Haverford’s First “Spoon Woman”

At a recent event in New York for alumni, families, and friends of the College, hosts Alex Robinson ’96 and Charley Beever ’74 honored President Wendy Raymond by presenting her with a large spoon originally presented to Alexander Harvey Scott, Class of 1886, as the most admired person in his graduating class.

Of all of the different awards and honors that the College bestows upon its graduates there was one that, until recently, had been lost to time. Once upon a time, the graduating class would vote on who was their most Haverfordian classmate. The award the chosen man received—this was in an era before co-education—was a large, carved spoon, and the coveted designation of “Spoon Man.”

John Whitehead ’43, the late chairman of Goldman Sachs, former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and a former deputy Secretary of State, was one such class Spoon Man. As he wrote on page 32 of his autobiography, A Life in Leadership: “In those days, everyone in the graduating class voted for the student they most admired. It was the highest honor one’s peers could bestow. The recipient received a large, carved-ebony spoon, and he was called the ‘Spoon Man,’ a title that did not, in my opinion, reflect its great significance. (It has since passed from the scene at Haverford.) I was elected ‘Spoon Man’ my senior year. Of all the awards I have ever received, that is the one I am most proud of…”

Recently, at an event held at the University Club in New York City and hosted by Alex Robinson ’96 and Charley Beever ’74, a spoon similar to the one Whitehead received reappeared and was presented to a woman for the very first time.

In his remarks at the event—Alumni and Family Engagement’s first in-person event since early 2020—Robinson told a story of a very large, wooden Haverford spoon that showed up on eBay recently. “Beginning in 1873 and stretching at least into the mid-20th century, a large wooden spoon was entrusted to each incoming class for four years, ultimately to be awarded to the senior elected by his classmates as the most Haverfordian member of their class,” he said. “… The 140-year-old spoon we have here was originally presented to Alexander Harvey Scott, Class of 1886, as the ‘Spoon Man’ his senior year. Tonight, Charley and I would like to return it to the College by presenting it to Wendy, as Haverford’s very first ‘Spoon Woman.'”

“It is an honor to be part of a wonderful tradition that has taken such a fun turn in the 21st Century,” said Raymond. “I look forward to spreading the joy of this uplifting connection to Haverford’s history.”