Charles DeCarlo, President Emeritus of SLC Dies

Charles DeCarlo

Charles De Carlo, seventh president of Sarah Lawrence College, from 1969 to 1981, died on November 24 at the age of 83. DeCarlo brought to the College a rare blend of financial and administrative acumen – transforming the face of the campus and revitalizing the College’s financial underpinnings – and an understanding and appreciation for Sarah Lawrence’s unique liberal arts pedagogy. He often praised Sarah Lawrence for being small “in a time when smallness is not valued,” and said that its unique educational practices could, “like a powerful dye, pervade a larger world with a richer light.”

DeCarlo installed a modern budget system and was responsible for expanding the size of the campus. He built the award-winning Esther Raushenbush Library, doubled the size of the Performing Arts Center, increased dormitory capacity by 25 percent with the construction of Andrews Court and Slonim Woods, purchased Slonim House, which houses Graduate Programs and the Center for Continuing Education, and Swinford and Lyles Houses, used for administration.

“We are sad to have lost in Charles DeCarlo, a president emeritus who cared deeply about the Sarah Lawrence Community, long past his service to the school,” said President Michele Myers. “He will be missed for his joie de vivre, his wit, and his dedication to the College.”

Before coming to Sarah Lawrence, De Carlo was an executive at IBM, where he worked as the director of automation research. He was very concerned with the effect of science and technology on society, and argued that one goal of liberal arts education was “to guarantee that the future will be both technological and humane.”

De Carlo’s father was an Italian immigrant who quit school at he age of 13. Charles Raymond De Carlo was born in 1921in Pittsburgh. He earned a B.A. in engineering from the University of Pittsburgh in 1943, then served in the Navy during World War II. After the war, he returned to his hometown and earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from his alma mater. After graduation, he joined IBM, and rose quickly through its ranks.

Before coming to Sarah Lawrence, De Carlo coauthored (with Dr. Ormsbee Robinson) a book called Education in Business and Industry. He was a research associate for Harvard and a trustee of Bank Street College of Education. He taught mathematics at the University of Pittsburgh and the American Studies Institute in Salzburg.

De Carlo loved to cook and was an amateur poet. His friends characterized him as a Renaissance man, praising his ability to switch easily between discussing business investments and theorizing about literature. He is survived by his wife, Dorothy, nee Barrett, a cellist and four children, three of whom attended Sarah Lawrence, Tessa’71 of Napa, California, Rachel ’82, of Albany, Elisa of Manhattan and Dean ’84 of Manhattan.