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Grant McConnell ’37

Grant McConnell ’37, September 27, 1993, at his home in Bonny Doon, California. He was a distinguished political scientist and an ardent conservationist. After graduating from Reed, Grant was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford in 1938–39 and also studied at Cambridge and Harvard. He married Jane Foster ’36, in 1939. McConnell served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. After the war, he studied at the University of California, Berkeley and received a PhD in political science in 1951. Grant served on the faculties of Mt. Holyoke College, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Chicago, where he became chair of the political science department. He joined the faculty at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 1969, where he was chair of the political science department until his retirement in 1980. Grant was also academic vice chancellor for one year. Throughout his career, he wrote numerous papers and books on American political science, notably Private Power and American Democracy, which has become a classic since it was published in 1965. Robert Meister, a colleague and friend of Grant, said of Grant's work, "His writings changed the way we think about American political development and formed the basis of much of the most influential work in that field today." Despite these achievements, Grant valued as his greatest accomplishment his work as a conservationist, especially his role in the establishment of the North Cascades National Park in Washington. His love of the North Cascades began when he and his wife spent three years in the remote Stehekin Valley shortly after the war; in 1968, McConnell witnessed the signing of the legislation that established the park by President Johnson at the White House. In 1988, he published a book about his personal experiences in Stehekin in the ’40s, Stehekin: A Valley in Time. Grant was vice president of the American Political Science Association, was on the board of the North Cascades Conservation Council, and was a member of the Sierra Club. He is survived by his wife; son Jim McConnell ’71; a daughter, and a granddaughter.

Appeared in Reed magazine: February 1994

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