Bixler, Julius Seelye, 1894-Alternative names
Smith College, Professor, Religion and Biblical Literature, 1924-1933. Amherst College, A.B., 1916; M.A., 1920. Yale University, Ph. D., 1924. Harvard University, Professor, Theology, 1933-1942. President, Colby College, 1942-1960. Died March 28, 1985.
From the description of Julius Seelye Bixler papers, 1926-1969. (Smith College). WorldCat record id: 51246150
- Smith College Assistant Professor of Religion and Biblical Literature, 1924-25
- Associate Professor of Religion and Biblical Literature, 1925-29
- Professor of Religion and Biblical Literature, 1929-33
Julius Seelye Bixler was born on April 4, 1894, in New London, CT, to James William Bixler and Elizabeth J. Seelye Bixler. His father was a clergyman who was elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives and Senate. His maternal grandfather, Julius Seelye, was president of Amherst College from 1876-90, and his grand uncle was L. Clark Seelye, the first president of Smith College. J. Seelye Bixler attended the Classical High in New London, where he played football. He matriculated at Amherst College with the class of 1916, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, the senior honorary society "Scarab," won first prize in the commencement speaking contest, was song leader for his class, and also was a member of the Alpha Delta Pi fraternity.
After his graduation from Amherst in 1916, he became an instructor of Latin and English at the American College in Madura India for a year, before returning to the States to attend Union Theological Seminary in New York. In September of 1917 he married Mary Harrison Thayer, Smith College class of 1917. During World War I, he served in the army until December of 1918. He soon returned to Amherst College for graduate study in the spring of 1919, and the following school year served as Director of Religious Activities, while completing the requirements for an MA, which he received from Amherst in 1920.
In 1920 Bixler became a lecturer at the American University in Beirut, Syria, which is where the first of his four daughters, Mary Harriet, (Smith College '42) was born. In 1922, he returned to the United States to study at Yale, and the following year conducted research at Harvard for his thesis on William James before returning to Yale to receive his Ph.d. in 1924. Bixler received honorary degrees from many institutions. In 1924 he became a member of the Smith College faculty, acting as Assistant Professor of Religion and Biblical Literature from 1924- 25, Associate Professor of Religion and Biblical Literature, 1925- 29 and Professor of Religion and Biblical Literature, 1929-33. From 1928-29, Bixler took a leave of absence to study and conduct research at the University of Freiberg, Germany. In 1933, he became Bussey Professor of Theology at Harvard, a position that he held until 1942, when he accepted the position of President of Colby College, which he held for 18 years.
As president of Colby College, his achievements included relocating the campus from downtown Waterville to a 900 acre site on the edge of the town, as well as building 27 new campus buildings, more than doubling the numbers of faculty and students, increasing the endowment from $1 million to $8.5 million, and increasing the annual budget from $400,000 to $2.5 million. He also founded both the art and music departments.
After stepping down from his position of president in 1960, Bixler became a visiting lecturer for the State Department and also helped to set up a liberal arts program at Thammasart University in Bangkok in 1962. He has published extensively, including six books, numerous pamphlets and brochures, essays, contributions to books and periodicals.
Bixler died of pneumonia at the age of 90, on March 28, 1985 at his daughter's home in Weston, MA.
From the guide to the Julius Seelye Bixler Papers RG 42., 1926-1969, (Smith College Archives)
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