With graduation rapidly approaching, it’s appropriate to note that the current academic gown is largely the work of Gardner Cotrell Leonard, Williams Class of 1887. The American Council on Education notes,

A significant contribution to the development of this system was made by Gardner Cotrell Leonard of Albany, New York. Mr. Leonard designed gowns for his class at Williams College in 1887 and had them made by Cotrell and Leonard, a firm established by his family in Albany, New York. He was greatly interested in the subject and following the publication of an article by him on academic dress in 1893, he was invited to work with an Intercollegiate Commission made up of representatives of leading institutions to establish a suitable system of academic apparel. The Commission met at Columbia University in 1895 and adopted a code of academic dress, which besides regulating the cut and style and materials of the gowns, prescribed the colors which were to represent the different fields of learning.

So Williams seniors, when you’re sweating buckets under the black gown at graduation (assuming it’s a hot day, of course), you have a Williams graduate to thank for your situation.

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