The College Board Remembers George Hyde Hanford
The College Board Remembers George Hyde HanfordAbby Hexter, Director, Communications
“True equality of access [to postsecondary education] can be achieved only by the integration of social and cultural differences among the majority and minority alike.” – George Hanford, 1975
George Hyde Hanford served the College Board with distinction for 32 years, including as president from 1979 until his retirement in 1986. During his tenure, inequities pervaded our education system, often preventing low-income and minority students from accessing the resources they needed to succeed in college. The federal financial aid process was politically fraught and difficult for families to navigate. And, widespread concern about over-testing was being voiced by the media and the public.
Thirty years later, we face many of the same challenges. But while we may be in familiar territory, Hanford left the College Board better equipped to take on these challenges, and to ensure that all students have the opportunity to invest in their most valuable asset—themselves.
Through archived memos, letters, newspaper clippings, and conference agendas, All Access was able to gain insight into legacy of George Hyde Hanford, who died Sunday, April 3 at age 95.
- In 1966, Hanford participated in a panel discussion titled “Education in a Confused World” during the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary School’s National Convention. During the discussion, he said, “I think we must consider our purposes and goals in education in the concept…of the need to look at the whole set of problems in the world.” Hanford brought this global perspective with him as he led major initiatives and projects at the College Board.
- Hanford took on critics who claimed the SAT was culturally biased. He created an Advisory Panel on Minority Concerns that met for the first time in 1980, where members worked to “find a balance between the demands for quality and equality in education.”
- In a 1982 article in the ASCD Journal, writer Dennis Gray highlights Hanford’s involvement with Project EQuality—an effort to which Hanford devoted both personal and professional resources that initiated ten years of studies and actions for the College Board, and intended to “redefine and strengthen academic preparation of college-bound high school graduates.”
- In 1984, Hanford responded to Bates College’s decision to go test optional in an article from the Christian Science Monitor, countering claims that tests like the SAT put minorities at a disadvantage, and noting that 20 percent of students taking the SAT at that time were minorities. ''For schools looking for unidentified minority talent, I'd say the SAT, and certainly the PSAT are about the best talent search tests,” Hanford said in the article.
- After his retirement, Hanford continued to be a strong voice in the education policy world. In 1990, as a member of the National Commission on Testing and Public Policy, Hanford advised fellow members (including then-Governor of Arkansas Bill Clinton) to not shy away from shining a spotlight on assessment. “One of the first battles I fought as President of the College Board was for the release of ethnic data in relation to SAT performance,” Hanford said, a move that was initially opposed but later embraced by minority leaders who applauded the effort to lend more transparency to the issue of SAT scores declining for minority students.
We still have work to do to continue Hanford’s legacy of serving all students, and ensuring equity for all students. George Hanford set the College Board up for success.
Photo credit: Micah Brown