Daniel Patrick Moynihan


Honorary Degree (1975)
Doctor of Laws
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: John William Ryan


The roles of academic scholar and public servant are ideally combined in the career of Daniel Patrick Moynihan. He was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the first child of John Henry and Margaret (Phipps) Moynihan. His father, a native of Indiana and the son of an Irish immigrant, was a reporter on a Tulsa newspaper.

After graduating from Benjamin Franklin High School in Harlem in 1943, at the head of his class, he decided to take the entrance examination at City College of New York - "Mainly to prove to myself that I was as smart as I thought I was," as he later told an interviewer. After qualifying, he attended City College for a year.

In 1944, young Moynihan enlisted in the U.S. Navy Officer Training Program at Middlebury College and Tufts University, where he obtained the B.N.S. degree in 1946. After being discharged from the Navy in 1947, he returned to Tufts University to obtain his B.A. degree CUM LAUDE and then undertake graduate studies at that university's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, where he earned his M.A. degree in 1948 and Ph.D. in 1961. He was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and spent 1950-51 studying at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

When he returned to the U.S. in 1953, he began his active association with the Democratic party. As a member of the New York delegation to the Democratic National Convention in 1960, he was a loyal supporter of John F. Kennedy. After taking office as President, Kennedy, who had been impressed with Moynihan, appointed him a special Assistant to the Secretary of Labor. By 1963, he had moved to Assistant Secretary of Labor for Policy Planning and Research, and as such became the youngest sub-Cabinet member in the Kennedy Administration.

The Ambassador's career has covered a wide spectrum - as author, educator, and government consultant. Concurrently with his uncompromisingly honest, dedicated, and selfless work in government and politics, he continued his academic career, lecturing at Russell Sage College, Cornell University, and serving as Assistant Professor of Political Science at the Maxwell Graduate School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. A leading authority on urban and ethnic minority problems in the United States, he has been director of the Joint Center for Urban Studies of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. He first attracted wide attention as the co-author, with Nathan Glazer, of the book Beyond the Melting Pot (1963), a study of minority groups in New York City. As U.S. Assistant Secretary of Labor, he helped draft the government's first anti-poverty legislation. An expert on urban and racial problems, he has been in constant demand as a consultant to government agencies, Congressional committees, and Presidents. Ambassador Moynihan was appointed by former President Richard M. Nixon to the post of Ambassador to India in 1973-74. In 1975 he returned to Harvard University as Professor of Government.

Ambassador Moynihan has received many honors. Among them are The Meritorious Service Award of the Department of Labor in 1964 and the Arthur S. Fleming Award as one of the ten outstanding young men in federal government in 1965. In addition, several universities have conferred honorary degrees on him.
Ambassador Moynihan is married to the former Elizabeth Therese Brennan. They have three children.