Abraham Lincoln Gordon, a former educator and diplomat who during his tenure as the ninth president of the Johns Hopkins University led the way in 1970 in bringing co-education to the university's Homewood campus, died Saturday in his sleep at Collington Episcopal Life Care in Mitchellville.
He was 96.
"With his shock of white hair and his ever-present pipe, Lincoln Gordon, the newly appointed president of the Johns Hopkins University, looks like a casting director's idea of a college professor," reported The Sun when he succeeded Dr. Milton S. Eisenhower in 1967 as Hopkins president.
"He is a member of a new breed looming ever larger in American public life - the pragmatic academician-technician who moves with facility from the lecture hall to the administrator's desk," said the newspaper article.
It was Dr. Gordon's adoption of a student-faculty-administration recommendation in 1969 that resulted in women being allowed to enter, for the first time in 94 years, the all-male undergraduate program at Hopkins in the spring of 1970.
Dr. Gordon's stormy four years at Hopkins was marked by anti-war protests in the spring of 1970. Even though he had expressed his opposition to the Vietnam War, the university's executive offices were occupied briefly by students.
Concurrently, the university was buffeted by the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Faced with an operating deficit of more than $4 million, Dr. Gordon ordered cuts across the board, which engendered faculty protests.
At the time of his resignation in 1971, Dr. Gordon explained to The Evening Sun that he had "no inclination to defend my record or to debate the so-called issues, some real and some fabricated, which have created tensions in our midst."
He added: "I have concluded that the best interests of the university will be served by younger and more vigorous leadership in the difficult years which lie ahead."
From 1972 to 1975, Dr. Gordon, who lived in Washington, was a fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars at the Smithsonian Institution.
In the late 1970s, he joined Resources for the Future, a research and policy organization, in Washington.
For the past 25 years, Dr. Gordon was an economist and later senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, also in Washington.
"He never retired," said a son, Robert Gordon, who lives in New Haven, Conn.
Dr. Lincoln, who did not use his first name, was born and raised in New York City. His father was a lawyer and his mother an NBC and WQXR broadcaster who moderated youth forums on those radio stations.
After graduating from the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in Riverdale, N.Y., Dr. Gordon earned his bachelor's degree summa cum laude from Harvard University in 1933, where he was also a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
He was named a Rhodes Scholar and studied at Oxford University, where he received his doctorate in philosophy in 1936.
"He went through Harvard in three years and was 19 when he graduated. And by the time he was 25, he had published his first book, 'The Public Corporation in Great Britain,' which he revised from his thesis," his son said.
From 1936 to 1941, he was an instructor in government at Harvard. He was also a research technician in water and energy resources for the U.S. National Resources and Planning Board from 1939 to 1940, and a senior economic analyst for the advisory commission of the Council of National Defense.
From 1942 to 1945, Dr. Gordon held a variety of posts with the War Production Board, the final one as vice chairman.
He returned to Harvard where he taught until the late 1940s, when he was sent to Paris and London as an administrator of the Marshall Plan, which aided European recovery in the wake of World War II, and served as economic adviser to Ambassador W. Averell Harriman.
"He was one of the architects of the Marshall Plan," his son said.
Dr. Gordon had also served as a consultant to the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission before returning to Harvard for a third time in 1955 as William Ziegler Professor of International Economic Relations.
In 1961, after the election of President John F. Kennedy, Dr. Gordon was assigned to an interim task force that developed the Alliance for Progress, a Kennedy-era program that supplied aid to Latin America in an attempt to ward off revolution and socialism.
Later that year, President Kennedy named Dr. Gordon ambassador to Brazil, a position he held until 1966, when President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed him assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs.
When Dr. Gordon resigned to take the job at Hopkins, President Johnson praised his work.
"You have brought to Latin American affairs in the last six years a rare combination of experience and scholarship, idealism and practical judgment. ... In the past year you have helped head the Alliance for Progress to a point where it is no longer a concept of hope, but a working reality," he told The Sun of Dr. Gordon.
Some of Dr. Gordon's books included "Government and the American Economy" (1941), "United States Manufacturing in Brazil" (1961), "A New Deal for Latin America" (1963), "Representation of the U.S. Abroad" (1964), "Energy Strategies for Developing Nations" (1981), "Eroding Empire: Western Relations with Eastern Europe" (1987) and "Brazil's Second Chance" (2001).
Dr. Gordon was an accomplished cabinetmaker and enjoyed playing the cello.
His wife of 50 years, the former Allison Wright, died in 1987.
Plans for a memorial service to be held in Washington in the spring were incomplete yesterday.
Also surviving is another son, Hugh Gordon of Ardmore, Pa.; two daughters, Sally Gordon of Los Angeles and Amy Gordon of Gill, Mass.; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun