Carl Hovde

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Carl Hovde
See also Wikipedia's article about "Carl Hovde".

Carl Hovde CC '50 was Dean of Columbia College and a professor of English, specializing in American literature.

Early life

Hovde was born in Pennsylvania; his father was the president of and a professor of Scandinavian history at the New School. After seeing action in France and Germany during World War II, he graduated from Columbia as salutatorian with a degree in philosophy and earned his doctorate in American lit from Princeton. Hovde then taught at Ohio State for a few years before being hired by Columbia.


A longtime teacher of Literature Humanities, Hovde served as dean from 1968 to 1972, a period marked by the aftermath of the 1968 protests and fundamental changes to the Core Curriculum. The protests exposed the university's over-centralization, and the nomination process for Hovde's deanship was changed - rather than being appointed by the University President and approved by the Trustees, he was nominated by a group of faculty members and approved by both the President and Trustees.

Hovde is credited with restoring a measure of peace to campus and remained a "stalwart" of the Core. When he stepped down and returned to teaching in 1972, the Spectator noted that he “sought to quietly guide the college, not to rule it; to use the force of persuasion and reason, not the blunt power of authority.”

Hovde Memorandum

In 1970 Hovde recommended that the College, General Studies, and the undergraduate division of SEAS be merged into a single division, creating a "single faculty and supporting structure for our undergraduate work. It would grant the Bachelor's degree to young and old, men and women alike, the only criterion for admission being intellectual distinction." [1] As Hovde astutely noted, the existing situation "has caused confusion, competition, more than occasional acrimony, and an entirely unnecessary level of administrative expense." Hovde's successor Peter Pouncey would make a similar call for merger in 1975, but added Barnard College into the mix for good measure.


He received the Great Teacher Award from the Society of Columbia Graduates in 1975. After his retirement in 1995 he served as chair of the Friends of the Heyman Center and was a member of the Society of Senior Scholars. Professor Hovde received the Award for Distinguished Service to the Core Curriculum in 1997-1998.

He died on September 5, 2009, at 84 years old. A bench opposite the entrance of Hamilton Hall is dedicated to his memory.

External links

Preceded by
Henry S. Coleman (Acting)
Dean of Columbia College 
Succeeded by
Peter Pouncey