Trinity presidency, he was provost and dean of the faculty at Union College and taught at a number of other institutions—including at Trinity in the summers. He also served as a member of Trinity’s Board of Fellows and as a trustee of the college.

In 1981, on the occasion of Lockwood’s last Commencement as president of Trinity, the college surprised him by awarding him an honorary doctor of letters degree. He also was a recipient of The Eigenbrodt Cup, one of the highest honors bestowed upon Trinity alumni, and the 175th Anniversary Award, whose recipients “exemplify the college’s mission and uphold its proud tradition of scholarship, leadership, and innovation.”

After retiring from the presidency, Lockwood became the founding director of the United World College of the Southwest, and he was appointed by the Association of American Colleges to direct a three-year review of the baccalaureate degree in the United States. He retired in 1998 and moved to Stowe, Vermont, where he lived with his wife, Lucille LaRose Abbot.

I am profoundly grateful to President Lockwood for his extraordinary leadership. On behalf of the entire Trinity community, I extend our deepest sympathies to the entire Lockwood family. We will consult with the family to determine an appropriate memorial on campus for some time in the future.


Joanne Berger-Sweeney
President and Trinity College Professor of Neuroscience