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Henry C. Galant

Henry C. Galant

November 17, 2010

Henry C. Galant, professor emeritus and founding chair of the Department of Government at Skidmore, died Nov. 16, 2010, from complications of pneumonia. He was 92.

Born Aug. 1, 1918, in Youngstown, Ohio, Henry was the son of Mary and Walter Galant. The family lived in Chicago during Henry’s youth.

Henry started college at Illinois College in Jacksonville, Ill., and then transferred to the University of Illinois. He earned an A.B. degree in history in 1940.

After four years in the U.S. Naval Reserve in a variety of locations abroad and one year in China with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, Henry resumed his studies. He earned a Licence ès Sciences Politiques from the University of Geneva in 1948. He returned to the U.S. and enrolled at Harvard University, where he earned a master’s degree in 1950 and a doctorate in comparative government in 1953.

Henry was a keen student of French government and wrote a seminal study on the French Social Security system that was published in 1955 in Paris. He also wrote numerous articles on French society, including the political party system. He spent a year as a Fulbright Fellow in France in the early 1950s and also received research grants from the Société de Démographie Médicale, the American Philosophical Society, and the Danforth and Mellon foundations, as well as Skidmore.

In 1985 he was invited to Paris to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the French Social Security system, where he was recognized for his contributions to this area of French social policy.

He was a member of professional and academic organizations including the American Political Science Association, the American Academy of Political Science, the International Political Science Association, the Conference Group on French Politics, and the New York Political Science Association. In addition to his professional interests, Henry also was active locally, serving a two-year term on the Saratoga Springs City Charter Commission.

He began his teaching career at Connecticut College in 1953, and a year later he joined the faculty of Skidmore College, where he worked until his retirement in 1986. Henry is credited with starting Skidmore’s Department of Government and helping it to grow and flourish during the 25 years that he served as chair. He and his late wife, Eleanore, were favorites of Skidmore students—they often hosted dinners and parties for the government majors.

Skidmore’s Alumni Association recognized Henry in 1984 with an Outstanding Service Award, noting, “He is truly the model from which later generations of faculty members were molded—deeply committed to teaching, to scholarship, to learning for its own sake, to helping in the creation of educated people whose lives and work, whatever their professions, are enriched by their experience with liberal education.”

Skidmore’s faculty honored Henry in 1966 by selecting him to deliver the Faculty Research Lecture, a presentation titled “The French Doctor and the State.” In 1995, the Henry and Eleanore Galant Reading Area was designated in Skidmore’s Lucy Scribner Library.

Henry was predeceased by Eleanore, Skidmore’s longtime director of publications. They were married 64 years.

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