Malcolm Moos was the first Minnesota native and the first University alumnus to serve as president. Lotus Coffman was president when Moos attended University High School; Guy Stanton Ford (president of the University 1938-41) was his European history teacher; and his first teaching appointment was under James Lewis Morrill (president of the University 1945-60) at the University of Wyoming.
After earning a doctoral degree in political science from the University of California at Berkeley, Moos taught at Johns Hopkins University. He also worked as associate editor of the Baltimore Evening Sun, followed by a stint as visiting professor at the University of Michigan. His books on American politics brought him to the attention of Sherman Adams, assistant to President Dwight Eisenhower, and Moos was asked to join the White House staff. As the president's chief speechwriter, Moos was responsible for Eisenhower's valedictory warning about the influence of the military-industrial complex. Following Eisenhower's term in office, Moos wrote speeches for Nelson Rockefeller and then worked for the Ford Foundation.
Civil rights and anti-Vietnam War protests were at their height during his presidency. In his speech to the fall student convocation in 1967, he supported activism, although he urged that it be exercised responsibly. In an almost lighthearted manner, he observed,"If you participate as an activist in some of the causes of today's nagging society, the stars will not fall from the heavens." The most serious unrest of his administration occurred in May 1972, when off-campus police officers with billy clubs and mace chased anti-war demonstrators down the mall of the Twin Cities campus. Throughout these challenging years, Moos was accessible and ready to listen to students.
Among his administrative accomplishments, Moos was praised for his advocacy for new facilities for the health sciences, his efforts in private fundraising, and his support for the engaged "communiversity." During his tenure the University established African American Studies, American Indian Studies, Chicano Studies, Women's Studies, and the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs. In addition to their teaching and research, a number of faculty in these departments felt a special obligation to make their expertise available to address public and social policy issues. The University of Minnesota, Waseca opened in the fall of 1971, on the site of the former Southwest School of Agriculture.
In 1974, after seven tumultuous years that included unprecedented student activism and economic recession, Moos accepted a position as executive director of the Center for Democratic Institutions, in Santa Barbara, California. The Minnesota Daily offered its assessment of his administration: "Moos will be remembered as the man who tried to keep the University from flying apart as it was subjected to one of the most intense pressures in its history. We feel the legacy of his tenure will guide the University in surmounting these pressures."
Moos returned to his native Minnesota a year later. He died in 1982.
Sources: Malcolm Moos, "The Student in an Open Society," convocation address, September 28, 1967: 6-7; editorial in the Minnesota Daily August 10, 1973, 5; and Stanford Lehmberg and Ann M. Pflaum, University of Minnesota, 1945-1960 (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001), 130-132.