Cloyd H. Marvin

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Cloyd Heck Marvin (August 22, 1889 – April 27, 1969)[1] was the longest serving president of George Washington University, from 1927 to 1959, and the then-youngest American university president from 1922–7 at the University of Arizona. He was a freemason.[2]


Education and early career[edit]

Marvin graduated from Riverside High School[3] and studied at Stanford University for two years from 1909 to 1911.[4] He gained degrees from the University of Southern California (A.B.,1915), Harvard University (A.M, 1917, PhD 1920), and the University of New Mexico (honorary L.L.D., 1923).[2] He was a Phi Delta Kappa member.[5] He taught at the University of Southern California as Associate Professor of Commerce and then at the University of Arizona.[2] He was dean at University of California at Los Angeles for three years.[1]

University of Arizona[edit]

Marvin became president of the University of Arizona in 1922, at 32 being the youngest American university president.[4] Choosing between building a student union building and a new library in 1924, he chose the latter (now the North Building of the Arizona State Museum).[6] He resigned along with four members of the Board of Regents on January 19, 1927.[7][8] The American Association of University Professors had criticised Marvin's presidency for the removal of three faculty members,[9] and when one of the ousted men was elected to the Board of Regents, removing his majority on the board, he resigned.[10]

George Washington University[edit]

He was elected to succeed William Mather Lewis as President of George Washington University in June 1927 and took office that September.[10] He established a School of Government at the George Washington University in 1928 using $1 million donated by the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite Masons, Southern Jurisdiction, a Masonic lodge.[11]

Cloyd Heck Marvin was the greatest and the worst thing that happened to GW. He built and destroyed; he mended and divided; he left a complicated legacy for his successors.

Andrew Novak, 2004[12]

Under Marvin the number of students doubled and faculty tripled, though over 100 protests were lodged against perceived unfair dismissals.[13] The Research Editor of the GW Hatchet, Andrew Novak, wrote of Marvin's "persecution of liberals among the faculty, his well-documented support of segregation and his constant disregard for the civil liberties of students".[13][14] Marvin oversaw the admission of the first black students to George Washington University in 1954;[15] he also oversaw the dismissal of an atheist in 1956, stating that "as a matter of policy, we do not have anyone teaching who does not have faith in God."[16]

The Cloyd Heck Marvin Center at George Washington University was named after him in February 1970.[17]

Other work[edit]

Marvin was President of the National Parks Association 1933–35,[2] replacing Wallace Attwood and being replaced by William P. Wharton; John Miles wrote that "The record contains little evidence that President Marvin provided much leadership during his tenure".[18]

Marvin was deputy director for research and development in the War Department from September 18, 1946 to August 31, 1947, serving under Major General Henry Aurand, and he was then a Special Advisor to the Secretary of War, September 1947-9.[2][19] He received the Department of the Army's Award for Exceptional Achievement for this service.[20]

Personal life[edit]

Marvin was born in Findlay, Ohio.[2] His parents were Ezekiel Cloyd Marvin, a businessman, and Ida Gertrude Heck.[4][21]

He initiated into a Masonic lodge in Portland Oregon in 1918.[2] He became a Knight Commander in the Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, in 1931.[22] He was a Republican.[4][23]

After Marvin died in 1969, his widow Dorothy Ellen Betts, who he had married in July 1917,[23] donated $1 million (the result of her investing $20,000 over 13 years) in 1971 for the Cloyd Heck Marvin Student Center and theater.[24] His son Cloyd, a mathematician at Johns Hopkins University, died in June 2011.[25]


  1. ^ a b "Dr. Cloyd Marvin, Ex-President Of George Washington U., Dies". New York Times. April 29, 1969. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Denslow, William R. (1959). 10,000 Famous Freemasons from K to Z. 3. Missouri Lodge of Research. p. 147. 
  3. ^ "New President of U.of A. Who is to Be a Visitor in Phoenix This Week". Arizona Republican. September 16, 1922. 
  4. ^ a b c d Current biography yearbook. H.W. Wilson Company. 1950. p. 409. 
  5. ^ The Phi Delta Kappan. 6–9. Phi Delta Kappa, Inc. 1966. p. 89. 
  6. ^ Harrison, Jeff (August 15, 2001). "Going Down in History". UA News. Retrieved August 21, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Dr. Marvin Quits Arizona University; Four Regents Also Resign as the Result of Dissension in the Board". New York Times. January 20, 1927. 
  8. ^ "Big University Elects Marvin". Prescott Evening Courier. June 13, 1927. Retrieved August 21, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Condemns 'influence' in ousting teachers; Professors' Association Censures University of Arizona for Forcing Three Men Out". New York Times. December 11, 1924. 
  10. ^ a b "Arizona Educator Given New Honors". Los Angeles Times. June 14, 1927. 
  11. ^ "Capital University Gets Million Gift; Masons Donate Fund to George Washington for School of Government". New York Times. December 27, 1928. 
  12. ^ Limmer, Amanda (2 December 2004). "Student writes book on university's longest serving president". GW Hatchet. Retrieved 22 August 2011. 
  13. ^ a b Novak, Andrew Joseph (February 3, 2005). "Column: Rename the Marvin Center". GW Hatchet. Retrieved August 22, 2011. 
  14. ^ Novak, Andrew (April 7, 2003). "A president's mixed past". GW Hatchet. Retrieved August 22, 2011. 
  15. ^ "George Washington U. to Admit Negro Students". Jet. July 22, 1954. Retrieved August 21, 2011. 
  16. ^ "Atheistic Instructor's Reinstatement Sought". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. November 23, 1956. Retrieved August 21, 2011. 
  17. ^ Pompan, Jonathan (February 2, 1998). "Marvin Center's 28th birthday". GW Hatchet. Retrieved August 22, 2011. 
  18. ^ Miles, John C. (1996). Guardians of the parks: a history of the National Parks and Conservation Association. Taylor & Francis. p. 121. ISBN 1-56032-446-5. 
  19. ^ Science. American Association for the Advancement of Science. 104: 369. 1946. doi:10.1126/science.104.2703.365. Cloyd H. Marvin, of George Washington University, will be the new Deputy for Research  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  20. ^ School & society. 67. Society for the Advancement of Education. 1948. p. 41. 
  21. ^ Cook, Robert C. (1933). Presidents of American colleges and universities. Who's Who in American Education, Inc. p. 20. 
  22. ^ "Cabinet Heads are Honored by Masons". Times Daily. October 21, 1931. Retrieved August 21, 2011. 
  23. ^ a b National cyclopedia of American biography. 1. J.T. White. 1964. p. 378. 
  24. ^ "Reluctant Wealth". St. Petersburg Times. May 8, 1971. Retrieved August 21, 2011. 
  25. ^ "Cloyd H. Marvin". Washington Post. June 2011. Retrieved August 22, 2011. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Novak, Andrew Joseph (2004). The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit: A Critical Portrait of Former George Washington University President Dr. Cloyd Heck Marvin (1888–1969). ISBN 0-9762578-0-7.  (Novak was historical research editor of The GW Hatchet, president of the George Washington University Historical Society, and assistant to the University Archivist).

External links[edit]