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David L. Cronin SW '60 and Harriet Switzer


“Passing Along the Gifts Given Us”

“A scholarship is a gift that transforms lives and never diminishes in value,” says David L. Cronin, SW ’60, retired Associate Dean of the Brown School at Washington University. Dean Cronin and his wife, Harriet K. Switzer, retired Secretary to the Board of Trustees, are two of the university’s most ardent scholarship supporters, having dedicated more than 38 years to education and student support at Washington University.

David and Harriet learned the value of education and philanthropy at an early age. “My father was the lead founder of the St. Louis Priory School,” says Harriet. “Giving his six children and other students a high-quality education was his priority.” Scholarships enabled David to earn a master’s of social work at the Brown School. “Harriet and I benefitted from the generosity of our families and others in making our educations possible,” says David. “We see scholarship as a way of passing along the gifts given us.”

Gifted teachers and administrators, David and Harriet enjoyed distinguished academic careers prior to meeting at Washington University. While earning a PhD from St. Louis University, David accepted a faculty position in the School of Social Service there. In 1976, he arrived at Washington University as director of the practicum and was named assistant dean at the Brown School under Dean Shanti Khinduka. He made scholarship assistance a priority throughout his 26-year tenure, and worked closely with students to secure additional support for their studies.

Harriet earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Manhattanville College. She subsequently earned a PhD from Fordham University and by age 34, was named president of Maryville College, (now Maryville University).

In 1981, Chancellor William H. Danforth recruited her to Washington University. “I had the privilege of working for 27 years at Washington University with Bill Danforth and Mark Wrighton, two of the most accomplished higher education leaders in the country,” she recalls fondly. “But Washington University’s greatest gift to me is my dear husband David L. Cronin,” she adds with a smile.

David continues to chair the Brown School scholarship committee, and both are active advocates for students. Their generous support includes a gift through their estate to endow the David Lee Cronin and Harriet Kern Switzer Endowed Scholarship Fund in the School of Social Work. “It is wonderful to receive notes of gratitude from our scholars and to meet them each year,” says Harriet. “It is gratifying to know that we are helping them avoid heavy debt so they can move into their careers with their full energies.”

“Gifts of any size are critical,” says David.“Planned giving makes it possible to make a bigger impact than you can imagine.”

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