Glenn A. OldsApril 18, 2006
Glenn A. Olds, College's Eighth President, Dies
Rev. Dr. Glenn A. Olds, the eighth president of Springfield College, died over the weekend at the age of 85. Olds’ passing follows by seven days the death of Dr. Wilbert E. Locklin, the College’s ninth president, at the same age.
Olds served as president of Springfield College from July 1, 1958 to September 1, 1965. At 37 years of age, he was the second youngest president in the College’s history, next to the legendary Dr. Laurence Doggett, who was just 31 years old when he became president in 1896.
Olds lived a life of many different facets. For example, he was both a professional boxer (in his college years) and an ordained Methodist minister. His remarkable early years were described succinctly by a colleague in 1978: “Born of a Catholic father and Mormon mother, influenced by Quaker upbringing and Methodist ministry, he worked his way through high school, college, and three graduate schools with honors and distinction – as a logger, ranch hand, park and forest ranger, professional boxer, dance band leader, dishwasher, and country preacher.”
Olds came to Springfield College from Cornell University, where he served as director of United Religious Work. Prior to Cornell, he taught philosophy, ethics, logic, and religion at Yale University, DePauw University, Northwestern University, and the University of Denver.
He left Springfield College in 1965, to accept a position as executive dean of the State University of New York, with responsibility for developing a new international program for New York State’s entire system of colleges and universities. He later served as a special assistant for President Nixon, U.S. ambassador and representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, and president and professor at Kent State University and Alaska Pacific University.
The seven years of the Olds Presidency were marked by significant progress for the College -- in curriculum revision and other academic enhancements, enrollment, long-range planning, organization, construction, and fund-raising. Olds became known to some historians as “the youthful orator,” a trait that was evident at his inauguration in 1958, when he delivered a stirring address titled “On Becoming Authentic” to the 2,000 guests, including 26 college presidents.
One shining moment for the Olds presidency came in 1964, when Olds invited the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to speak at Commencement and receive an honorary degree. Olds resisted strenuous efforts from various sources to dissuade the College from honoring King, and succeeded in getting King released from the St. John’s County Jail in St. Augustine, Florida, so the nation’s foremost advocate of civil rights could come to Springfield to speak and receive his degree.
According to Dick Garvey’s history of the College’s first 100 years, Olds had been president for five years when Sports Illustrated magazine published a major article on the College and offered this view of its president: “Olds is somewhat of a human whirlwind, forever dashing off to this meeting and that while cooking up new projects by the dozens.”
Olds leaves his wife Eva, daughter Linda, and son Dick. A memorial service will be held Saturday, March 18, at 2 p.m., at First United Methodist Church, 1838 Southwest Jefferson Street, Portland, Oregon, 97201.