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(Connecticut & Merton 1951) (16 May 1929 - 5 Jul 2020)

Prosser Gifford of Woods Hole, Massachusetts, was an accomplished scholar, author, educator, academic administrator, director of think tanks and centers of scholarship and inquiry, and sportsman.

Prosser graduated from the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut in 1947, before going to Yale University to earn his undergraduate degree in 1951. He matriculated as a Rhodes Scholar at Merton in 1951, reading English. Returning to the United States in 1953, he completed a law degree at Harvard in 1956 and then went back to Yale to gain a PhD in History in 1964. While continuing at Yale as an assistant professor he taught undergraduates and graduates and wrote about African History. 

Prosser served as the first Dean of the African History Faculty at Amherst College. During this tough time of civil rights, Vietnam war and Watergate activism on American campuses, Pross was an effective champion for coeducation, equal rights, and free speech. Prosser wrote later that his proudest achievements during his twelve-year tenure as Amherst Dean were leading the commission that resulted in College Trustees admitting women in 1974 and increasing the number of women faculty members from one when he arrived to twenty-six when he left.

In 1979 he became Deputy Director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. Over his eight years there he brought together hundreds of scholars from around the world to collaborate on research, writing, and discussion of national and world issues.

Prosser left the Wilson Center to become the Director of Scholarly Programs at the Library of Congress, a position created for him which he held for fifteen years until his retirement in 2005. He was the first director of the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress that brought together some of the world’s eminent thinkers and supervised the selection of the $1 million Kluge Prize for lifetime achievement in the humanities and social sciences. 

Luke Melas-Kyriazi, will follow his grandfather’s early voyage across the Atlantic and then to Oxford, although Luke’s may be at least initially make the trip virtually. He begins the Michaelmas term as a 2020 Rhodes Scholar at Oxford this fall.