George N. Shuster: Intellectual, Educator, Public Servant

Today marks the death of George Nauman Shuster (1894-1977), author, editor, public official and college president. Born in Wisconsin, he graduated from Notre Dame in 1915. During World War I, he served with the U.S. Army in Europe. Afterward he returned to Notre Dame, where he earned a master’s degree in English and joined the faculty. He headed the English department until 1924, when he moved to New York to begin doctoral studies at Columbia. There he taught English at St. Joseph’s College in Brooklyn and joined the staff of Commonweal, a progressive independent Catholic journal founded in 1924. As managing editor, he called for greater Catholic contributions to American intellectual life, promoted the liturgical movement, and warned about the rising Nazi menace in Germany. In 1937 he resigned from the magazine over its support for General Francisco Franco during the Spanish Civil War. In 1940 he finished his doctorate at Columbia and was named President of Hunter College, a position he held for twenty years. From 1950 to 1951 he took a leave from the college to serve as land commissioner (governor) of Bavaria during the American occupation of Germany. A few years later he served as the American representative to UNESCO. In 1961 Shuster returned to Notre Dame as assistant to the president, Father Theodore Hesburgh. He stayed there until his death. During his lifetime, he wrote almost twenty books and 300 articles on education, world affairs and religion.

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