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Stanford Report, April 21, 1999

Memorial Resolution: Claude A. Buss



Claude A. Buss was born in Sunbury, Pennsylvania on November 29, 1903. He took a B.A. from Washington Missionary College (1922), an M.A. from Susquehanna University (1924), and the Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania (1927); he also held an L.L.D. from the University of Southern California. After advanced study at l'Ecole Libre des Sciences Politiques and l'Institut des Hautes Études Internationales in Paris, he became a U.S. Foreign Service officer, serving in the U.S. legation in Beijing (then called Peiping) in 1927-28 and as vice-consul in Nanjing from 1931 to 1934. In that year, he joined the faculty of the University of Southern California, where he taught until 1941.

In 1941, some months before Pearl Harbor, he left USC to become executive assistant to the U.S. High Commissioner in the Philippines. As the ranking U.S. State Department official left behind when the Japanese invaded, Buss surrendered Manila to the Japanese and was interned from 1942 to 1945. After repatriation, he directed the San Francisco Office of War Information for a year. In 1945-46, he also served as a consultant to the War Department's Strategic Bombing Survey of Japan.

In 1946, he joined Stanford's history faculty, where for twenty-three years he taught courses on Southeast Asia, China, and American policies toward Asia. He was the author of War and Diplomacy in Eastern Asia (1941), The Far East (1955), Southeast Asia and the World Today (1958), and Arc of Crisis (1961).

While a member of the Stanford faculty, Professor Buss took leave to serve as a civilian consultant in the information and education section of General MacArthur's staff for the Allied occupation of Japan; later he served as a special Southeast Asia consultant to the U.S. Embassy in Japan from 1948 to 1949.

A decade later, in 1957 and 1959, Professor Buss was a Fulbright exchange professor at the University of the Philippines, and was named a Carnegie teaching fellow in international law. A former director of studies at the National War College in Washington, D.C., Buss was named to a panel of advisers to the State Department's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. In 1968 he received a State Department "scroll of honor" recognizing "devoted service to the cause of Philippine-American friendship and understanding for more than a quarter of a century."

Well after his retirement from Stanford University, Claude Buss was named in 1977 acting dean of academic affairs at the Monterey Institute of Foreign Studies and as an instructor in Asian studies. He also taught on an occasional basis at C.S.U. San Jose. Even after he had completed all of these assignments, he continued to travel regularly to the Philippines and to other parts of Asia, where he was received by influential political, educational, and cultural leaders.

All who knew him in these various and intertwined careers recognized in Claude Buss someone of rare judgment, great enthusiasm, unfailing good cheer, and perennial optimism. Members of this drafting committee ­ and we are not alone, we know ­ have been approached many times by those who decades ago were his students, and always the message is the same: Claude Buss was one of the most vivid, lasting, and positive memories of their Stanford careers. For a teacher, there can be no better memorial than this.

Claude Buss remained physically and mentally active, playing golf regularly until he suffered a stroke at the age of 93. Even after the stroke, he continued to be a formidable Scrabble player. He is survived by his daughter and her husband, four grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.


Lyman Van Slyke, Chair

Wayne Vucinich

Robert Ward