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Ph.D., Columbia University.
President, Carnegie Foundation for Advancement of Teaching.
Author of The Rise of Local School Supervision in Massachusetts (1906).

Anthony H. “Henry” Suzzallo (August 22, 1875–September 25, 1933) was a pragmatic yet poignant leader in American education during the early 20th century. He served in many roles in educational leadership across the United States. Throughout his career he served as a teacher and then a principal in rural California, a superintendent in San Francisco, a professor at Stanford University and Columbia University, as well as the 16th President of the University of Washington. He ended his career as the President of the Carnegie Foundation for Advancement of Teaching.

As the son of Croatian parents who immigrated to California to open a restaurant, Henry Suzzallo was taught the importance of humility and maintaining a strong work ethic early in life. As a young child, he attended public schools in San Jose, California. Despite his modest background and subpar grades, he applied to Stanford University and was accepted. While attending Stanford, he divided his time between attending college and working full time as a teacher–principal at nearby schools. While attending Stanford, he quickly developed a passion for studying sociology and education and melded the two into his own philosophical doctrine, “educational sociology” (Farrell, 1999). After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in 1899, Suzzallo attended Columbia University where he received his master’s and PhD degrees in 1902 and 1905, respectively.

After earning his doctorate and briefly working as an adjunct professor at Columbia, Suzzallo moved back west to became a member of the Stanford faculty as well as the deputy superintendent of city schools in San Francisco. In 1915, the University of Washington (UW) offered Suzzallo the prestigious position of presidency, which he graciously accepted.

Henry Suzzallo was the president of UW from 1915 to 1926. He garnered many accomplishments throughout his tenure. President Suzzallo was responsible for the foundation of the UW School of Business Administration, breaking ground on the university’s extensive library (later named after him), and making strides to establish “a university for a thousand years.”

In addition to being the leader of a university, Suzzallo was also a highly-valued community leader during his tenure. During World War I, tensions between Seattle lumber mill workers and mill owners grew, causing the industry to go on strike in the winter of 1915. Both groups looked to the newly-appointed president at the University of Washington for support. In the end, Suzzallo, a Chairman of the State Council of Defense, sided with the workers to ultimately support the war efforts.

After he left the University of Washington in 1930, the distinguished Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, established in 1905 by Andrew Carnegie, selected Suzzallo to become their second president. He passed away shortly thereafter in 1933.

Contributed by Amanda R. Casto, University of North Carolina Charlotte

Farrell, P. (1999). The campus kaiser: Henry Suzzallo, militarism, the University of Washington and labor politics from 1915–1920. Seattle General Strike Project. Retrieved from http://depts.washington.edu/labhist/strike/farrell.shtml
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