CU President Farrand also served mankind

by Silvia Pettem (published in the Daily Camera, March 2, 2008)

The names of Farrand Hall and Farrand Field at the University of Colorado are familiar to Boulder residents. Both honor Dr. Livingston Farrand, CU’s fourth president. The medically trained educator took office on New Year’s Day in 1914. He stayed long enough to leave his name, but his duties became divided in 1917 when he took a leave of absence to head a medical mission in France.

Wedged between President James H. Baker’s 22-year term and George Norlin’s 20-year term, Farrand’s tenure was comparatively short. But even though his attentions were divided, he wore both hats well. The Camera called him an “outstanding educator, scientist, and organizer” and praised his World War I-era work as “far-reaching service to mankind.”

Born in Newark, New Jersey in 1867, Farrand graduated from Princeton in 1888, then received his medical degree from Columbia. He studied for several years in Europe, including a year each at Cambridge and at the University of Berlin. When he returned to the U.S., he joined the psychology department at Columbia, then chaired its anthropology department prior to moving to Boulder to become CU’s president.

Farrand was known as warm, friendly, and outgoing. He and his wife Margaret and their five children, then ages six thru 12, moved into the Presidents’ House (now Koenig Alumni Center) on the Boulder campus.

The pre-war years were a period of transition for the University. During Farrand’s tenure, he was instrumental in winning a ten-year mill levy from the state legislature for capital construction, which paved the way for a unified architectural style on the Boulder campus. Farrand also played a leading role in obtaining a grant to develop the new Denver campus for the CU Medical School.

In 1917, Farrand temporarily moved to Paris to become director of an anti-tuberculosis commission for the International Health Board of the Rockefeller Foundation. In 1917 and 1918, one-third of the faculty and 15 percent of the students also interrupted their careers and studies to enlist in the “war to end all wars.” Farrand left George Norlin, professor of Greek, in charge as acting president.

Farrand returned to CU in 1918 to give the commencement address, then he went back overseas. The following year, Farrand was still officially CU’s president, while at the same time directing the work of the American Red Cross during its transition from war to peace.

Instead of returning to CU when his war-time work was done, Farrand accepted the presidency of Cornell University, in Ithaca N.Y., where he remained until his retirement in 1937. Meanwhile, Norlin had officially become CU’s fifth president and continued in that position for 20 years.

Norlin stepped down in 1939, the year that Farrand died at the age of 72. In his honor, the flag on CU’s Old Main was lowered to half-mast. Meanwhile the writer of Farrand’s obituary in the Camera stated that the former president was “loved by students, townspeople, and faculty alike” and called the former resident “one of the most distinguished of United States citizens.”

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