Former Sen. Joseph Tydings, who served both the state of Maryland and the University of Maryland throughout his distinguished career, passed away on Oct. 8 in the presence of his family. He was 90.
“Countless members of the UMD community are inspired by the life and legacy of Senator Tydings, our distinguished alumnus and longtime supporter,” Dean Greg Ball said. “At this moment of political division in our nation, it is especially poignant to reflect on the courage Senator Tydings demonstrated in taking on some of the most challenging issues of his day, such as gun control and civil rights. He also demonstrated courage in his willingness to challenge members of his own party to better serve the nation, as well as by reaching across the aisle on numerous issues of great importance. Many analysts believe his direct approach to tough issues cost him the re-election. But Senator Tydings believed that fighting for what was truly right was more important than any career or personal gain.”
Members of the BSOS community are invited to view flowers and sign a condolence book in honor of Sen. Tydings on the first floor of Tydings Hall.
Before his undergraduate days at the University of Maryland, Sen. Tydings began his career of service in the Army. He played lacrosse and football at UMD, and earned a B.A. in government and politics in 1951, and a law degree in 1953.
Sen. Tydings served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1955 to 1961 and as the U.S. Attorney for Maryland from 1961 to 1963. In what was seen as a “changing of the guard” in Maryland politics to a more progressive agenda, Tydings was elected to represent Maryland in the U.S. Senate in 1964.
After losing his bid for re-election in 1970, Tydings went back to work as a lawyer, but never stopped fighting for what he believed in, including the University of Maryland. He was appointed to three different terms on the university’s Board of Regents by three different governors in three different decades. Until his death, Sen. Tydings served on the Board of the University of Maryland Medical System.
Joseph Tydings was the son of former U.S. Senator Millard E. Tydings, for whom Tydings Hall on the College Park campus is named. Tydings Hall is the home to the Dean’s Office of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, and is considered by many BSOS alumni to be an on-campus home.
Millard Tydings attended the university when it was still the Maryland Agricultural College. Joseph Tydings followed his father’s footsteps, not only by attending UMD, but by being involved in student government; he served as student body president. He also helped start a chapter of the Young Democrats on campus.
Though he was a lifelong Democrat, a key aspect of Sen. Tydings’ legacy was that of a bipartisan leader who urged himself, his party and his colleagues of all political stripes to be fair, unified and effective.
Months before his passing, Sen. Tydings sat down with Assistant Director of Communications Sara Gavin to discuss his life, his career, and his recently published memoirs. .
This article was originally published October 9, 2018.