Paul Swain Havens

Paul Swain Havens served as president of Wilson College from 1937-1970, leaving a notable impression on the institution and its surrounding community. Born the son of Wilson alumna, as well as an instructor of classical language and former university president, Havens's passion for learning began at a young age. He excelled in primary school, earned a B.A. degree at Princeton University, and attended the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.

Before ascending to Wilson’s presidency at the age of 33, Havens taught courses in English literature and the humanities at Princeton, George Washington University, and Scripps College. President Havens, who was affectionately known to students as “Prexy,” oversaw numerous improvements to Wilson College, entertained prominent visitors to the campus, and advocated for the advancement of women’s education. While he was respected for his accomplishments and his intellect, Havens’s character left also left a lasting impression on those who knew him. Along with his wife, Lorraine Hamilton Havens, he generously welcomed Wilson students into his household for guidance and help with coursework, and showed a sincere concern for both their academic achievement and their personal wellbeing. Havens furthermore taught a popular course in his living room titled "The Life of the Mind," which challenged students to think critically about the issues of their day.


Michael Shaffer, Archives Intern