George R. Throop

Eighth Chancellor, 1927-44

1928: Robert Brookings resigned as board president. In December, George Throop was named chancellor.
1931: The Extension Division, which had offered evening and weekend classes since 1919, became University College.
1932: Washington University in St. Louis celebrated the 75th anniversary of its inauguration ceremonies. William Greenleaf Eliot Jr. — grandson of the co-founder — was the principal speaker.
1933: The university launched an aggressive student recruiting drive to keep enrollment from dropping further.
1933: Surgeon Evarts Graham performed the first-ever one-stage lung removal.
1939: Psychology faculty member Winifred C. Magdsick became assistant dean — the first woman administrator.
1940: The university broke ground for a cyclotron, which was completed in 1941.
1942: In the wake of Pearl Harbor, Base Hospital No. 21 was reactivated.
1943: By fall, half of the 8,905 students on the Hilltop Campus were soldiers.
1944: Chancellor Throop retired and the board president, Harry Brookings Wallace, was named acting chancellor.

George R. Throop (pronounced “troop”) was born in Boydsville, Tennessee, in 1882.

He earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees from DePauw University in Indiana and his doctorate from Cornell.

He was a distinguished student of the classics and began his academic career at Illinois College in Jacksonville before joining the faculty at Washington University as an instructor in Latin and Greek in 1907. Ten years later he was named Collier Professor of Greek and, after briefly resigning in 1918 to become assistant librarian of the St. Louis Public Library, he returned as assistant to the chancellor in 1921, serving both Chancellors Hall and Hadley.

“Private institutions, not partisan, not sectarian, not political, not beholden to party or creed, are needed now more than ever in our history to guard without fear or favor a knowledge without bias, and the complete privilege of the search for and the expression of truth. The compelling picture of this responsibility cannot be overdrawn. In a world oppressed by intolerance, by partyism, and other constricting pressures, a free institution is indeed a rock in a weary land.” -George R. Throop, “A University’s Responsibility,” address, May 1941

Prior to being named chancellor in 1928 he served a year as interim chancellor, succeeding an ailing Chancellor Hadley. Under his leadership, Givens Hall for the School of Architecture was built, the university’s Extension Division became University College, and an affiliation with the Central Institute for the Deaf was begun. At the medical school, the Oscar Johnson Institute, the McMillan Hospital Clinics, and the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology all opened.

Throop, although not without his critics on both campuses and admittedly not as gifted an administrator as some of his predecessors, nevertheless guided the university through tough financial times and declining enrollment spurred by the Great Depression and the looming Second World War, adopting pay cuts and establishing an Alumni Endowment Drive, a massive recruitment drive, and an endowment drive funded by local businesses. Still, the pressures of the times made these efforts less successful than they might have otherwise been.

The tireless Throop once described his dedication and work ethic by saying,

“The first element of success is work, the second is work, and the third is work.”

He resigned the chancellorship in 1944 and died five years later.

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