13. Columbia’s Bolt to the Top

Alma Mater/Spring 2014
Wednesday, March 5, 2014

13. Columbia’s  Bolt to the Top

CC in 1850
Non-academic president Charles King (1849-1863) – few ideas to offer….
Faculty of half-dozen gentlemen – Charles Anthon – distinguished classicist
James Renwick – applied scientist-before-the-name
Curriculum – “Good in classics; weak in science”
No professional schools – not medical/law/engineering/divinity….
Student body of 125 young men from the Trinity parish – not even in the top 20 in size….
Recent history of shaky finances – about to change for the better
Trustees – a mix of “old fogeys” and impatient reformers (Samuel Ruggles/GT Strong)

No political/public  clout or credibility – another 15 NY colleges; three competitors in NYC
(NYU, CCNY, Fordham) – soon Cooper Union – free!
No claims on Trinity Church’s millions….
century-old campus with one building in red light district of lower Manhattan – all respectables now above Canal Street

CU in 1910

1910 – the young (49) NM Butler as president – with Eliot’s retirement/Harper’s death – the best known
and most frequently quoted “captain of erudition” in nation
Faculty of 100 professional academics – apprenticed/degreed/ambitious….

Absolutely the strongest departments in social sciences Faculty of Political Science — – economics/political science/history/sociology/anthropology/statistics/psychology

Unsurpassed strength in several humanities – Faculty of Philosophy — English/modern European languages/classics/Oriental Studies [Chair in Chinese Studies]/philosophy (with coming of Dewey in 1902)

Competitive in physical sciences – “faculty of Pure Science” — chemistry/physics/geology/mathematics/
New strength in biology/genetics  — Thomas Hunt Morgan

1910 – Country’s largest producers of PhDs

Spectacular new urban campus –McKim,  Mead and White – with room to grow – east of Amsterdam;
west to the Hudson and out onto it….

Full panoply of professional schools – P & S; law school; engineering school  “School of Chemistry, Mining and engineering”;  School of Library Science – in the planning Journalism (192) and Business (1916); the affiliated Teachers College (1892)

1910 – Edwin Slosson, Great American Universities
Harvard – “the most eminent … but based on the past rather than the present”
Yale – “lost its chance of priority’
Hopkins – “relative decline”
Penn and Princeton (commitment to homogeneity) also rans…
Chicago – newest but a frontrunner
CU – “situated in the largest city… has the best chance to become the greatest of American universities – and it is improving its chances.’

A rapidly growing Columba College – 1912 – 1200?
New classroom building and dorms for resident students around South Field
purchased in 1903
Hamilton Hall (opened in 1907)
Hartley
Livingston (now Wallach)
Losing out on attracting old Knickerbocker sons – to Princeton/Yale /Harvard
But attracting ambitious kids coming through NYC’s rigorous high schools – transfers from CCNY…
———————————————————————————————————–
And a still new affiliated “undergraduate college for women” à Barnard College
two starting dates – 1889 and 1900

Some broader remarks about the state of women’s higher education

               Barnard Beginnings: the First Quarter Century, 1889 – 1914

Middle-class American women achieving outside-the-household roles in education of girls and young ladies in Jacksonian America
Emma Willard/Catherine Beecher/Margaret Fuller…
Women in abolition movement…
Largely excluded from professions – midwives/nurses ..

NYC Higher Educational Scene in 1880s

Columbia College  — It and affiliated schools closed to women
Law School (1928)
School of Mines
School of Political Science

College of Physicians and Surgeons – ditto until 1917

Teachers College – mostly women school teachers

[New York University – its professional schools opens to women on co-educational basis in 1890s]

Beyond
1860s-80s — Founding of several women’s colleges in US; opening of women’s college at Cambridge (Girton);  Cornell/BU/Syracuse/state universities

Harvard – 1879 – Created an “Annex” (later, Radcliffe College) where Harvard instructors walked to offer instruction to enrolled women; way of avoiding co-education but also responsive to community pressure to provide women with higher educational opportunities ….

1884 — Brearley School in NYC  [girls college-preparatory school]

The Columbia situation;
Requests to trustees in 1870s for admission of women to law school; to attend science courses in S/Mines
President Barnard supportive – experience at Alabama/Ole Miss co-ed earlier —
1879-1881 – 3 annual reports making the case for full co-education at Columbia
opposed by trustees, most faculty  (John W. Burgess) , most students (Nicholas Murray Butler)
Burgess crack in 1930s: Barnard plan “would make the College a female seminary, and a Hebrew female seminary, in the character of the student body, at that.”

Exceptional case of Winifred Edgerton – Wellesley 1882 graduate; TC communicant; CC trustee Rev. Morgan Dix her “rabbi”; to receive segregated instruction from astronomy instructor John Krum Rees — 1886 PhD in astronomy; next Columbia woman PhD a decade later

1883 – “Collegiate Course for Women” – instructional program after hours and off campus
7 years – 99 women; four degrees awarded in 1888 and 1889

Annie Nathan/colonial NYC Jewish family; ties to Gershon Seixas,, CC’s sole Jewish trustee  – 18-year-old admitted – married instead – Not monied in the way of Matthew Vassar/Sophia Smith/the Durants

Annie Nathan Meyer
– Takes up the cause of women’s higher education; secures support of prominent women, some ministers (Arthur Brooks) and heads of families with daughters of college-age
article writing/petitions to trustees….
CC trustees see an affiliated college insured CC would stay all-male; Meyer OK with this if not financially responsible; FAPB would not have been
April 1 – CU trustees OK for “Barnard College” – FAPB on his death bed (d. three weeks later)

Lease a brownstone at 343 Madison/44th – 5 blocks south of CC campus

Barnard Board – 22 members; ½ women (ANMeyer, Ella Weed; several wives of rich husbands (Laura Rockefeller); a couple educators (Ella Weed); mostly Episcopalian (Rev. Arthur Brooks, Church of the Incarnation) but at least two Jewish trustees (Jacob Schiff, ANM) , a Catholic, Dutch Reformed, Presbyterians (George Plimpton) – several estate lawyers…..

1898 — Board provides for upwards of 6 alumnae-elected members for 6-year terms  (a decade before CU does so.)
Some trustee coming and going over first decade; board finding difficult the raising money for move to Morningside

Finances – No founding fund.
Tuition ($150 a year) revenue insufficient to cover expenses and planned expenditures following Columbia’s announced plans to move to Morningside Heights – land and building needed
George Plimpton succeeds Jacob Schiff as Treasurer in 1894 à 1936

Early big donors –
1892 — Mary E. Brinckerhoff — $100,000 for Brinckerhoff  (east wing of Milbank)
1895 – Elizabeth Milbank Anderson — $100,000 –1897 – Mrs Josiah Fiske – $140,000 (west wing of Milbank) – at urging of her minister, Rev. Arthur Brooks
1903 – Mrs. Anderson, another $1,000,000  for 116th-118th blocks
1916 – Jacob Schiff gives $500,000 for “Students Hall” (now Barnard Hall) – a Plimpton get
Other early prominent donors: J. P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, estate of Daniel Fayerweather, Horace Carpentier, John S. Kennedy)

Administration
Ella Weed, school mistress — 1889-1894 died
Emily James Smith, first “Dean,” 1894-1900 – resigned when pregnant
Laura Gill, 2nd dean, 1901-1906, resigns under fire from CU
William T. Brewster, interim dean, 1907-11; then provost (to 1928)
Virginia C. Gildersleeve, 3rd dean, 1911-1947 [ BC 1899; CU PhD 1908];

 

Barnard instructional staff (not “Faculty” until 1900)
Start with 7 instructors borrowed from CC – Greek/Latin/English/Math to cover first-year program
Subsequent additions
1890 – Emily Gregory – Zurich PhD botanist
1895 – 3 professorships underwritten by CU president Low – Math/Economics/History
1900 – 30 members of instructional staff; most still drawn from Columbia but some
permanently constituting the Faculty of Barnard College
Several prominent CU faculty teaching courses at Barnard (Edwin R.A. Seligman, Charles A. Beard….)

Students
Steady growth in enrollments from a starting group  in 1889-90 of 14 regular students and 22 “ specials” (taking specific courses not for a degree) to regular enrollments approaching 600 in 1913-1914, with “specials” taking science courses peaking in 1903-04 with 170, and declining thereafter. Majority of students coming from New York-area public high schools; of some concern to admissions staff seeking applications from City’s older families

Enrlmts.

Specials

Total

1889-90

14

22

36

1890-91

19

34

53

1891-92

30

32

62

1892-93

51

37

88

1893-94

59

47

106

1894-95

71

48

119

1895-96

81

66

147

1896-97

85

118

203

1897-98

111

123

234

1898-99

131

148

279

1899-00

171

162

333

1900-01

223

161

384

1901-02

269

162

431

1902-03

294

151

445

1903-04

330

170

500

1904-05

339

27

366

1905-06

367

23

390

1906-07

391

28

419

1907-08

405

48

453

1908-09

451

47

498

1909-10

481

54

535

1910-11

497

50

547

1911-12

584

56

640

1912-13

569

49

618

1913-14

628

56

684

 

 

Degrees – Equally steady upward trend from first graduating class of 8 in 1893 to graduating classes in the low 100s in early 1910s.

AB

BS

Degrees

Degrees

1893

8

1894

7

1895

8

1896

18

1897

22

1898

22

1899

21

1900

39

1901

50

1902

50

1903

47

1904

79

1905

83

1906

75

1907

76

1908

97

1909

98

1910

88

2

1911

103

1912

114

4

1913

136

3

1914

113

7

 

Curriculum
Began similar to Columbia College, with many required courses, but began offering more electives and more possibilities for focusing on (majoring in) a given subject than was the case in the College. Would not follow Columbia’s lead in developing a core curriculum in the 1920s but departmental specializations. Early on Greek and soon thereafter Latin dropped as entrance requirements or as part of required curriculum; opened up the prospect of public high school graduates being admitted without additional tutorial preparation.

Extra-Curriculum
Somewhat circumscribed by fact of most students living at home and commuting. Fiske serves as dormitory for residential students until Brooks Hall opened in 1907.

1898 — Yearbook
1902 — Barnard Bulletin
1903 — Greek Games – sophomores vs. freshmen in athletic contests
Sororities – Several in early 1900s but proscribed by student vote in 1913
Athletics – several sports, including baseball and basketball, played against TC undergraduates, Vassar, NYU and alumnae teams
Political organizations – suffrage support; socialist club
Religious organizations – Newman Club….

                                                       25 Years On – Barnard in 1914

Plant – 4-city block campus (116th to 120th/Broadway to Claremont; Milbank/Fiske/Brinckerhoff Hall and Brooks Hall; Students’ Hall in the offing (opened in 1917)

Student body of 400-500 students; 2/3s of them commuting; most from metropolitan NY; substantial portion Jewish (25%?), many first-generation college-goers form NYC high schools with parents from Eastern Europe; becoming a matter of institutional concern (same also true of first-generation Catholics from parochial schools but didn’t raise as many red flags…)

Faculty
– Consisted of 30 Barnard-based professors and an equal number of  instructional faculty hired by Barnard;  some Columbia-based faculty retain membership on Barnard faculty and provide instructional and administrative services. Men constitute a majority of the upper ranks of the faculty, but not a majority of the instructional staff. Faculty organized in 16-18 departments. Hiring done by Barnard departments with involvement of CU counterpart departments . Most faculty with some part of their education at Columbia.

Finances – More stable than in early years, but still characterized by a very modest endowment and a substantial reliance upon tuition and fundraising to cover expenses. George A. Plimpton midway through his extended term as devoted and treasurer and chief fundraiser.

Leadership – Virginia Gildersleeve (1911) at start of long and effective deanship;  maintains good relations with CU’s President Butler throughout her long deanship; successfully presses for admission of Barnard students to Columbia’s medical (1917) and law schools (1928).

Relations with Columbia – Stable and  mutually respectful.

 

Leave a Reply