NEW HAVEN, Conn, April 19--Yale University was shocked this afternoon by the sudden death of A. Whitney Griswold, its 16th president. Griswold, who has been president since 1950, died of cancer in his home. He was 56 years old.
An imaginative and forceful educational spokesman, Griswold was instrumental in reshaping Yale's curriculum and philosophy. In addition he solved the university's serious financial problems, tripling its endowment to $375 million during his 13-year tenure.
Speaking on behalf of the university, Wilmarth S. Lewis, senior fellow of the Yale Corporation, said, "The death of President Griswold at the height of his career is a tragic loss to the university, its alumni, and its friends everywhere.... His influence will continue to animate the university and the memory of him will gladden the hearts of his friends."
Provost Kingman Brewster, Jr. will serve as head of Yale until a new president is appointed, the Yale Corporation announced today. Brewster, who has been administrating the university during Griswold's illness, is considered here to be a likely candidate to succeed the late president.
Griswold's intimate friends had known for some time that he was suffering from incurable cancer, but, though hospitalized several times this fall, he refused to release any definite information on the nature of his illness.
When Griswold assumed the presidency in 1950 the Yale Daily News complained that "this great university is tired." In a special extra today the News warmly praised the changes Griswold had worked at Yale, calling him "one of the greatest, if not the greatest, president in the university's history."
To most observers here the great tragedy of Griswold's death is the fact that he was just beginning to implement the major policy statement of his administration--last year's freshman--year report. In that far-reaching document, Griswold urged the university to increase its efforts to eliminate the anti-intellectualism which prevailed at the school at the start of his presidency. He called for stiffer admissions procedures, the integration of freshmen into the Colleges, and the admission of women to the college.
Graduating from Yale in 1929, Griswold was made a full professor of history in 1941 at the age of 40. When elected president nine years later, he was the second-youngest man ever to fill the post.
Griswold fought hard to make Yale a college that would "awaken and develop the intellectual and spiritual powers in the individual before he enters his chosen career," and devoted much of his time to improving the undergraduate college. A major accomplishment was his $69 million Program for Arts and Sciences.
Among his achievement, besides the construction of 26 new buildings costing $75 million, were a major revamping of undergraduate and professional science training at Yale, a strong program to foster the arts and humanities, and a drive to make the Colleges "more than glorified dormitories."
Griswold was also a national leader in the fight for academic freedom, opposing McCarthyism and taking a firm stand against the NDEA disclaimer affidavit.
The author of five books, Griswold received honorary degrees from 12 universities, including Harvard in 1950.
He is survived by his wife, three daughters, a son, and five grandchildren. Funeral services will be Monday at 3 p.m. in Battell Chapel, on the Old Campus