Grayson Kirk

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See also Wikipedia's article about "Grayson Kirk".
Grayson Kirk

Grayson Kirk (October 12, 1903 – November 21, 1997) had the misfortune of becoming the 14th University President after Dwight Eisenhower set off for greener pastures, and thus of later enduring the 1968 protests. Previously, Kirk had served as Provost. Everyone hated him:

  • The students hated him because... well they hated establishment authority figures- it was the 60s, after all.
  • The faculty hated him because, thanks to recurring budget woes, the university grossly underpaid its employees in relation to peer institutions during his tenure. Many also disliked the fact that Kirk was a supporter of McCarthyism who believed that communists were "unfit to teach" and welcomed probes of the faculty's political beliefs.
  • The neighborhood hated him because... well they really just hated Columbia, and he was just a stand in for the institution. Though it didn't help that Kirk had proposed a never-completed expansion that would have wiped out half of Morningside Heights.

Of course it also didn't help that Columbia had arguably been drifting through the two decades before his tenure - through the great depression and WWII, through President Butler's late tenure senility, through the three years without a permanent president while the trustees kept the seat warm for Dwight D. Eisenhower, and through Eisenhower's own absentee presidency while he served as Supreme Allied Commander NATO, and then ran for President of the United States. By 1954, Kirk was left to preside over the nation's "most complexly organized university."[1]

After all the stress of keeping up appearances, trying to manage the University's first major fundraising campaign and a massive physical expansion, combined with the scandals like the the University's harebrained involvement in the Strickman Filter controversy, the 1968 protests finally broke him and led to his resignation. Kirk is therefore perhaps indirectly responsible for the decades of alumni apathy that followed (including, at one point, the serious thought of closing the school due to a lack of funding) and the affirmation of the university as a left-wing jihadist institution, much like the University of Havana.

Preceded by
Albert C. Jacobs
Succeeded by
John A. Krout

Preceded by
Dwight D. Eisenhower
President of Columbia University 
Succeeded by
Andrew W. Cordier