Charles W. Eliot was the longest tenured Harvard president and one of the founders of the modern American university. He became an iconic figure in American life, called upon for opinions on virtually every subject under the sun. His five foot shelf of books that everyone should read became a staple in the American home, and when inscriptions were to be chiseled on the fronts of post offices and libraries, it was to Eliot that an appeal was made for apt words. A dedicated Unitarian whose son, Samuel Eliot, became president of the demination, he had a pragmatic and common sense approach to life that left little room for moping and despair -- although he had his share of grief and loss. He remains t only an important figure in education, but also an exemplar of values of persistence and optimism that are still part of American psyche.
Dr. Paul Rich is a Harvard alumnus and during college days was chair of the junior common room of his residential college (Dunster) and active in student organizations. He has had a lifelong interest in the history of higher education and was a student at Harvard of the historians of universities Robert Ulich and Frederick Rudolph. His doctoral thesis examined the relationship of education to the development of the Middle East and Arabian Gulf. He is a life member of the education honor society Pi Lamda Theta and of the international education society Phi Beta Delta, of which he is past president.