The Founders - 1947 - 1961

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Jun 23, 2017
by Nicole Bogart and Oscar Tollast
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The Founders - 1947 - 1961

Despite all the obstacles, the vision and perseverance of three Harvard men – an underclassman, a graduate student and a young lecturer – brought the Salzburg Seminar into being. A fellow Harvard student helped steer that vision of a “Marshall Plan of the Mind” for decades to come.

Listed below are short profiles of each of Salzburg Global's founders, plus a special mention for Herb Gleason, known as "the fourth founder."

Clemens Heller 

(1917-2002)

Austrian-born Clemens Heller fled to the US with his family in 1938. As a graduate student at Harvard, he was the driving force behind the foundation of the Seminar. Through his family’s connections he was able to secure the use of Schloss Leopoldskron for the first session in 1947. Falsely labelled a “dangerous red” and refused permission to return to US-occupied Salzburg in 1948, Heller nevertheless remained engaged, serving on the European Advisory Council and offering advice on faculty selection and new initiatives. He went on to head the Maison des sciences de l’homme in Paris.

“Behind it was a whole concept of human responsibility, of personal responsibility... The great experience above all was that suddenly you learned you had responsibility, you could do things.”

Richard Campbell

(1917-1981)

An older undergraduate in 1947, Richard “Dick” Campbell, Jr. was responsible for securing funding for the Seminar by leading a food drive at Harvard and writing to the World Student Relief-International Student Service in Geneva. As “administrative secretary”, he laid the foundations for a permanent center of intellectual discussion in Europe. Despite being paralyzed in a serious accident aged 18, Campbell was considered a dynamic, charismatic man with great energy and mature judgment. Campbell travelled back for the second session but his ill-health hindered his later return. He remained involved from the US until the early 1950s when he took over his family’s telecommunications business.

“We hope to create at least one small center in which young Europeans from all countries, and of all political convictions, could meet for a month... and to lay the foundations for a possible permanent center of intellectual discussion in Europe... It is not at all our intention to propagate American ways and politics.”

Scott Elledge

(1914-1997)

Scott Elledge, a distinguished scholar and writer, was a young English instructor at Harvard when he became the third founding member of the Seminar. Elledge travelled Europe scouting Fellows and spreading news of the Seminar prior to the inaugural session. By the second session he had started a new career at Carleton College but would later return as a faculty member for Session 24 in 1953. He went on to become a professor of English literature at Cornell University and was the author of a critically acclaimed biography on essayist E.B. White, published in 1984. He was made an honorary life member of the Salzburg Seminar Board of Directors in recognition of his commitment and generous spirit.

“Avoid zealots...who already know the answers to the big questions. Just try to find highly intelligent, well-informed, thoughtful, articulate, cosmopolitan people who have learned to live with themselves as well as with others.”

Herb Gleason

(1928-2013)

Herbert “Herb” Gleason, now considered to be Salzburg Global Seminar’s “Fourth Founder,” arrived at Schloss Leopoldskron in 1949 as a Harvard undergraduate to help administer the third session. As the then editor of the Harvard Crimson, Gleason was responsible for publicizing the six-week-long program. After graduating in 1950, he became the Seminar’s Assistant European Director before starting his long legal career. Gleason remained an active member of the Seminar community, serving on the Board of Directors for more than 60 years, including a spell as Acting President in 1986. He encouraged the broadening of the curriculum, particularly in the area of health – an area he felt passionately about, working in public health himself in Boston, USA. At the 50th anniversary of the Salzburg Seminar, original founder, Scott Elledge singled out Herb praising his dedication in driving the institution forward.

Shortly before his death in 2013, Gleason returned to Schloss Leopoldskron to witness the unveiling of a bust of his likeness, which now stands outside Parker Hall. Commenting on the sculpture, Gleason said, “This allows me to always keep my eye on things.”

Notable Fellows

From its earliest years, the Seminar has brought those who are of prominence and who show promise in their fields. Arriving early in their careers, some Fellows went on to become ministers, renowned academics and industry leaders – and returned as faculty.

Ann Bradshaw

S.1 (’47)

British student; later BBC diplomatic correspondent and editor at the WHO

Ralf Dahrendorf

S.45 (’56)

German sociologist; later Director of the London School of Economics and described by Angela Merkel as one of Europe’s “most important thinkers and intellectuals”

Elsa Gress

S.10 (’50); S.11 (’51)

Danish essayist, novelist and dramatist; later co-founded Decenteret, a collective cultural center for art, literature, theatre

R.J.L. “Bob” Hawke

S. 40 (’55)

Rhodes Scholar; later Prime Minister of Australia

Stanley Hoffman

S.10 (’50); S.227 (’84)

French Student; later founded Harvard’s Center for European Studies

Carl Kaysen

S.1 (’47); S.123 (’69); S.197 (’80)

Harvard Ph.D. student; later professor at MIT, notable economist, and advisor to John F. Kennedy

Marcel Marceau

S.9, (’50)

Unknown artist; later world famous mime and award-winning actor

Göran Ohlin

S.2 (’48); S.143 (’72); S.210 (’82); S.282 (’90)

Swedish research assistant; later Assistant Secretary General of the UN

Hendrik Witteveen

S.1 (’47)

Young economist; later Dutch Finance Minister and Chairman of the International Monetary Fund

Max van der Stoel

S.45 (’56)

Staff member for Dutch think tank Wiardi Beckman Stichting; later Dutch Foreign Minister and OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities