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 from a bequest from Mr. Whitney’s estate, in appreciation of Mr. Whitney’s outstanding generosity to the School through his lifetime. Since 1996, John Lyons has held this Chair.
John Lyons arrived at Groton in 1995 and became chair of the History Department in 2006. 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. In 1996, he was named Groton's John Hay Whitney Chair in History and Public Affairs, and in June 2000, Lyons received the Henry and Wendy Breck Award for Teaching Excellence. His professional development activities include 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 and boys JV ice hockey, directs Groton's Teaching Intern program, moderates Groton's Model U.N. group, and has served as a member of the Curriculum and Studies committees as well as a dorm head. His wife of 25 years, 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. Rounding out the Lyons clan is a black Lab, George.

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