September 17th, 2010

I was in the Commencement saddle when President Gregorian's new gown was ordered, and in the spirit of historical accuracy I offer a small correction to Lawrence Goodman's otherwise wonderfully thorough description of the history and significance of Brown's presidential garb ("Dressed for Success," July/August).

As we prepared to replace the frayed gown of the Swearer era, I consulted John McIntyre '39, who was an assistant to several Brown presidents. John called me to University Hall, pulled a small stepladder from his closet, and from a high shelf next to the vault pulled a bolt of seventeen yards of the specially dyed seal-brown poplin, wrapped carefully in tissue. It was from this material, mailed to Ireland, that the current garb is made.

Of interest: The gown's red, the red of the St. George's Cross, is not the same hue approved by the Corporation in 1912, which, with seal brown, was decreed the official University red. The one on the president's gown is the shade that Mrs. J. N. Brown preferred, and she was footing the bill. Brown's official red is cardinal red, which has a darker tone. If one looks carefully at the ceremonial robes of the Brown Corporation, one will note that some of the ribbing is cardinal red and some is the brighter St. George's red.

Bill Slack
Lake Titus, N.Y.


The writer oversaw Brown's Commencement ceremonies for twenty years, from 1980 to 2000.

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September/October 2010