Attention NAE Members
Starting June 30, 2023, login credentials have changed for improved security. For technical assistance, please contact us at 866-291-3932 or email@example.com. For all other inquiries, please contact our Membership Office at 202-334-2198 or NAEMember@nae.edu.
Click here to login if you're an NAE Member
Recover Your Account Information
This is the first volume in the series of Memorial Tributes compiled by the National Academy of Engineering as a personal remembrance of the lives and outstanding achievements of its members and international members. These volumes are intended to stand as an enduring record of the many contributions of engineers and engineering to the benefit of humankind. In most cases, the authors of the tributes are contemporaries or colleagues who had personal knowledge of the interests and the engineering accomplishments of the deceased.
BY JOHN A. HRONES
Henry Townley Heald, retired president of the Ford Foundation, died November 23, 1975, in Winter Park, Florida. For a decade, as President of the Ford Foundation, he played a key leadership role in the development of engineering and science in the United States. During this period (1956-66), university education and research in engineering and science experienced its greatest growth in scope and quality.
Dr. Heald was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, on November 8, 1904. His father, Frederick DeForest Heald, was a distinguished plant pathologist. Henry Heald received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1923 from Washington State College. Two years later he was awarded a Master's degree in civil engineering at the University of Illinois.
After two years practice as an engineer in Chicago, Dr. Heald began his distinguished career at the Illinois Institute of Technology, at that time the Armour Institute of Technology. He successively held the positions of Assistant Professor (1927-31), Associate Professor (1931-34), Dean of Freshman (1933-34), Professor of Civil Engineering and Dean of Engineering (1934-38), and President (1938-52).
The early years of Dr. Heald's presidency were critical ones. Without his perseverance in building a strong board of directors and his early success in fund-raising, the institution might well have closed. He led a successful effort to build the Armour Research Foundation, which drew the interest of Midwest industry. A spectacular growth in research was paralleled by the development of a strong graduate program.
Dr. Heald was instrumental in bringing about the consolidation of Armour Institute of Technology and Lewis Institute to form the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1940. His presidency of the combined institutions was a successful struggle to achieve both quality and financial stability.
In 1952 Dr. Heald became Chancellor of New York University (NYU), one of the largest private universities in the United States. There, his administrative ability and the confidence that funding sources had in his leadership enabled him to strengthen NYU and to enable the University to cope effectively with its manifold problems derived from its urban location. In addition, he was Chairman of the New York State Commission on Educational Finances, which issued a comprehensive report, ''Financing Public Education in New York State, 1956." He also chaired the Committee on Higher Education in the State of New York which issued a report, "Meeting the Increasing Demand for Higher Education in New York, 1960." Recommendations included in these reports were important building blocks in the reshaping of higher education in the State of New York. His tenure at NYU was constructive and successful, and he won the respect of all his contemporaries in urban higher education.
In 1956 Dr. Heald became President of the Ford Foundation, a position in which he served with vision and energy. During the period of his presidency (1956-66), the Ford Foundation committed approximately $1.75 billion for philanthropic purposes. Under his leadership, the Foundation established programs in the arts, the physical sciences and engineering, and in demographics; expanded overseas programs to Africa, Latin America, Japan, and Australia; inaugurated major school and community programs in low-income city neighborhoods; stimulated the growth of noncommercial television; created the Educational Facilities Laboratories; and initiated a special and extremely valuable program of unrestricted grants to support the long-range development of private universities and colleges. The Foundation, under his able leadership, demonstrated, often in a brilliant and imaginative way, how much a great philanthropic organization can do to develop and support the culture and welfare of an entire nation and of others beyond its borders.
Dr. Heald was a Charter Member of the Board of Trustees of the Asian Institute of Technology (Bangkok). He played a leading role in the founding of this private international graduate school of engineering, which attracts talented men and women from more than twenty countries.
In 1966 Dr. Heald founded the consulting firm of Heald, Hobson and Associates, which provided assistance to educational, research, and philanthropic organizations. He directed the study that recommended the federation of Case Institute of Technology and Western Reserve University. In 1967 those two institutions united to become Case Western Reserve University.
Dr. Heald was a member of numerous professional and honorary societies and served terms as President of the American Society of Engineering Education, President of the Western Society of Engineers, President of the Association of Urban Universities, and Chairman of the American Council on Education. He was the recipient of twenty-one honorary degrees. Other awards included the Navy Award for Distinguished Civilian Service, the Washington Award of the Western Society of Engineers, the Gold Medal of the National Institute of Social Sciences, and the Hoover Medal. He was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 1965.
Dr. Heald's business affiliations included directorships of Equitable Life Assurance Society, American Telephone and Telegraph Company, United States Steel Corporation and Lever Brothers Company.
Henry Heald commanded the respect of all who worked with him. He was quiet yet determined in manner. He was a good listener. His thoughtful forward- looking leadership earned the respect of his colleagues, whose support of his programs made possible the enormous influence he had on higher education. This influence continues through the institutions his wise counsel helped shape. We who knew him are grateful to have had the opportunity to work with him.