Edward E. Griffith, L.H.D. '88
Member of the faculty
October 3, 1992
Edward E. Griffith was born on February 4, 1911, in West Winfield, New York. He graduated from Ithaca College in 1930 with a B.A. in English. Following graduation, Professor Griffith taught at several upstate high schools before joining the faculty at the Colleges in 1946. In 1988 he was awarded the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters by Hobart and William Smith.
Affectionately known as “Griff,” he taught at the Colleges from 1946 to 1976, retiring as professor of English and drama emeritus. He and his late wife, Kay, were a prominent part of the college community for more than 45 years.
Although Professor Griffith taught many humanities courses during his 30 year tenure, his passion was for dramatic literature and theatre, and on campus his name became synonymous with “Little Theatre.” He produced more than 150 plays and directed most of them. He demanded from his actors and production crews the same total commitment he offered them. Of course, it was not the quantity of production that made his 30 years remarkable but rather their quality and diversity: Shakespeare’s Richard III, Twelfth Night, Merchant of Venice, and Othello; André Gide’s Oedipus; O’Neill’s Mourning Becomes Electra (the first college production permitted by O’Neill’s widow); Saroyan’s Beautiful People; Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s Alligation and Victims of Amnesia; the musicals Guys and Dolls, Kiss Me, Kate and Finian’s Rainbow; and Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman and The Crucible.
One of Professor’s Griffith’s greatest successes may have been his production of The Crucible. After it ran on campus for four nights, he took the production to Albany, where it played to several thousand people over a period of five days.
A review of Gide’s Oedipus in a 1953 issue of The Herald, the Colleges student newspaper, captures the magic of production that succeeds:
Absolutely flawless from a technical standpoint, the performance clearly showed that Director E. E. Griffith, who piloted the entire production, had completely outdone himself in his effort to bring to his audience an evening of high theatrical entertainment.... The director, the cast, the crew, and the entire staff are to be wholeheartedly compounded for all their efforts. It isn’t every day that students are given the opportunity to witness a production of this magnitude; it isn’t every college that will even attempt it.
He also directed the Genesee Players (1930-32), the Crawford Players (1933-36), the Glens Falls Company (1940), and the Colleges’ Summer Theatre and Children’s Theatre.
Professor Griffith taught many hundreds of students various aspects of his craft and left an indelible mark on the Colleges.