Alan Pifer

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"Alan Pifer, the sixth president of The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, died on October 31, 2005. He was 84. Throughout his career, Pifer focused on education, social justice and strengthening the rights of historically disadvantaged groups, including women. A leader in philanthropy and the nonprofit world, his legacy is institutional transparency, accountability and the highest ethical standards.

"Pifer served as vice president of the Carnegie Foundation from 1963 to 1965, then as president from 1965 to 1979. He served concurrently as president of Carnegie Corporation, and continued in that role until 1982.

"Believing that unequal educational opportunity was at the heart of some of the nation’s greatest problems, Pifer told the New York Times: “The number one priority has got to be children. What worries me is not just the humanitarian issue involved but also the failure to understand that investing in children is the smartest thing we can do for the country’s future.”

"Among Carnegie’s priorities during Pifer’s presidency were projects in early childhood learning, with research programs to show the positive long-term effects of organized education at an early age, particularly among disadvantaged children. Pifer led Carnegie support for educational children's television and launched the Children's Television Workshop (now the Sesame Workshop), which produced the landmark PBS series Sesame Street.

"Pifer also led the Foundation into efforts directed at higher education. He invited Clark Kerr, former president of the University of California system, to chair a special commission to study the financing of higher education. During Pifer’s presidency, the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education and the Carnegie Council on Policy Studies in Higher Education published more than 120 reports and studies on higher education in the United States. The Commission’s work contributed to the development of the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) and the Pell Grant Program.

"Carnegie Corporation's grantmaking strategies, under Pifer’s direction, began to center on preventing educational disadvantage, promoting educational opportunity and broadening opportunities in higher education. Beginning in the 1970s, Pifer was instrumental in reinstituting Carnegie Corporation's involvement in South Africa after a long hiatus and supported the formation of public interest law projects that challenged apartheid policies. These organizations continue to have a lasting impact on South African society. He become a founding fellow of the African Studies Association and a member of the Management Committee for the U.S.-South Africa Leader Exchange Program and a trustee of the African American Institute. Under Pifer's direction, Carnegie Corporation joined with the Ford and Rockefeller foundations and others in supporting educational litigation by civil rights organizations and launched a multifaceted program to train black lawyers in the South for the practice of public interest law and to increase the legal representation of blacks.

"Upon retiring from Carnegie Corporation in 1982, Pifer continued his public service by continuing to focus on social inequality. He headed the Aging Society Project that studied the social consequences that might develop as America's "baby boomer" population reached retirement age. The study's findings and conclusions were published in a book entitled Our Aging Society: Paradox and Promise.

"Alan Jay Pifer was born in Boston, graduated from Harvard University, and received the Lionel de Jersey Harvard Fellowship at Emmanuel College, Cambridge University, for graduate study. He won a Bronze Star in the Battle of the Bulge, serving as a Captain in the U.S. Army 11th Armored Division in World War II. From 1948 to 1953, he served as executive secretary of the United States Educational Commission of the United Kingdom, where he administered the Fulbright Scholar Program.

"Pifer's public service was substantial. He served as chairman of President-elect Nixon's Task Force on Education, the Mayor's Advisory Committee for the Board of Higher Education of New York City, and the Education Task Force of the New York Urban Coalition. He was a director of the Federal Reserve Bank in New York, an Overseer of Harvard University, a trustee of the American Ditchley Foundation, a director of the Council on Foundations, and a member of the Senior Executive Council of The Conference Board.

"Pifer was also a member of the Research and Development Center Panel, Cooperative Research Program at what was then the U.S. Office of Education, a member of the Advisory Council of Columbia University's School of Social Work, and a member of the Advisory Committee on Higher Education for the former U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare." [1]

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  1. Former Carnegie Foundation President Alan Pifer Dies at 84, Carnegie Foundation, accessed March 22, 2010.