John C. Whitehead was a renaissance man: a Wall Street business leader, a D-Day veteran, a deputy secretary of state of the U.S. Department of State, a Harvard professor and the original benefactor of the University’s School of Diplomacy.
Whitehead died of cancer Feb. 7 at age 92. Dr. Elizabeth Halpin, associate dean of external affairs of the School of Diplomacy and International Relations, said she got to know Whitehead during the time that he was connected to Seton Hall. She knew him for 11 years and interacted with him when he visited the School for special events and Board of Overseer meetings, among other things.
“I will always feel lucky to have known him, and to have heard him tell just some of the amazing stories of his incredible life,” Halpin said. “Mr. Whitehead’s life is a perfect example of servant leadership, and his legacy will live on through the emulation of his example by our students and alumni.”
Whitehead was instrumental in the founding of the School of the Diplomacy and International Relations, which carried his name until 2014. He had a long career on Wall Street, rising to chairman of Goldman Sachs.
He left a lasting legacy on New York’s financial district, serving as chairman of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, which helped rebuild downtown Manhattan after the 9/11 attacks. He also was the chairman of the United Nations Association of the United States. Whitehead, who was raised in Montclair, N.J., kept in touch with Seton Hall even after his name was removed from the School of Diplomacy. The Diplomacy School was named for him until June 2013 when he requested the school to stop using his name.
“The last time I met him, just months ago, he talked about how proud he was of our alumni and students, and expressed his admiration for the dean and the direction of the School,” said Halpin. “He will be sorely missed by many here, as well as by many around the globe.”