Herbert “Herb” Gleason
The Fourth Founder
Herbert “Herb” Gleason first walked through the gates of Schloss Leopoldskron in 1949. He made his final trip to Salzburg in 2013, and attended his final Fellowship event at the age of 85. His death marks the end of an era.
As a Harvard underclassman in 1948, Herbert “Herb” Gleason was selected to administer the third session of the Salzburg Seminar in American Studies, marking the beginning of a long association with Salzburg Global Seminar that lasted nearly 65 years.
In 1950, as the Salzburg Seminar in American Studies was incorporated, Herb was appointed clerk and, after his graduation from Harvard, he served for two years as assistant European director in Salzburg. He was determined to broaden the curriculum beyond simply American studies, and to have Europeans on the faculty. Herb saw the organization as more than just an American or even a transatlantic institution, and his early forward thinking of the international significance of the gatherings at Schloss Leopoldskron helped the organization become what it is today: Salzburg Global Seminar. His close relationship with the three original founders – Richard Campbell, Scott Elledge and especially Clemens Heller – and his long history with the organization earned Herb the title “The Fourth Founder.” In those six decades of dedication to the organization, Herb was acting president, and treasurer and secretary of the Board of Directors, and provided legal counsel pro bono. In 1994, he was awarded the Salzburg Cup, the highest honor Salzburg Global bestows upon individuals for distinguished service, and was also named co-chair of the Salzburg Global Fellowship, alongside the late Sir Michael Palliser, in 2011.
Herb was always an active and committed member of the Salzburg Global Fellowship. He said of the Fellowship: “We’re not any longer re-building civilization, but I think we’re trying to hang on to civilization. The only way to do that is to put likeminded people in touch with one another.” Despite undergoing treatment for a metastatic melanoma, he still attended and indeed opened the Boston Fellowship event in October 2013, a health carethemed symposium which he had helped conceptualize. He died just weeks later on December 9.
Despite being lauded by many as the embodiment of the values of Salzburg Global Seminar, Herb was typically humble about his long-running commitment. Speaking at the unveiling of a bust of his likeness on his last trip to Salzburg in June 2013, Herb said: “It was [Heller’s] imagination, vision and conviction that created this place… All I did for the next 60 years was sustain his vision.”
The bust of Herb Gleason now stands outside Parker Hall of Schloss Leopoldskron, as an inspiration to all future generations of Salzburg Global Fellows, and as a reminder to Salzburg Global Seminar staff and directors to sustain the vision of Heller, Campbell, Elledge – and Gleason.