November 06, 1997
University Gazette


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  Weatherheads Devoted to Harvard

Albert and Celia Weatherhead are among the University's most generous donors. The family and the Weatherhead Foundation have previously established four professorships at Harvard.

Al Weatherhead reflected on his decades-long involvement with Harvard: "One of the great mysteries of my life is that I do not know whether Harvard did more for me when I was in college or has done more for me since graduation."

Several members of Al Weatherhead's family have attended Harvard, including his father, two uncles, and brother.

His earliest visit to Cambridge was at age 15 during his father's 25th reunion. "I'll never forget that first vision of Harvard -- we sat watching families strolling together across the Yard on a beautiful June evening -- it was heavenly! I vowed then that Harvard would be part of my life."

Weatherhead spent his undergraduate years concentrating in economics and living in Lowell House. Classmates recall his fun-loving attitude. Said Fred L. Glimp '50, who remembers Al and friends jumping into the Charles River fully clothed on at least one occasion: "Everything Al undertakes, he does with great gusto."

Weatherhead confirmed Glimp's observation with a comment on his motivation for the gift. "Doing good, helping others, solving problems, and being innovative and at the forefront of all of life's experiences represent the only happy way for me. Living at the very front edge of life, pioneering, taking risks, and making the impossible possible are for me the very essence of life."

Celia Weatherhead acknowledged her husband's love affair with the University. "He intends to spend his hundredth birthday at Harvard!" she said.

She challenged Al Weatherhead to "set your sights high," and tackle a larger, more significant commitment when they were determining how best to support Harvard.

"We particularly liked the idea of bringing scholars and students from different disciplines together to focus on international issues," she said.

"International relations ranks among the most important areas for Harvard's future in this increasingly global environment," added Al Weatherhead. "There is no better way to discover what is happening around the world than the way Harvard is doing it: by real interchange among talented scholars -- including faculty from across the University and the visiting fellows from the United States and abroad."

He elaborated: "We are trying to create a world that is healthier, happier, more cooperative, and with less stress and strife. The Center for International Affairs makes real contributions toward this end."

After graduating from the College in 1950, Weatherhead attended Harvard Business School and then spent five years at two large public corporations before joining, in 1956, the Cleveland-based Weatherhead Co., the family firm founded in 1919 by his father. The company originally made parts for the fledgling auto industry, expanded into other areas, and was a major producer of military supplies during World War II. In 1977, the Weatherhead Co. merged with Dana Corp. Today, Al Weatherhead is owner of Weatherhead Industries, whose only subsidiary, Weatherchem Corp., specializes in molded plastic closures for the consumer products industry.

Al Weatherhead has been president of the Weatherhead Foundation since 1987. Now a family foundation, it concentrates on endowments for higher education. Since its establishment 45 years ago, it has supported, besides Harvard, Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management, Columbia University, the University of Texas at Houston, and Tulane University.

Tulane is Celia Weatherhead's alma mater. She is an active alumna at the university, serving on the President's Council, and is a devoted volunteer in Cleveland, where she serves as trustee of the Cleveland Botanical Gardens and creates fullheartedly for the Children's Guild -- a group of 60 women who hold an annual arts and crafts festival to benefit local children's charities.

Perhaps Al Weatherhead's fond memories of his own professors influenced his decisions over the years to establish four professorships across the University.

In 1993, he and Celia Weatherhead established the Albert J. Weatherhead III University Professorship at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. The chair is currently held by government scholar Samuel P. Huntington.

The Albert J. Weatherhead III and Richard W. Weatherhead Professorship of Public Management at the Kennedy School of Government was created in 1977 and, in 1995, another gift was directed toward the Albert J. Weatherhead III Professorship of Business Administration at the Business School.

"It all began," said Al Weatherhead, "in the fall of 1962 on a bitterly cold, blowing, blustery Saturday morning just before the Harvard-Yale game." Al cajoled his father Albert J. Weatherhead Jr. '15 into cementing plans for the family's first chair at the University. The Albert J. Weatherhead Jr. Professorship of Business Administration was thus set up.

The Weatherhead father and son then strode across the Lars Anderson Bridge. "With Dad in the lead, we marched into Nate Pusey's office to resolve the inequity of giving the Business School half a million dollars and nothing to the president. We offered Pusey another half million dollars on the spot! Of course, he accepted." The gift ultimately benefited the Kennedy School of Government.

"In my experience," concluded Al Weatherhead, "there is always something exciting going on at Harvard."

Al and Celia Weatherhead will visit Harvard in April 1998 for a symposium to celebrate and dedicate the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. Director Jorge Dominguez said: "We will convene senior international relations scholars to focus on the major issues and pressing challenges confronting the world as we move into the 21st century."


Copyright 1998 President and Fellows of Harvard College