Rufus B. von KleinSmid


Rufus B. von KleinSmid
Rufus B. von KleinSmid.jpg
KleinSmid from 1946 USC yearbook
5th President of the University of Southern California
In office
Preceded byGeorge F. Bovard
Succeeded byFred D. Fagg, Jr.
7th President of the University of Arizona
In office
Preceded byArthur H. Wilde
Succeeded byCloyd Heck Marvin
Personal details
Sandwich, Illinois[1]
DiedJuly 9, 1964 (aged 89)
Elisabeth Patterson Sawyers
(m. 1911; died 1947)
Alma materNorthwestern University, 1905[2]

Rufus Bernhard von KleinSmid (1875 – July 9, 1964), also spelled Kleinsmidt, was the seventh president of the University of Arizona (1914–1921)[3] and the fifth president of the University of Southern California (1921–1947).[4]

Life and career

Von KleinSmid started his academic career at DePauw University where he was a Professor of Education and Psychology.[2] He became USC's fifth president in 1921. A high priority of his administration was to expand professional training programs, and President von KleinSmid also presided over a building program that added nine major structures to the university campus. By the end of his first decade in office, USC had attained full national accreditation and established a graduate school to unify graduate work across the university.

USC has long considered itself a cosmopolitan school with many foreign exchange students from around the world. During the 1930s, Prince Iyesato Tokugawa worked with USC to encourage student foreign exchange programs between the U.S. and Japan. During Prince Tokugawa's 1934 visit to the United States, von KleinSmid bestowed an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree upon the Prince for his philanthropic and educational achievements. During that trip, Tokugawa also met with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to discuss ways of promoting goodwill between the United States and Japan. In 1935, Roosevelt was also bestowed with an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree.[5] [6]

With the onset of the Great Depression at decade's end, USC was forced to retrench in the 1930s. During World War II, army barracks were constructed on campus, and the curriculum reflected a wartime emphasis on international relations, history, geography, languages, science and the like. Some 2,000 military trainees added to crowded conditions on campus. After the war, the lack of space at USC grew even worse, as the G.I. Bill brought former servicemen to the university for study. Enrollment soared from 15,500 in 1945 to more than 24,000 in 1947. In 1947 KleinSmid, then aged 70, elected to step down and became USC's chancellor, a position he held for the remaining seventeen years of his life.[4]

He was recognized as "one of three of the nation's most distinguished citizens" through the National Institute of Social Sciences Gold Medal Award. On an international level, KleinSmid received awards from 20 national governments for his achievements.[7]

KleinSmid died on July 9, 1964.[2]


A passionate supporter of eugenics, which he described as "the science of good birth",[8] and related sterilization programs,[9][10] KleinSmid co-founded the Human Betterment Foundation. In 1913, he argued that "The acceptance is even now upon us, and the application of the principles of Eugenics to organized society is one of the most important duties of the social scientist of the present generation."[8][11]

On June 10, 2020 USC decided to remove von KleinSmid’s name from one of its most prominent buildings, the von KleinSmid Center for International and Public Affairs.[11]

See also


  1. ^ "Rufus B. von KleinSmid". University of Southern California. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d "Dr. Von Kleinsmid of U.S.C., 79, Dead". The New York Times. New York, New York. UPI. 10 July 1964. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
  3. ^ "Rufus Bernard von KleinSmid". Office of the President. University of Arizona. 2013. Retrieved 12 April 2013.
  4. ^ a b About USC - History - von KleinSmid Era
  5. ^ Katz, Stan S. (2019). The Art of Peace. California: Horizon Productions. ISBN 978-0-9903349-2-7.
  6. ^ Katz, Stan S. (2019). "Introduction to The Art of Peace: an illustrated biography. Cover photo of Dr. KleinSmid".
  7. ^ VKC: A president's legacy - Lifestyle
  8. ^ a b Rufus von KleinSmid, 1913, "Eugenics and the State," p. 2,
  9. ^ George Neumayr, Sterilization Particulars, 2003,
  10. ^ Anton, Mike (July 16, 2003). "Forced Sterilization Once Seen as Path to a Better World". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 12, 2020.
  11. ^ a b Watanabe, Teresa; Mier, Tomás (2020-06-11). "USC removes name of Rufus von KleinSmid, a eugenics leader, from prominent building". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2020-06-13.


  • The von KleinSmid Era
  • Past Presidents of The University of Arizona

External links

  • USC School of International Relations
  • VKC: A President's Legacy
  • The von KleinSmid Era
  • Bust of Rufus B. von KleinSmid
  • The Von KleinSmid Library
  • USC Fencing History
  • History of USC
  • Portrait of Rufus B. von Kleinsmid taken while walking around the USC campus, Los Angeles, 1923. Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive (Collection 1429). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles.
Academic offices
Preceded by
Arthur H. Wilde
7th President of the University of Arizona
Succeeded by
Preceded by 5th President of the University of Southern California
Succeeded by