Presidents of Lafayette College
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Presidents of Lafayette College
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1832-1840: The Reverend George Junkin refused to accept the presidency of the college until the provisions in the charter for Military Science and Discipline were rescinded. They were - along with Civil Engineering. Lafayette opened its doors May 9, 1832, offering the traditional classics course and providing manual labor for poor students to pay their way. To raise additional funds President Junkin introduced a Model School and the cultivation of mulberry trees for silk worms. Rev. Junkin also created a Presbyterian environment on campus. He made the mistake of dismissing a student who was the son of the Governor and nephew of the President of the Board of Trustees. 1844-1849: Rev. Junkin returned for a second term. The plans for blacks and Indians were abandoned. The Model School was discontinued and mulberry culture dropped. Nor was manual labor revived or the financial condition improved. He fought with the Board over who was to pay for the financial losses of the Model School. He resigned in 1848 to become the President of Washington College, Lexington, VA in a more compatible environment.
Yeomans, John William
1841-1844: During his short presidency Rev. Yeomans attempted to open the college to both black and Native Americans. The blacks were educated for missionary work in Liberia and were sponsored by the Presbyterian Church. The Choctaw Indians never arrived, possibly because the President of the Board of Trustees, James Madison Porter, who as Secretary of War designate was responsible for sending them to the campus, was not confirmed by the Senate. The college was filled to capacity, but failed to attract sufficient financial support.
Nassau, Charles W.
1849-50: President Nassau had been on the faculty and vice-president of the college for eight years when the Board elected him President as an emergency measure in 1849. Though his administration was a smooth one with no disciplinary problems with students, enrollment dropped from 82 to 25. The college appealed to the Presbyterian Synod of Philadelphia for financial help and came under its control, confirmed by amendment to the Charter in 1854. Nassau resigned in 1850 for a better paying position as Head of the Young Ladies' Seminary in Lawrenceville, NJ.
McLean, Daniel Veech
1850-1857: Reverend Daniel Veech McLean was the first president of the College appointed by the Synod. He spent almost all of his energies selling scholarships hoping to build up an endowment of $100,000. This he accomplished but the Board used the funds collected to pay outstanding bills rather than for investment, which meant no income either in tuition from scholarship students or from endowment. He resigned in disgust, not even willing to stay on until a replacement was found.
McPhail, George Wilson
1857-1863: During the administration of the Rev. George Wilson McPhail, Greek letter societies first appeared secretly on campus and then the faculty attempted to stop them by having every new student take a pledge not to join one. Also, the college created the first Philological Professorship in the country, held by Francis A. March. When students began to leave for the front during the Civil War the faculty at first called them delinquent. Then as enrollment decreased they voted to give up their salaries for the duration. President McPhail resigned so the college could save his salary.
Cattell, William Cassidy
1863-1883: The administration of Rev. William C. Cattell was the most distinguished during the first century of the college. The wishes of the founders of the college were finally realized with the building of Pardee Hall and the establishment of the scientific department. With the help of many more benefactors, the endowment was placed on a firm footing and an extensive building program was initiated. The modern college campus life came into being with the recognition of fraternities and the emergence of intercollegiate athletics.
Knox, James Hall Mason
1883-1890: When President Cattell resigned the college was split into two groups representing the traditional classics education and the new science and engineering education, exponents of each learning painfully how to work with the other. The Rev. James Knox, a college Trustee and a safe representative of the traditional, was hastily elected to block the possible election of a representative of the science faction. The issues signified by the controversy were not resolved under his leadership. During his administration an Alumni Advisory Committee for athletics was formed and alumni representatives were for the first time appointed to the Board of Trustees. Rev. Knox resigned because of the fiscal failures of his administration.
Warfield, Ethelbert Dudley
1891-1914: Ethlebert D. Warfield was the first layman appointed President of Lafayette College, but he studied Theology at Princeton while president here and in 1899 was ordained. Although he did not teach the course in Mental and Moral Philosophy he felt obliged to keep watch over its teaching. This lead to difficulties with his ward Assistant Professor Stephens who set fire to Pardee Hall and with Professor Mecklin whom he forced to resign for teaching evolution. The end results of this incident were his own resignation and the formation of the AAUP. A fund raising drive during the 75th anniversary celebration in 1907 was successful but revealed some of the disadvantages of the denominational attachment.
MacCracken, John Henry
1915-1926: When John Henry MacCracken accepted the presidency of Lafayette he promised his wife he would hold it for no more than ten years when they would move back to New York. He almost lived up to his promise. During his presidency, the curriculum was modernized and a healthy relationship was established between Liberal Arts and Science and Engineering. The size of the college was limited to 1000 students, athletics reined the supreme and fraternities dominated campus life. The size of the endowment and the value of the physical plant increased substantially.
Lewis, William Mather
1927-1945: The administration of Dr. William Mather Lewis began with an ambitious building program, great promise and plans for a fund raising campaign as part of the centennial celebration of 1932. The campaign was abandoned because of the Depression. A turning point in academics took place when the classical language requirement was dropped. The Depression dealt an almost fatal blow to the college. Both funds and students declined. The faculty accepted a cut in salary. President Lewis presided gracefully over the disintegration and near collapse of the college. The wartime military programs saved it. President Lewis retired at the war's end.
Hutchison, Ralph Cooper
1945-1957: The college revived under President Hutchison's leadership but his successes in building and fund raising were compromised by his loss of both faculty and trustee support. He lost the support of the faculty for failing to cope with its economic status, and attempting to turn the college into a series of preprofessional schools. He lost the support of the Board of Trustees when he dissimulated over both accreditation and his plans to run the Abadan Technical Institute in Iran. After twelve turbulent years he was forced by the Board to resign.
Bergethon, Kaare Roald
1958-1978: The administration of K. Roald Bergethon was another Golden Age in the history of the college. The contribution of the Marquis Foundation placed the college on a firm financial footing and inaugurated a series of successful drives for capital improvement and endowment. The campaign for a long overdue new library signified the new emphasis on academics and the construction of a field house demonstrated that athletics were not to be abandoned. The faculty also improved through a greater emphasis on scholarship. The introduction of co-education was a further stimulus to both the academic and extracurricular life on the campus.
Ellis, David Wertz
1978-1990: During the administration of David Ellis the planning of the preceding administration was fulfilled and the college marched on to new achievements. The endowment passed the $200 million mark. The Williams Arts Center was built and programs in Fine Arts matured. The Skillman Library was expanded to meet new demands. Computer education was introduced. The Colonial League, renamed the Patriot League, was formed with other institutions in Lafayette's class. Experiments continued in search of the appropriate educational synthesis between the Arts and Sciences.
Rotberg, Robert I.
1990-1993: Robert I. Rotberg served as Lafayette's fourteenth president from 1990 to 1993. A historian, specializing in African history, he is the founder and editor of the Journal of Interdisciplinary History. During his presidency the curriculum was reformed and faculty teaching loads reduced.
Rothkopf, Arthur J.
1993-2004: Arthur J. Rothkopf led the most ambitious and successful fundraising campaign in Lafayette's history. The Lafayette Leadership Campaign, publicly launched in 1997, concluded in October 2001 with $213 million in gifts and pledges, far exceeding its original goal of $143 million. Under Rothkopf the College played a key role in the revitalization of the City of Easton and forged a closer relationship with the city. This included developing the Williams Visual Arts Building in downtown Easton and acquiring and beautifying properties near the Arts building. Rothkopf graduated from Lafayette with a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in English, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He received his law degree from Harvard.
Weiss, Daniel H.
2005- : President Weiss was inaugurated on October 14th, 2005. He is Lafayette College's 16th President.
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