George D Stoddard

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George D. Stoddard (1897-1981)
American Educator 


Dr. Stoddard was born in Carbondale, a small mining town in northeastern Pennsylvania. Educated at Pennsylvania State College and, after several months of service as a reserve officer during World War I, at the University of Paris and the University of Iowa. He remained on the Iowa faculty for 17 years as professor of psychology and education, director of the Iowa Child Welfare Research Station, and dean of the Graduate School.

His work at Iowa focused on early childhood education and the psychology of development, tests and measurements, and the nature of intelligence. Epitomizing this phase of his 45-year professional career was his editorship of the controversial 39th Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education, a two-volume study entitled, "Intelligence: Its Nature and Nurture" (l940). The controversy centered on such issues as the fixity or changeability of the I.Q., the effect of environmental experience on mental growth, gene-related factors, the racial distribution of intelligence, and the validity of intelligence tests. The capstone of his extensive work in this field was "The Meaning of Intelligence" (1943, 10 printings).

A four-year assignment during World War II as New York State's Commissioner of Education marked a major shift in Dr. Stoddard's career from teaching and research to educational administration, a period that lasted from l942 to his retirement in l969. After the war, Dr. Stoddard spent seven eventful years as president of the University of Illinois. Following this, he spent 12 years at New York University, first as director of the the University's self-study project and later as dean of education, and, from l960 to l964, as Chancellor and Executive Vice President. After his retirement as an administrator, he conducted seminars at the University on educational psychology and higher education, l965 to l967. Dr. Stoddard returned to administration in l967 for two years as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at Long Island University and then as Chancellor.

Other activities during his career included membership on the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO (l945-l95l), an educational mission to Japan (1946), and a series of assignments in international education in Korea, Iran, and East Africa. He also served for many years on the boards of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York and the Shakespeare Festival Theatre and Academy (Stratford, Connecticut). He played an active role for many years in the development and promotion of educational television in the formative years of that medium.

Dr. Stoddard was the author or editor of over a dozen books, including, in addition to those mentioned above, "Krebiozen: The Great Cancer Mystery" (1955), "The Dual Progress Plan" (1961), "The Outlook for American Education" (1974), and "Pursuit of Education, an Autobiography" (1981). He also published a large number of articles and reports in various journals. He served as moderator of the Unitarian Association and was a life member of its Laymen's League. He received l6 honorary degrees and the G. Stanley Hall medal (developmental psychology) of the American Psychological Association.

To sum up, Dr. Stoddard's career reflected his long-standing conviction that the profession of education is a uniquely powerful force for the advancement of citizenship. As a liberal and a humanist who was never indifferent to matters of importance in human affairs, his personal motto was: "We are free in all respects save one; we are not free to tolerate the destruction of our freedom."

Philip H. Stoddard
Bethesda, Maryland
November, 2000

2000 Philip H. Stoddard Reproduced with permission

 

 

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