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Julius Seelye Bixler
File:J Seelye Bixler.jpg
16th President of Colby College

In office
Preceded by Franklin W. Johnson
Succeeded by Robert E. L. Strider
Personal details
Born (1894-04-04)April 4, 1894
New London, Connecticut
Died March 28, 1985(1985-03-28) (aged 90)
Weston, Massachusetts
Alma mater Amherst College, Yale University

Julius Seelye Bixler (April 4, 1894 – March 28, 1985) was the 16th President of Colby College, Maine, United States, from 1942–1960.

Early life[edit | edit source]

Born Julius Seelye Bixler in New London, CT, to James William Bixler and Elizabeth J. Seelye Bixler. His father was a clergyman who was elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives and Senate. His maternal grandfather was Julius Hawley Seelye, president of Amherst College from 1876–90, and his grand-uncle was Laurenus Clark Seelye, the first president of Smith College. J. Seelye Bixler attended the Classical High in New London, where he played football. He matriculated at Amherst College with the class of 1916, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, the senior honorary society "Scarab," won first prize in the commencement speaking contest, was song leader for his class, and also was a member of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity.[1]

Early career[edit | edit source]

After his graduation from Amherst in 1916, he became an instructor of Latin and English at The American College in Madurai, India, for a year, before returning to the States to attend Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. In September 1917 he married Mary Harrison Thayer, Smith College class of 1917, the daughter of Hiram Harrison Thayer and Harriet A (Carpenter), of Westfield. During World War I, he served in the army until December 1918. He soon returned to Amherst College for graduate study in the spring of 1919, and the following school year served as Director of Religious Activities, while completing the requirements for an MA, which he received from Amherst in 1920.[2]

In 1920 Bixler became a lecturer at the American University of Beirut, at that time located in the country of Syria, which is where the first of his four daughters, Mary Harriet, (Smith College '42) was born. In 1922, he returned to the United States to study at Yale University, and the following year conducted research at Harvard University for his thesis on William James before returning to Yale to receive his Ph.d. in 1924. Bixler received honorary degrees from many institutions: a D.D. from Amherst College; L.H.D.s from Union College, Wesleyan College, Bates College and Harvard University; LL.D. from the University of Maine, Brown University, Bowdoin College and Colby College; a D.C.L. from Acadia University in Nova Scotia; and a LITT.D. from American International College.[3] In 1924 he became a member of the Smith College faculty, acting as Assistant Professor of Religion and Biblical Literature from 1924–25, Associate Professor of Religion and Biblical Literature, 1925–29 and Professor of Religion and Biblical Literature, 1929-33. From 1928-29, Bixler took a leave of absence to study and conduct research at the University of Freiberg, Germany. In 1933, he became Bussey Professor of Theology at Harvard, a position that he held until 1942, when he accepted the position of President of Colby College.

Colby[edit | edit source]

As president of Colby College, his achievements included relocating the campus from downtown Waterville to a 900-acre site on the edge of the town, as well as building 27 new campus buildings, more than doubling the numbers of faculty and students, increasing the endowment from $1 million to $8.5 million, and increasing the annual budget from $400,000 to $2.5 million. He also founded both the art and music departments.

Retirement[edit | edit source]

After stepping down from his position of president in 1960, Bixler became a visiting lecturer for the State Department and also helped to set up a liberal arts program at Thammasat University in Bangkok in 1962. He has published extensively, including six books, numerous pamphlets and brochures, essays, contributions to books and periodicals.

Bixler died of pneumonia at the age of 90 at his daughter's home in Weston, MA. The Bixler Art and Music building at Colby is named in his memory.

Publications[edit | edit source]

  • Bixler, Julius Seelye (1926). Religion in the Philosophy of William James. Marshall Jones Company. OCLC 609890039. 
  • Bixler, Julius Seelye (1931). Immortality and the Present Mood. Harvard University Press. OCLC 4564571. 
  • Bixler, Julius Seelye (1939). Religion for Free Minds. Harper and Brothers. OCLC 608724808. 
  • Bixler, Julius Seelye (1946). Conversations with an Unrepentant Liberal. Yale University Press. OCLC 1005226. 
  • Bixler, Julius Seelye (1951). A Faith that Fulfills. Harper and Brothers. OCLC 2779275. 
  • Bixler, Julius Seelye (1952). Education for adversity. Harvard University Press. OCLC 603178207. 
  • Bixler, Julius Seelye (1953). Colby College (1813-1953); a venture of faith. Newcomen Society in North American. OCLC 924564. 
  • Bixler, Julius Seelye (1961). In search of God and immortality. Beacon Press. OCLC 555609740. 

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Julius Seelye Bixler Papers, Smith College Archives, Five College Archives and Manuscript Collections. http://asteria.fivecolleges.edu/findaids/smitharchives/manosca38_bioghist.html
  2. Julius Seelye Bixler Papers, Smith College Archives, Five College Archives and Manuscript Collections. http://asteria.fivecolleges.edu/findaids/smitharchives/manosca38_bioghist.html
  3. Colby Library Quarterly, series 5, no.11, September 1961, p.309-32. A Bibliography of the Publications of J. Seelye Bixler, by Richard Cary. http://digitalcommons.colby.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1675&context=cq&sei-redir=1#search=%22j%20seelye%20bixler%20colby%22

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