Corbally, John (Edward, Jr.) 1924-2004

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CORBALLY, John (Edward, Jr.) 1924-2004


See index for CA sketch: Born October 14, 1924, in South Bend, WA; died of brain cancer July 23, 2004, in Mill Creek, WA. Educator, administrator, and author. Corbally was a former university president who is best remembered for his role as president of the philanthropic John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation during its formative years. After serving in the U.S. Naval Reserve during World War II and receiving a Purple Heart while in the Pacific, he attended the University of Washington, where he earned a B.Sc. in 1947 and an M.A. in 1950. Corbally's first job was as a high school chemistry teacher in Tacoma, Washington, in the late 1940s, and he became a high school principal in Stanwood, Washington, from 1950 to 1953. In 1955, he completed his Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley and then joined the faculty at Ohio State University, where he was a professor of education and later vice president of administration. From 1966 to 1969 he was provost and vice president of academic affairs. After leading Syracuse University as chancellor and president for two years, in 1971, he was made president of the University of Illinois. He left this office in 1979, but remained at the university as distinguished professor of higher education until 1982. Corbally joined the MacArthur Foundation in 1979 as a board member and was made president the next year. At the time, the foundation had just been formed, and although it had coffers full of money to grant to worthy causes, it lacked vision. It was Corbally whom many credit with providing that vision of what the foundation should be about, and the MacArthur fellowship—also known as the "genius grant"—was established to grant funds to those trying to improve the human condition by alleviating poverty, social injustice, and other problems. Serving as president until 1989, Corbally was also director of the foundation from 1979 to 2002 and chairman from 1995 to 2002. The editor, with Thomas J. Serviovanni, of Leadership and Organizational Culture: New Perspectives on Administrative Theory and Practice (1984), Corbally authored the books Educational Administration: The Secondary School (1961; second edition, 1965) and School Finance (1962). His many honors include the 1986 Van Miller award from the Illinois Association of School Administrators and Educational Administration Alumni Association of the University of Illinois, the 1986 Humanitarian award from Northern Illinois University, the 1987 Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Washington College of Education, the 1995 Distinguished Achievement award from the University of Washington College of Arts and Sciences, and being named alumnus summa laude dignatus of the University of Washington in 1988 and Laureate of Lincoln Academy in Illinois in 1989.



Chicago Tribune, July 26, 2004, section 2, p. 13.

Los Angeles Times, July 27, 2004, p. B11.

New York Times, July 27, 2004, p. C13.

Washington Post, July 26, 2004, p. B5.