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February 4, 2007
Calvin H. Plimpton Dies at 88;
Led Way for Women at Amherst
Calvin H. Plimpton, an educator who was instrumental in opening Amherst Collegeís doors to women and who later, as president of American University of Beirut, sought to quell the violence as civil war raged in Lebanon, died on Tuesday at his home in Westwood, Mass. He was 88.
Dr. Plimpton, who was a physician, died of complications following surgery, a spokesman for the college said.
He was president of Amherst from 1960 to 1971. In 1970, he responded to a student body resolution calling for the admission of women by appointing a commission to study the matter. The panelís recommendations to go coed were approved in 1974, and the college, after more than 150 years as a male bastion, admitted women for the first time in 1975.
After leaving Amherst, Dr. Plimpton was president of the Downstate Medical Center, State University of New York, until 1979.
He became president of American University of Beirut in 1984, succeeding Malcolm H. Kerr, who had been assassinated outside his campus office. The acting president in 1982, David S. Dodge, had been kidnapped and held for a year.
Dr. Plimpton, who had armed bodyguards and kept his movements secret, presided at a time when professors and other Americans were being kidnapped. At one point he traveled to Amman, Jordan, to meet with Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, to help restore order.
Calvin Hastings Plimpton was born in Boston and grew up in Walpole, Mass., the son of George Arthur Plimpton, a textbook publisher and philanthropist, who was chairman of the Amherst board of trustees from 1906 to 1936. His mother was Fanny Hastings Plimpton.
After graduating from Phillips Exeter Academy, he earned his undergraduate degree from Amherst College and his masterís and medical degrees from Harvard and a doctor of medical science degree from Columbia.
After serving in the Army and rising to captain in World War II, he practiced medicine in New York and was assistant dean of the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia.
He is survived by his wife, Ruth Talbot Plimpton; four children, David, of Brooklyn, Polly, of Boston, Tom, of Leverett, Mass., and Edward, of Amherst; and seven grandchildren.