Alfred Whitney Griswold

From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
(Redirected from A. Whitney Griswold)
Jump to: navigation, search
Alfred Whitney Griswold
File:Whitney Griswold.jpg
16th President of Yale University
In office
Preceded by Charles Seymour
Succeeded by Kingman Brewster, Jr.
Personal details
Born (1906-10-27)October 27, 1906
Morristown, New Jersey
United States
Died April 19, 1963(1963-04-19) (aged 56)
New Haven, Connecticut
United States
Relations Eli Whitney (ancestor)
Education Hotchkiss School (1925)[1]
Yale University (B.A. 1929)

Alfred Whitney Griswold (October 27, 1906 – April 19, 1963), who went by his second given name, was an American historian and educator. He served as 16th President of Yale University from 1951 to 1963, during which he built much of Yale's modern scientific research infrastructure, especially on Science Hill.

Life and work

Griswold was born in Morristown, New Jersey, the son of Elsie Montgomery (Whitney) and Harold Ely Griswold.[2] He graduated from Hotchkiss School in 1925,[1] before obtaining his B.A. from Yale University in 1929, where he edited campus humor magazine The Yale Record.[3] Griswold was a descendant, on his mother's side, of Eli Whitney, and of six colonial governors of Connecticut on his father's side.[4] As an undergraduate, Griswold, along with a handful of students and faculty members, founded the Yale Political Union.[5][6]

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. Griswold received a Ph.D. in the new field of History, the Arts and Letters, writing the first dissertation in American Studies in 1933.[7] The American cult of success was the dissertation's subject, informed in part by Griswold's brief time on Wall Street between his graduation and the stock market crash of 1929.[8] 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).[9] Although Griswold was not a specialist in foreign affairs, his 1938 book on Far Eastern policy was an elegantly written and vigorous survey which for many years was the most influential work in the field.[10]

Griswold became President of Yale University in 1951, serving until his death in 1963.[9] Griswold was unaware 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.[11] As president, 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.[12] 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.[13] Griswold also worked in successful collaboration with Nathan Pusey, his counterpart at Harvard, to maintain amateurism in athletics among the member Ivy League programs.[14]

The decision to create the eleventh and twelfth residential colleges at Yale, known as Morse College and Ezra Stiles College, 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.[9]

Griswold died of colon cancer in New Haven, Connecticut, and is buried in Grove Street Cemetery. His former home, at 237 East Rock Road in New Haven, is a contributing property in the Prospect Hill Historic District.[15]

Ben Kiernan is the current A. Whitney Griswold Professor of History at Yale.[citation needed]


On ideas and the banishment of books:

Books won't stay banned. They won't burn. Ideas won't go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only sure weapon against bad ideas is better ideas. The source of better ideas is wisdom. The surest path to wisdom is a liberal education. —Alfred Whitney Griswold, "Essays on Education,"

On coeducation at Yale:

By keeping in step with the male,/
we proceed at the pace of the snail./
Said the Dean of Admission,/
"Let's switch our position/
and get some fast women at Yale!"[16]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Alumni Award: PREVIOUS RECIPIENTS". The Hotchkiss School. 2004. Retrieved March 8, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Griswold, A. Whitney (November 18, 1927). 'Harvard Men "Moist", According to Associate Editor of Yale Record: Only Those Who Think Too Much or Not at All at Harvard-Finds Polish of Little Use in Selling Bonds'. The Harvard Crimson. Cambridge: Harvard Crimson.
  4. Karabel, Jerome. The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admissions and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, Houghton Mifflin and Company, New York, 2005. p. 222. ISBN 978-0-618-57458-2, ISBN 0-618-57458-1
  5. "Two Yale Groups Turn to Politics; New Union's Plan to Train an Intelligent Minority for Leadership Is Approved". The New York Times. December 9, 1934. pp. N3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Kabaservice, Geoffrey. The Guardians: Kingman Brewster, His Circle, and the Rise of the Liberal Establishment, New York: Holt, 2004. p. 51. ISBN 0-8050-6762-0
  7. Karabel, Jerome. The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admissions and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, Houghton Mifflin and Company, New York, 2005. p. 222. ISBN 0-618-57458-1
  8. "Yale in the Great Depression", Gaddis Smith, Yale Alumni Magazine, p. 38, November/December 2009|Volume LXXIII, Number 2
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Encyclopædia Britannica, Vol. 12, Micropædia 15th edition, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc, Vol. 12
  10. See the essays by John Garraty and Ernest May in Dorothy Borg, ed., Historians and American Far Eastern Policy (New York: East Asian Institute, Columbia University, 1966).
  11. Karabel, Jerome. The Chosen: The History of Admissions and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, Houghton Mifflin and Company, New York, 2005. p.222. ISBN 0-618-57458-1
  12. Time magazine, "New Haven, Safe Haven", Apr. 17, 1964.
  13. Oren, Dan. Joining the Club: A History of Jews and Yale, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2000. p. 221. ISBN 0-300-08468-4
  14. Bergin, Thomas A. The Game: The Harvard – Yale Football Rivalry, 1875–1983, Yale University Press, New Haven and London. p. 200. ISBN 0-300-03267-6
  15. Susan Ryan (January 5, 1979). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Prospect Hill National Register District / Prospect Hill" (PDF). National Park Service. p. 9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. letters to the editor, from Sarah Griswold Leahy, Yale Alumni Magazine, p. 4, November/December 2009|Volume LXXIII, Number 2


External links

Academic offices
Preceded by
Charles Seymour
President of Yale University
Succeeded by
Kingman Brewster, Jr.