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Brunoniana

From Martha Mitchell’s Encyclopedia Brunoniana:

Clarke, Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin Clarke (1831-1908), professor of mathematics and engineering, was born in Newport, Maine, on July 14, 1831. He took a course at Bridgewater (Massachusetts) State Normal School, from which he graduated in 1855, to prepare himself for teaching. He taught in the district schools, in a grammar school in Salem, Massachusetts, and at the Normal School in Bridgewater. Desirous of going to college, he studied for some time with former Harvard president Thomas Hill, and then entered Brown. He graduated in 1863 at the age of 32. He was instructor in mathematics at Brown from 1863 to 1868, when he revived instruction in civil engineering and was appointed professor of mathematics and civil engineering. In 1893 he was named professer of mechanical engineering. In 1896-97 Clarke served as president pro tempore while President Andrews was in Europe. After a leave of absence during which he traveled with his family through most of Europe and Egypt and Palestine, he served as president ad interim after the resignation of Andrews until President Faunce took office in 1899. Clarke retired in 1904. At the 1907 Commencement the Class of 1897 presented his portrait by Frank W. Benson to the University. He died of pneumonia in Providence on December 29, 1908, less than a week after the death of his wife. In his statement on Clarke’s death, President Faunce said:

“As a teacher he had unusual power of exposition, making an intricate mathematical problem plain to the humblest Freshman. In our faculty meetings he was rich in wisdom and weighty in counsel. He never spoke without thinking and never acted without careful consideration. Always regardful of others’ feelings, he never failed in courtesy and kindness to all his colleagues. ... Many a time my students, coming home in procession from Andrews Field after some athletic victory, have paused before Prof. Clarke’s house on Brown street and given rousing cheers for the tall figure with snowy hair in the upper window.”

The above entry appears in Encyclopedia Brunoniana by Martha Mitchell, copyright 1993 by the Brown University Library. It is used here by permission of the author and the University and may not be copied or further distributed without permission.


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