John Gorham Palfrey

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John Gorham Palfrey

John Gorham Palfrey was a Columbia Law School professor and subsequently Dean of Columbia College. He left after being appointed by President Kennedy to the Atomic Energy Commission.

In 1960 Palfrey appointed a faculty committee to examine expanding the enrollment of Columbia College to between 3,500 to 4,000 students. The committee reported back in the affirmative, conditioned on an expansion and rehabilitation of facilities to handle the increased class size. The commission's rationale was that the College had become too small relative to the rest of the University, and the College's interests where thus overlooked by the administration. This was a more aggressive recommendation than the one made three years earlier by the McMahon Committee (which recommended expanding enrollment to 2,900 students over a 15 year period), and a direct reversal of the Everett Committee's 1956 recommendation not to expand enrollment owing to the dearth of qualified candidates.[1]

Preceded by
Lawrence H. Chamberlain
Dean of Columbia College 
Succeeded by
John W. Alexander (acting)


  1. Faculty Report Asks Expansion of College, Columbia Spectator, 31 May 1960.