DAA 2012: Paul V. McNutt, BA 1913

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Paul V. McNutt, BA 1913

Paul V. McNutt, BA 1913, used his journalism experiences at IU and his law degree from Harvard to launch a lifetime of leadership and public service roles, including serving as governor of Indiana.

As an IU undergraduate, McNutt served as editor of The Indiana Student, forerunner of the Indiana Daily Student. In 1925, McNutt became dean of IU’s law school, and from 1928-29, was national commander of the American Legion in 1928 and 1929. He campaigned for Indiana governor from his position at the law school and became governor in 1933.

As governor, he reorganized state government, pushed through a social security program, reworked the tax code and burnished his credentials to prepare a run at the presidency of the United States. He had strong popular support, and McNutt-for-President clubs were set up across the country. But he stepped aside when Franklin Roosevelt declared his intention to run for his second term.

Roosevelt appointed McNutt high commissioner of the Philippines, where he worked with Filipino leaders to persuade the U.S. Department of State to allow Jews a legal path out of Europe through the Philippines. His efforts effectively rescued thousands of Jews from the Holocaust.

Later, he spent six years as administrator of the Federal Security Administration, which managed many New Deal programs. From 1942 to 1945, he ran the War Manpower Commission. After the war, he was appointed the first U. S. ambassador to the Philippine Republic. He was featured on the covers of Time and Life magazines in 1939 and was on Time’s cover again when he begin his stint at the War Manpower Commission.

McNutt retired from public service to practice law in New York, Washington, D. C., and Manila. On campus, the Paul V. McNutt Quadrangle is named in his honor. He died in 1955 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.