Howard Dillingham, 1904-1998

He was the president who brought IC up the hill and into the limelight.

Howard Dillingham, the fourth president of Ithaca College, died on Saturday, April 25, in Missoula, Montana, at age 93. Dillingham served from 1957 to 1970 as president of Ithaca College, taking the institution from a collection of buildings scattered throughout downtown Ithaca to a modern campus on South Hill. He was named president emeritus in 1970.

"Howard Dillingham could be called the builder of Ithaca College not only because he turned his predecessor Leonard Job's vision of a South Hill campus into a reality, but also because of his role in creating the comprehensive institution -- combining the liberal arts with professional programs of study -- that is the hallmark of Ithaca College today," says Herman E. Muller Jr. '51, chairman of the Ithaca College Board of Trustees.

Dillingham was born on October 11, 1904, on a farm in Elba, New York. After earning a bachelor's degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, he spent six years as a merchandising manager. He began his career in education in 1933 as director of the Auburn Collegiate Center. After receiving his master's and Ph.D. degrees from Syracuse University, he served as dean of Rider College in Trenton, New Jersey; headmaster of the Manlius School in Manlius, New York; and headmaster of the Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville, Georgia.

He returned to upstate New York in 1951 as assistant to Ithaca College president Leonard Job, with responsibilities for development and alumni affairs. Named a vice president in 1953, he dealt primarily with instruction, faculty, and student affairs. Upon Job's retirement, Dillingham was selected by the board of trustees as his successor in February 1957.

Dillingham and his wife, Dorothy Hoyt Dillingham, who died in November 1997 (ICQ, winter 1998), were largely responsible for the creation of the present campus on South Hill. A 1965 Time magazine article, "How to Buy a Campus," described how Dillingham and the board built 23 new buildings for the College: "With no endowment, no dependable support from foundations or industry, and only 4,000 alumni (most of them unaffluent teachers) Ithaca nevertheless managed to raise $30 million in five years -- all but $250,000 of it through government loans and government-floated bonds." The article also took note of Dillingham's success in raising academic standards.

James J. Whalen, president emeritus of the College, says, "Howard was a great man. The College owes tremendous thanks to him for having the vision of what the College could be and the courage to follow through on his vision . . . to make it a school that the rest of us could be so proud of. He was tough, but also a very caring guy, someone I respected very much. He was a special man at a special time."

Ithaca College's performing arts building was dedicated as the Dillingham Center for the Performing Arts in 1973, and Dillingham was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree by the College in 1979. He held other honorary degrees, as well. Among his many civic activities, he was chairman of the board of trustees of the College Center of the Finger Lakes and president of the board of trustees of Tompkins County Hospital; served on the Ithaca school board and on the board of trustees of the Ithaca Festival, Tompkins County Trust Company, and Ithaca Savings and Loan Association; and was president of Ithaca Enterprises.

The Howard and Dorothy Dillingham Memorial Scholarship Fund at Ithaca College has been established. A joint memorial service for the Dillinghams was held at Muller Chapel on May 16.  

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Web pages created by Andrejs Ozolins. 19 Oct 1999