Frederick Paul Keppel

Frederick Paul Keppel
Born (1875-07-02)July 2, 1875
Staten Island, New York, United States
Died February 8, 1943(1943-02-08) (aged 67)
Occupation Educator and philanthropist

Frederick Paul Keppel (July 2, 1875 - February 8, 1943)[1] was an American educator and executive in the field of philanthropy. In education he served as dean of Columbia College, in government he served as Third Assistant Secretary of War, and in philanthropy he served as president of the Carnegie Corporation.


Early life and education

Frederick Paul Keppel was born on Staten Island, New York City, New York, United States on July 2, 1875, into a family of Dutch and Irish ancestry. His father was the senior member of the international art firm Frederick Keppel and Company. Between high school and college, Keppel worked for his father's print dealing business. In 1898 he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University and later earned honorary doctorates from Columbia University, University of Pittsburgh, University of Michigan, Hamilton College, Union College, University of Toronto, and the University of Melbourne in Australia.

Early career

After his graduation in 1898 he had a brief experience in the editorial work of a publishing house, and then returned to Columbia University from 1910 to 1918, serving successively as assistant secretary, secretary, and dean of the college. During this period he wrote and published a book on Columbia University.[2] From 1908 to 1918 he also served as secretary of the American Association for International Conciliation. In 1911 he was decorated by France as Chevalier (Knight) of the Order of the Légion d'honneur.

When World War I began, he moved to Washington, D.C. to assist in the war effort. He established himself as an unofficial adviser in the office of the Secretary of War and was soon assigned to the position of Third Assistant Secretary of War — a position created expressly for him. He served in this position from 1918 to 1919 until he was sent to France in 1920 to act first as the director of foreign operations of the American Red Cross. From 1920 to 1921 he served as commissioner for the United States to the International Chamber of Commerce. He then returned to the United States to become secretary of the Greater New York Planning Board, and in 1922 he was elected President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Carnegie period

When Keppel became president of the Carnegie Corporation, it had not formulated a long-range program of action. Thus, Keppel was free, within the limits of the Corporation's charter, to develop a policy, a philosophy, and a program. He kept a small staff, and sought external help instead of employing experts within the Corporation. Keppel's annual reports at the Carnegie Corporation constitute an important contribution to the discussion of foundation policy. They have had a determining influence on the practice and philosophy of philanthropy as applied to intellectual and cultural needs and opportunities.[n 1] His comments and observations were of particular interest to the American Council of Learned Societies. Before the Association of American Colleges and Universities, in 1930, he insisted upon the importance to the United States of knowledge of Asian culture, and upon the necessity of including Asian languages in American curricula. During his presidency from 1922 to 1941, the Carnegie Corporation appropriated $86,000,000[3] to universities, colleges, museums, libraries, and scientific and educational studies. In 1999, American Libraries named him one of the "100 Most Important Leaders We Had in the 20th Century" thanks to $30 million in donations to libraries and library projects.[4]

Late career

In 1941, Keppel retired from his role as president of the Carnegie Corporation to become the vice-president of the American Philosophical Society. When America became involved in World War II, the President of the United States requested that he serve on the Board of Appeals on Visa Cases. He died on February 8, 1943 at the age of 67.



  1. Memoir presented to the American Council of Learned Societies at its annual meeting, 1944, and ordered to be included in the Proceedings of the meeting.


  1. "Frederick Paul Keppel." Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1973. Biography In Context. Web. 26 Sept. 2013.
  2. Columbia at Internet Archive
  3. Russell, John M (1971). Frederick P. Keppel: Pioneer Foundation Executive.
  4. Leonard Kniffel, Peggy Sullivan, Edith McCormick, "100 of the Most Important Leaders We Had in the 20th Century," American Libraries 30, no. 11 (December 1999): 43.

External links

Preceded by
John Howard Van Amringe
Dean of Columbia College
Succeeded by
Herbert Hawkes
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