About Donald W. Gilbert

Headshot of Donald W. Gilbert.
Professor Donald Gilbert

As an educator, university administrator, and an economist, Dr. Donald W. Gilbert was prominent in civic, state, and national affairs,

A native of Rochester, Dr. Gilbert was a graduate of East High School in 1917, and was associated with the University of Rochester as student, teacher and administrator from the time he entered the institution as a freshman that year until his death in 1957. Graduated in 1921, he received his master's degree in economics at the University of Rochester in 1923, and his PhD degree at Harvard University in 1934.

He was appointed an instructor in economics at Rochester in 1925, rose to assistant professor in 1928, junior professor in 1932, and full professor in 1939.

From 1940-43 he was dean of the Division of Graduate Studies. In 1942 the division was reorganized as the Graduate School, and Dr. Gilbert served as its dean from 1942-48. The high quality of graduate work at the University of Rochester under his leadership led to the University's election to the Association of American Universities, at that time compromised of the nation's 37 leading graduate schools.

In 1948 he was promoted to the new post of provost of the University, and with Raymond L. Thompson shared the responsibility of the University's administration, when former President Alan Valentine was on leave in 1949-50. The Associated Alumni of the University gave special citations to the two men at the June, 1951, commencement reunion for "meritorious service beyond the call of duty," in particular in improving relationships between the University, its graduates, and the community.

In 1951 Dr. Gilbert was appointed vice president in charge of the newly-created Office of University Development. He directed the almost overwhelming task of setting up the University of Rochester's $10,700,000 Development Fund Campaign organization.

After recuperating from a heart attack in 1953, he was named director of the University's Pioneering Canadian Studies program. He held that position until he became ill again, in 1956, when he devoted his time to teaching economics and acting as department chairman.

One of his many accomplishments was the establishment in 1948 of the University of Management Clinics, in which during the years they were conducted, more than half a hundred Rochester business and industrial organizations participated. The clinics won nationwide attention for their important contribution in raising the level of community understanding about national and civic economics.

Despite his full schedule of educational activities, Dr. Gilbert found time to play vital roles in numerous civic organizations.

He had been chairman of the Citizens Tax Committee of Rochester, chairman of the research committee of the Council of Postwar Problems for Rochester and Monroe County; economic consultant and chairman of the Economic Advisory Committee of the State Legislative Committee on Inter- state Cooperation; a member of the board of directors of the Council of Social Agencies, and chairman of the board of the Rochester Association for the United Nations; a trustee of the Chamber of Commerce, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Rochester Bureau of Municipal Research and the Rochester Savings Bank. There were many more like positions that he filled.

List of the Gilbert Lectures.