Office of Public Information and Communications
Columbia University
New York, N.Y.  10027
(212) 854-5573

Fred Knubel, Director of Public Information
June 7, 1996

Harold E. Emerson, Former Columbia VP, Dies

Harold E. Emerson, former vice president for development and alumni relations at Columbia University, died yesterday (Thursday, June 6) in St. Vincent's Hospital in Manhattan. He was 70 and lived in Manhattan.

The cause of death was complications due to emphysema, said his son, Paul Emerson.

Mr. Emerson was a pioneer in modern university fundraising and alumni communications. An alumnus himself, he was assistant to then President of Columbia Grayson Kirk in 1962 when he created and was named executive director of the University's International Alumni Programs. In the effort, to bring the University closer to its alumni, he took leading faculty members on the road to major cities throughout the United States and in Europe, Asia, South America, and Canada for symposia on current issues. The events drew large audiences and much public attention.

Dr. Kirk said today, "Hal Emerson was an extraordinarily able and imaginative man who knew how important it was becoming then to reach out to alumni."

Mr. Emerson was promoted in 1968 to vice president for development and alumni relations, a post newly created at the University to further strengthen and broaden the scope and activities of relations with alumni.

Mr. Emerson left Columbia in 1972 to become executive vice president of the Freedom Train Foundation. In 1974 he founded the Association for American Achievements, an organization to bring attention, through exhibitions and conferences, to educational, scientific and artistic advances "stimulated by the system of free enterprise in a free society." The Association completed its work in 1987. In semi-retirement, he became a senior communications associate for John Grenzebach and Associates in 1986 and a senior campaign asssociate for Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., in 1993.

Harold Eugene Emerson was born July 18, 1925, in Bonne Terre, Mo., and served in World War II in the U.S. Army Air Force as a bombardier-navigator from 1943 to 1945, attaining the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. He earned the B.A. from Columbia College in 1950 and pursued graduate studies in Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs. Before returning to Columbia in 1962 he was an actor, singer and dancer for the American Theatre, a freelance writer and researcher for CBS, NBC and the Conference Board and a writer and marketing coordinator for California-Texas Oil Company.

His marriage to Nancy Percy in 1956 ended in divorce. He is survived by his son, Paul Gordon Emerson of Washington, D.C.

For additional information: Paul Emerson, 202-667-8780