Hovde, Frederick L. (1908-1983) | Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections
Frederick Lawson Hovde (1908-1983), Rhodes Scholar, Oxford rugby star, chemical engineer, educator, chief of U.S. rocket ordnance research, and seventh president of Purdue University was born February 7, 1908, in Erie, Pennsylvania to parents Martin and Julia Hovde. He spent his boyhood at Devils Lake in North Dakota. Hovde received his Bachelor of Chemical Engineering degree from the University of Minnesota in 1929. Elected to a Rhodes Scholarship, he spent three years, 1929-1932, at Brasenose College, Oxford University, receiving first a B.A. degree and then a B.S. degree in the Final Honors program in Chemistry. While at Oxford, he was a member of the varsity rugby football team and in 1931 he became the third American in history to win his Oxford "blue" in the annual Oxford-Cambridge rugby match.
Hovde returned to the United States in 1932 to accept a position as Assistant Director of the newly established General College of the University of Minnesota. He married Priscilla Louise Boyd in 1933. The couple had three children: F. Boyde, Jane, and Linda. In 1936, Hovde accepted a position at the University of Rochester in New York, serving as Assistant to the President and Lecturer in Chemistry.
In 1941, following the outbreak of World War II, Hovde was called to government duty with the newly established National Defense Research Committee, which later became a part of the war-time Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD). His first assignment was as head of the London Mission of the OSRD. While in England, he received his Master's degree from Oxford University. In 1942, he assumed the position of Executive Assistant to Dr. James B. Conant, chairman of the National Defense Research Committee, in Washington, D.C.
In 1943, Hovde was made Chief of Division 3, Rocket Ordnance Research, of the National Defense Research Committee. In recognition of his war services he received the President's Medal for Merit and was awarded the King's Medal for Service in the Cause of Freedom by the British Government. In January 1946, he began his tenure as President of Purdue University. While at Purdue, he also served as chairman of the Committee on Guided Missiles of the Research and Development Board (1947-1949) and was chairman of the Building Research Advisory Board of the National Research Council (1950-1952). In September 1951, he was appointed to membership on the Board of Foreign Scholarships of the Department of State and served on that board until 1955, acting as board chairman from 1953 to 1955. He served as a member of the Board of Visitors to the United States Naval Academy, Board of Visitors to the Air University, Air Training Command Advisory Board, Board of Consultants to the National War College, and Board of Visitors to the United States Air Force Academy. He served as a member of the Army Scientific Advisory Panel, Department of the Army (1952-1960), chairing the panel from 1956 to 1958.
Hovde served as President of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (1953-1954), as vice chairman of the American Council on Education (1955-1956), and a member of the President's Committee on Education Beyond High School (1956-1957). In March 1960, Hovde served on a special National Academy of Sciences committee which met at the Jacksonville, Florida Naval Air Station to review the ship-building and modernization needs of the U.S. Navy. He also served as chairman of the President-Elect's Task Force Committee on Education in January 1961. From 1967-1970 he was a member of the National Advisory Health Manpower Council of the Public Health Service of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. From 1970 to 1973, he served on the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. From 1971 to 1973 he was also a member of the Reorganization Committee of the Indiana State Department of Public Instruction. In October 1971, he was honored with membership in the Indiana Academy. He served from 1972 to 1977 as a member of the Board of Governors of the Investment Company Institute. He served as a member of the Board of Directors of Inland Steel Company from 1959 to 1978 and as a director of General Electric from 1956 to 1979. He was also a trustee of the Sears-Roebuck Foundation from 1976-1979.
Hovde was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1957. He received the Exceptional Civilian Service Award from the Department of the Air Force in 1961, the Distinguished Public Service Award from the Department of the Navy in 1963, the Distinguished Service Award from the Association of the U.S. Army in 1963, and the Distinguished Public Service Medal from the Department of Defense in 1970.
In 1967, Hovde received the Washington Award from the Western Society of Engineers and the Gold Medal Award from the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame. In 1968, he was awarded the National Order of the Southern Cross by the Brazilian government and the Academic Award Medal by the government of Taiwan. In 1970, he was selected by the National Collegiate Athletic Association to receive its Theodore Roosevelt Award. Hovde was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Investors Mutual, Investors Stock, Investors Selective, Investors Variable Payment, IDS Progressive, and the IDS Bond Funds.
Upon retirement from the presidency of Purdue University in 1971, he was named President Emeritus of Purdue. In the spring of 1975, in honor of his years of service as President of Purdue University, the Board of Trustees of the University renamed the Executive Building the Frederick L. Hovde Hall of Administration. In 1979, Hovde accepted membership on the Board of Governors of the Purdue Foundation, and he became a member of the President's Council in 1980. Hovde received more than 20 honorary doctoral degrees in a variety of disciplines from colleges and university throughout the United States.