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Henry T. Mudd, College Co-Founder, Dies at 77

September 13, 1990|BURT A. FOLKART | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Henry T. Mudd, scion of copper-mining adventurers and co-founder of the college that bears his father's name, has died of the complications of leukemia.

A spokeswoman for Harvey Mudd College in Claremont said Wednesday that the retired chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Cyprus Minerals Co. was 77 when he died at Scripps Hospital in La Jolla on Monday.

He was the grandson of Col. Seeley W. Mudd, who reopened ancient copper mines on the island of Cyprus. The firm--first under Harvey and then Henry Mudd--has evolved into a major producer of gold, silver, copper, lithium, coal and barite.

The Mudd family had its beginnings in the United States more than 300 years ago. About 20 Mudds served in the Revolutionary War. Samuel A. Mudd was the physician who treated John Wilkes Booth after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and afterward was persecuted and imprisoned. Roger Mudd is a television newscaster.

Henry T. Mudd, with his mother, Mildred, founded Harvey Mudd College, one of the six Claremont Colleges, in 1955, shortly after his father's death. Mrs. Mudd became its first chairman and on her death her son assumed the post. He served as chairman of the Board of Trustees from 1958 to 1981 and remained on the board of the small (560 enrollment), academically select school until his death.

The family donated an initial $2 million to start the college 35 miles east of Los Angeles. Today, one of every 66 students in the entire nation earning a doctorate is a Harvey Mudd graduate, a statistic that places it at or near the top among science-oriented colleges and universities.

The family has donated millions of dollars to the private school, which offers majors in engineering, math, chemistry and biology, including $16 million in 1986 alone.

The student-teacher ratio, about 8 to 1, is one of the lowest in the country.

"Henry T. Mudd more than any other person guided and built Harvey Mudd College," said Joseph B. Platt, founding president of the school. ". . . He recruited trustees, welcomed new friends to the support of the college and helped focus the attention of each of us on developing the best educational programs we knew how to create."

Henry Mudd was born in Los Angeles and earned a bachelor's degree from Stanford University and a master's degree in mining engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Until last year he was chairman of the Seeley W. Mudd Memorial Fund Committee of the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers, which in 1979 honored him for his professional achievements.

He served as a director of many Southland corporations and was on the boards of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, public television station KCET, the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera Assn. and the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, among others.

He is survived by his wife, Vanessa, two sons, two daughters and nine grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at the Mudd campus Wednesday at 11 a.m. Donations are asked to the Henry T. Mudd Memorial Fund at Harvey Mudd College, Claremont 91711.

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