November 14, 2018

Williamstown, Massachusetts—Williams College President Emeritus Francis “Frank” Oakley, author of the new book From the Cast-Iron Shore, presents a free book talk and signing at the Clark Art Institute on Sunday, December 2 at 2 pm. The talk will be held in the Clark’s auditorium, located in the Manton Research Center. 

From the Cast-Iron Shore, part personal memoir and part participant-observer's educational history, details the progression of Williams from a fraternity-dominated institution in the 1950s to the leading liberal arts college it is today. 

Oakley relays his experiences growing up in England, Ireland, and Canada, his time as a soldier in the British Army, and his years as a student at Yale University. He combines this account with reflections on social class, the relationship between teaching and research, the shape of American higher education, and the challenge of educational leadership in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century.


Francis Christopher Oakley, Edward Dorr Griffin Professor of the History of Ideas at Williams College, served as the college’s president from 1985–1993. He has been a member of the college faculty since 1961, was Dean of the Faculty from 1977–1984, and resumed teaching after retiring from the presidency at the end of 1993.

A lifelong scholar, Oakley is the author of fourteen books, coeditor of three others, and contributor to the journals of about two hundred articles, translations, and book reviews on topics in medieval history and on American higher education. In 2004 his Conciliarist Tradition (Oxford University Press, 2003) was awarded the Roland Bainton Book Prize.

Of Irish immigrant parents, Oakley was born and raised in England and served as a lieutenant in the British Army. He was educated at Oxford University, the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, (Toronto, Canada), and Yale University. He holds honorary degrees from Notre Dame, Northwestern and Wesleyan Universities, from North Adams State College, and from Amherst, Bowdoin and Williams Colleges.


The Clark Art Institute, located in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, is one of a small number of institutions globally that is both an art museum and a center for research, critical discussion, and higher education in the visual arts. Opened in 1955, the Clark houses exceptional European and American paintings and sculpture, extensive collections of master prints and drawings, English silver, and early photography. Acting as convener through its Research and Academic Program, the Clark gathers an international community of scholars to participate in a lively program of conferences, colloquia, and workshops on topics of vital importance to the visual arts. The Clark library, consisting of more than 270,000 volumes, is one of the nation’s premier art history libraries. The Clark also houses and co-sponsors the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art.
The Clark, which has a three-star rating in the Michelin Green Guide, is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Galleries are open daily in July and August and Tuesday through Sunday, from September through June. Hours: 10 am to 5 pm. Admission is $20; free year-round for Clark members, children 18 and younger, and students with valid ID. Free admission is available through several programs, including First Sundays Free; a local library pass program; EBT Card to Culture; Bank of America Museums on Us; and Blue Star Museums. For more information on these programs and more, visit or call 413 458 2303.
[email protected]