Biography and History

Harlan Cleveland (1918-2008) was a public administrator, ambassador to NATO, and a political scientist. He served in several positions related to the administration of economic aid programs during the 1940s, as an assistant secretary in the State Department and as U.S. ambassador to NATO during the 1960s, and also held positions at three universities and the Aspen Institute.

Cleveland began his career in public service in 1940 as a writer in the information division of the Farm Security Administration. In 1942, he embarked on a period of work with economic aid, first with the Board of Economic Warfare (later the Foreign Economic Administration) from 1942 to 1944, where he focused on problems of relief and economic rehabilitation of the European countries that were occupied by Germany. He next served as executive director and acting vice president of the economic section of the Allied Control Commission in Rome from 1944 to 1946. Cleveland worked for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) as department chief of the Italian Mission from 1946 to 1947 and as director of the China office from 1947 to 1948. He then served as director (1948-1949) and department assistant administrator (1949-1951) of the Far East Program Division of the ECA (Economic Cooperation Administration). His final position during this period of his career was assistant director for the Mutual Security Agency, in charge of the European program, from 1952 to 1953, when he supervised the fourth year of the Marshall Plan.

Cleveland left government service in 1953 to become executive editor of The Reporter, a liberal biweekly magazine in New York City, a position he held until 1956. He also served as the publisher from 1955 to 1956. From 1956 to 1961, he was a professor of political science and dean of the Maxwell Graduate School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, where he built a significant overseas training program.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed Cleveland assistant secretary for international organization affairs in the U.S. Department of State, a position he held until 1965. In this position, he served as an intermediary between Secretary of State Dean Rusk and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Adlai Stevenson and was involved in responding to several peace and security crises during that period, including in the Congo, West New Guinea, Cypress, the Middle East, and the Cuban missile crisis. He was also responsible for ensuring that ambassadors to international organizations promoted and protected U.S. interests and for selecting the U.S. delegation for any international projects or conferences. Cleveland then served President Lyndon B. Johnson as U.S. ambassador to NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) from 1965 to 1969. Cleveland advocated nuclear arms control and strengthening the United Nations for an expanded peace-keeping role. He also organized the move of NATO from Paris to Brussels when French president Charles de Gaulle removed France from the alliance in 1966.

Cleveland returned to academia in 1969 as the eighth president of the University of Hawaii, a position he held until 1974. As president, he oversaw the expansion of the university to include a medical school, law school, and an international astronomy project. From 1974 to 1980, he was director of the program in international affairs of the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies, located in Princeton, New Jersey. The program was one of six "think tanks" operated by the Institute at that time, each considering a significant issue. The programs developed ideas and proposals for adapting existing institutions and developing new ones to address the issues. During his tenure, the international affairs program focused on methods for coping with an increasingly interdependent world, including the need for a new international economic order. In the last change of his career, Cleveland served as the first dean of the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota from 1980 to 1987. After his retirement, Cleveland continued to write and lecture on a wide variety of topics, largely within the fields of leadership, public policy and world affairs. His books include The Overseas Americans (1960), The Promise of World Tensions (1961), The Obligations of Power: American Diplomacy in the Search for Peace (1966), The Future Executive (1972), and The Knowledge Executive (1985).

Harlan Cleveland was born in New York City on January 19, 1918 to Stanley and Marian (Van Buren) Cleveland. He graduated from Princeton University in 1938, where he studied politics, and then studied for a year at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. He married Lois W. Burton on July 12, 1941 and they had three children: Melantha, Zoe, and Alan. Cleveland died on May 30, 2008 at the age of 90.

Source: From the finding aid for MC234