Requiem for a Heavyweight

By Chad Galts / September / October 1998
November 24th, 2007
What would brown look like if Charles C. Tillinghast Jr. '32 had decided to go to college somewhere else? A lawyer, businessman, and investment banker who led some of the nation's biggest corporations, including Bendix, Trans World Airlines, and Merrill Lynch, Tillinghast served as Brown's chancellor from 1967 to 1978 and maintained a lifelong connection with his alma mater. He died July 25 at his summer home in Little Compton, R.I. He was 87.

Tillinghast's tenure as chancellor coincided with some of the most turbulent years in Brown's history. He dealt with student strikes, worker strikes, budget deficits, a dwindling endowment, and the New Curriculum with the same gruff, hard-headed firmness that helped him steer T.W.A. through the oil crisis of 1973-74. His tenacity at T.W.A, where he was credited with saving the airline from a disastrous combination of fast-rising fuel prices and falling ticket sales, landed him on the cover of Time magazine in 1976.

Although students often referred to Tillinghast as "that Wall Street imperialist," he had a generosity that was less visible than his corporate successes. He endowed two undergraduate scholarship funds at Brown - one named after his father, Charles Sr. '06; and another for his aunt Marjorie W. Shaw '04 - that have aided hundreds of undergraduates. A former center on the Brown varsity football team, Tillinghast also helped fund the Sports Foundation. In 1969, this Wall Street imperialist was named "International Boss of the Year" by the National Secretaries Association.

Brown awarded Tillinghast an honorary degree in 1967, and in 1982 he received the Susan Colver Rosenberger Medal, the highest honor given by the Brown faculty. Two faculty appointments have been named in his honor: a University professorship, created in 1997, and a professorship in international studies, announced earlier this year.

President Gee, whose oath of office was administered by Tillinghast in January, said, "Charles Tillinghast was a true and devoted member of the Brown family. His service to this institution is unmatched, even among his own distinguished family. He will be dearly missed on College Hill."

Tillinghast is survived by his wife, Lisette Micoleau Tillinghast; a son, Charles C. Tillinghast III; three daughters, Elizabeth Nadeau '61, Jane Roberts, and Anne Tillinghast '67; two brothers, including David '51; twelve grandchildren, and eleven great-grandchildren, many of whom attended Brown.

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September / October 1998