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Freedman, James O. 1935-2006

Freedman, James O. 1935-2006
(James Oliver Freedman)


See index for CA sketch: Born September 21, 1935, in Manchester, NH; died of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, March 22, 2006, in Cambridge, MA. College administrator, educator, lawyer, and author. Freedman was a former president of the University of Iowa and of Dartmouth College. Encouraged toward intellectual pursuits by his parents, he attended Harvard University to study law. However, he quit for a time to work on the Manchester Union Leader newspaper, before returning to school. He completed a B.A. at Harvard in 1957, followed by a law degree from Yale in 1962. Freedman clerked for future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall from 1962 to 1963, and then worked as an attorney in New York City for a year. In 1964, he switched to academia, teaching at the University of Pennsylvania from 1964 to 1982, where he rose to the position of professor of law and then professor of political science. He was also university ombudsman in the mid-1970s, a former dean of the law school, and associate provost. In 1982, he was selected by the University of Iowa to be its new president, a position of leadership he fulfilled for the next five years. Freedman is perhaps better known, though, for his longer tenure as president of Dartmouth. When he came to Dartmouth in 1987, the college had a reputation for being a "jock" school that was somewhat less than an intellectual center for education. Freedman turned that around by emphasizing education much more seriously. The school also had a bad image as being ultraconservative, antifeminist, racist, and anti-Semitic. As a Jew himself, Freedman was especially sensitive to such prejudices and reprimanded the student newspaper for printing materials he considered offensive. He made regular speeches against Dartmouth's less than stellar image, which included a former college president who had publicly said he wanted to Christianize all the student body, regardless of their beliefs. Freedman stepped down from the president's office in 1998. Afterwards, he served as president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences from 2000 to 2001, and as Henry N. Rapaport lecturer at the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2001. Among other later appointments, he lectured at other institutions and was a member of the Houghton Mifflin Company's board of directors from 1991 to 2001. Freedman was the author of Crisis and Legitimacy: The Administrative Process and American Government (1978) and Idealism and Liberal Education (1996).



New York Times, March 22, 2006, p. A25.

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