Sheldon Hackney

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Francis Sheldon Hackney
Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities
In office
1993–1997
Preceded by Lynne Cheney
Succeeded by William R. Ferris
President of University of Pennsylvania
In office
1981–1993
Preceded by Martin Meyerson
Succeeded by Claire Fagin
President of Tulane University
In office
1975–1980
Preceded by Herbert Eugene Longenecker
Succeeded by Eamon Kelly
Provost of Princeton University
In office
1972–1975
Succeeded by Neil L. Rudenstine
Personal details
Born (1933-12-05)December 5, 1933
Birmingham, Alabama
Died September 12, 2013(2013-09-12) (aged 79)
Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts
Spouse(s) Lucy Durr Hackney
Children 1 son, 1 daughter
Alma mater United States Naval Academy
Vanderbilt University
Yale University (Ph.D.)

Francis Sheldon Hackney, known as Sheldon Hackney (December 5, 1933 – September 12, 2013) was a prominent U.S. educator. Hackney was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1933. He was the Boies Professor of United States History at the University of Pennsylvania. After graduating Vanderbilt University, Hackney earned his Ph.D. in American History at Yale University, where he worked with eminent Southern historian C. Vann Woodward. After serving in the Navy for five years, he began his career as a lecturer in history at Princeton University. There, he taught in an Upward Bound program for disadvantaged students and played a role in the creation of the university's African American Studies program. While at Princeton, he moved into administration, serving as the provost from 1972 to 1975. From 1975 to 1980, he was the president of Tulane University and was president of the University of Pennsylvania from 1981 to 1993. He was also the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) from 1993 to 1997, appointed by President Clinton. He was the son-in-law of Virginia and Clifford Durr.[1] His defining initiative in the job was his first: “A National Conversation on American Pluralism and Identity,” a project that helped finance and shape about 1,400 public meetings from 1994 to 1997.

Hackney specialized in the history of the American South since the Civil War. He had in an interest in American utopias and other social movements with an emphasis on the Civil Rights Movement and the 1960s. Among the articles and books on history that Hackney published, Populism to Progressivism in Alabama won the Albert J. Beveridge Award of the American Historical Association. Dixie Redux: Essays in Honor of Sheldon Hackney, an edited collection of essays authored by his former students and collaborators will be released in November 2013.

Hackney was credited at the University of Pennsylvania with raising undergraduate minority enrollment from 13 to 30 percent and with increasing the endowment from about $160 million to $1 billion. Towards the end of his tenure, during the so-called Water Buffalo Incident, a controversial affair involving a student charged with racial harassment that raised issues involving free speech and university judicial procedures nationally. In particular, Hackney's role in the incident was a subject of his 1993 Senate confirmation hearings for the NEH appointment. Hackney's memoir about the turmoil of his confirmation, The Politics of Presidential Appointment: A Memoir of the Culture War [ISBN 1-58838-068-8], was published in 2002. During his confirmation, critics derided him as the "pope of political correctness." "I resent bitterly being slandered by slogan," Dr. Hackney told the Senate committee. "I am not just a cardboard figure. I am someone who has spent years defending free speech, and I will do that at NEH as well." Of the incident, The Harvard Crimson wrote "The president of Penn knowingly let a student who was falsely accused face possible expulsion because of his staff's incompetence and his own laziness. His cowardly refusal to end a Kafkaesque trial of lies, innuendo and gross stupidity shames not only himself but the University of Pennsylvania. Brickbats to president Clinton for nominating this gutless man to head the National Endowment for the Humanities. Penn should consider itself lucky to unload Hackney, and his spinelessness and reverence for a illogical bureaucracy will ensure a long tenure at his new post. The arts in America, instead of life at Penn, will suffer if he is confirmed."[2] He was confirmed, 76 to 23, and assumed the job previously held by Lynne Cheney.

He died at Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts in 2013, aged 79. He had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.[3]

Bibliography[edit]

Works By Sheldon Hackney[edit]

  • Sheldon Hackney (2005) Magnolias without Moonlight: The American South from Regional Confederacy to National Integration. Transaction Publishers.
  • Sheldon Hackney (2002) The Politics of Presidential Appointment: A Memoir of the Culture War. New South Books.
  • Sheldon Hackney (1971) Populism: The Critical Issues. Little Brown Books.
  • Sheldon Hackney (1969) Populism to Progressivism in Alabama. Princeton University Press.

Related works[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Martha's Vineyard Times: Gentleman & Scholar Sheldon Hackney". Mvtimes.com. 2007-09-06. Retrieved 2013-07-20. 
  2. ^ http://www.thecrimson.com/article/1993/5/10/the-president-and-the-buffalo-pbtbhe
  3. ^ "Sheldon Hackney dies at 79; educator chaired endowment for humanities". latimes.com. Retrieved 2013-09-16. 

External links[edit]


Academic offices
Preceded by
Herbert Eugene Longenecker
President of Tulane University
1975–1980
Succeeded by
Eamon Kelly
Preceded by
Martin Meyerson
President of the University of Pennsylvania
1981–1993
Succeeded by
Claire Fagin
interim
Preceded by
Provost of Princeton University
1972-1975
Succeeded by
Neil L. Rudenstine
Government offices
Preceded by
Lynne Cheney
Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities
1993–1997
Succeeded by
William R. Ferris