Henry T. Heald


Henry T. Heald

Civil Engineer – Designer – Builder – Educator – Administrator

Reclamation – Structures – Engineering Institutions – Civic Responsibility

Nineteenth National Honor Member Nominated by the Illinois Institute of Technology Chapter

One would go a long way to discover a more perfect example of the potentials of the civil engineering discipline than in the ongoing career of Henry Townley Heald. Like the footprints of a giant, it reads—civil engineer student, professor of civil engineering, Dean of Engineering, University Chancellor, humanitarian.

His career is marked by long years of distinguished and devoted service to the profession, to students in all fields of endeavor and to his fellow man. A world-renowned educator, an indefatigable leader of many charitable, religious and civic organizations, a humanitarian, patriot, and engineer of high caliber, he typifies the cardinal attributes of honor membership in our Fraternity. Elevated in the thirty-first year of the Fraternity’s history, he is the nineteenth National Honor Member. As a benchmark, a starting point for his career can be established as November 8, 1904, when he was born in Lincoln, Nebraska.

He received his secondary school education in Pullman, Washington, and received his bachelor of science degree in civil engineering from the State College of Washington in 1923. While at college, he served as a student instructor in surveying. During the summer recess he was employed by the U.S. Geological Survey as rodman, recorder, and instrument man on topographical surveys. In the summer following his graduation, he served as assistant engineer with the United States Bureau of Reclamation in Pendleton, Oregon, on the construction of McKay Dam, a three-million dollar project. His work included field surveys, inspection, estimating, and designing. Half of his time was spent as chief of a survey party, and the other half as acting resident engineer during the absence of his superior. In the academic year 1924-25, he earned his master of science degree in structural engineering at the University of Illinois. From June, 1925, to March, 1926, Henry T. Heald served as a draftsman with the Illinois Central Railroad at Chicago, Illinois, designing and detailing the steelwork in connection with new passenger station facilities at Jackson, Mississippi. From March, 1926, to May, 1927, he was a structural engineer in the service of the City of Chicago. His work involved the design of steel and concrete viaducts and bridges. He had charge of the steel design for the South Robey Street viaduct and also did some field work on the Wacker Drive expressway.

His teaching career began in 1926 when he accepted appointment as assistant professor of civil engineering at Armour Institute of Technoloy. He served in this capacity until 1931, working during the summers with the Louisville Bridge Company and the Walter Bates Steel Company. Then he received advancement to the grade of associate professor of civil engineering and assistant to the dean. By 1933, he had become Dean of Freshmen and in 1934, professor of civil engineering and Dean of the Institute.

From this date (1934) to 1940, he held succeedingly the posts of president of the Armour Research Foundation, acting president of Armour Institute, and then president. When Armour Institute and the Lewis Institute were consolidated, he was elected president of the newly formed Institute of Technology. From 1941 to 1952, he held the posts of president of the Armour Research Foundation and the Institute of Gas Technology, holding the two posts concurrently. He was appointed chancellor of New York University in February, 1952, and four years later, he became president and director of the Ford Foundation. He left the Ford Foundation on January 1, 1966, to head the New York firm of Heald, Hobson and Associates, educational consultants to non-profit institutions and organizations.

Under his guidance and leadership, the Illinois Institute of Technology was developed from modest beginnings into one of the largest technical schools in the United States. He formulated a program of cooperation with midwestern industry that made possible the establishment of IIT, and insured its support. His concept of engineering education, as developed in the curriculum at IIT, had an influence on engineering education everywhere. He developed a curriculum emphasizing fundamental science and general education, providing a strong place for the humanities and social sciences, which has been a pattern for the development of engineering education of these times.

His part in the development of Chicago has been indicated by his important posts on the mayor’s committee to reform the Chicago Board of Education, his position as trustee of the John Crerer Library, his vice-chairmanship of the Chicago Land Clearance Commission, and his post as chairman of the South Side Planning Board.

Henry Townley Heald has been awarded fourteen or more honorary degrees. He holds membership, and has taken an active part in fifteen or more societies or other organizations, serving as president of several of them. His many awards include the Distinguished Service Award of the Chicago Junior Association of Commerce; the Distinguished Service Award of the Illinois Junior Chamber of Commerce; and was named, in 1940, one of America’s ten outstanding young men by the National Junior Chamber of Commerce. His distinguished career in public service and educational administration has been honored by the award of the Washington Award in 1952 and the Hoover Medal in 1959. He is an honorary member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. For many years, he has been closely associated with industry, being director of the American Steel Foundries, the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the U.S. Research Corporation, Stewart-Warner Corporation, and Swift and Co.

The Armour Institute Chapter (later IIT) elected Dr. Heald as Chapter Honor Member in 1930. He was elevated by the Fraternity, to the grade of National Honor Member, in New York, October 23, 1953. The ceremonies were held in the Hotel Governor Clinton, under the direction and auspices of the New York Alumni chapter.

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