Pusey, Nathan Marsh


Pusey, Nathan Marsh
▪ 2002

      American educator (b. April 4, 1907, Council Bluffs, Iowa—d. Nov. 14, 2001, New York, N.Y.), was president of Harvard University from 1953 to 1971. Despite his success in revitalizing the university, he left the post embittered by confrontations with antiwar protesters in the late 1960s. He was educated at Harvard and earned a B.A. (1928), an M.A. (1932), and a Ph.D. (1937); his field was ancient history. In 1935 Pusey undertook the development of a great books program at Lawrence College, Appleton, Wis., and he later taught briefly at Scripps College, Claremont, Calif. Beginning in 1940 he taught at Wesleyan University, Middletown, Conn., and in 1944 he returned to Lawrence College as its president. After becoming president of Harvard in 1953, Pusey led the university in a program of expansion, increasing the endowment, building new facilities, and hiring additional faculty, including many women. The university once again came to emphasize the humanities. Under his leadership the university adopted a “need blind” policy, admitting qualified students irrespective of their ability to pay. As a result of his policies, Harvard became a much more diverse university. In the 1950s Pusey defended the university against attacks by Sen. Joseph McCarthy that the faculty harboured members of the Communist Party. In the late 1960s he opposed equally strongly the tactics of antiwar protesters. When they took over the administration building in 1969, the president called in state and local police, and violence ensued. His action was controversial, and he never gained wholehearted support from the university community for it. After leaving Harvard, he was president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (1971–75) and of the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia (1979–80). Among his writings was the book American Higher Education, 1945–70 (1978).

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Universalium. 2010.

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