Passing of Ed Gleazer: Father of Community College Movement and Advocate for Peace

By: David J. Smith, August 4, 2016

Recently, Edmund J. Gleazer, Jr. passed away at age 99.   Probably no person has made a more significant contribution to community colleges as Ed. After serving time as president of Graceland University (then known as Graceland College and a 2- year college) in 1958 he took the leadership of the American Association of Junior Colleges, now the American

Edmund J. Gleazer, Jr.

Association of Community Colleges. He retired in 1981. As quoted in Community College Daily (August 3, 2016): “That 23-year span saw many changes not only in community colleges, but in the country overall. Many of those movements — from civil rights and women’s rights, to the Vietnam War — had a tremendous affect on the country’s community colleges. Gleazer was in the forefront, steering the movement into a new era.”

One might not know, though, that Ed played an early and important role in promoting peace studies and conflict resolution in community colleges in the U.S.   Starting in 1990, working with educator Barbara J. Wien, Ed spearheaded the program “Educating for Global Responsibility” which resulted in peace studies efforts at a number of community colleges.  I mention his contributions in my book Peacebuilding in Community Colleges: A Teaching Resource.  When I was starting working on the book in 2010, I met with Ed at his Bethesda, Maryland home.  He was one of the most gracious men I have ever met. He was a strong supporter of my book, and shared with me materials that were part of his efforts in the 1990s working with the League for Innovation in the Community College. Ed’s early work provided a roadmap for those of us to follow and demonstrated that teaching peace could be part of a community college mission.

The Community College Daily article on Ed provides a broad look at his work and contributions.  It doesn’t mention his efforts at promoting world peace though, which is also an important legacy.

Thank you Ed for leading the way for the rest of us.



Published by David J. Smith

I am a career coach, consultant, and head of a not for profit - the Forage Center - that offers humanitarian education training. I also teach at George Mason University and Drexel University. A one time lawyer, I spent many years teaching in a community college where I was a Fulbright U.S. Scholar teaching in Estonia. I'm the author of Peace Jobs: A Student's Guide to Starting a Career Working for Peace (IAP 2016). I've been married to my best friend for over 31 years and we have two well adjusted adult children who teach me something new everyday. I live in Rockville, Maryland.

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