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Charles Odegaard

Odegaard Undergraduate Library at the University of Washington

Charles Edwin Odegaard (January 10, 1911 – November 14, 1999) was the president of the University of Washington from 1958–1973. Odegaard is credited in transforming the University of Washington from an average state university to one among the top public universities in the United States.[1]



Odegaard was born in 1911 in Chicago Heights, Illinois to Charles Alfred and Mary Cord Odegaard.[2] His maternal grandparents emigrated from Norway in 1880. The son of the president of a machine tools company, Odegaard grew up on the north side of Chicago. While neither parent had finished high school, they encouraged Odegaard's scholastic study and had an extensive library. In his autobiography, he says this family environment "preconditioned me for history as a discipline". Odegaard graduated from Dartmouth College in 1932 and received his Master's degree and Ph.D from Harvard University in 1933 and 1937, respectively.[citation needed]


Odegaard taught history at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and then took a leave of absence to serve in the Navy during World War II, earning the rank of lieutenant commander. Odegaard returned to academia, first teaching at the University of Illinois, then becoming the Executive Director of the American Council Of Learned Societies. In 1953 he became the Dean of Arts and Sciences at the University of Michigan. [3][4]

In 1958, Odegaard accepted the presidency of the University of Washington and quickly made changes to remedy perceived complacency in the university's administration. Six years after Odegaard arrived, only three of the original fifteen deans remained. The university witnessed tremendous growth during Odegaard's tenure with the student population growing from 16,000 to 34,000, 35 new buildings (doubling the square footage of the university), increased investment in the medical school, instituted a vision of building a "community of scholars", and oversaw the growth of the operating budget from $37 million USD in 1958 to over $400 million USD in 1973.[5][6]

Personal lifeEdit

In 1941 he married Elizabeth Jane Ketchum (1908-1980) in Chicago at the University of Chicago Chapel. Elizabeth Ketchum was the daughter of Milo Smith Ketchum, former Dean of the College of Engineering at Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Illinois, and Mary Esther Beatty Ketchum, who taught at the University of Illinois. Charles and Elizabeth Odegaard had one daughter, Mary Ann Odegaard. Odegaard died in his sleep of heart failure in 1999 at the age of 88, after several years of failing health.[7]



  1. ^ Tom Griffin Charles Odegaard, Master Builder (UW Alumni Magazine)
  2. ^ Odegaard, p. 3
  3. ^ "Charles E. Odegaard". Millennium Project, University of Michigan. Retrieved January 5, 2016.
  4. ^ William H. Burnett (March 7, 1997). "Charles E. Odegaard, Ph.D., a Personal History". Retrieved January 5, 2016.
  5. ^ Tom Griffin (March 2000). "A Golden Era in the History of the University". University of Washington. Retrieved January 5, 2016.
  6. ^ "Charles E. Odegaard, 1958-73". University of Washington. Retrieved January 5, 2016.
  7. ^ Beers, Carole (November 17, 1999). "Former President Of UW Dies At 88 -- Known As Key Leader In University's History". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 28 May 2011.
  8. ^ "Odegaard Undergraduate Library". University of Washington. April 2012. Retrieved January 5, 2016.
  9. ^ "Charles E. Odegaard Award". University of Washington. Retrieved January 5, 2016.



External linksEdit