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- Collection Description & Creator Information
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- Goheen, Robert F. (Robert Francis), 1919-2008
- Robert F. Goheen Papers
- Public Policy Papers
- Permanent URL:
- 1939-2008 (mostly 1939-2000)
- 25 boxes, 1 folder, and 2 items
- Storage Note:
- Mudd Manuscript Library (mudd): Box 1-25
The Robert F. Goheen Papers contain records that Robert F. Goheen kept mainly before and after he was president of Princeton University (1957-1972). They include files Goheen kept as a graduate student, instructor and professor in Princeton University's Department of Classics for the period 1939-1957. The collection also contains U.S. army records for 1942-1945, when Goheen had interrupted his studies for service in the Second World War, and for 1945-1956, when he served in the Officers Reserve Corps. The majority of the files concern Goheen's post-presidential years, when he was Chair of the Council on Foundations (1972-1977), Ambassador to India (1977-1980), and Director of the Mellon Fellowships in the Humanities (1981-1998), as well as Senior Fellow Public and International Affairs at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School. In addition, the collection contains some speech notes Goheen kept and some photographs of Goheen from his tenure as President of Princeton University.
Collection Description & Creator Information
The Robert F. Goheen Papers contain records that Goheen kept mainly before and after he served as president of Princeton University (1957-1972). They include files Goheen kept as a graduate student, instructor and professor in Princeton University's Department of Classics for the period 1939-1957. The collection also contains U.S. army records for 1942-1945, when Goheen had interrupted his studies for service during the Second World War, and for 1945-1956, when he served in the Officers Reserve Corps. The majority of the files concern Goheen's post-presidential years, when he was Chair of the Council on Foundations (1972-1977), U.S. Ambassador to India (1977-1980), and Director of the Mellon Fellowships in the Humanities (1981-1998), as well as Senior Fellow Public and International Affairs at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School. In addition, the collection contains some speech notes Goheen kept and some photographs of Goheen from his tenure as President of Princeton University.
- Collection Creator Biography:
Goheen, Robert F. (Robert Francis), 1919-2008
Robert (Bob) Francis Goheen was born on August 15, 1919, in Vengurla, India, where his father, Robert H.H. Goheen, a doctor, and his mother Anne Goheen-Ewing, a teacher, were Presbyterian missionaries. In 1934, Goheen moved to the United States to finish his high school education at the Lawrenceville School, in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. Graduating with honors after two years, he entered Princeton University as member of the Class of 1940. Princeton was a logical choice: his brother, Richard '36, had just graduated from Princeton, and their grandfather, Joseph M. Goheen, also a Presbyterian missionary in India, was a member of the Class of 1872.
Goheen was an all-around Princetonian. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, as well as an avid soccer player on the varsity team. Other memberships included the political and debating club Whig-Clio, the Quadrangle Eating Club, of which he was president, and the Inter-Club Committee. In 1940 he graduated in the Special Program in Humanities and Classics. His senior thesis was about the nature and object of tragedy, an interest he would continue to pursue academically. Upon graduation, he received the M. Taylor Pyne Honor Prize, the highest general distinction conferred upon an undergraduate.
Goheen started as a graduate student at Princeton University in September 1940, holding a Junior Fellowship in Classics for the academic year. His graduate studies, however, were interrupted by the Second World War. Goheen joined the army in October 1941, three months after marrying Margaret M. Skelly of Wilmington, Delaware. Although he joined the Infantry as a Second Lieutenant, he was first employed at the Military Intelligence Service of the War Department in Washington, DC. In April 1943 he joined the First Cavalry Division. He served oversees as a research analyst until July 1945, supervising the preparation of strategic intelligence reports on the Pacific Islands; during his last year as Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence he held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
When he returned to civilian life, Goheen, now a father of two, was one of the first four recipients of a Woodrow Wilson fellowship, established at Princeton to enable war veterans to consider a career in teaching. Complementing this, the Department of Classics employed him as a part-time preceptor and tutor. Goheen received his MA in 1947 and PhD 1948. His dissertation The Imagery of Sophocles' Antigone (a Study of Poetic Language and Structure) was published by Princeton University Press in 1951.
Goheen continued teaching as an instructor in Classics until his appointment as assistant professor of Classics in 1950. When he was elected President of Princeton University in December 1956, he would be the youngest president in Princeton's history since the eighteenth century. He had only just started to establish a reputation as a classicist, holding a bicentennial preceptorship in 1951-1954, which enabled him to spend a year at the American Academy in Rome.
One reason Goheen was elected President was his experience as National Director of the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship Program, a half-time position, which he combined with half-time teaching in 1953-1956. The program had grown since 1945, when Goheen had been a Woodrow Wilson fellow himself. Sponsored by the American Association of Universities and receiving substantial funding from many foundations, the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship Program paved the way for Goheen's presidency as well as his post-presidential career in the area of foundations and philanthropy.
When Goheen retired as President in 1972, he could look back upon fifteen years in which he led Princeton University through a process of growth and change. During his presidency the University had substantially increased its physical plant, as well as its student enrollment, faculty, and staff, while alumni contributions more than doubled, and the annual budget quadrupled. Faced with the social and political challenges of the Sixties, Goheen encouraged student involvement in decision-making processes and initiated active recruitment of minorities and, in 1969, the admission of women, which was particularly criticized by conservative alumni.
After the American invasion of Cambodia, student protests culminated in a general strike; Goheen himself spoke to the assembly of students, faculty and staff on May 4, 1970. Many attributed the wisdom and flexibility of Goheen's administration for avoiding the violence and civil unrest that afflicted campuses nationwide.
After announcing his retirement in 1972, Goheen had many options to choose from; he accepted the position of President of the Council on Foundations in New York. Founded in 1949, the foundation, with a board of 35 people, provided program consultation for its five hundred member foundations. Goheen stated he was convinced that private philanthropy in general and charitable foundations in particular were "critical elements in the diversity, openness and innovative character of the American society."
In January 1977 Goheen became president of the $160 million Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, established to improve conditions for dispossessed children, the institutionalized poor, and the developing world. Less than five months later, however, President Jimmy Carter appointed him U.S. Ambassador to India, the country where he had lived the first fifteen years of his life.
As an Ambassador, Goheen became immersed in nuclear issues. India had detonateded its first nuclear device in 1974, eleven years after the United States had signed a 30-year contract to deliver enriched uranium fuel to generate nuclear power. President Carter wanted Goheen to secure India's commitment to stop testing and start a dialogue with the U.S. On January 3, 1978, two months before Congress passed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act of 1978, Prime Minister Moraji Desai and Jimmy Carter signed a joint declaration aiming to reduce the threat of nuclear war and to bridge the gap between rich and poor nations.
Goheen held the Ambassadorship until December 1980, when he returned to Princeton to become Senior Fellow of Public and International Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School. He also worked for the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, directing the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship Program in the Humanities.
Thus, almost forty years after a Woodrow Wilson fellowship enabled his own career as a scholar and teacher, Goheen was back in the humanities. Senior humanists were "hungry," according to him, to encourage the ablest young people to "continue in the humanities and not be deflected, as so many have been recently, into law, business, and other professions." Goheen had been one of the founders of the National Humanities Center in North Carolina in 1978, and had served as a trustee. Twenty years later he was honored for his role with the establishment of the annual Robert and Margaret S. Goheen Fellowship at the Center.
Amongst the many honors for his service to the humanities are the Robert F. Goheen Professorship in the Humanities at Princeton (1986) and the annual Robert F. Goheen Prize in Classical Studies (Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, 1992).
Robert Goheen died in 2008 at age 88.
The records were donated by Robert F. Goheen on March 22, 2002 [ML2002-004]. Memorial service materials were transferred from the Vice President and Secretary's Office on June 8, 2008 [AR2008-063]. The materials that comprise Series 7: 2015 Accession were donated by Anne Goheen Crane and family in February 2015 [ML.2015.008]. A certificate was donated by Anne Goheen Crane in April 2015 [ML.2015.014].
- Archival Appraisal Information:
No material was separated during processing in 2006, 2008, or 2015.
- Processing Information:
This collection was processed by Helene van Rossum in 2006. The materials were arranged into series and subseries at this time. Finding aid written by Helene van Rossum in 2006.
Materials from two subsequent accessions were added to the collection in 2008 and 2015. The accessions were processed and the finding aid was updated at these times.
Access & Use
- Access Restrictions:
Materials in the collection are open immediately with no restrictions.
- Conditions for Reproduction and Use:
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. For quotations that are fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For those few instances beyond fair use, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold the copyright and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from the Mudd Library to move forward with their use.
- Credit this material:
Robert F. Goheen Papers; Public Policy Papers, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library
- Permanent URL:
- Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library65 Olden StreetPrinceton, NJ 08540, USA(609) 258-6345
- Subject Terms:
- College administrators.
Education, Higher -- New Jersey.
Endowments -- United States.
Universities and Colleges -- Administration -- New Jersey -- Princeton.
World War, 1939-1945 -- Philippines.
- Genre Terms:
Speeches, Addresses, etc.
- Princeton University
Goheen, Robert F. (Robert Francis), 1919-2008
- United States -- Foreign Relations -- India.