Saturday, November 1, 2014
Clifton Reginald Wharton, Jr.-1st African American president of a major U.S. university-Michigan State University.
Clifton Reginald Wharton, Jr. is an American university president, corporate executive and former United States Deputy Secretary of State. In his multiple careers, he has been an African American pioneer. Born in Boston, his father Clifton Reginald Wharton, Sr. was a 40 year Foreign Service officer and the 1st African-American to pass the Foreign Service exam and to become a career ambassador. Wharton graduated from Boston Latin School and entered Harvard College at 16. While there, he was National Secretary and a founding member of the U.S. National Students Association. He was the 1st African American to earn a Master of Arts degree in international affairs from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University and later graduated from University of Chicago with a master of arts and a Ph.D. in economics. Reporters and profiles have regularly described Wharton “Such has been the life of Clifton Wharton, whose career in higher education and business, foreign economic development, and philanthropy has included so many firsts – often without much fanfare—that he is sometimes called "the quiet pioneer. In the course of his career, Clifton Wharton had become something relatively new under the American sun: a black member of the Establishment rather than a member of the black Establishment. Dr. Wharton’s first 22 year philanthropic career began in Latin America with Nelson Rockefeller. Subsequently, he was resident in Southeast Asia from 1958 to 1964 representing a foundation headed by John D. Rockefeller 3rd. During this period he also supervised the foundation’s programs in Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, as well as taught economics at the University of Malaya. Many of his students and grantees became leaders in the region. In February 1969 he was elected to the board of Equitable Life, becoming the 2nd Black corporate director in the U.S. He later became a director of eight other U.S. corporations. In 1970, Wharton was elected president of Michigan State University thereby becoming the 1st African American president of a major U.S. university. In 1978, he became Chancellor (President) of the 64-campus State University of New York system. Again he was identified as the 1st Black to head the largest university system in the nation. In 1982 he was named chairman of the Rockefeller Foundation and served as a trustee for 17 years. In 1987 he became CEO of TIAA-CREF, the giant pension and financial services company, making him 1st Black chairman and CEO of a major U.S. corporation. Dr. Wharton has received 63 honorary doctorates.