Harold W. Dodds

Harold Willis Dodds (June 28, 1889 – October 25, 1980) was the fifteenth President of Princeton University from 1933 to 1957.

Harold W. Dodds
Prof. Harold Dodds (Cropped).jpg
Dodds in 1949
15th President of Princeton University
In office
Preceded byEdward D. Duffield (acting)
Succeeded byRobert F. Goheen
Personal details
Harold Willis Dodds

June 28, 1889
Utica, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedOctober 25, 1980(1980-10-25) (aged 91)
Hightstown, New Jersey, U.S.
Alma materGrove City College (B.A.)
Princeton University (M.A.)
University of Pennsylvania (Ph.D)

Early life and educationEdit

Dodds was born on June 28, 1889 in Utica, Pennsylvania, the son of a professor of Bible Studies at Grove City College.[1] After receiving his bachelor's degree at Grove City College in 1909 and teaching public school for two years, he received his MA at Princeton in 1914 and his PhD, in Political Science, at the University of Pennsylvania in 1917. After receiving his PhD, he married Margaret Murray.

Before joining Princeton facultyEdit

Dodds served in the U.S. Food Administration during World War I.[2] After the war, he taught at Western Reserve University, then became the secretary of the National Municipal League until 1928. In this position, he met Charles Evans Hughes, who was president of the league at that time. Hughes introduced him to electoral problems in Latin America. Dodds soon became an advisor to the President of Nicaragua, helping to draft the electoral law of 1923 and supervise elections in 1928, and also became involved in the electoral law of other Latin American nations.[1]

At PrincetonEdit

Dodds with Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Ambassador Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit in 1949

In 1925, Dodds joined Princeton as a professor of politics and became a full professor in 1927. In 1930, he was appointed the first chair of the School of Public and International Affairs, which is now commonly known as the Woodrow Wilson School.[2] He was appointed president in 1933 during the midst of the Great Depression, and continued serving as president until 1957. He was a very popular president throughout his tenure.[3]

During Dodds's tenure, the university faced many hardships. The Great Depression caused great financial uncertainty, leading Dodds to establish annual giving. Although the program started out modestly, it soon became a major source of income for the university. Also, during World War II, Princeton established an accelerated program to allow students to graduate early to join the armed forces.[2] Despite facing the Great Depression and two wars, the university continued to grow during this period, adding four new departments in aeronautical engineering, Near Eastern studies, religion, and music.[1]

During a two-year period from 1946 to 1947, the bicentennial anniversary of Princeton was being celebrated. During this time, there were three major convocations and almost continuous conferences. Dodds established bicentennial preceptorships to allow young faculty members to spend a year in research.[2]

Dodds was a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation from 1936 to 1955.[4]

Role in House Committee on Un-American ActivitiesEdit

Dodds was presiding president at the height of the Red Scare, and was apparently complicit, like many U.S. university presidents, with the HCUA's prosecutions. In a 1949 speech at the University of Hawaii, Dodds argued that Communists had surrendered their rights as persons. In a speech that same year in San Francisco, he claimed that Communists were unfit to teach in schools or universities.[5] In December 1950, when Princeton physicist David Bohm was arrested for his war-time connection to the Berkeley Radiation Lab, Dodds released a statement suspending Bohm "from all teaching and other duties" and in "an ominous footnote mentioned that Bohm's appointment was due to terminate in June 1951."[6] Indeed, though Bohm was acquitted on all counts in May 1951, Dodds ensured that his contract was not renewed.

Later lifeEdit

Dodds retired in 1957 and was succeeded by Robert F. Goheen. He died at his home in Hightstown, New Jersey in 1980.[7]


  1. ^ a b c Excerpt from A Princeton Companion
  2. ^ a b c d Presidents of Princeton
  3. ^ "The Quiet One", TIME Magazine, 6 July 1953. Accessed 28 May 2008.
  4. ^ Rockefeller Foundation Reports, 1936-1955, available on RockefellerFoundation.org (example)
  5. ^ F. David Peat, Infinite Potential: The Life and Times of David Bohm [Helix Books, 1996] p 99
  6. ^ F. David Peat, Infinite Potential: The Life and Times of David Bohm [Helix Books, 1996] p 99
  7. ^ Farber, M. A. "Harold W. Dodds, 91, Former Princeton President; A Test of Principles First Taught High School Helped Student Move", The New York Times, 26 October 1980. Accessed March 3, 2008.
Academic offices
Preceded by President of Princeton University
Succeeded by
Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by President of the National Municipal League
Succeeded by