New Book on Former Pomona President E. Wilson Lyon Now Available
E. Wilson Lyon led a storied life, making the journey from son of a cotton farmer to the president of Pomona College from 1941 to 1969. A new book, The Education of a Mississippian, compiled and edited by his daughter Elizabeth Lyon Webb, reveals a formative period of his life through letters he wrote to family, friends and newspapers while he attended Oxford University in the 1920s as a Rhodes Scholar.
During Lyon’s impressive 28-year tenure at Pomona College—the longest presidency in Pomona’s history—the reputation of Pomona was cemented as one of the best liberal arts colleges in the United States. Lyon grew up in Heidelberg, Mississippi, and attended the University of Mississippi for his undergraduate degree. He attended St. John’s College at Oxford University from 1925 to 1928 as a Rhodes Scholar, and completed his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago. He became president of Pomona College when he was just 37 years old. His book, The History of Pomona College: 1887 to 1969, published in 1977, remains the most reliable source of information about the early years of the College.
His experiences in England and his travels in Europe as a young man in the 1920s were transformative. Oxford’s plan of colleges joined into a university so profoundly effected Lyon he instilled the same ideals of cooperation and exchange of ideas in the Claremont Colleges.
It’s these early formative experiences that are chronicled in The Education of a Mississippian, a collection of letters compiled and edited by Lyon’s daughter Elizabeth Lyon Webb that also contains biographical information on Lyon’s life up unto his Pomona presidency. The book was just published by San Francisco’s Arion Press, run by Andrew Hoyem ’57, and is available for purchase in the Coop Store. Elizabeth Lyon Webb will be on campus during Alumni Weekend to speak about the book and sign copies.