Dr. Patterson was elected ninth president of Washington & Jefferson College on March 24, 1950, and inaugurated June 10. He was born in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, April 23, 1902, and was graduated from Washington & Jefferson in 1923, completing his studies in three years. He was a member of the well-known Crumrine family of Washington County and a third generation W & J graduate. His father, John P. Patterson, had attended W & J, Class of 1885, and his grandfather, Boyd Crumrine, a noted local historian, was in the Class of 1860 (Jefferson College). Dr. Patterson spent three years at Johns Hopkins University where he earned both a Master's and Doctor's degree in mathematics. He was a member of the faculty at W & J for one year, 1926-27, leaving to become Associate Professor of Mathematics at Hamilton College, Clinton, New York. He was Head of the Mathematics Department at Hamilton from 1943 until his return to W & J. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Society of Sigma Xi, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Mathematics Society and the Mathematical Association of America, and also a member of Phi Kappa Psi. He authored "Projective Geometry" in 1937. Dr. Patterson retired June 30, 1970, after 20 years as president of W & J.
Dr. Patterson's plans for the College included curriculum revisions, updating admissions standards and generally to enhance W & J's reputation. The fifties and sixties saw major renovations and building on the campus. Begun the previous year, the Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity House, adjacent to Mellon and Upperclass Dormitories, was dedicated on November 11, 1950. In 1952 reminders of the College's World War II participation disappeared when Jefferson Hall, the last of the two war surplus barracks, was torn down, going the way of Washington Hall which was dismantled in late 1950. The Student Center (now the ITS Building), the first project to be completed under the Ten-Year Development Program, opened its doors in early 1957. Construction and improvements to the athletic field were also completed.
1965 saw the completion of the U. Grant Miller Library. The Commons, providing dining facilities for the entire campus, and the Residential Center, a group of individual units providing housing for ten fraternities, were completed in 1968. The first of two new Residence Halls housing 120 men each was also completed in 1968, and the second unit in 1969. The new physical education building began construction in the summer of 1967 and was dedicated on February 7, 1970, as the Wilbur F. Henry Memorial Physical Education Center. In all, 17 buildings were constructed during Dr. Patterson's administration.
Perhaps the most momentous innovation of Dr. Patterson's term occurred when the possibility of coeducation at W & J was introduced. On December 12, 1969, the Board of Trustees voted to authorize admission of women as undergraduate students, effective in September 1970.
Photograph courtesy of Observer Publishing Company.