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Former Provost, University Vice President David Truman Dies

David B. Truman

David B. Truman, former provost and vice president of the University, died on Thursday, August 28, in Sarasota, Fla., at the age of 90. During his time at Columbia, Truman was renowned for his particularly good rapport with students and faculty alike, as his career ascended through academic and administrative duties.

A graduate of Amherst College in 1935, and taking a Ph.D. at the University of Chicago, Truman taught at Bennington, Cornell, Harvard and Williams College before joining the Columbia faculty in 1951. He was named full professor at the age of 38. From 1959 through 1961, Truman was the head of Columbia's department of public law and government. During this period his numerous publications on American politics such as Governmental Process; Political Interests and Public Opinion, made a public impact, and were described in The New York Times as careful, responsible and sensible. In 1962 Truman was named dean of Columbia College, where he voiced progressive views on civil rights and updated policies on campus life.

In 1967 Truman was appointed vice president and provost by President Grayson Kirk. In January of 1969, he stepped down after a tumultuous year of student unrest. During the student-lead takeover of the University, Truman was continually mentioned as a University administrator who retained the student body's respect.

After leaving Columbia, Truman took over as president of Mount-Holyoke College in Massachusetts, where he served until 1978. Truman then served as president of the Russell Sage Foundation for one year.

Truman's wife Elinor Griffinhagen, his son Edwin Truman, two grandchildren and a great-granddaughter survive him.

Published: Sep 29, 2003
Last modified: Sep 29, 2003

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