Resident Donor

Meet the SLC grad and trustee behind the renovation of Gilbert

By April Greene, Illustration by Monica Ramos


“When I first came to ­Sarah Lawrence in the fall of 1956, Gilbert had been in a state,” says Vicki Ford '60, MSEd '87, a longtime trustee and, with her husband Silas, a generous supporter of the College. The couple recently made a gift to finance the renovation of Gilbert residence hall. When the building reopens in the fall of 2016, it will be renamed OSilas, an inside joke based on a contraction of their given names (Vicki’s is Olivia).

“At that time, Gilbert had been populated with some wild older students who liked to sneak out through the first-floor windows at night,” Ford recalls. “Then a few of the professors decided to clean it up. They housed first-year students from around the country there, including a girl from Hawaii, a girl from St. Louis, and a girl from Minnesota—that was me. Because of those long distances, we couldn’t return home on the weekends. The result was that we all bonded, and most of us returned to Gilbert as sophomores.”

“And you know what?” she says. “Many of the women who came back for our 55th Reunion were women who lived in Gilbert.”

The opportunity for students to sustain friendships is one of Ford’s main goals in fostering Gilbert’s makeover. Bolstering the unique character of Sarah Lawrence is ­another.

“I have a strong, almost passionate feeling that the buildings here need to be maintained. They’re a big part of what makes SLC a charming and meaningful place.”—Vicki Ford '60, MSEd '87

“I have a strong, almost passionate feeling that the buildings here need to be maintained,” Ford says. “They’re a big part of what makes SLC a charming and meaningful place.”

Kyle Wilkie, assistant vice president for campus operations and planning, says he’s not surprised Ford took on a project of this ­caliber.

“She knows the SLC student of today as intimately as she knew her own class,” Wilkie says. “She has an exuberance for what goes on here like none other. Vicki and Si’s gift will make a direct impact on the student experience—on anyone who’s living in Gilbert or just passing through.”

Ford says she and her husband decided to make the gift as an example to other would-be donors. She says it’s her greatest hope that other Sarah Lawrence graduates help finance additional improvements. “Many other beautiful buildings here from the same era could be saved by others.”