Frank Aydelotte

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Frank Aydelotte
7th President of Swarthmore College
In office
Preceded by Joseph Swain
Succeeded by John W. Nason
Personal details
Born (1880-10-16)October 16, 1880
Sullivan, Indiana, U.S.
Died December 17, 1956(1956-12-17) (aged 76)
Princeton, New Jersey, U.S.
Alma mater Indiana University
Harvard University
Oxford University
Profession educator, administrator

Franklin Ridgeway Aydelotte (October 16, 1880–December 17, 1956) was a U.S. educator. He became the first non-Quaker president of Swarthmore College and between 1921 and 1940 redefined the institution. He was active in the Rhodes Scholar program, helped evacuate intellectuals persecuted by the Nazis during the 1930s and served as director of the Institute for Advanced Study during World War II.[1]

Early and family life[edit]

Aydelotte was born in a small town in Sullivan County, Indiana,[2] the son of William Ephraim Aydelotte and Matilda Brunger Aydelotte, and had at least one sister. He attended Indiana University where he was an English major, a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity, earned a varsity letter in football and graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1911. In 1907 he married Marie Jeanette Osgood.


After graduation, he became an English professor first at a teaching college in California, Pennsylvania now called California University of Pennsylvania, then at Vincennes University and Louisville Male High School in Louisville, Kentucky. He became one of the first Rhodes Scholars and studied at Brasenose College, Oxford University.

President of Swarthmore College[edit]

By 1921, Aydelotte was president of Swarthmore College where he successfully blended the educational processes he learned at Oxford with the traditional Hicksite Quaker values the college was founded on. He expanded the college to an economically viable size and developed a broad-based liberal arts educational curriculum that stressed academic excellence.

He introduced the Honors program at Swarthmore, based on his experiences at Oxford. Based on the premise that the only true education is self-education, the system created seminar courses for selected students that were more challenging than the regular curriculum. These students would not receive grades or examinations, but took oral examinations at the end of the senior year given by external examiners. This replaced the lecture method of teaching for the advanced students, and introduced the notion of the students reaching the faculty. This method of teaching has become the signature of a Swarthmore College education.

Institute for Advanced Study[edit]

Upon retiring from Swarthmore, Aydelotte directed the Institute of Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey during World War II. He had served on the Board of Directors since 1930. During Aydelotte's time as the Institute's director, notable faculty included: Albert Einstein, Kurt Gödel, John von Neumann and James Waddell Alexander II. Aydelotte also wrote The American Rhodes Scholarships: A review of the first forty years that reviews the seven wills of Cecil Rhodes the creation of the Rhodes-Milner Round Table Groups from the first and the Rhodes Scholarships from the last.

Aydelotte was a member of the Anglo-American committee that recommended Britain allow significantly more Jews to emigrate to Palestine after World War II.


  • Frank Aydelotte, The Oxford Stamp and Other Essays and Articles, Kessinger Publishing, (May 1, 2005) ISBN 1-4179-3674-6
  • Frank Aydelotte, The American Rhodes Scholarships;: A review of the first forty years, Princeton University Press (1946) ASIN B0006EUH2G
  • Frank Aydelotte, Breaking the Adademic Lock Step, Harper & Brothers (1944) (No ISBN)
  • Frank Aydelotte, Elizabethan Rogues and Vagabonds, Frank Cass; 1 edition (October 6, 1967), ISBN 0-7146-1099-2
  • Frank Aydelotte, Honors courses at Swarthmore, Columbia (1931) ASIN B0008938RK
  • Frank Aydelotte, Elizabethan Seamen in Mexico and Ports of the Spanish Main, The American Historical Review, Vol. 48, No. 1. (Oct., 1942), pp. 1–19. URL: JSTOR Stable
  • Frank Aydelotte, What the Americans Rhodes scholar gets from Oxford, s.n (1920) ASIN B00088LUVC
  • Frank Aydelotte, Honors courses in American colleges and universities, National research council of the National academy of sciences (1924) ASIN B00087DUWK
  • Frank Aydelotte, The educational program of Swarthmore College, The College (1933), ASIN B0008938SE
  • Frank Aydelotte, The Religion of Punch, The Nation, Volume: 100 • Issue #: 2601 • Date: May 6, 1915, The Nation Archive[permanent dead link]

Death and legacy[edit]

Aydelotte died in Princeton, New Jersey on December 17, 1956 after several years of failing health. His papers are held by a library.[1] His niece (who attended Swarthmore during his tenure), Mary A. R. Marshall became a leader opposing Massive Resistance and an influential delegate in the Virginia General Assembly.


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ Frances Blanshard, Frank Aydelotte of Swarthmore, Wesleyan University Press, Middletown, Ct. (1970) ISBN 0-8195-4023-4

Further reading[edit]

  • Michael G. Moran. Frank Aydelotte and the Oxford Approach to English Studies in America, 1908-1940. University Press of America, 2006.
  • Michael G. Moran. "The Road Not Taken: Frank Aydelotte and the Thought Approach to Engineering Writing." Technical Communication Quarterly 2.2 (1993): 161-75.
  • Michael G. Moran. "Frank Aydelotte: AT&T's First Writing Consultant, 1917-1918." Journal of Technical Writing and Communication 25.3 (1995): 231-241.

External links[edit]