Thomas Gross Book and Author. Free Spirit: A Biography of Mason Gross

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Thomas Gross will be discussing his book Free Spirit about his father Mason Gross’ time at Rutgers. He will be discussing his memories and relationship with his father and his early career and education.

Books will be available for purchase and signing. All proceeds will benefit the Women’s League of Rutgers University scholarship fund.

Mason Welch Gross (1911–1977), the 16th president of Rutgers, was born in Hartford, Connecticut. In the fall of 1946, he became assistant professor of philosophy and assistant to the dean of arts and sciences at Rutgers University. The following year he was promoted to assistant dean and associate professor.

In 1949, Mason Gross assumed the new position of provost, created by the trustees when president Robert Clothier became ill. As provost, he became the chief academic officer, and at the same time, attained the rank of full professor. In 1958 he took on the additional title of vice president and with the abrupt resignation of President Jones, he became acting president. In February 1959 Mason Gross was unanimously selected by the Board of Governors as the 16th president of Rutgers. Throughout his tenure, Mason Gross considered himself first and foremost a teacher, and he taught philosophy each semester during his presidency. His colleagues and students considered him a masterful teacher and scholar. He also enjoyed football and rowing, and even provided personal financial support for the Rutgers crew team. No one appreciated the arts more and no one worked harder to stimulate interest in the creative and performing arts in the university and in the state. It was only fitting that the School for the Creative and Performing Arts at Rutgers was named in his honor.

Mason Gross died on October 11, 1977, in Red Bank, New Jersey, at the age of 66. He had devoted 25 years of his life to the university. During Commencement in 1971, in recognition of that service, the Board of Governors conferred upon him the only honorary degree of the day.


Sunday, January 08, 2023

2:00pm ET – 4:00pm ET

Ticket Prices



Shindell Choral Hall
85 George Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08901

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