Alabama Academy of Honor


Thomas Alva Bartlett

The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 1987.



Thomas Alva Bartlett was born in Salem, Oregon on August 20, 1930. He is the son of Cleave and Alma Hanson Bartlett.

Tom Bartlett wooed and won the hand and heart of Mary Louise Bixby, and the two were married on March 20, 1954. They are the parents of three sons: Thomas Glenn, Richard Allen and Paul Hanson.

Thomas A. Bartlett attended Willamette College, 1947-49. In 1951 he earned an A.B. Degree at Stanford University, where he won the coveted Phi Beta Kappa Key. He attended Oxford University 1951-1953 as a Rhodes Schalar and earned an M.A. degree. In 1959 he was awarded a Ph.D. degree from Stanford University.

During the years from 1956 to 1963 Dr. Bartlett was Advisor, Political and Security Affairs, United States permanent mission to the United Nations.

In 1963 Dr. Bartlett accepted the position of president, American University in Cairo, Egypt. During the succeeding six years of his presidency there, the student population increased threefold and the graduate programs were greatly enlarged.

Dr. Bartlett yielded to the challenge to return to his native country to accept the presidency of Colgate University, where he served from 1977-82. Here he put into operation co-education in a formerly all-male institution. He conducted successful capital campaigns and developed year-round calendars to use facilities more efficiently.

During the years 1977-82 Dr. Bartlett served as president of the Association of American Universities. It was in this position that he identifed major education issues related to research and graduate education.

In 1982 the Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama offered Dr. Thomas A. Bartlett the position of Chancellor of the University of Alabama System with a combined student population of 35,000 on campus at the University of Alabama, the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Alabama at Huntsville.

In 1987, Dr. Bartlett returned to his hime state of Oregon to become Chancellor of the Oregon State System of Higher Education. He retired in 1994 for a few months, but then went to Albany, New York to serve as Chancellor of the State University of New York, a system of some 64 campuses. In 1996, he retired from SUNY and returned to Portland, Oregon.

He served as a member and then chairman of the US-Japan Foundation for many years and served as vice president of the American University in Cairo. At age 72, he retired from all boards, but was called back to Egypt to fill in as interim president of the American University in Cairo while its Board of Trustees carries out a search for a new president. Currently, therefore, Dr. Bartlett and his wife, Molly (Mary Louise) are residing in Cairo.

The following institutions of higher learning have awarded Honorary Degrees to Thomas Alva Bartlett: Colgate University, 1977, Michigan State University, 1978, The University of Alabama, 1983, Pusan National University, Pusan, Korea, 1985, and Willamette University, 1986.