President Andrews’s summons in his 1892 report to the Corporation may serve to introduce the central theme in Brown’s twentieth century history:
Brown University has reached a serious crisis in its history. It stands face to face with the question whether it will remain a College and nothing more or will rise and expand into a true University ... Our alma mater will fail of her proper privilege and destiny unless, as rapidly as is consistent with a healthy development, we promote her to the estate of a true University.
To accomplish this transformation became Andrews’s principal goal. Productive faculty with American Ph.Ds could now be recruited from respected graduate programs. The elective system allowed for multiplication of course offerings. The 1890s witnessed the most serious depression in American history prior to 1929, beginning with the "Panic of 1893" only a year after Andrews had proclaimed his vision. Its impact on Brown would be twofold: fund raising was impeded, while at the same time, as never before in any depression era, college enrollment rose.
Andrews had always faced critics in the Corporation, and their influence grew as finances worsened. His endorsement of bimetallism and silver coinage became the occasion in 1897 for a request that he refrain from such statements. He resigned, and the ensuing controversy became one of the major academic freedom crises of the century. Many (but not all) of the Brown faculty, along with educators from across the country, condemned the Corporation’s action. Andrews was persuaded to remain for one more year, but his usefulness had ended.
His successor, William Herbert Perry Faunce, was persuaded to leave the pastorate of the Fifth Avenue Baptist Church in New York at this difficult juncture. He remained for thirty years - the longest administration in Brown’s history. At first he appeared remarkably successful. Faculty departures in the wake of the Andrews crisis were minimal. But presidential leadership was for years inadequate to the needs of an institution becoming ingrown, unresponsive to currents that were transforming American higher education. When Faunce resigned in 1929, his successor, Clarence A. Barbour, was appointed with little reflection. The 1929 crash ended hopes for substantial fund raising.
The arrival in 1937 of Henry Merritt Wriston, the first non-Baptist president and first non-alumnus since Francis Wayland, once again provided Brown with effective leadership. Since 1925 he had been president of Lawrence College, which he dominated. At Brown he gave for wide rein to strong departmental chairs in the faculty renewal process which gathered momentum after World War II. Charter revision was completed and eighteenth-century denominational restrictions eliminated. Wriston’s presidency marked a turning point for the university. He moved an institution long isolated in its development into challenging relations with foundations, peer institutions, and intellectual currents which were rapidly transforming the American educational system.
(Class of 1870), president of Denison University, 1875-1879, of Brown University, 1889-1898, and chancellor of the University of Nebraska, 1900-1908. He rescued Denison University from possible extinction as a small Baptist college caught in the trend toward state-supported colleges, and appointed non-Baptist William Rainey Harper to the faculty. Coming back to Brown as president, he had lofty ambitions designed to raise the institution from an undergraduate college to the rank of a true University. He urged the raising of three million dollars to finance graduate fellowships, a library fund, increased faculty salaries, new professorships, the establishment of a women's college and a school of applied science. Although this fund did not materialize, Andrews' accomplishments at Brown included an increase of 140 per cent in undergraduate enrollment, the acquisition of a distinguished faculty, the rapid growth of graduate study, and the admission of women students, which was accomplished through his personal efforts after years of consideration.
E. Benjamin Andrews
The University of Nebraska, under his presidency, made strong gains in enrollment, state support, renowned faculty, and the creation of colleges of medicine and education.
In 1889 he headed a committee to promote a new University of Chicago (the former University of Chicago founded in 1857 had closed in 1886). His intercession with John D. Rockefeller on behalf of a new Baptist University in Chicago, rather than in New York, obtained initial support, and it was Rockefeller's additional donation for graduate and theological studies and the acquisition of William Harper Rainey (now a Baptist) as president which created a full-fledged university from the outset.
William Herbert Perry Faunce (Class of 1880), president of Brown University, 1899-1929. His thirty-year administration saw tremendous growth in the physical plant, accompanied by considerable increase in the number of men, women, and graduates students (858 in 1899 - 2,201 in 1929) and the number of teaching and other staff (89 in 1800 -- 230 in 1929).
Clarence A. Barbour (Class of 1888), president of Rochester Theological Seminary, 1915-1928, of Colgate Rochester Divinity School, 1928-1929, and of Brown University, 1929-1937. Under his administration at Rochester the Seminary expanded and conducted a successful campaign for additional endowment. He was instrumental in the merger in 1928 of Colgate Theological Seminary and Rochester Theological Seminary to form the Colgate Rochester Divinity School, of which he was briefly president before coming to Brown. One of his first actions at Brown was to arrange a survey of all departments to determine the state of the University, in hope of beginning an endowment campaign. Of his Brown presidency he said, "I came to Brown with lofty dreams and with visions of things to be accomplished. Almost at once we were struck with the most terrible depression in the history of the country."
Alexander Meiklejohn (Class of 1893), president of Amherst College, 1913-1923. He was the second Dean of Brown before becoming president of Amherst. Ten years later he resigned, having been voted out by the Faculty. Walter Lippmann noted on his departure, "Amherst has lost a fine educator and a great spiritual leader of youth, because he was an unsuccessful leader of men.... Meiklejohn's Amherst was a machine that simply would not work. But, inefficient as it was, it produced as remarkable a student body as I have ever encountered. Hopeless as it was, it made Amherst one of the most distinguished small colleges in America." He was offered the presidencies of several other colleges, but chose to become head of the University of Wisconsin's Experimental College which featured self-education for students who shared dormitories with faculty who, as advisors rather than teachers, led them in the study of one single topic each year.
Mary Emma Woolley (Class of 1894), president of Mount Holyoke College, 1900-1937. One of the first two women graduates of Brown in 1894. Known as the "second founder of Mount Holyoke" (Mary Lyon was the first), she took over a college which was thought to have lost some of "its genius of innovation," and had also been subjected to a disastrous fire. She revitalized the College -- the faculty had academic titles, the curriculum was more flexible, the College became a member of the College Examination Board and gained a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. The master of arts degree in education was introduced and student government instituted.
John William Beverly (Class of 1894), teacher and president of the Alabama State Normal School, from which he graduated in 1882. He returned to the Normal School after graduating from Brown and served as teacher of mathematics and philosophy and in later years as president, resigning in 1923 to teach at Prairie View College.
John Hope (Class of 1894), president of Morehouse, 1906-1931, and of Atlanta University, 1929-1936. He was the first black president of Atlanta Baptist College, which became Morehouse University. In 1929 he became president of Atlanta University, at the same time that Atlanta University, Morehouse College for men, and Spelman College for women agreed to affiliate and form the Atlanta University System, which would share facilities while maintaining separate administrations. This was accomplished only on the condition that Hope would head the whole system. He gave up the presidency of Morehouse in 1931 to devote his attention to Atlanta University, the only Southern university providing graduation education to black students.
Harvey Nathaniel Davis (Class of 1901), president of Stevens Institute of Technology, 1928-1951. He revised the studies at Stevens from the "single undergraduate curriculum" it had followed since 1870, and introduced economics, humanities, and a graduate curriculum.
John Brown Watson (Class of 1904), president of Leland College, 1923-1928, and of Arkansas A & M College, 1928-1942. He became president of Arkansas AM and N after the severance of its ties with the University of Arkansas in 1927. He redeemed its academic standing, returning its four-year program and reinstating the conferring of degrees, which had been dropped since 1902 when the school was reduced to a vocational school for boys with a homemaking curriculum for girls. Twenty-five years after his graduation from Brown he finished repaying through the Alumni Fund all of the scholarship aid he had received - $225.
William Dinkins (Class of 1912), president of Selma University, 1927-1950. The son of an earlier president of Selma, he began teaching there after graduating from Brown, and remained there for a lifetime interrupted only for service in World War I and earning a master's degree from Columbia. He led the University under various titles, Acting President, Executive Officer, and President, from 1927 to 1950. He was the first layman to serve the school, which encompassed all levels of education, primary, secondary, and college. When Dinkins retired the enrollment stood at 668, 331 assigned to the College and 351 to affiliated schools.
Samuel Nabrit (Sc.M. 1928, Ph.D. 1932), president of Texas Southern University, 1955-1966. The first African American to earn a Ph.D. at Brown, he taught at Atlanta University for twenty years before going to Texas.
Henry Merritt Wriston, president of Brown University 1937-1955. President Henry Wriston had much influence on higher education, because of his special talent for selecting and training young administrators both at Lawrence College and at Brown who went on to be presidents of other major institutions. From Lawrence came Victor Butterfield, president of Wesleyan, John Millis, president of the University of Vermont and Western Reserve, and Nathan Pusey, president of Lawrence and Harvard. From Brown Barnaby Keeney, who succeeded Wriston at Brown, James Coles, president of Bowdoin, Vernon Alden, president of Ohio University, and John Lederle, president of the University of Massachusetts. The group in the photograph includes, left to right, Wriston, Keeney, Butterfield, and Coles.
Vernon Alden (Class of 1945), president of Ohio University, 1962-1969. Among his accomplishments at Ohio University six branch campuses were developed, the enrollment on the main campus and the number of faculty members both doubled, while the University's financial assets and its land holdings both tripled. When he retired, the University named its new library for him.
Charles H. Watts II (Class of 1945, president of Bucknell University, 1964-1976. His years as Dean of the College at Brown from 1958 to 1962 prepared him for the administration of Bucknell. After completing a 15-million capital campaign, the most ambitious in the history of Bucknell, he returned to Brown as the Director of the Campaign for Brown in 1978.
Frank J. Newman (Class of 1947), president of the University of Rhode Island, 1974-1983. As President of the Education Commission of the States in 1985, he issued a report, "Higher Education and the American Resurgence," for the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, on the subject of the effectiveness of higher education and the need for a national policy. in which he stated, "The enduring and honorable American tradition of opportunity through education must function for the whole of the population. This requires higher education to do a better job of drawing people from all segments of society into those programs that lead to positions of leadership in the life of the country."
Women students were first admitted in 1891. The question of their admission was first considered in 1874, and brought up annually after that time, until finally in September 1891 the Corporation adopted a plan submitted by the Faculty by which "young women might be admitted to college examinations and receive certificates of proficiency in the same." They had not, however, made any provision for the teaching of the women. That was accomplished by President E. Benjamin Andrews, who personally arranged for classes taught by Brown professors to prepare them for the examinations. In September of 1891 he wrote a note including the
schedule of classes to Nettie
Goodale, one of the first women students to enroll.
The admission of women was followed in a few years by the appointment of the first woman faculty member, Ada G. Wing, instructor in comparative anatomy and physiology for the women students, 1896-1900, and assistant professor, 1900-1901.
World War I brought new personnel, students, and courses to the campus, introducing a war time curriculum for the students who were enlisted on active service. In addition, in the summer of 1918 the University remained open in order to teach 320 men sent by the government to take science courses at Brown and to train in the machine shops at Brown and the Rhode Island School of Design.
The Second World War brought about year-round operation with three semesters and an influx of students assigned to the Navy's V-1, V-7, and V-12 programs. Also two groups of premeteorologists of the 58th Army Air Force Technical Training Detachment, who were not students, were trained at Brown between May 1943 and May 1944.
In the summer of 1941, in response to a reported need for applied mathematicians in industry, a summer program of Advanced Instruction and Research in Mechanics was organized with the support of the U.S. Office of Education and the Carnegie Foundation. An evaluating committee which was appointed to appraise the success of the experiment recommended the continuation of the program, which became the Division of Applied Mathematics. The photograph shows key personnel of the program, left to right, Professor Jacob D. Tamarkin from Russia, Professor Willy Prager from Germany, and Dean Roland G. D. Richardson of the Graduate School.
The Veterans Extension Division was established in the fall of 1947, to accommodate the many World War II veterans who had been encouraged by the G.I. Bill to seek a college education, some of whom had applied late or with inadequate preparation. The students were thus able to begin their course work with the expectation of being admitted to the regular courses. Only the admission requirements were lowered for this group. The course work and grade requirements were not. As President Wriston greeted them at the first convocation of the year, "You are not stepchildren of Brown.... You are students of Brown University; you have open to you all its educational facilities."
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