Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Leaning to Us?

Mission Hills, Home of the Grizzlies

This report in Riverside, California's North County Times says standout running back Eddy Sihavong is "leaning toward Columbia."

In addition to putting up some record stats for Mission Hills High School, Sihavong has overcome some adversity in his life as he had to transfer to Mission Hills from St. Augustine High School after his family's Rancho Bernardo home burned down in the 2007 wildfires.

Something tells me playing Ivy League football won't seem so hard after all that.

Back to History

Moving on with the page-by-page look at the 1961 Columbia-Penn game program leads us to pages 2-3 and the pictures of the top Columbia and Penn admnistrators.

On page 2 we have Columbia President Grayson Kirk and Penn President Gaylord Harnwell. On page 3 we see Columbia College Dean John G. Palfrey and Columbia College Associate Dean John W. Alexander.

Grayson Kirk's sad ending to his Columbia career masks a meteoric rise from a very modest upbringing to the highest levels of academic and government service. He left Columbia after the 1968 riots, but continued to hold prominent positions in public life. He died in 1997 at age 94.

Gaylord Harnwell served as Penn's president from 1953-70. He was a prominent physicist and held many top advisory positions with the U.S. military even while he served at Penn. He died in 1979.

John G. Palfrey was Dean of Columbia College from 1958-62 and was a law professor. He left his top post at the college to join the Atomic Energy Commission from 1962-66. He also died in 1979 of cancer, he was just 60. Palfrey is often remembered by college alumni as the guy who told them during freshman orientation that "guidance and help are available, but maturity is expected." (I think a college administrator saying that today might get sued and fired... but not necessarily in that order).

The only member of this triumvirate without strong military ties was John W. Alexander, associate dean of Columbia College through much of the 1960's. (But Alexander did serve in the Navy during World War II). He was a sociology professor and a career expert on education. Beyond Columbia, Alexander worked for the American Friends Service Committee to help desegregate schools. He died in 2006.

I think it's interesting that today's football programs usually just include a little bit of info about the school presidents and athletic directors. Deans have been pushed out of the picture, which is possibly a result of the fact that there are so many different undergrad schools now at each Ivy college. I suppose you could not include such a page in the program without a picture of the deans from Barnard, Engineering, General Studies, etc. in addition to the picture of the dean of the College. And that is kind of a shame since Columbia College dean Austin Quigley is now in his 14th year in that job, which HAS to mean he's very popular in this day of relatively short tenures for top academic administrators.

Page four has the pictures of Columbia's athletic director Ralph Furey and Penn AD Jeremiah Ford II.

Furey was a major figure at Columbia for 44 years. He came to Columbia as an undergrad in 1924 from Brooklyn Prep High School. He became a star football and baseball player, just missing a chance to play both of those sports with Columbian Lou Gehrig who had already moved on the Yankees by the time Furey joined the varsity. Furey did go on to become the football team's captain in 1927.

Furey was the freshman football coach and director of all freshman athletics for many years before becoming athletic director in 1943.

Furey was the first president of the Eastern College Athletic Association in 1947, a precursor to the Ivy League, and many consider him to have been one of the leading forces behind the formation of the league in 1954, (Ivy play didn't start until 1956).

Furey left Columbia in 1968, another apparent victim of the '68 riots. He died in 1984 in Colorado at the age of 81.

Obviously, there's a lot more to write and remember about Ralph Furey and I hope to continue to get great info about him in the comments section.

Jeremiah Ford was also a pioneer in the formation of the Ivy League. His participation was a little bit more of a big story, because just a few years before the Ivy agreement, Penn was making a play to become a major college football power and TV revenue machine under then-university President Harold Stassen.

(If you want to understand just how big Penn football was in the late 40's/early 50's, and what convinced the school to forget the "big time," you MUST buy a copy of 8: Ivy League Football and America, by clicking here for the the "8" Web site. The Penn story is covered extremely well in the film).

Ford also played baseball and football as an undergrad at Penn through 1931. Then Penn coaching legend George Munger hired him to head freshman athletics and coach the freshman football program in 1938. He left three years later to teach at an exclusive high school in Rhode Island, but came back in 1953 to help make the athletic transition at Penn work after sitting on the executive committees of the NCAA and ECAC, and heading the Ivy League Administrative Committee.

Ford and Munger had a falling out over Penn's athletic "demotion," but Ford's side won the day.

Ford died in 1997 of Alzheimer's Disease at the age of 87.


At Wed Feb 18, 10:57:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ralph Furey was my grandfather and it was great to read more here about him. Thanks!
Sarah DeMerritt

At Wed Feb 18, 08:46:00 PM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...


Welcome to the blog! So glad you enjoyed the post.

At Mon Mar 09, 03:57:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fascinating... Jeremiah Ford II was MY grandfather.

Aaron Gross

At Sun Oct 18, 12:19:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger nancy furey pepe said...

Ralph Furey was my Uncle Ralph. Ralph was my father's adored big brother. Edmund Furey (my Dad) was also from Brooklyn Prep and was part of the Rose Bowl team that beat Stanford in 1934. It was fun to read the blog. I love learning more about the Furey brothers.
Nancy Furey Pepe


Post a Comment

<< Home