In Memoriam, Summer 2018
Fred Eugene Crossland, a program officer in higher education and research from 1964 to 1981, where he was described as being at the “forefront of almost every major movement in higher education”, died August 3 in Gainesville, Va. He was 97.
He was most forceful in bringing attention to the under-representation of minorities in colleges and universities, and his book Minority Access to College, published in 1971, is credited with drawing national attention to the issue. As a program officer at Ford, he was responsible for many grants that helped equalize the balance.
At the time he left Ford, noting changes in structure and priorities, he said, “I believe the Foundation will continue to play a leadership role, but the resources are not as large in real dollars as they were in the 1960s. The higher education community must understand that the Ford Foundation is no longer a bankroll. We can no longer put gas in the tank, but maybe we can help lubricate the engine.”
Fred was born in Snydertown, a small rural community in east central Pennsylvania, but the family moved to New York City and settled in Brooklyn when he was a toddler. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College and both a master’s degree and doctorate from New York University.
But before college came music when, at the age of 16, he played piano in a dance band he formed, calling it Den Raynor and his Orchestra and playing at hotels and resorts throughout the northeast.
And then there was military service during World War 11, as a cryptographer encoding and decoding communications and then as a crewman on a naval amphibious flagship, the U.S.S. Rocky Mount, taking part in nine Pacific invasions.
After the war he joined the political science department at New York University, rising to the rank of associate professor and then serving as an administrator, including dean of admissions, before leaving to join Ford.
When he left Ford he became a research professor and assistant to the provost at Duke University.
He had wide-ranging interests and numerous hobbies and in his later years, as recounted in a family eulogy, “His caregivers would marvel at his knowledge of their country’s history and geography. During his final two years, while in an assisted living facility, he conducted more than 25 talks on myriad subjects, ranging from autobiographical observations to the Supreme Court and Russian history.”
His wife of 68 years, Elizabeth, died in 2016. A son, Fred, Jr., also died. He is survived by another son, Robert, two grandchildren and a brother, Richard.