Harvie Branscomb

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Harvie Branscomb
Born December 25, 1894
Huntsville, Alabama, United States
Died July 23, 1998(1998-07-23) (aged 103)
Nashville, Tennessee, United States
Residence Nashville, Tennessee
Education Birmingham-Southern College
University of Oxford
Union Theological Seminary
Columbia University
Occupation University administrator

Bennett Harvie Branscomb (December 25, 1894 – July 23, 1998) served as the fourth chancellor of Vanderbilt University from 1946 to 1963.[1] He served as president of the American Academy of Religion in 1940.[2]


Early life[edit]

Branscomb was born on December 25, 1894 in Huntsville, Alabama.[3] He earned a B.A. from Birmingham-Southern College and an M.A. as a Rhodes Scholar in Bible studies at the University of Oxford.[3] After serving in the army, he taught at Southern Methodist University.[3] He later earned a Ph.D. from Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University.[3]


After working as the Dean of the Divinity School at Duke University, he became the fourth chancellor of Vanderbilt University in 1945.[3] As chancellor, he oversaw the racial integration of the university, drawing harsh criticism from alumni. In 1960, at the insistence of trustees, he expelled James Lawson, an African-American divinity student and Congress of Racial Equality leader who organized sit-ins in defiance of Nashville's segregation laws. A dozen faculty members resigned in protest.[1][4]

From 1947 to 1951 he served as Chairman of the United States Advisory Commission for Education Exchange under President Harry S. Truman.[5] From 1955 to 1958 he served as Commission on Education and International Affairs of the American Council of Education.[5] From 1963 to 1964 he served as an educational consultant for the World Bank, and he chaired the United States Commission for UNESCO from 1963 to 1965.[5] He also served as Vice-Chairman of the United States Delegation to the Unesco General Conference in Paris in 1964, Chair of the United States Delegation to the World Conference on the Eradication of Illiteracy in Tehran in 1965.[5] He also travelled to Geneva for the United States Delegation to the World Health Organization Assembly in 1965 and 1966, and to Buenos Aires to chair the U.S. Delegation to the Conference of Ministers of Education and Ministers in Charge of Planning in 1966.[5]

He held honorary degrees from Brandeis University, Northwestern University, Southwestern University, and Hebrew Union College.[5] He died on July 23, 1998.[5]


  • The Message of Jesus (1925)
  • Jesus and the Law of Moses (1930)
  • The Teachings of Jesus (1931)
  • The Gospel of Mark (1937)
  • Teaching With Books (1940)
  • Purely Academic: An Autobiography (1978)


  1. ^ a b Tucker, John Mark (2003) "B(ennett) Harvie Branscomb (1894–1998)" in Donald G. Davis, ed. Dictionary of American Library Biography. Vol. 3. Libraries Unlimited ISBN 1-56308-868-1
  2. ^ Past presidents of the AAR (accessed 5 July 2014).
  3. ^ a b c d e Vanderbilt University biography
  4. ^ New York Times
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Schoenfeld, Michael (1999-07-24). "Vanderbilt Chancellor Emeritus Harvie Branscomb dies at 103". Vanderbilt University. Retrieved 2014-04-30. 

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Oliver Carmichael
Chancellor of Vanderbilt University
Succeeded by
G. Alexander Heard