John Brademas, Ph. D., (b. March 2, 1927; d. July 11, 2016) was a Greek-American politician and educator originally from Indiana. He served as Majority Whip of the United States House of Representatives for the United States Democratic Party from 1977 to 1981 at the conclusion of a twenty-year career as a Member of the United States House of Representative. In addition to his major legislative accomplishments, including much Federal legislation pertaining to schools, arts, and the humanities, he served as President of New York University from 1981 to 1992, and was Chairman of the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and board member of the New York Stock Exchange and Rockefeller Foundation.
Early life and career
The oldest of four children, Brademas was born in 1927 to a Greek immigrant father and an American-born mother in Mishawaka, Indiana. His father ran a restaurant and his mother was an elementary school teacher. His love of learning and books was nourished early by summers spent with his maternal grandfather, who was the state superintendent of schools in Indiana, and possessed a large library. Brademas graduated as valedectorian from Central High School in South Bend, IN. He served 2 years in the U.S. Navy, stationed in Biloxi, Mississippi. A graduate of Harvard University, he won a Rhodes Scholarship and attended Brasenose College, University of Oxford, from which he received his Ph.D.
Dr. Brademas served as United States Representative in Congress from Indiana's Third District for 22 years (1959-81), the last four as House Majority Whip. While in Congress he was a member of the Committee on Education and Labor where he played a leading role in writing most of the Federal legislation enacted during that time concerning schools, colleges and universities; services for the elderly and the handicapped; libraries and museums; the arts and humanities.
Brademas held the distinction of being the first Greek-American member of Congress, paving the way for, among others, Nick Galifianakis, Mike Bilirakis, Gus Yatron, Peter Kyros, Olympia Snowe, Paul Tsongas and Paul Sarbanes.
Co-sponsor of the 1965 legislation creating the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Dr. Brademas for ten years chaired the Congressional subcommittee with jurisdiction over them. He was chief House sponsor of the Arts, Humanities and Cultural Affairs Act; Arts and Artifacts Indemnity Act; Museum Services Act; Library Services and Construction Act; National Commission on Libraries and Information Services Act; Education for All Handicapped Children Act; Alcohol and Drug Abuse Education Act; and International Education Act. He was also a major co-author of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965; the Higher Education Acts of 1972 and 1976, which focused on student aid; and the measure creating the National Institute of Education.
Brademas was also a booster of his district, coming to bat when times were hard. In December 1963, the Studebaker Corporation closed their South Bend, Indiana automobile manufacturing plants, putting more than 5,000 people out of work. Brademas was instrumental in helping the South Bend area recover from the Studebaker closing through his contacts in Washington. In 1964, after receiving an $81 million contract from the government, Kaiser Jeep Corporation purchased the Chippewa Avenue truck plant from Studebaker, and put a sizable number of people back to work building military and postal vehicles. Today, although the Chippewa plant is no longer in use, AM General, successor to Kaiser Jeep and American Motors Corporation, produces the military Humvee and the Hummer H1 and H2 in Mishawaka, Indiana, just east of South Bend. This would have been nearly impossible without the work of John Brademas in the mid-1960s.
Career in education
After leaving Congress, he moved to New York and served as President of New York University from 1981 to 1992. In 1990 he co-chaired the bipartisan Independent Commission, mandated by Conqress to review the grant-making procedures of the NEA. He was appointed by President Bill Clinton as Chairman of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, and is also Chairman of the National Endowment for Democracy and a member of the Consultants' Panel to the Comptroller General of the United States.
Late Hollywood film actress Paulette Goddard left her multi-million dollar estate to NYU in large part due to her friendship with the much younger Brademas.
Foundations and boards
Dr. Brademas served on a number of boards and national commissions or subjects ranging from the arts to higher education, foreign policy, jobs and small business, historic documents and records, and science, technology and government.
He was Chairman of the American Ditchley Foundation and co-chaired the Center for Science, Technology and Congress at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C.
Former chairman of the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Dr Brademas also served on the boards of Overseers of Harvard, New York Stock Exchange and Rockefeller Foundation and the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches. He was a Fellow of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences and The Academy of Athens. He served on several corporate board as well as boards of the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation American Council for the Arts, Center for National Policy and The Spanish Institute.
Dr. Brademas was awarded honorary degrees by 47 colleges and universities. He also received the annual Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.