Uncovering a Legend

A Beacon So Bright: The Life of Laurence McKinley Gould, released in November, is the first book-length biography of the iconic Carleton president, polar explorer, and education advocate.

“However you define greatness, Larry Gould fits that definition,” says Eric Hillemann, author and College archivist, whom president Steve Lewis first commissioned to write the book in 1998. “Sometimes biographers can learn too much about their subjects and become disillusioned, but I’m still an admirer of Larry Gould. He was a hero.”

BS-Gould-Bio-Cover.jpgBiggest surprise: “The search committee had a lot of reservations about hiring Larry Gould as president, and if they hadn’t offered him the job, Gould would have left his position as a geology professor at Carleton.”

Hardest section to write: “An omniscient biographer would have included more about Gould’s marriage because of its importance in his life. I’ve presented what I could, but I’m missing a lot of the story.”

Luckiest find: “Charles Hoppin ’40 gave me some letters that Gould wrote to Hoppin’s brother and his brother’s wife (Gould’s sister-in-law). Sources from Gould’s personal life—especially in the 1970s and 1980s—were sparse.”

Little-known fact: “The White House approached Gould late in his presidency about potentially becoming the first director of NASA, but he chose to stay at Carleton.”

A Beacon So Bright is available at the Carleton Bookstore.

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