Cloyd H. Marvin


Cloyd H. Marvin
12th President of the George Washington University
In office
Preceded byWilliam Mather Lewis
Succeeded byThomas H. Carroll
Personal details
BornAugust 22, 1889
Findlay, Ohio
DiedApril 27, 1969
Spouse(s)Dorothy Ellen Betts

Cloyd Heck Marvin (August 22, 1889 – April 27, 1969)[1] was the longest serving president of the George Washington University, from 1927 to 1959, and previously the then-youngest American university president from 1922–1927 at the University of Arizona. He was a freemason.[2]


Education and early career

Marvin graduated from Riverside High School[3] and studied at Stanford University for two years from 1909 to 1911.[4] He gained degrees from the University of Southern California (A.B.,1915), Harvard University (A.M, 1917, PhD 1920), and the University of New Mexico (honorary L.L.D., 1923).[2] He was a Phi Delta Kappa member.[5] He taught at the University of Southern California as Associate Professor of Commerce and then at the University of Arizona.[2] He was dean at University of California at Los Angeles for three years.[1]

University of Arizona

Marvin became president of the University of Arizona in 1922, at 32 being the youngest American university president.[4] Choosing between building a student union building and a new library in 1924, he chose the latter (now the North Building of the Arizona State Museum).[6]

He resigned along with four members of the Board of Regents on January 19, 1927.[7][8] The American Association of University Professors had criticised Marvin's presidency for the removal of three faculty members,[9] and when one of the ousted men was elected to the Board of Regents, removing his majority on the board, he resigned.[10]

George Washington University

He was elected to succeed William Mather Lewis as President of George Washington University in June 1927 and took office that September.[10] He established a School of Government at the George Washington University in 1928 using $1 million donated by the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite Masons, Southern Jurisdiction, a Masonic lodge.[11]

Cloyd Heck Marvin was the greatest and the worst thing that happened to GW. He built and destroyed; he mended and divided; he left a complicated legacy for his successors.

Andrew Novak, 2004[12]

Under Marvin the number of students doubled and faculty tripled, though over 100 protests were lodged against perceived unfair dismissals.[13] The Research Editor of the GW Hatchet, Andrew Novak, wrote of Marvin's "persecution of liberals among the faculty, his well-documented support of segregation and his constant disregard for the civil liberties of students".[13][14] Marvin oversaw the admission of the first black students to George Washington University in 1954;[15] he also oversaw the dismissal of an atheist in 1956, stating that "as a matter of policy, we do not have anyone teaching who does not have faith in God."[16]

The Cloyd Heck Marvin Center at George Washington University was named after him in February 1970.[17] After decades of protests over Marvin’s racist and antisemitic legacy, the building was renamed on June 29, 2021 as "University Student Center" following the recommendation of a committee of students, faculty, staff and alumni.[18]

Other work

Marvin was President of the National Parks Association 1933–1935,[2] replacing Wallace Attwood and being replaced by William P. Wharton; John Miles wrote that "The record contains little evidence that President Marvin provided much leadership during his tenure".[19]

Marvin was deputy director for research and development in the War Department from September 18, 1946 to August 31, 1947, serving under Major General Henry Aurand, and he was then a Special Advisor to the Secretary of War, September 1947-9.[2][20] He received the Department of the Army's Award for Exceptional Achievement for this service.[21]

Personal life

Marvin was born in Findlay, Ohio.[2] His parents were Ezekiel Cloyd Marvin, a businessman, and Ida Gertrude Heck.[4][22]

He initiated into a Masonic lodge in Portland Oregon in 1918.[2] He became a Knight Commander in the Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, in 1931.[23] He was a Republican.[4][24]

After Marvin died in 1969, his widow Dorothy Ellen Betts, whom he had married in July 1917,[24] donated $1 million (the result of her investing $20,000 over 13 years) in 1971 for the Cloyd Heck Marvin Student Center and theater.[25] His son Cloyd, a mathematician at Johns Hopkins University, died in June 2011.[26]


  1. ^ a b "Dr. Cloyd Marvin, Ex-President Of George Washington U., Dies". New York Times. April 29, 1969.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Denslow, William R. (1959). 10,000 Famous Freemasons from K to Z. Vol. 3. Missouri Lodge of Research. p. 147. ISBN 9781417975792.
  3. ^ "New President of U.of A. Who is to Be a Visitor in Phoenix This Week". Arizona Republican. September 16, 1922.
  4. ^ a b c d Current biography yearbook. H.W. Wilson Company. 1950. p. 409.
  5. ^ The Phi Delta Kappan. Vol. 6–9. Phi Delta Kappa, Inc. 1966. p. 89.
  6. ^ Harrison, Jeff (August 15, 2001). "Going Down in History". UA News. Retrieved August 21, 2011.
  7. ^ "Dr. Marvin Quits Arizona University; Four Regents Also Resign as the Result of Dissension in the Board". New York Times. January 20, 1927.
  8. ^ "Big University Elects Marvin". Prescott Evening Courier. June 13, 1927. Retrieved August 21, 2011.
  9. ^ "Condemns 'influence' in ousting teachers; Professors' Association Censures University of Arizona for Forcing Three Men Out". New York Times. December 11, 1924.
  10. ^ a b "Arizona Educator Given New Honors". Los Angeles Times. June 14, 1927.
  11. ^ "Capital University Gets Million Gift; Masons Donate Fund to George Washington for School of Government". New York Times. December 27, 1928.
  12. ^ Limmer, Amanda (2 December 2004). "Student writes book on university's longest serving president". GW Hatchet. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
  13. ^ a b Novak, Andrew Joseph (February 3, 2005). "Column: Rename the Marvin Center". GW Hatchet. Retrieved August 22, 2011.
  14. ^ Novak, Andrew (April 7, 2003). "A president's mixed past". GW Hatchet. Retrieved August 22, 2011.
  15. ^ "George Washington U. to Admit Negro Students". Jet. Johnson Publishing Company. July 22, 1954. Retrieved August 21, 2011.
  16. ^ "Atheistic Instructor's Reinstatement Sought". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. November 23, 1956. Retrieved August 21, 2011.
  17. ^ Pompan, Jonathan (February 2, 1998). "Marvin Center's 28th birthday". GW Hatchet. Retrieved August 22, 2011.
  18. ^ "Board of Trustees Approves Changing Name of Marvin Center". GW Today. June 29, 2021. Retrieved June 29, 2021.
  19. ^ Miles, John C. (1996). Guardians of the parks: a history of the National Parks and Conservation Association. Taylor & Francis. p. 121. ISBN 1-56032-446-5.
  20. ^ "News and Notes". Science. American Association for the Advancement of Science. 104 (2703): 369. 1946. Bibcode:1946Sci...104..365.. doi:10.1126/science.104.2703.365. Cloyd H. Marvin, of George Washington University, will be the new Deputy for Research
  21. ^ School & society. Vol. 67. Society for the Advancement of Education. 1948. p. 41.
  22. ^ Cook, Robert C. (1933). Presidents of American colleges and universities. Who's Who in American Education, Inc. p. 20.
  23. ^ "Cabinet Heads are Honored by Masons". Times Daily. October 21, 1931. Retrieved August 21, 2011.
  24. ^ a b National cyclopedia of American biography. Vol. 1. J.T. White. 1964. p. 378.
  25. ^ "Reluctant Wealth". St. Petersburg Times. May 8, 1971. Retrieved August 21, 2011.
  26. ^ "Cloyd H. Marvin". Washington Post. June 2011. Retrieved August 22, 2011.

Further reading

  • Novak, Andrew Joseph (2004). The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit: A Critical Portrait of Former George Washington University President Dr. Cloyd Heck Marvin (1888–1969). ISBN 0-9762578-0-7. (Novak was historical research editor of The GW Hatchet, president of the George Washington University Historical Society, and assistant to the University Archivist).

External links

  • Marvin, Cloyd Heck and GW Campus and Cloyd Heck Marvin, The George Washington University and Foggy Bottom Historical Encyclopedia
  • Cloyd Heck Marvin, Past Presidents, Office of the President, University of Arizona