Press Release: Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. Dies

Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., who served nearly 30 years on the faculty of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, died February 28 at the age of 89. Professor Schlesinger was appointed Albert Schweitzer Chair in the Humanities at the Graduate Center in 1966. He retired in 1994 but remained an active member of the Graduate Center community as an emeritus professor until his death.

“Professor Schlesinger was a leading historian of his own time, one who was himself a major figure in many of the events he so eloquently chronicled,” said Graduate Center President William P. Kelly. “A giant among public intellectuals, he generously shared his knowledge and wisdom with our faculty and students. It has been an honor to claim this preeminent scholar as a colleague, and he will be sorely missed. Our hearts go out to his family and his world-wide circle of admirers.”

Arthur Schlesinger entered Harvard University at age sixteen, graduating summa cum laude in 1938 and from Harvard’s prestigious Society of Fellows in 1943. During World War II he served in the Office of War Information and the Office of Strategic Services. In 1946, at the age of twenty-eight, he was appointed as Associate Professor of History at Harvard and won his first Pulitzer Prize for the The Age of Jackson. In the late 1950s, his multivolume The Age of Roosevelt was published to critical acclaim. From 1960 to 1963, he served as a special assistant to President Kennedy and he won a second Pultizer Prize and the National Book Award in 1966 for A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House (1965). In 1998, he returned to the White House to receive a National Humanities Medal from President Clinton.

Among the books Professor Schlesinger wrote while on the Graduate Center faculty are The Imperial Presidency (1973); Robert Kennedy and His Times (1978), for which he won a National Book Award; The Cycles of American History (1986); and The Disuniting of America (1991). In 1980, he founded the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award with proceeds from his best-selling biography. He published the first volume of his memoirs, titled A Life in the Twentieth Century, in 2002. His last book, War and the American Presidency, was published in 2004, along with a revised and updated version of the Imperial Presidency.
Professor Schlesinger and other distinguished historians helped the CUNY Graduate Center’s Ph.D. Program in History vault from its inception in 1964 to recognition as one of the country’s leading programs. The Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. Chair in American History was established at the Graduate Center in 2001. The current holder of the chair is Distinguished Professor David Nasaw.

The Graduate Center is the doctorate-granting institution of the City University of New York (CUNY). An internationally recognized center for advanced studies and a national model for public doctoral education, the school offers more than thirty doctoral programs, as well as a number of master ’s programs. Many of its faculty members are among the world’s leading scholars in their respective fields, and its alumni hold major positions in industry and government, as well as in academia. The Graduate Center is also home to twenty-eight interdisciplinary research centers and institutes focused on areas of compelling social, civic, cultural, and scientific concerns.  Located in a landmark Fifth Avenue building, the Graduate Center has become a vital part of New York City’s intellectual and cultural life with its extensive array of public lectures, exhibitions, concerts, and theatrical events.  Further information on the Graduate Center and its programs can be found at

Submitted on: MAR 1, 2007

Category: Press Room