John Hay Whitney Chair of History and Public Affairs

The John Hay Whitney Chair of History and Public Affairs was established in 1987 by the Trustees of Groton School through a bequest from Mr. Whitney’s estate, in appreciation of Mr. Whitney’s outstanding generosity to the school. Since 1996, John Lyons has held this Chair.

John Lyons arrived at Groton in 1995, received the Henry and Wendy Breck Award for Teaching Excellence in 2000, and became chair of the History Department in 2006. He currently teaches U.S. History and an elective on Constitutional law. 

Following his undergraduate years at Middlebury College, John pursued an MA at Georgetown University. He completed two years as a history instructor at Northfield Mt. Hermon before spending the next ten years at St. Andrew’s School in Middletown, DE, chairing the History Department during his last five years there.

After assuming many roles at St. Andrew’s, including head varsity football coach, varsity baseball assistant, dorm head, and residential dean, John and his family headed to Groton. His professional development activities have included a year as a visiting scholar in history at Middlebury College, three William Robertson Coe Fellowships in American History at Stanford University, and summer colloquiums with the Gilder-Lehrman Institute for American History, the Liberty Fund, the Center for the American Idea, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. 
John coaches varsity football, directs Groton's teaching mentorship program, and has served as a member of the Curriculum and Studies committees as well as a dorm head. His wife, Hannah, is a clinical nurse specialist in oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital; they have two daughters, Rachel, a 2008 St. Mark's graduate, and Molly ’12.