Selecting a College

In the summer of 1956 (before my final year of high school), I visited Harvard, Yale and Princeton Universities and the University of Chicago. I obviously thought that I was qualified at least to apply to these elite institutions.  However, my family was of very modest financial means, and I concluded I could not afford to go to any of these institutions. As a result, I never applied to them.

Grinnell College

At the time I also was considering Grinnell College because of its reputation for academic excellence, its small size and its being located in my home state of Iowa. It, however, was more expensive than the state universities in Iowa and thus also probably beyond my family’s financial capacity.

That Fall, however, a high school counselor told me about a competitive full-tuition scholarship at Grinnell College called the George F. Baker Scholarship. I applied for that scholarship, went to the College for an interview and was awarded the Scholarship. This made it financially possible for me to attend Grinnell, and I enrolled the next Fall at the College. Successful academic performance resulted in renewal of the Scholarship for my full four years for total financial aid of $3,700.[1]


George F. Baker

George F. Baker (1840-1931) had no personal connection with Grinnell. He was a U.S. financier and a co-founder of the First National Bank of New York that later became Citibank N.A. He was a director of many corporations and amassed a great fortune.[2]

Baker’s fortune was used to fund his many philanthropic endeavors. He provided much of the original funding for the Harvard Business School and its Baker Library. He also gave the money for the Baker Memorial Library at Dartmouth College, the Baker Field for athletics at Columbia University and many other charitable causes in New York City.[3]

In 1946 the George F. Baker Trust started the George F. Baker Scholarship program that as of 1964 had provided scholarships to some 700 to 800 men at 25 colleges and universities throughout the U.S. This Scholarship program ended in about 1977. The recipients were chosen by these institutions on a highly selective basis.[4]

In or about 1951, the Trust added Grinnell College as one of the institutions participating in the Scholarship program. The Trust gave the College $50,000 to be distributed to outstanding young men who were graduating from high school during the next four years (1951-54).[5] The Trust’s relationship with Grinnell must have been renewed as it was available to me, 1957-61.[6]

[1]  Letter, the Trust  to Duane Krohnke (May 1, 1976).

[2] Wikipedia, George Fisher Baker,

[3] Id.

[4] Letter, the Trust to Duane Krohnke (Sept. 1964); letter, the Trust to Duane Krohnke (June 25, 1965).

[5] Charles H. Foster, A Quest for Leadership in the Small Town High Schools of America (circa 1951)(Grinnell College brochure written at request of Grinnell College President Samuel N. Stevens).

[6] I have not been able to ascertain the exact period the Baker Scholarships were available at Grinnell.

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As a retired lawyer and adjunct law professor, Duane W. Krohnke has developed strong interests in U.S. and international law, politics and history. He also is a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. His blog draws from these and other interests. He delights in the writing freedom of blogging that does not follow a preordained logical structure. The ex post facto logical organization of the posts and comments is set forth in the continually being revised “List of Posts and Comments–Topical” in the Pages section on the right side of the blog.

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