We live in an era when Enron buys naming rights to a baseball field yet squanders the pension funds of its employees. So it is easy to forget a time when building names carried honor. Frederick Morgan Padelford, for whom Padelford Hall is named, left a legacy deserving of that honor.
Known and respected nationally as a scholar and administrator, Padelford was involved in establishing a foundation for academic freedom. In 1915 Padelford was among a group of scholars who drafted the Declaration of Principles on Academic Freedom and Academic Tenure, making a strong, clear statement for the necessity of a system of tenure to guarantee freedom of inquiry and expression in academic life.
He joined the faculty in 1901 as one of two literature faculty. When the Department of Rhetoric and the Department of English Literature combined in 1911, Padelford became the first Chair of the new Department of English. In 1918 he was appointed Acting Dean of the Graduate School. Two years later that appointment was made permanent, with Padelford holding the position until his death. He served as Assistant Dean of Faculties, 1927-31, and Assistant Vice President of the University, 1931-32.
Here on campus in 1920, the first book to bear the University of Washington Press imprint was edited by Padelford, an edition of The Poems of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey. 101 years later, John Hopkins University Press is reissuing a variorum edition of The Works of Edmund Spenser co-edited by Padelford.
truth is that the freshmen are the victims of pedantry. ... The time
has come, then, for those
in charge of the freshmen program to 'right about face.' The present
course of study has brilliantly demonstrated its futility. It ought
to be revised with the sole and single aim of arousing the freshmen,
of opening up life to them in as large and significant a way as possible."
--Frederic Morgan Padelford, August 1915, in Washington Alumni (now Columns)
Padelford remained active and influential until his death in December, 1942. It was his forty-first year at the University of Washington. In that year, on the death of its founding editor, Padelford took over the editorship of Modern Language Quarterly, which had begun publication here two years earlier. He was also President of the Modern Language Association at the time of his death.
In addition to his work at the University of Washington, Dean Padelford was an active civic force in the Seattle community. He was Trustee of the Seattle Art Museum, the Seattle Public Library, the Lakeside School for Boys, and the Saint Nicholas School for Girls. He served as President of the Art Institute of Seattle from 1907 to 1910.
Padelford’s undergraduate studies were at Colby College, where he met his wife, Jesse Elizabeth Pepper, daughter of Colby’s President. They married after Padelford completed his Ph.D. at Yale. He was Professor of English at the University of Idaho for two years before joining the University of Washington.
“It is axiomatic that the
more we reduce the mean academic intelligence, the more the humanities
will be neglected in favor of manual and vocational skills and techniques.”
-- Frederick Morgan Padelford, 1942, writing as President of the Modern Language Association