A great friend of America's liberal arts and

church-related colleges completed his life's journey in this centennial year of the founding of the University of Chicago where, in 1933, he studied for one of the first doctorates in higher education and formed a life-long association with the school's dynamic leader, Robert Maynard Hutchins. McGrath matriculated at his hometown University of Buffalo in 1923, when its liberal arts college was two years old and 750 students were roaming the 75 acres of the former Erie County poor farm. The previous year, Samuel P. Capen, a luminary in the history of American colleges and universities and first president of the American Council on Education had come to Buffalo as chancellor. Capen invited McGrath to help him administer the growing institution and over the following two decades the young assistant recalls, "I got a good solid grounding in every phase of college operation under the supervision of the country's leading theoretician on the subject." His Buffalo experiences prepared the way for service as United States Commissioner of Education and afforded opportunity to become a post-presidency confidante to Mr. Harry Truman and Mr. Dwight Eisenhower. He framed the prophetic 1947 report of the first Presidential Commission on Higher Education, helped build the Navy's famous wartime V-12 college training program and directed its off-duty 1 study program, which served as a model for later high school equivalency and external-degree programs. After World War II, he served as dean of the college of liberal arts at the University of Iowa and president of the University of Kansas City before moving to Teachers College at Columbia University where, with support from the Carnegie Corporation, he focused on the plight of small liberal arts campuses and the distinctive values they contributed to the life of the nation. These small-often church-related-schools, as California-based journalist Edwin Kiester Jr. noted, were always the focal point of McGrath's personal and abiding credo: For nearly five decades "he [preached] the gospel that the prime objective of higher education should be teaching; that the welfare of the student should be uppermost; that the development of character and a responsible citizenry are more important than the mere transmission of knowledge-and that all this flourishes best in the intimate atmosphere of the small liberal arts college." In his "third" retirement-he left Columbia at age 65 and Temple University at age 70-he settled as director of the program in liberal studies at the University of Arizona and with support from the Lilly Endowment conducted a study of 49 colleges and universities affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. His closing years were devoted to encouraging Christian colleges and universities to affirm their "special purpose" and distinctive calling. In an 2 article for Faculty Dialogue five years ago, McGrath summarized his convictions on the matter: The church-related college is peculiarly equipped by its philosophy, its faculty, and by the closeness of its community life to take the leadership in restoring to a central position in all of American higher education the treatment of values as an indispensable element in the society of learning. . . . If these institutions fail forcefully and unmistakably to reassert and implement their spiritually oriented central mission, they will have lost the one element in their character which provides genuine distinctive among the larger company of competitive institutions of higher education, and if capitalized upon could assure their continued vitality and growth. More significantly, the entire American society will, without question, continue to degenerate, and the humane principles that have animated our culture will be further weakened while the forces of materialism, secularism, and opportunism will dominate the social enterprise. Honored with degrees and awards from more than 50 colleges and universities and numerous professional organizations, Earl McGrath's abiding legacy is his clarion call to the community of Christian educators to "seize this fugitive opportunity . . . and awesome responsibility" to restore in American education a central focus on spiritual commitments which vouchsafe renewal of the life of the nation. It is with deep gratitude that we bid the Honorable Earl James McGrath farewell. He guided the Institute for Christian Leadership in its inception and generously advised us during our years of service. The comfort of having a friend may be taken away, but not that of having had one. 3