C. Clement French

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Charles Clement French (October 24, 1901 – March 6, 1988) was an American academic leader and the sixth President of Washington State University, serving 1952-1966.

Early life and education[edit]

Charles Clement French was born on October 24, 1901, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was the son of Henry Sailer French of New Jersey and Gertrude Comly MacMillan of Pennsylvania.[1]

He earned his B.S. in Chemical Engineering in 1922 from the University of Pennsylvania, and was elected to Tau Beta Pi engineering honorary and the Priestly Chemical Society.[2] He earned his M.S. in chemistry in 1923 and his Ph.D. in physical chemistry in 1927, both degrees also from the University of Pennsylvania.[3] His doctoral dissertation was titled "The Effect of Neutral Salts on Catalytic Decompositions." [4]


In 1930, Charles Clement French was an instructor of chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania.[5] From Penn he went to Randolph-Macon Women's College in Lynchburg, Virginia, where he was dean of the college from 1936 to 1949. During that period, he was chairman of the Committee on the Improvement of Instruction of the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. The committee conducted research and published results.[6] On January 13, 1947, in Boston, he was elected an officer of the American Conference of Academic Deans.[7]

He served as vice president at Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg, Virginia, from January 1949 to August 1950,[8] when he was named dean of the college at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.[9] Then on February 24, 1952, the Board of Regents selected him to become the sixth president of the State College of Washington in Pullman, Washington. The institution was renamed Washington State University in 1959, the midpoint of his presidency.[3]


Washington State University honored C. Clement French in 1968, naming the new administration building the French Administration Building. In addition, WSU created a scholarship fund established in his honor, named "The Helen B. and C. Clement French Scholarship" as he requested.[10]

French received honorary degrees from Whitworth College and Pacific Lutheran University in Washington state and from the University of Punjab in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan.[11]


French married Helen Augusta Black about 1928. Born January 15, 1902, she was the daughter of Arthur Proctor Black and Clara Belle Kiplinger.


  1. ^ Charles Clement French in Thomas French Chart #20 Quakers
  2. ^ General alumni catalogue of the University of Pennsylvania, 1922
  3. ^ a b C. Clement French Profile as Past President of Washington State University.
  4. ^ Catalogue of the University of Pennsylvania, 1927
  5. ^ University of Pennsylvania bulletin, 1930
  6. ^ The history of Randolph-Macon Woman's College from the founding in 1891 through the year of 1949-1950, University of North Carolina Press, 1951
  7. ^ School & society, Volume 65, Society for the Advancement of Education, 1947
  8. ^ Records of the Office of Vice President, Charles Clement French, 1949-1950, Virginia Tech
  9. ^ Chemical and engineering news, Volume 28, 1950
  10. ^ WSU Presidents I Have Known or Know Of
  11. ^ C. Clement French Papers, 1914-1971

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Wilson Martindale Compton
President of Washington State University
Succeeded by
Glenn Terrell