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Clifton R. and Dolores D. Wharton collection

 Collection — Box: 6766
Identifier: UA-17.428

Scope and Contents

Note: This collection is currently being processed. The finding aid here in not in a final form. It will be updated to reflect changes and newly added materials.

The collection consists of the papers of Dr. Clifton R. Wharton, Jr. and his wife, Dolores D. Wharton. The papers primarily related to his time after MSU at SUNY, Department of State and as a trustee on various boards. Although there are some materials related to his time in college and at MSU.


  • Creation: 1943 - 2017


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Restricted folders are noted in the collection inventory.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish material from this collection must be obtained from University Archives & Historical Collections, Michigan State University.

Biographical Note

Michigan State University's fourteenth President, Clifton R. Wharton, Jr., is an economist who has had a distinguished career in foreign economic development, higher education, public service, and business. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts on September 13, 1926. Wharton's father served as a career diplomat in the United States Foreign Service for forty years.

Wharton attended Boston Latin School, America's first public school and at the age of sixteen entered Harvard University, graduating in 1947 with a B.A. in history. While there he was a founding member of the U.S. National Student Association. During World War II he served in the U.S. Army / Army Air Forces and was an Aviation Cadet at the Tuskegee Institute. After a honorable discharge in December 1945, he was the first African-American to enter John Hopkins University-School of Advanced International Studies and received his M.A. in international affairs 1948.

After working five years at the American International Association for Economic and Social Development, Wharton earned M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in economics from the University of Chicago. In 1957, he joined the Agricultural Development Council, a Rockefeller Family Foundation. As a council associate stationed in Malaysia, Wharton directed programs in Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. He also taught and conducted research as a visiting professor at the Universities of Malaysia and Singapore. He was also a research associate at the University of Chicago and a visiting professor at Stanford, during this time. Wharton later became Vice President of the Council, a position he held until his accession the presidency of MSU in January 1970.

His term of office was often a turbulent one, featuring student demonstrations in 1970 and 1972 as well as a National Collegiate Athletic Association investigation of the MSU football program. Fiscal problems resulting from budget cuts remained a constant problem throughout Wharton's tenure. His major achievements were his successful efforts to maintain the quality of MSU's academic programs despite budget reductions, his commitment to the education of the economically and educationally disadvantaged, and the integration of the School of Osteopathic Medicine with the other medical schools.

Wharton resigned from Michigan State University in December 1977 to accept the Chancellorship of the State University of New York (SUNY), which is the largest university system in the United States. He held this position until 1987. In February 1987, Wharton became first African-American to head a major U.S corporation when he was named Chairman and CEO of the Techers Insurance and Annuity Association of America and the College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF). During his time in these positions, he also was also on the board of many high-profile companies, such as The Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Motor Company, and Time, Inc. among many others. He also was still active in the field of foreign policy as the Chairman for the International Food and Agricultural Development Program (AID), appointed by President Gerald Ford and served as U.S. Deputy Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton.

The wife of Clifton Wharton, Dolores D. Wharton has had her own career on corporate boards and as an advocate for the arts. She has served on the Board of Governors for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Kellogg Company, Gannett Inc., and the Aspen Institute. She was appointed by Governor Milliken to the Michigan Council of the Arts in 1971 and in 1976, and she was elected as the first women and African-American of the Phillips Petroleum Company. She holds a fine arts degree from Chicago State University and nine honorary Doctors of Humane Letters.


470 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Legal Status

Donor(s) have transferred any applicable copyright to Michigan State University but the collection may contain third-party materials for which copyright was not transferred. Copyright restrictions may apply. Property Rights: Michigan State University.

Processing Information

These papers were given a UA 17.428 record group number because they were donated by the Whartons rather than the MSU Office of the President.

Clifton R. and Dolores D. Wharton collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the University Archives and Historical Collections Repository

Conrad Hall
943 Conrad Road, Room 101
East Lansing MI 48824 US