F. David Mathews
Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation, Retired Trustee

June 6, 1988 through June 2019

David Mathews is president and chief executive officer of the Kettering Foundation.

Prior to his work with the Kettering Foundation, Mathews served as Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) in the Ford administration. The youngest member of the cabinet at the time, Mathews headed the agency with the largest budget. At his swearing in as Secretary of HEW, Gerald Ford said, “Mathews brings to this new mission the strength of youth, a sense of purpose, the skills of a scholar, and the trusted record of a successful leader and administrator. That is an impressive inventory by any standard.” From 1965 to 1980, Mathews taught history at the University of Alabama, where he also served as president from 1969 to 1980. At age 33, Mathews was the youngest president of a major university.

Mathews has served on the boards of a variety of organizations and has received numerous awards, including a citation as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men in the Nation.

Mathews received his A.B. degree in history and classical Greek, graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Alabama, and later received his Ph.D. in history from Columbia University. He was inducted into the University of Alabama College of Communication and Information Sciences Hall of Fame in 2004 and into the Alabama Healthcare Hall of Fame in 2006. In 2007, the Alabama Center for Civic Life was renamed in his honor as the David Mathews Center for Civic Life. He is the recipient of 16 honorary degrees.

Mathews is an avid gardener. He is happily married to his childhood sweetheart, Mary Chapman Mathews. They have two daughters and six grandchildren.

Read Oral History Interview with David Mathews

F. David Mathews (right) in a meeting with President Ford to discuss a Federal initiative to immunize all Americans against the swine flu influenza; in the Cabinet room on March 24, 1976. (Photo Courtesy of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library)

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