Harry Charles Payne (1947-2008)

Williams College President 1994-1999

Hank Payne assumed the presidency of Williams on Jan. 1, 1994 and initiated three major planning processes focusing on the curriculum, student life outside the classroom, and the college's major financial priorities.

He oversaw the total renovation of Griffin Hall -- a rejuvenation of the oldest classroom building on campus that was historically sensitive and integrated the latest teaching technology. He guided the planning and construction of a $45 million addition and renovation of the college's science facilities that transformed teaching and learning in those fields. He also launched the initiative for a new center for theatre and dance.

At the same time he worked to increase attention at Williams to civic life and the instilling in students of civic virtues.

Payne taught European intellectual history since joining the faculty at Colgate in 1973. He continued teaching while provost and then acting president of Haverford and while president of Hamilton. As professor of history at Williams he taught a course on historiography.

He served as president of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, the field in which most of his scholarly work has focused. He wrote The Philosophes and the People, edited three volumes of Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture, and produced more than 50 scholarly articles and reviews.

Payne graduated as the highest ranking B.A. candidate in the Yale College Class of 1969 and earned an M.A. at the same time. His Ph.D. in history, also from Yale, came in 1973. He was awarded honorary degrees by Hamilton (1988), Colgate (1989), Williams (1993) and Amherst (1994).

He was a Danforth Fellow from 1968 to 1973 and an honorary Woodrow Wilson Fellow in 1968. He won a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend in 1975 and won the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies' annual article prize for 1975-76. He was an overseas fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge University, in 1977.

Payne served as president of Woodward Academy in Atlanta from 2000 until his death in 2008. He and his wife, Deborah, have two sons, Jonathan '97 and Samuel.