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Beadle, George Wells (22 October 1903–09 June 1989), geneticist and university president, was the son of Hattie Albro and Chauncey Elmer Beadle, farmers near Wahoo, Nebraska. He was raised on a small farm that was noteworthy for its sound agricultural practices. After the early death of his mother and the accidental death of an older brother, it was assumed that he would take over the farm. Instead, thanks to the beneficent influence of Bess MacDonald, a high school teacher, he went to college. Further encouraged by the mentoring of Franklin D. Keim, an agronomy professor at the Nebraska College of Agriculture, Beadle entered graduate school at Cornell University in 1927 to pursue a career in biology....

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Branner, John Casper (04 July 1850–01 March 1922), geologist and university president, was born in New Market, Tennessee, the son of Michael T. Branner, a third-generation Tennessee landowner, and Elsie Baker. Branner attended local schools, read the few books he could find, and developed an active curiosity about the plants, animals, and rocks of his neighborhood. In 1870, after spending two years at nearby Maryville College, he entered Cornell University, where he studied with geology professor Charles F. Hartt, who had made several scientific expeditions to Brazil. Hartt took Branner to Brazil with him in 1874, and the following year, when the Brazilian government appointed Hartt head of a commission to direct the first geological survey of the country, he appointed Branner his assistant. This was the beginning of Branner’s lifelong interest in the geology of Brazil, about which little was then known....

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Burr, Aaron (04 January 1716–24 September 1757), Presbyterian minister and college founder, was born in Upper Meadows, Fairfield, Connecticut, the son of Daniel Burr, a prosperous farmer, and his wife Elizabeth. (By the Old Style form of dating, his year of birth was 1715.) After graduating from Yale College in 1735, he remained in New Haven to study theology, during which time he was caught up in the colonial revival of religion known as the Great Awakening. With several other Yale classmates, Burr underwent a moving personal conversion and also came under the influence of the most capable defender of the Awakening, ...

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Cattell, William Cassady (30 August 1827–11 February 1898), clergyman and college president, was born in Salem, New Jersey, the son of Thomas Ware Cattell, a merchant and banker, and Keziah Gilmore. Cattell received his early education at local schools and also studied under a brother in Virginia for two years. He returned home to enter the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), from which he graduated with an A.B. in 1848. After spending a year teaching in Goochland County, Virginia, he again returned to New Jersey, entering the Princeton Theological Seminary, where he completed his studies in 1852. Cattell remained in Princeton for the following academic year and undertook special Oriental studies with Professor ...

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Conant, James Bryant (26 March 1893–11 February 1978), educator and scientist, was born in the Dorchester section of Boston, Massachusetts, the son of James Scott Conant, a photo engraver and real estate developer, and Jennett Orr. Conant attended the Roxbury Latin School, a public boys’ six-year examination school in Boston, and subsequently attended graduate school at Harvard University on an academic scholarship, where he studied chemistry with Nobel Prize winner ...

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Cox, Samuel Hanson (25 August 1793–02 October 1880), New School Presbyterian minister and educator, was born in Rahway, New Jersey, the son of James Cox, a merchant, and Elizabeth Shepard. The Coxes were Quakers, descended from a family that had immigrated to Maryland from England in the seventeenth century. Cox grew up in Philadelphia and received his early education at the Friends’ Academy in Westtown, Pennsylvania. After working briefly as a store clerk, he studied to become a lawyer in Newark, New Jersey. During the War of 1812, he saw combat sporadically as a volunteer rifleman....

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Deglman, George A. (13 March 1877–19 February 1963), Jesuit educator, was born in Mankato, Minnesota, the son of Anton Deglman, an Austrian cabinetmaker from Rosshaupt, Bohemia, who immigrated to the United States, and Louise Reuther of Springfield, Wisconsin. George grew up in Mankato, where he was educated at Saint Peter and Paul's, a Jesuit parish school. From 1893 to 1895 he finished high school and two years of college at Canisius College, Buffalo, New York. On 3 September 1895 he joined the Society of Jesus at Sacred Heart Novitiate, Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, where he earned an A.B. in Latin and Greek in 1901. His brother Francis also became a Jesuit priest and spent most of his career as a teacher of religion and theology and as a student counselor at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, where a dormitory bears his name. Two sisters became nuns, Sr. Madeline SSND and Sr. Antonella SSM....

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Dwight, Timothy (14 May 1752–11 January 1817), theologian and president of Yale College, was born in Northampton, Massachusetts, the son of Timothy Dwight, a merchant and large landowner, and Mary Edwards, daughter of the theologian Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758). Dwight gave early signs of extraordinary intellectual promise, learning the alphabet at age two, reading the King James Bible at four, mastering basic Latin grammar at six, and all the while absorbing the standard works in geography and ancient history that later served him, as they did so many Americans of the revolutionary generation, as important sources of classical republican political thought. He entered Yale at thirteen, easily passing an entrance examination requiring sight translation of Virgil, Cicero, and New Testament Greek, and setting himself a private curriculum of studies considerably more ambitious than that of the college. Rising at half past three on winter mornings to construe Homer’s ...

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Fairchild, James Harris (25 November 1817–19 March 1902), educator and college president, was born in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, the son of Grandison Fairchild and Nancy Harris, both farmers and teachers. At age one his family moved to Township Six in the Nineteenth Range of the Western Reserve (now Brownhelm Township, Lorain County, Ohio). Growing up in a log cabin, he attended a classical school at age twelve and in 1832 attended a high school (newly established and under the direction of the Reverend John Monteith) in nearby Elyria, Ohio....

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Goheen, Robert Francis (15 August 1919–31 March 2008), educational administrator, was born in Vengurla, on the west coast of Maharashtra, India, about fifty miles north of Goa, the son of Robert H. Goheen, a physician, and Anne Ewing, a teacher; they were Presbyterian missionaries. Robert came to the United States when he was fifteen to enroll as a scholarship student in the Lawrenceville School. Two years later, he entered Princeton University, from which he graduated in 1940, having been elected to Phi Beta Kappa, sharing the M. Taylor Pyne Prize—the highest distinction the university confers upon an undergraduate—and distinguishing himself as a soccer player. He earned high honors in classics and highest honors in the special program in the humanities. In that program, as in many other aspects of his career, he was mentored by the professor Whitney Jennings Oates....

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Hibben, John Grier (19 April 1861–16 May 1933), philosopher, educator, and president of Princeton University, was born in Peoria, Illinois, the son of the Reverend Samuel Hibben and Elizabeth Grier. Born in the first year of the Civil War, Hibben was a year old when his father, a volunteer chaplain, died in a Union army camp. Brought up alone by a mother who worked hard to educate her only child, he graduated in 1882 from Princeton University as both valedictorian and class president. He studied at the University of Berlin for a year and then at the Princeton Theological Seminary; he was ordained in 1887. In that same year, he married Jenny Davidson of Elizabeth, New Jersey; they had one daughter. They moved to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, where he served the congregation of Falling Spring Presbyterian Church as minister....

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Hill, David Jayne (10 June 1850–02 March 1932), diplomat and college president, was born in Plainfield, New Jersey, the son of Daniel Trembley Hill, a Baptist minister, and Lydia Ann Thompson. Hill lived in various places during his youth as his father followed calls to a number of pulpits in the Middle Atlantic states. In 1870 Hill enrolled at the University of Lewisburg in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, graduating as valedictorian in 1874. That year he married Anna Liddell; they had one son. Hill was to asked to join the faculty, rising quickly to professor of rhetoric in 1877. A battle for control of the college between traditional rural, small-town Baptists in the Lewisburg region and modernists in the metropolitan Philadelphia area soon elevated him further. The latter group won, ousted the president, and replaced him with the 29-year-old Hill. He quickly legalized fraternities, reduced restrictions on student lives, permitted elective courses, and encouraged faculty to play a greater role in governance. To lessen fiscal pressures Hill virtually put the college’s name up for sale and persuaded William Bucknell, a wealthy Philadelphia Baptist, to effectively purchase the University of Lewisburg, which was renamed Bucknell University. Bucknell, in turn, placed money and power in the young president’s hands....

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Holt, Hamilton Bowen (19 August 1872–26 April 1951), editor, reformer, and college president, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of George Chandler Holt, an attorney and judge, and Mary Louisa Bowen. Holt grew up in Spuyten Duyvil, New York, attending several private schools and graduating from Columbia Grammar School in 1890. After receiving his A.B. from Yale in 1894, he studied sociology and economics for three years at Columbia University. In 1899 he married Alexina Crawford Smith; they had four children. In his prime Holt was a large, broad-shouldered man who possessed a warm personality and great energy....

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Houston, David Franklin (17 February 1866–02 September 1940), cabinet officer and university president, was born in Monroe, North Carolina, the son of William Henry Houston and Cornelia Anne Stevens, farmers. When he was six, his family moved to Darlington, South Carolina, where his father farmed unsuccessfully and later bought and sold horses. David graduated from the College of South Carolina in 1887, pursued graduate work there, and was the superintendent of public schools in Spartanburg, South Carolina, between 1888 and 1891. Houston then attended Harvard where he received an A.M. degree in economics and political science in 1892. He followed politics closely, but no one “commanded my admiration or aroused my enthusiasm” until the emergence of ...

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Howard, Oliver Otis (08 November 1830–26 October 1909), soldier, government official, and educator, was born in Leeds, Maine, the son of Rowland Bailey Howard and Eliza Otis, farmers. As a boy Howard worked in the company of a young black farmhand, an experience to which he later attributed his broadmindedness in racial matters. Howard graduated from Bowdoin College in 1850 and entered the U.S. Military Academy. He graduated from West Point in 1854, ranked fourth in his class. In 1855 Howard married Elizabeth Ann Waite; the couple had seven children. He first served at the federal arsenals in New York and Maine and then as an ordnance officer in Florida. In 1857 Howard returned to West Point to teach mathematics. The same year he experienced the religious conversion that would earn him such sobriquets as “the Christian Soldier.” His distaste for alcohol and profanity hardly endeared him to many of his fellows. ...

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Hutchins, Robert Maynard (17 January 1899–14 May 1977), university administrator and philanthropic foundation executive, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of William James Hutchins, a Presbyterian minister, and Anna Laura Murch. Hutchins was introduced to progressive politics and Social Gospel reform in his earliest years in his father’s parish in Brooklyn. His mother read Dickens to Robert and his two brothers, early requiring them to think about the cruelty of poverty and the effects of human foibles. Her irreverent humor and unfailing civility were balanced by their father’s more temperate, gentle, and judicious personality. Between them, Hutchins’s understanding of civic responsibility and his wise-cracking sense of humor were irrevocably shaped. In 1907 the family moved to Oberlin, Ohio, where William Hutchins taught Bible and homiletics at Oberlin College and Theological Seminary. Hutchins attended family prayers every day, church twice on Sundays, and YMCA summer camps, where his father also preached....

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Jardine, William Marion (16 January 1879–17 January 1955), secretary of agriculture and college president, was born in Oneida County, Idaho, the son of William Jardine and Rebecca (maiden name unknown), farmers. Jardine learned ranching and farming from his father, who had homesteaded the family land in the 1860s. At the age of sixteen, Jardine left Idaho and worked several years as a lumberjack and dairy helper in Montana. When he was twenty years old, he persuaded the Agricultural College of Utah in Logan to admit him even though he lacked a high school diploma. He graduated in 1904 with a degree in agronomy and accepted an offer to teach that subject at the college....

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Jordan, David Starr (19 January 1851–19 September 1931), naturalist and educator, was born in Gainesville, New York, the son of Hiram Jordan and Huldah Hawley, farmers. Jordan obtained his secondary education in the Gainesville Female Seminary (1865) and then briefly became a primary teacher (1868). A county scholarship permitted his belated entry to the initial class at Cornell University. To support himself, he became an instructor in biology in his junior year and completed sufficient work to be granted a master of science degree after less than four years of study (1872)....

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Kirk, Grayson (12 October 1903–21 November 1997), international relations scholar and embattled fourteenth president of Columbia University, was born in southern Ohio, the son of a farmer and a schoolteacher. Kirk attended nearby Miami University and joined Phi Kappa Tau, combining serious study with a fraternity-centered social life. He graduated with an A.B. in 1924....

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Landis, James McCauley (25 September 1899–30 July 1964), federal administrator and Harvard Law School dean, was born in Tokyo, Japan, the son of Henry Mohr Landis and Emma Marie Stiefler, missionary-teachers. He first came to the United States at age thirteen for schooling. He graduated from Mercersburg Academy (1916), Princeton University (1921), and Harvard Law School (1924), attaining at each the highest levels of academic achievement and receiving one of Harvard’s first doctorates of juridical science....