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Alfred Whitney Griswold

From our genealogist Coralee Griswold:

Alfred Whitney Griswold b. 27 Oct 1906 d. Apr 1963 was the son of Harold Ely and Mary Morgan (Brooks) Griswold [6th/7th #261/648]. He traces his ancestry to Matthew [FFG #91/270]. He was president of Yale University from 1950-63. He had been educated at Yale (B.A., Ph.D.), where he joined the history faculty (1933) and served as president (1950-63) in a term that strengthened the university's financial position and concentrated its focus on a liberal arts curriculum. He was featured on the Cover of TIME Magazine; 11 June 1951; article p.74-82. Our archives has an original of this publication.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Alfred Whitney Griswold (27 October 1906 - 19 April 1963) was an American historian and educator, and President of Yale University, New Haven, CT. 

Born in Morristown, New Jersey, he attended the Hotchkiss School before obtaining his B.A. from Yale University in 1929. Griswold was a descendant, on his mother's side, of Eli Whitney, and of six colonial governors of Connecticut on his father's side.

He taught English for a year, then changed to history, which he taught at Yale from 1933, becoming an assistant professor in 1938, an associate professor in 1942, and a full professor in 1947. He was President of Yale University from 1951 to 1963. Griswold was unawares of his imminent rise to the presidency. The day of his elevation, he told his wife, "Thank God we're not in that racket," after they had lunched with a friend, the president of Mount Holyoke College.

Griswold received a Ph.D. in the new field of History, the Arts and Letters, writing the first dissertation in American Studies in 1933. Griswold authored The Far Eastern Policy of the United States (1938), Farming  and Democracy (1948), Essays on Education (1954), In the University Tradition (1957), and Liberal  Education and the Democratic Ideal (1959).

Griswold is credited with tripling the university endowment to $375 million, building 26 new buildings and establishing research fellowships for young scholars, particularly in the sciences. He was arguably Yale's first modern president, and was widely quoted in the national media for his views on foreign affairs, amateur athletics, academic freedom, and the liberal arts against government intrusion.

Griswold worked in successful collaboration with Nathan Pusey, his counterpart at Harvard, to create the Ivy League, maintaining amateurism in athletics among the member programs.

The decision to create the 11th and 12th residential colleges at Yale, known as Morse and Ezra Stiles, was made by Griswold. In 1952, he established masters of arts programs in teaching, affiliated with the traditional liberal arts departments. During World War II he headed special U.S. Army training programs in languages and civil affairs.

Griswold died of colon cancer in New Haven, CT, and is buried in Grove Street Cemetery. 


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Last update: January 26, 2011

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