Nathan M. Pusey

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Nathan M. Pusey
24th President of Harvard University
In office
Preceded by James Bryant Conant
Succeeded by Derek Curtis Bok
Personal details
Born (1907-04-04)April 4, 1907
Council Bluffs, Iowa
Died November 14, 2001(2001-11-14) (aged 94)
New York City, New York
Spouse(s) Anne (Woodward) Pusey[1]
Children Nathan M. Pusey Jr., James R. Pusey, Rosemary (Pusey) Hopkins[1]
Alma mater Harvard University
Religion Episcopalian[2]

Nathan Marsh Pusey (April 4, 1907 – November 14, 2001) was a prominent American university educator.

Early life and education[edit]

Pusey was born in Council Bluffs, Iowa, to John and Rosa Pusey.[3] He was educated at Harvard University (B.A., 1928, M.A., 1932, Ph.D., 1937), where he studied first English literature and then ancient history.

Educational career[edit]

Pusey's first teaching post after graduating was at Riverdale Country School. He progressed to Lawrence College, then to Scripps College, and later to Wesleyan University. He served as president of Lawrence College (1944–1953), and later as the 24th president of Harvard University (1953–1971).

Political positions[edit]

Pusey vigorously opposed McCarthyism in the 1950s and supported the U.S. Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. His clashes with Joseph McCarthy were especially significant because Pusey's position at Lawrence College placed him in the senator's hometown (Appleton, Wisconsin) and amid the political power base of the then-conservative Fox Valley. As president of the college, Pusey held the community's respect, and his vocal criticisms of McCarthy resounded loudly in the area. Pusey was a deeply religious man and a somewhat traditionalist scholar, and was appalled by the student radicalism that raged in American universities in the late 1960s.

He complained bitterly that "learning has almost ceased" in many universities, because of the violent, revolutionary activities of a "small group of overeager young . . who feel they have a special calling to redeem society." In April 1969, student activists occupied Harvard's University Hall (the building that housed most of the administrative offices) in protest over the presence of ROTC on campus at the height of the Vietnam War, and in response Pusey summoned the police to arrest the demonstrators. Although his action was legal, it was widely criticized, and the resulting furor probably contributed to his early retirement in 1971. After Harvard, Pusey was president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (1971–1975) and president of the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia (1979–1980).

Published works[edit]

  • The Age of the Scholar, 1963
  • American Higher Education 1945-1970: A Personal Report, 1978


  1. ^ a b The Harvard Crimson
  2. ^ NATHAN PUSEY DEAD AT 94 Harvard’s 24th President Passes Away, Cambridge, MA.: The Harvard Crimson, 15 November 2001 
  3. ^ Yarrow, Andrew L. (15 November 2001), Nathan Pusey, Harvard President Through Growth and Turmoil Alike, Dies at 94, New York, N.Y.: The New York Times, p. Section D page 11. 

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Thomas Nichols Barrows
President of Lawrence University
Succeeded by
Douglas Maitland Knight
Preceded by
James B. Conant
President of Harvard University
Succeeded by
Derek C. Bok
Preceded by
Charles Hamilton
President of Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Succeeded by
John Edward Sawyer