Born and raised in Morrisville, Vermont, Robert A. Ellsworth graduated from City College in New York and Columbia University. During World War II he served as an officer in the Navy, stationed in the Caribbean and Latin America.
After the war, Professor Ellsworth was with the U.S. Embassy’s Political Affairs Division in Japan for three years. In the 1950s, he headed the State Department’s Point IV food support program in Columbia.
He traveled around the world four times and spent 17 years as a full-time JSC professor (1957 to 1973), including several years as chair of JSC’s humanities department, then known as “the social sciences division.” Professor Ellsworth was personally involved in world affairs more than most college professors and modeled his teachings of history not to represent outdated legends and fancies but to focus on history’s impact on present cultures. He coordinated numerous student trips to Latin America while teaching about that region, American foreign policy, international relations and Russian history.
“Bob was interested in keeping people growing and learning about cultures,” remembers Camille Vickers, a close friend and now Curator of the Ellsworth Trust. “He wanted students to travel more, because he felt that if you traveled - went out and met the Russians on their own street, looked into their eyes and knew that they weren’t going to bomb you - you would learn that history is about people, and how it influences their day-to-day lives.”
On May 4, 1990, the Vermont State Colleges honored Professor Ellsworth by awarding him an Honorary Doctorate and Professor Emeritus of Latin American History status.
After his retirement, Professor Ellsworth generously established the Robert Alden Ellsworth Trust in hopes of perpetuating his role in providing educational experience for the students and graduates of JSC. Although Professor Ellsworth passed away fifteen years ago, it is hard to miss his impact and presence at JSC with the Trust, the Ellsworth Rooms and their exhibits, the annual Ellsworth Lectures, and scholarships that all bear his name and spirit, continuing to perpetuate a love of history, teaching and travel.