The Trouble With My Head

General Committee

General Committee:

Thomas (Stockham) Baker, Carnegie Institute of Technology

Lotus D. Coffman, University of Minnesota

Sir Arthur Currie, McGill University

A notable freemason in his time (unless I am mistaken, but…um…pretty sure I’m not).

Harold Willis Dodds, Princeton University

Sidney B. Fay, Harvard University

Abraham Flexner, Institute for Advanced Study

Harry A. Garfield, Williams College

Robert M. Hutchins, University of Chicago

James H. Kirkland, Vanderbilt University


James H. Kirkland, just 34 years old when he became chancellor (1893-1937), hailed from South Carolina. The son of an itinerant Methodist preacher, he attended Wofford College then received his Ph.D. at the University of Leipzig. With the help of colleagues he met during his German studies, he landed a job teaching Latin at Vanderbilt in 1886.

Kirkland remained in the post for 44 years, dealing with financial problems – the Methodist church was proving to be long on criticism and short on financial contributions – and fostering a number of projects designed to raise educational standards in the South.

In 1910, open warfare broke out between the Vanderbilt administration and the Methodist church. / Finally, in 1914, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled against the bishops and the university’s separation from the church was complete. Kirkland led a thousand students through the streets in celebration etc.

The Rockefeller Foundation and the General Education Board also provided funding to build the full-time, research-oriented medical school dedicated to specialized scientific research and public health outreach, a medical school unlike any other in the South at that time.

Henry N. MacCracken, Vassar College

Following in the footsteps of his father, Henry Mitchell MacCracken, Chancellor of New York University, Henry Noble MacCracken, Vassar’s president from 1915 to 1946, worked in various ways for peaceful problem-solving and international understanding during his time at Vassar. Two seminal contributions to Vassar’s liberal arts education were two programs aiding established European scholars who sought refuge in the United States from Eastern European oppression in Poland in the twenties and from the Nazi holocaust in the thirties and forties.

MacCracken received a letter in 1923 from a Polish immigrant, Stephen Mizwa, then a professor at Drake University, responding to an article by MacCracken in the magazine Current History, entitled “Beacon Lights of Civilization in Central Europe.” MacCracken wrote about bringing a handful of Czechoslovakian exchange students in the previous couple of years to Vassar, and Mizwa wanted to know whether he would now consider bringing an exchange professor, Dr.Sudlecki, in order to encourage such arrangements at other institutions. MacCracken responded that this could be arranged if there were a Polish-American Committee to promote it. Two years after the establishment of such a committee, the Kosciuszko Foundation was formed in New York City, and MacCracken, its president from 1928 to 1956, worked hard to introduce cultural exchanges to many American institutions with reciprocal arrangements abroad.

With the rise of the Nazis in Europe in the 1930’s MacCracken established a similar program for displaced scholars, especially from Germany. Vassar profited, of course, from taking these scholars, many of whom had left distinguished careers in Europe, into its own ranks, but under MacCracken’s guidance, the program also developed into a clearing house, wherein the scholar would stay at Vassar for a period of time and then move to another institution. Through what might be called a kind of “above-ground railroad,” eminent foreign scholars and specialists moved into American colleges and universities, providing students and faculty with a wealth of knowledge and new approaches. MacCracken worked closely with Vassar faculty committees that were established to identify scholars who might be suitable for posts at Vassar, as well as with other colleges and universities, to enlarge the job pool. A hospitable milieu for “displaced scholars” developed both at Vassar and on many other campuses, and thus MacCracken’s tenure at Vassar was graced with many distinguished European scholars.

Robert A. Millikan, California Institute of Technology


Wesley C. Mitchell , Columbia University

 Wesley Clair Mitchell (1874–1948) U.S. economist. Educated at the University of Chicago under Thorstein Veblen and John Dewey, he later taught at several universities, including Columbia (1913–19, 1922–44). He helped found the National Bureau of Economic Research in 1920 and was its director of research until 1945. His work greatly influenced the development of quantitative studies of economic behaviour in the U.S. and abroad, and he was the foremost expert of his day on business cycles. / Mitchell served by presidential appointment on national committees on social trends (1929-1933), cost of living (1944), and others.

University: PhD, University of Chicago (1899) / Professor: University of Chicago (1899-02) / Economics, University of California at Berkeley (1902-12) / Columbia University (1913-19) / New School for Social Research (1919-21) / Columbia University (1922-44).

US War Industries Board Chief, Price Section (WWI) / National Bureau of Economic Research Director of Research (1920-45) / American Economic Association President (1923-24) / US Official National Planning Board (1933) / US Official National Resources Board (1934-35).

Harold G. Moulton, Brookings Institution

William A. Neilson, Smith College

George Norlin, University of Colorado

Marion Edwards Park, Bryn Mawr College

Walter Dill Scott, Northwestern University

Robert G. Sproul, University of California

Oswald Veblen, Institute for Advanced Study

Ray Lyman Wilbur, Stanford University

Ernest H. Wilkins, Oberlin College

Mary E. Woolley, Mount Holyoke College


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