President Alexander Meiklejohn: An Inspiring Namesake

Alexander Meiklejohn was an educator, innovator, philosopher, and advocate for liberal social reform and first-amendment freedoms; he served as president of Amherst College from 1912 to 1924. Born in England in 1872, he was brought to the United States in 1880 at the age of eight, educated in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and graduated from Brown University in 1893. He took his M.A. at Brown and in 1897 and received his doctorate in philosophy from Cornell University. Meiklejohn taught philosophy and metaphysics at Brown and was dean from 1901 to 1912. He became president of Amherst College in 1912 and served until 1924. After Amherst Meiklejohn went to the University of Wisconsin to teach philosophy; while there, he established an experimental college. In 1938, he joined the School of Social Studies in San Francisco, where he was involved in the area of adult education. Meiklejohn was welcomed back to Amherst College on several occasions. He was selected by President John F. Kennedy to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which was presented by Lyndon B. Johnson shortly after Kennedy’s death. Alexander Meiklejohn died in 1964 at the age of 92.

Related Reading

Selected Meiklejohn Speeches

What Does the College Hope to be during the Next Hundred Years” — Alexander Meiklejohn’s address delivered on June 21, 1921, as part of the centennial celebration of Amherst College. Published in Amherst Graduates’ Quarterly, Number 40, August 1921.

Alexander Meiklejohn’s Inaugural address delivered on October 16, 1912.  Published in Amherst Graduates’ Quarterly, Number 1, November 1912.

Book Available Online

Meiklejohn authored seven books. The Liberal College, Marshall Jones Company (1920) is available online.