Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

F. David Matthews (1975–1977): Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare

Born in Grove Hill, Alabama, on December 6, 1935, Forrest David Matthews attended the University of Alabama, where he received a B.A. and an M.A. in history (1961). He also served in the U.S. Army. He received his Ph.D. in the history of education from Columbia University in 1965.

Matthews then taught history at the University of Alabama, becoming vice president of the university, and then, in 1969, its president. He left the presidency in 1975 to assume a position with the administration of Gerald Ford. President Gerald Ford appointed Matthews to the advisory council for the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration in 1975. The President then appointed him secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare on August 8, 1975. Matthews held that position until the end of the Ford administration in 1977.

After leaving Washington, D.C., he returned to the presidency of the University of Alabama. He served as president until 1980 and remained on the faculty until 1995.