Historian and former university president Sheldon Hackney dies

September 13, 2013 9:20 AM

New Wave staff

Sheldon Hackney
F. Sheldon Hackney, past president of Tulane University, died on Sept. 12.

F. Sheldon Hackney, the former president of Tulane University, died on Sept. 12 at his home on Martha’s Vineyard, after battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). He was 79. Hackney served as president of Tulane University from 1975–80, when he accepted the presidency of the University of Pennsylvania, where he served until 1993.

In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed Hackney to chair the National Endowment for the Humanities, a post he held until 1997.

During his presidency at Tulane, the university acquired new computer capabilities, enjoyed salary increases, established the Chair of Judeo-Christian Studies, received increased gifts and grants, and achieved a balanced budget.

“I had the pleasure of meeting with Sheldon Hackney, Tulane's 12th president, on a few occasions since I arrived in 1998.  I was always impressed with his fondness for Tulane and dedication to student learning and development,” Tulane President Scott Cowen said. “In fact, many alums who graduated during Sheldon's presidency remember him as a ‘student's president.’  Tulane will forever be grateful to Sheldon for his service to the university and we extend our deepest sympathies to the Hackney family.”

Hackney, who was born in Birmingham, Ala., in 1933, received a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University on a Navy ROTC scholarship in 1955. He received both a master’s degree and doctorate from Yale University, where he was provost from 1972 until accepting the presidency at Tulane in 1975. He served as an ensign and lieutenant in the U.S. Navy from 1956–1959 and attended the U.S. Naval Academy from 1959–1961.

He taught history for many years at Princeton University and served on the Board of Editors of the Journal of Southern History from 1972–1975. Among the articles and books on history that Hackney published, Populism to Progressivism in Alabama won the Albert J. Beveridge Award of the American Historical Association.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 website@tulane.edu