By Charles Lowrey ’79
We all recognized that old tweed jacket. Often you’d find him sitting in the foyer, newspaper open wide as he combed through articles in the Daily Princetonian, or he’d join you for lunch to share tales of hay baling and sheep farming. He was always there and seemed almost synonymous with Ivy, so it is now hard to imagine Ivy without him.
This spring, we lost our beloved James Q. Griffin ’55, President of the Ivy Club Board of Directors for 34 years, and surely the greatest advocate Ivy has ever known. During his three decades at the helm, Jim oversaw major changes including the admission of women; the establishment of the Ivy 1879 Foundation, our educational arm; and, of course, the splendid addition to Ivy’s Clubhouse, now named the Griffin Wing in recognition of his driving efforts to bring it to fruition.
Even more notable than these outstanding accomplishments was the manner in which Jim led the Club to such great achievements. Despite his 1950’s professorial attire, he was contemporary in his thinking and had his finger on the pulse of modern day realities. He was a consensual leader, always looking to others for their opinions and approvals, and yet, at the end of the day, he would subtlety sway us to his ideas. In a gentle, kind manner he held us all to his high standards, yet managed to have empathy and understanding for undergraduate mischief, often chuckling at misbehavior. I think we can all agree that we sat up a little straighter when he entered the room, as he drove us to be the best of ourselves.
I am not about to run out and purchase a tweed jacket. Jim has left huge shoes to fill, and I do not pretend to think that even a group of us can fill them. As we move into this next chapter of Ivy’s story, I want it to be one that all of us—board members, graduate members, and undergraduate members write together. The great strength of Ivy lies in each of us and the joint value we can create in unison. I encourage you, as graduate members, to get involved. Come back to the Club when you are on campus, join us for Leadership Programs and the Graduate Member Dinner. Be an active part of Ivy because, as Jim taught us through his example, it is being present that provides the gentle guiding force to ensure Ivy embodies the values we share.