Peter Dobkin Hall Killed In Wrong-Way Crash

May 4, 2015       Mark Hrywna      

Prolific nonprofit author and renowned expert on the charitable sector Peter Dobkin Hall died early Thursday morning in a car accident in Connecticut.

The crash occurred at 3:37 a.m. in the northbound lane of Interstate 95 in Branford, Conn., according to published reports, after Hall was driving the wrong way and drove head-on into a pick-up truck traveling in the opposite direction. The occupants of the pickup were taken to the hospital with what were described as minor injuries to the driver and more serious injuries to the passenger. It took emergency crews some 20 minutes to remove Hall from his Dodge Caravan, according to authorities, and he was declared dead at the scene. He was 69.

A resident of New Haven, Conn., Hall was a senior research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Hauser Institute for Civil Society at the Center of Public Leadership and a professor of history and theory at the School of Public Affairs, Baruch College, at City University of New York. He previously served as lecturer on nonprofits at the Harvard Kennedy School. He also was on the board of the New Haven Museum and co-founded the Urban Design League.

From 1996 to 1999, Hall ran the Program on Nonprofit Organizations (PONPO) at Yale University, described as the first concerted scholarly effort to study philanthropy, voluntarism, and nonprofits when it was founded in 1976. He also held teaching appointments in Yale’s Department of History, School of Management, Divinity School, and Program in Ethics, Politics and Economics.

Hall was selected for The NonProfit Times Power & Influence Top 50 of influential sector leaders in 1998 and 1999. In 2008, he received the ARNOVA Award for Distinguished Achievement in Nonprofit and Voluntary Action Research.

“Today, the academy lost a leading scholar of the history of the nonprofit sector – as judged not just by the quality of his output but also by the role he played in influencing the work of others, inside and outside his discipline, in both the academic and policy arenas,” said Evelyn Brody, professor of law at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) Chicago-Kent College of Law, writing Friday on the Nonprofit Law Blog. “He loved nonprofits both as an intellectual subject and as a vehicle for social change. His enthusiasm, perceptiveness, and eagerness to right injustices served him not only as a leading nonprofit academic, but also as an inspiring community leader,” she said.

Among Hall’s publications were, “Inventing the Nonprofit Sector: Essays on Philanthropy, Voluntarism, and Nonprofit Organization,” “Lives in Trust: The Fortunes of Dynastic Families in Late Twentieth Century America,” and “The Organization of American Culture, 1700-1900: Private Institutions, Elites, and the Origins of American Nationality.”

He held a Ph.D. and master’s degree in American history from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and a bachelor’s degree in American studies/history from Reed College

Hall’s family suggested that anyone wishing to make a contribution in his memory consider his favorite nonprofit, according to Brody: The Northwest Chicago Film Society, 1635 E. 55th St., Chicago, Ill., 60615