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Recording Clerks, 1956-

This guide contains a list of all of Earlham's Recording Clerks for Faculty Meeting.

Recording Clerks


The Recording Clerk of the Faculty records faculty discussion and action, notifies all involved when faculty action has been taken, maintains faculty minutes, and notifies faculty committees of reports and evaluations that are to be made to the faculty meeting. Term is one year, with a possible one-year extension.

The actual number of terms has historically varied widely, ranging from one to six semesters consecutively. However, Recording Clerks have typically served for two or four semesters consecutively.

Gertrude "Lucky" Ward and Tom Hamm are tied for the most consecutive terms at six each, followed by Hugh Barbour at five.* Michael Birkel and Tom Hamm are tied for the most terms total at ten. However, Opal Thornburg has the distinction of taking more faculty meeting minutes than anyone else. She served as Secretary, an elected position and precursor to the Recording Clerk role, for more than ten years before James McDowell became the first Recording Clerk.

*One thing to note is that until the 1990s, Earlham was on a trimester system. However, the Recording Clerk served for all of the Fall and/or all of the Spring. Their service as Recording Clerk did not align with the trimester terms.

See here for a list of all Clerks of the Faculty since 1956.

History of Faculty Meeting

Prior to 1956, Faculty Meeting had a “Chairman” and “Secretary” instead of a Clerk and Recording Clerk. The Chairman was the President of Earlham up until around 1952, when the Academic Dean, David E. Henley, took over the role.

During the November 14, 1955 Faculty Meeting, the faculty decided, “On an experimental basis for the remainder of this [academic] year … to place the conduct of faculty meetings under a ‘Presiding Clerk’, with a ‘Recording Clerk’, after the manner of traditional Friends Meeting." Part of the justification was that the change would "expedite business and free the Dean [David E. Henley] to speak for or against proposals without the responsibility of also conducting the meeting."

The first Clerk was James Thorp, and the first Recording Clerk was James McDowell.*

*Faculty Meeting Minutes, November 14, 1955


  • 1956-1957:     James McDowell (Psychology)
  • 1957-1958:     Helen Hole (English)
  • 1958-1959:     Undine Dunn (English)
  • 1959:              Theodor Benfey (Chemistry)


  • 1960-1961:     Theodor Benfey (Chemistry)
  • 1961-1962:     James McDowell (Psychology)
  • 1963-1964:     Mary Lane Charles (Modern Languages)
  • 1965-1967:     Gertrude "Lucky" Ward (Biology)
  • 1968:              Harold Hanes (Math)
  • 1969:              Charles Martin (Geology)*

*The minutes for 1969 are not signed by the Recording Clerk. However, Charles Martin was nominated for the role at the November 26, 1968 Faculty Meeting, with a term ending January 1, 1970. The minutes from November 18, 1969 recommended replacing him with Wilmer Stratton, showing Charles Martin served his one year term. 


  • 1970:              Wilmer Stratton (Chemistry)
  • 1970:              Charles Martin (Geology)
  • 1971:              Wilmer Stratton (Chemistry)
  • 1972-1973:     Phil Shore (Library)
  • 1973-1974:     Dan Meerson (English)
  • 1974-1976:     Ray Hively (Astronomy, Physics)*
  • 1976-1977:     John Sweitzer (Plant and Purchases Manager)
  • 1978:              Charles Matlack (Spanish, Soccer Coach)
  • 1979:              Henry Merrill (Drama, Wilderness Program)

*The Clerk and Recording Clerk are not listed on the minutes for the majority of Fall 1974 and Spring 1975. However, Ray Hively was nominated for the position of Recording Clerk on May 14, 1974, for a term running from September 1974-December 1975.  Ray Hively is listed as Recording Clerk on the minutes for October 15, 1974 and May 6 and May 27, 1975, which confirms he did serve in the role. He then served for an additional semester.


  • 1980:              Dan Meerson (English)
  • 1980:              Charles Matlack (Spanish, Soccer Coach) and Harold Hanes (Math)*
  • 1981:              Bill Harvey (Biology)
  • 1982:              Barb Caruso (English, WGSS)
  • 1983:              Bob Johnstone (Politics)
  • 1984:              Nelson Bingham (Psychology, HDSR)
  • 1985:              Jim Brown (Sport and Movement Studies)
  • 1985-1987:     Hugh Barbour (Religion)
  • 1988:              Ray Ontko (Computing Science)
  • 1988-1989:     Elizabeth Weiss Ozorak (Psychology)
  • 1989:              Michael Birkel (Religion)

*Charles Matlack was appointed "to stand-in for Dan Meerson as Recording Clerk for the Fall Term only" in the May 20, 1980, Faculty Meeting. He served as Recording Clerk at the September 30, 1980, Faculty Meeting. The role was reassigned to Hal (Harold) Hanes at the October 14, 1980 meeting, and he took the minutes for that meeting. Henry Merrill was Acting Recording Clerk for the next meeting, November 11, 1980. Hal Hanes stepped back into the role for the November 25, 1980 meeting.


  • 1990:              Michael Birkel (Religion)
  • 1991:              Bob Southard (History)
  • 1992:              Peter Cline (History)
  • 1992:              Michael Birkel (Religion)
  • 1993:              Gil Klose (Economics)
  • 1994-1995:     Tom Hamm (Director of Special Collections, History)
  • 1996-1997:     Michael Birkel (Religion)
  • 1998-1999:     Welling Hall (Politics)


  • 2000:              Cheryl Gibbs (Journalism)
  • 2001:              Bob Johnstone (Politics)
  • 2002:              Cheryl Gibbs (Journalism)
  • 2003-2004:     Susan Hillmann (Admissions)
  • 2005:              John Littell (Computing Services)
  • 2006:              Kevin Morrison (International Programs Office)
  • 2006-2007:     Welling Hall (Politics)
  • 2007-2009:     Holly Woodruff (HDSR)
  • 2009:              Susan de Castaneda Hillmann (Admissions)


  • 2010-2011:     Susan de Castaneda Hillmann (Admissions)
  • 2011-2013:     Charlie Peck (Computer Science)
  • 2013-2015:     Trish Eckert (Newlin Quaker Center)
  • 2015-2016:     Michael Birkel (Religion)
  • 2016-2019:     Tom Hamm (Director of Special Collections, History)
  • 2019:              Jennifer Seely (Politics)


  • 2020:              Jennifer Seely (Politics)
  • 2020-2022:     David Barbella (Computer Science)
  • 2022-2024:     Meg Streepey Smith (Geology)

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