Gerald R. Ford Dies at 93; President Reached Out to Academe After Acrimony of Nixon Era





beral academics may best remember Gerald R. Ford, the 38th president of the United States, unfondly because of the pardon he granted to his former boss, Richard M. Nixon, over Mr. Nixon's role in the Watergate scandal.

Mr. Ford, who died on Tuesday night at the age of 93, held the presidency for just under 2½ years and was defeated in his bid for re-election by Jimmy Carter in 1976. It was a short tenure in which issues affecting higher education did not feature prominently. Mr. Ford focused on trying to control soaring inflation and oil prices and to deal with a recession.

However, Mr. Ford did take several steps early in his presidency to extend a welcoming hand to academics and other bitter critics of Mr. Nixon's policies who had felt alienated from the White House. Mr. Ford suspended registration for the military draft and started a program to give clemency to people who had resisted it during the Vietnam War.

In that and other respects, Mr. Ford's legacy, for both academe and American society in general, was more symbolic than substantive.

For some, his presidency started to bring a sense of closure to the tumultuous decade that preceded it, including assassinations, race riots, Watergate, and strife and protests on college campuses and elsewhere over the Vietnam War. To others, including presidential historians, his tenure was ineffectual and marked by drift, and closure for the country did not truly begin until the election of Mr. Carter.


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