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Chair, Presidential Commission on Higher Education; Professor, Penn State University; President, University of Akron; Chief, Division of Higher Education, U.S. Bureau of Education

Author of: The Company of Royal Adventurers Trading into Africa (1919); The Role of the Federal Government in Education (1945); Opportunities for Study at American Graduate Schools (1921)

During the first half of the 20th century, George Frederick Zook made his imprint on education. In 1933 he served as President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Commissioner of Education and, in 1934, he accepted the head position of the American Council on Education (ACE). He served a 16-year term, increased membership of the organization, was an important authority on education policy, and identified new initiatives to support Fulbright Scholars.

In 1946 President Harry Truman appointed Zook chair of the Presidential Commission on Higher Education. This 28-member group, the first-ever established for examining higher education, authored the report Higher Education for American Democracy (1947). Some of the outcomes of their report included the establishment of community colleges and the increase of federal spending on students with financial needs.

George Frederick Zook was born near Fort Scott, Kansas, on April 22, 1885. His parents were Stephen Douglas Zook and Helen Follenius. He studied at the University of Kansas and Cornell University. He was a full professor at Penn State University. Zook worked for the U.S. Bureau of Education serving as the chief of the Division of Higher Education for 5 years and, from 1925–1933, he served as the president of the University of Akron. His research and writing interests included history and globalization, particularly trade to West Africa, and the state of education in various U.S. states.

Contributed by Torrieann M. Dooley-Kennedy, University of North Carolina Charlotte
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