Institute for Corean-American Studies

Martin Meyerson
President Emeritus and University Professor,
University of Pennsylvania

Biographic Sketch

Martin Meyerson, ICAS Distinguished Fellow and Liberty Award recipient, the President of the University of Pennsylvania from the summer of 1970 to early 1981, is now President Emeritus and University Professor Emeritus. He is a member of boards or councils of Penn's Institute for Research on Higher Education (chair), Friends of the Library (chair), the University Press (chair for a dozen years), Mahoney Institute of Neurosciences, and the Lauder Institute of Management and International Studies. He headed the program and the policy review group of the University's Fels Center of Government for over a decade, until 1996. With the former Penn Trustees' chairman, he was co-chair of the University's 250th Anniversary, which was celebrated throughout 1990 and included a national public television series on the changing globe after the cold war. His earlier professorial and research appointments at Penn were in the years 1952 to 1957.

When the building for the University's Graduate School of Fine Arts was named Meyerson Hall by the Trustees, their resolution, recognizing his aim of "one university", read in part: "The extraordinary intellectual and physical integration of the University in which we take such pride is in a large measure a tribute to the leadership of Martin Meyerson". The chairman of the Trustees commented: "No one in the history of our institution has done so much to internationalize the University." During his presidency, his achievements included the union of separate units into a faculty of arts and sciences, initiating a living-learning system of college houses, undergraduate emphases including the freshman seminar program, developing a responsibility center budgetary and planning pattern with the academic deans and the University hospitals, remaking the University's physical center and conducting one of the largest academic fund drives in the country up to that time. The University has established the Meyerson Professorship of Urbanism in honor of the President Emeritus and his wife, Margy Ellin Meyerson.

Starting in 1986 and until 1999, he was the part-time president of FISCITT , the Foundation for the International Exchange of Scientific and Cultural Information by Telecommunications, which was chartered in Switzerland and then in the United States as well. It was a consortium of research universities and its various international teleconferences joined scientists, scholars and public figures by video and computer.

Between 1981 and 1985, Martin Meyerson served as chairman of the board of the Institute of International Education, which administers Fulbright and many international exchanges through its 20 worldwide offices; he is a board member there of over 25 years' standing. Having acted in the early eighties as president of the board of the International Association of Universities, he has been an Honorary President since 1985.

He began an academic career in 1948 to 1952 as an assistant professor of the social sciences at the University or Chicago, in its undergraduate College and its graduate division. In 1957, at the age of 34, he became the first tenured Frank Backus Williams professor of city planning and urban research at Harvard University, and in 1963 was acting dean of that university's Graduate School of Design. From 1958 to 1963, he was the first director of the M.I.T -Harvard Joint Center for Urban Studies, a research group drawn from various disciplines working on theoretical and applied problems in the United States and elsewhere, including Venezuela. He was appointed professor and dean of the College of Environmental Design of the University of California at Berkeley in 1963, and in 1965 was the interim chancellor of the Berkeley campus at a time of major student unrest.

Martin Meyerson became president of the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1966 and professor of public policy. Before leaving there to return to Pennsylvania, Time magazine featured him in a review of campuses as one of four university presidents who "have done uncommonly well". Referring to Berkeley, Time commented "he picked up the smoldering pieces with uncommon skill, winning the admiration of faculty and students"; and at Buffalo, it referred to his "major reforms". The New York Times, in its "Man in the News" coverage when he became president of Penn, called him an "educational innovator".

From 1969 to 1974, he chaired the Assembly on University Goals and Governance, a foundation-supported national effort to aid and improve higher education. He has been a member of advisory bodies at Johns Hopkins University, Harvard University, the University of London, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Hampshire College, Brandeis University, UCLA, the University of Oklahoma and Washington University, and was on the boards of the Niagara University, the Hebrew University, the American College, the Curtis Institute of Music and the United World College (New Mexico). He serves on the boards of the American Schools of Oriental Research (honorary), Tel Aviv University, and starting in 1993, a member of the board of overseers of Koc University in Istanbul, Turkey. An original member of the Business-Higher Education Forum, he was a director of the American Council on Aid to Education, the Educational Facilities Laboratory, the College Board and the Open University Foundation (U.S./U.K.). He held appointments with the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (Director's Visitor) and as an Overseas Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge University.

Martin Meyerson has worked on problems of regional, national and cultural development for governments and institutions in various countries. He was a member for its duration of five years of the six-person United Nations Mission on Urbanization and Industrialization in Japan, and chaired until 1993 the advisory council for the international U.N. Centre for Regional Development based in Nagoya. He also served the United Nations as an advisor in Indonesia, helping to establish a program to aid in development there and in other South Asian countries, and in Yugoslavia (the U.S. member of the mission to rebuild urban Macedonia after its devastation by an earthquake). He was a consultant in West African countries, to the government of Spain and to the Governor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Area and an advisor on programming for France's Institut National de la Communication Audiovisuelle. He was a founder and served for a score of years as the International Governor of the research Centre for Environmental Studies based in London, and is a board member of the Foreign Policy Research Institute and a Franklin Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Having been a founder in 1988 of the International Centre for the Study of East Asian Development, located in Kitakyushu, Japan, he has continued as its overseas board member. Since 1995, he has been a board member of the International Literacy Institute. At ACTION, the American Council To Improve Our Neighborhoods (a national movement of business, professional and civic leaders to enhance urban communities), he was executive director and earlier, research director. He has served on task forces for Presidents of the United States of both parties, on expert groups for Congress, and on councils of the National Aeronautics and Space Agency, the Census Bureau, thc Electric Power Research Institute and other agencies. He collaborated on a national study of corporate education and training, and was a member of the Senior Executives Council of the Conference Board.

Previously, he was head of planning and development for the Chicago Housing Authority, and served on the staffs of Chicago's Michael Reese Hospital (some of his work on that city's South Side was exhibited at New York' s Museum of Modern Art) and the Philadelphia City Planning Commission. In California, he was a Commissioner of the Bay Conservation and Development Commission.

In Philadelphia, among other assignments he has been on the boards of the University City Science Center, the Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition and the Bicentennial Corporation. He is a board member of the Museum of Art and the International House Center, and since its founding in 1988 has chaired the International Selection Commission for the annual Philadelphia Liberty Medal. A few of the recipients of the cash award and Medal, on each July 4, were Justice Thurgood Marshal, Presidents de Klerk, Nelson Mandela and Dae Jung Kim and in 1998, Senator George Mitchell, for his chairmanship of the peace negotiations in Northern Ireland.

Martin Meyerson has been a long-standing board member of the Aspen Institute and the United States Committee on the Constitutional System and until recently, the Salzburg Seminar (U.S./Austria), where he is now a Senior Fellow. Since 1993, he has chaired the board of the Monell Chemical Senses Center -- the main institution for studies of taste and smell -- succeeding Lewis Thomas.

He was president of the Klein Foundation and an advisor to the Ford and other foundations. He serves on the board of the Panasonic Foundation established by the Matsushita Corporation (Japan/U.S.), and in 1996 succeeded Marconi's daughter as chair of the Guglielmo Marconi International Fellowship Foundation (communication and information sciences); it is located at Columbia University. Professor Meyerson is an American advisor for the Japan Foundation/Center for Global Partnership. He chaired the annual Lita Annenberg Hazen Trust Biomedical Workshops for a decade through 1991 (the three most recent of them were on the mind and the brain).

He has also been a director of the Afro-American Film Foundation, the Niagara Institute in Canada and the Annenberg Theater. He served on international juries to select architects and artists for projects in Skopje, San Francisco, Boston and elsewhere. He chaired the Western New York Nuclear Research Center and the Council of Presidents for the Universities Research Association, which operated the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, was a member of the Air Conservation Commission (initiated by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, of which he is a Fellow), and was on the boards of the Academy of Religion and Mental Health and of the Design Science Institute with Buckminster Fuller.

Martin Meyerson was a director of the Saint Gobain Corporation, with its U.S. companies CertainTeed and Norton; and the Fidelity and First Fidelity Bancorporations (now it is First Union). He was on the board of the Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company, and until 1998, Universal Health Services. He is a director of Avatar Holdings, Inc. (land development and utilities) and a past director of the Scott Paper Company (1971 to 1993), the Marine Midland Bank, the Real Estate Research Corporation and UNI-COLL Corporation (computing). He was senior advisor for ten years to Arthur D. Little, Inc., a technical and management research firm.

Martin Meyerson is principal author of the following books: Politics, Planning and the Public Interest (Free Press/Macmillan); Housing, People and Cities (McGraw Hill); Faces of the Metropolis (Random House); Boston: The Job Ahead (Harvard University Press); and Gladly Learn and Gladly Teach (University of Pennsylvania Press).

He was editor of Conscience of the City, a book sponsored by the journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Daedalus, on whose board of editors he served from the mid-1970s until 1990. He has been on the board of editors of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (from 1980 through 1998) and of scholarly and professiona1journals. He edited a book series on community development for McGraw-Hill, and various of his articles, books and reports have been translated and published in other countries. He organized and moderated a U.S. Bicentennial series on cultural and policy issues for Westinghouse Broadcasting.

Martin Meyerson received his B.A. from Columbia University's College, and his M.C.P. from Harvard (the Wheelwright Fellow). He holds 23 honorary ScD, PhD (h.c.), LLD, DFA, DHL, DHUM and D Litt degrees from universities and colleges in the United States, including Penn, and abroad from Shiraz University in Iran, Queen's University in Canada, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the University of Edinburgh in the U.K. He is an Honorary Professor at the National University of Asunción, and in China in 1996 became an Honorary Professor of Beijing's Peking University. For an honorary doctorate from Ohio State University in 1991, the citation read, "Scholar, author, educator, administrator. Diplomat, and public servant, he has brought to each discipline an exceptional intellect and an enlightened leadership." A 1994 honorary degree citation emphasized his "lifelong commitment to teaching", and "to his students". The Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning presented him the annual award of Distinguished Educator at its meeting in Toronto.

He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the American Philosophical Society (and its executive committee), the Council on Foreign Relations, the National Academy of Education and an honorary member of Phi Beta Kappa. He is an Academician of the Acadámie Europáene des Sciences des Arts et des Lettres. Martin Meyerson was the special award recipient, for his theoretical and practical contributions, at a commemorative meeting of the American Institute of City Planners, of which he is a past governor, The Philippine Women's University established the Martin and Margy Meyerson Chair for International Relations, citing the achievements of "that remarkable couple".

He received the Einstein Award of the American Technion Society and the John Jay Award from Columbia University. He was honored by the University of California, Berkeley, "For Distinguished Achievement". He has been decorated a Knight-Commander of the Republic of Italy, in 1988 a "Chevalier de l'Ordre National de Merite" of France, and in 1989, the Emperor of Japan honored him with the decoration, the "Order of the Rising Sun". ("For over 30 years", the award indicated, "he has contributed to the regional reconstruction of Japan and the education of Japanese academic researchers.") Another recent citation read: "Herman Melville suggested that Benjamin Franklin, founder of the University of Pennsylvania, was a Jack-of-all-trades and mastered all of them; one can match Franklin, Martin Meyerson as a successor to him at Penn certainly has come close."

ICAS Web Site Links for Martin Meyerson
2006 Annual Liberty Award Dinner
Bulletin October 27, 2006
Magna Carta Exhibit Luncheon: July 3, 2002

This page last updated 12/21/2006 jdb

ICAS Fellow