David Truman

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David Truman
15th President of
Mount Holyoke College
In office
Preceded byMeribeth E. Cameron
Succeeded byElizabeth Topham Kennan
Dean of Columbia College
In office
Preceded byJohn Gorham Palfrey
Succeeded byHenry S. Coleman (interim)
Personal details
Born(1913-06-01)June 1, 1913
Evanston, Illinois
DiedAugust 28, 2003(2003-08-28) (aged 90)
Sarasota, Florida
Alma materAmherst College
University of Chicago

David Bicknell Truman (June 1, 1913 – August 28, 2003)[1] was an American academic who served as the 15th president of Mount Holyoke College from 1969–1978. He is also known for his role as a Columbia University administrator during the Columbia University protests of 1968.

Background and family[edit]

Truman was born and raised in Evanston, Illinois. He received his B.A. from Amherst and his doctorate from the University of Chicago.

His son is the international economist Edwin M. Truman.

Political science[edit]

Truman was a prominent political scientist and is known for his contributions to the theory of political pluralism.

Administrative roles[edit]

He taught at a number of institutions before joining Columbia University in 1950. There, in addition to teaching political science, he undertook a number of administrative roles, serving successively as head of the department of public law and government (1959–61), Dean of Columbia College (1962–67), and Vice-President and Provost (1967–69). In 1969, Truman "stepped down after a tumultuous year of student unrest. During the student-lead [sic] takeover of the University, Truman was continually mentioned as a University administrator who retained the student body's respect."[2]

Truman became president of Mount Holyoke College in 1969 and stayed until 1978. Truman oversaw the decision to remain a woman's college in 1971.[3]

His obituary from Mount Holyoke noted, "both at Columbia and Mount Holyoke, Truman was involved in dealing with the significant student unrest of the late 1960s and 1970s. At both campuses he faced student protests and takeovers regarding such difficult issues as race and the Vietnam War. Despite these challenges, which were common on college campuses during the Vietnam Era, Truman left a lasting legacy as a warm and caring leader."[4]


  • Administrative Decentralization (1940)
  • The Governmental Process: Political Interests and Public Opinion. New York: Knopf, 1951
  • The Congressional Party (1959)


  1. ^ Foundation, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial (1 January 1955). "Reports of the Secretary & of the Treasurer". John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. – via Google Books.
  2. ^ "Columbia News ::: Former Provost, University Vice President David Truman Dies".
  3. ^ "A Detailed History". 18 April 2012.
  4. ^ "In Memoriam: President David Truman, 1913–2003". Archived from the original on 2005-03-14. Retrieved 2005-10-20.
Academic offices
Preceded by President of Mount Holyoke College
Succeeded by
Preceded by Dean of Columbia College
Succeeded by