By Charles Lowrey ’79
James Q. Griffin ’55 is synonymous with The Ivy Club. While he would gruffly deny this fact, anyone who has been part of the Club over the past three decades would respectfully disagree. Jim has both tirelessly and steadfastly served as Chairman of the Ivy Club’s Board of Governors for 32 years. While he has served in this post, 1,916 undergraduates have become members of the Ivy Club, a population which represents 66 percent of all living members. Rare is the recent grad that can’t recall a friendly exchange with Jim about Princeton sports, news on the street, or just life in general. His humility, quiet intelligence, uncompromising commitment to morality and personal vivacity are so integral to his leadership style that these traits have woven their way into Ivy’s institutional fabric.
During his three decades of service, Jim has led Ivy to overcome major hurdles and achieve great accomplishments. During even the most tumultuous of times, Ivy has remained on a path of strength. He has seen the Club through the changes brought on by the differing agendas of different University presidents as well as the shifting demands of an ever changing student body. Among the greatest accomplishments of his tenure are the inclusion of women in 1991 and the major expansion of the Clubhouse.
In tribute to his complete dedication to Ivy and his unrelenting pursuit of the funds required to build the stunning expansion of the Clubhouse in 2010, the Board of Governors decided to name the Clubhouse expansion the “Griffin Wing.” As the capstone to this naming, last year the Board gave the funds required to commission a portrait of Jim to hang in the Great Hall. Acclaimed portrait artist John Boyd Martin was commissioned to create the portrait.
Based out of Kansas City, Kansas, Mr. Martin’s work can be found in a vast array of settings in more than 47 cities across the country. Mr. Martin is a graduate of the University of Kansas, School of Fine Arts, who began his career in advertising as an art director and illustrator, winning more than 150 local and national awards for his creativity and talent. In 1982 he turned his attention to portrait painting full time, taking his inspiration from the Impressionists with regards to discipline, perception and sensitivity. Some of his best known portrait commissions are Ross Perot, West Virginia Governor Bob Wise, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Meyers, along with numerous corporate executives, institutional leaders, academic scholars and leading athletes. Jim’s portrait was unveiled at the 135th Anniversary dinner in New York, to a standing ovation by the attendees of the sold-out event honoring Jim.
While Jim would say that he is just trying to carry on the ideals represented by the Club, we would disagree and say that we all try to live up to the ideals set forth by Jim Griffin. The Club is vastly better as a result of his efforts and we, as members of the Club, are better people because of his effort, intelligence and belief.