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Jacob Gould Schurman

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jacob Gould Schurman
Bundesarchiv Bild 102-09830, Jacob Gould Schurman.jpg
Schurman in 1930
9th United States Ambassador to Germany
In office
June 29, 1925 – January 21, 1930
PresidentCalvin Coolidge
Herbert Hoover
Preceded byAlanson B. Houghton
Succeeded byFrederic M. Sackett
United States Minister to China
In office
September 12, 1921 – April 15, 1925
PresidentWarren G. Harding
Calvin Coolidge
Preceded byPaul Reinsch
Succeeded byJohn Van Antwerp MacMurray
4th United States Minister to Montenegro
In office
July 21, 1913 – August 18, 1913
PresidentWoodrow Wilson
Preceded byGeorge H. Moses
Succeeded byGeorge F. Williams
United States Minister to Greece
In office
October 17, 1912 – August 18, 1913
PresidentWilliam Howard Taft
Woodrow Wilson
Preceded byGeorge H. Moses
Succeeded byGeorge F. Williams
President of Cornell University
In office
Preceded byCharles Kendall Adams
Succeeded byLivingston Farrand
Personal details
Born(1854-05-02)May 2, 1854
Freetown, Prince Edward Island
DiedAugust 12, 1942(1942-08-12) (aged 88)
Bedford Hills, New York, United States

Jacob Gould Schurman (May 2, 1854 – August 12, 1942) was a Canadian-born American educator and diplomat, who served as President of Cornell University and United States Ambassador to Germany.

Early life

Schurman was born at Freetown, Prince Edward Island on May 2, 1854 the son of Robert and Lydia Schurman.[1] Schurman lived on his parents' farm as a child, then in 1867 took a job at a store near his home, which he held for two years.[2]

At the age of fifteen, Schurman entered the Summerside Grammar School on Prince Edward Island, and in 1870 he won a scholarship to study at Prince of Wales College for two years. After Prince of Wales College, he studied for a year and a half at Acadia College in Nova Scotia.[2]

In 1874 while a student at Acadia College in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, he won the Canadian Gilchrist scholarship to study at the University of London,[3] from which he received a BA degree in 1877 and an MA in 1878. Schurman also studied in Paris, Edinburgh, Heidelberg, Berlin, Göttingen and Italy.[4][5]

He was professor of English literature, political economy and psychology at Acadia College in 1880–1882, of metaphysics and English literature at Dalhousie College, Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1882–86, and of philosophy (Sage professor) at Cornell University in 1886–92, being Dean of the Sage School of Philosophy in 1891-92 where he edited The Philosophical Review.[6]

In 1892 he became the third president of Cornell University, a position he held until 1920. He received an LL.D (honoris causa) from the University of Edinburgh in March 1902.[7]

Cornell president

As Cornell's president, Schurman helped invent the modern state-supported research university. Under the Morrill Act, states were obligated to fund the maintenance of land grant college facilities, but were not obligated to fund operations. Subsequent laws required states to match federal funds for agricultural research stations and cooperative extension. In his inaugural address as Cornell's third president on November 11, 1892, Schurman announced his intention to enlist the financial support of the state.[8] Cornell, which had been offering a four-year scholarship to one student in each New York assembly district every year and was the state's land-grant university, was determined to convince the state to become a benefactor of the university. In 1894, the state legislature voted to give financial support for the establishment of the New York State College of Veterinary Medicine and to make annual appropriations for the college.[9] This set the precedents of privately controlled, state-supported statutory colleges and cooperation between Cornell and the state. The annual state appropriations were later extended to agriculture, home economics, and following World War II, industrial and labor relations.

In 1898, Schurman persuaded the State Legislature to found the first forestry college in North America, the New York State College of Forestry.[10] The College undertook to establish a 30,000-acre (120 km2) demonstration forest in the Adirondacks, funded by New York State.[11] However, the plans of the school's director Bernhard Fernow for the land drew criticism from neighbors, and Governor Benjamin B. Odell vetoed the 1903 appropriation for the school. In response, Cornell closed the school.[12] Subsequently, in 1911, the State Legislature established a New York State College of Forestry at Syracuse University, and the remains of Cornell's program became the Department of Natural Resources in its Agriculture College in 1910.[10] The State later followed the same model to establish a state college of ceramics at Alfred University.

International career

He was chairman of the First United States Philippine Commission in 1899, and wrote (besides a part of the official report to Congress) Philippine Affairs--A Retrospect and an Outlook (1902). With J. E. Creighton and James Seth he founded in 1892 The Philosophical Review. He also wrote Kantian Ethics and the Ethics of Evolution (1881); The Ethical Import of Darwinism (1888); Belief in God (1890), and Agnosticism and Religion (1896).

The cornerstone of the Shanghai American Club laid by Schurman in 1924
The cornerstone of the Shanghai American Club laid by Schurman in 1924

Schurman served as United States Ambassador to Greece in 1912–13, Minister to China between 1921 and 1925, and then as Ambassador to Germany between 1925 and 1929, a position twice previously held by Cornell's first president Andrew Dickson White. In 1917 Schurman was appointed honorary chairman of the American Relief Committee for Greeks of Asia Minor, an organization which provided humanitarian relief to Ottoman Greeks during the Greek genocide. He retired to Bedford Hills, New York in 1930.

In 1960, Cornell named the administrative wing of its veterinary school Jacob Gould Schurman Hall in his honor.[13]


  1. ^ "Jacob G. Schurman Is Dead Here at 88". The New York Times. August 13, 1942. p. 19.
  2. ^ a b "President Schurman of Cornell" (PDF). The New York Times. October 2, 1898.
  3. ^ Burns, Steven (July 1, 1996). "Ethics and Socialism: Tensions in the Political Philosophy of J. G. Schurman". Journal of Canadian Studies. via HighBeam (subscription required). Archived from the original on September 11, 2016. In 1874, after leading his class during two years of studies at Acadia College (now University) in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, he won the Gilchrist Scholarship for study at the University of London in a nationwide competitive examination.
  4. ^ The National magazine: an illustrated monthly. Bostonian Publishing Company. 1922. pp. 330–.
  5. ^ "Significance of Schurman's Visit, Noted Educator to Deliver Lecture at Tabernacle Sunday Afternoon". Deseret Evening News. December 18, 1908.
  6. ^ Profile, The Philosophical Review, volume 1 (1892).
  7. ^ "University intelligence". The Times (36711). London. March 10, 1902. p. 11.
  8. ^ "Inaugurating the Presidents". Retrieved February 1, 2010.
  9. ^ "History and Archives of the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine". Archived from the original on February 27, 2010. Retrieved February 1, 2010.
  10. ^ a b "Department History". Archived from the original on October 7, 2007. Retrieved March 7, 2010.
  11. ^ Donaldson, Alfred Lee (1921). A history of the Adirondacks, Volume 2. Century Co. pp. 202–207. Retrieved March 7, 2010.
  12. ^ "Cornll School of Forestry Suspended.; Action Followed Failure of State to Provide Means for Its Support". New York Times. June 18, 1903. Retrieved September 5, 2009.
  13. ^ "Cornell Honors Former Head". The New York Times. April 26, 1960. p. 40.


Further reading

External links

Academic offices
Preceded by
Charles Kendall Adams
President of Cornell University
Succeeded by
Livingston Farrand
Government offices
Preceded by
Newly created
President of the Schurman Commission
(First Philippine Commission)

March 4, 1899–March 16, 1900
Succeeded by
William Howard Taft
(Taft Commission)
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
George H. Moses
United States Minister to Greece
Succeeded by
George F. Williams
Preceded by
Paul Reinsch
United States Envoy to the Republic of China
Succeeded by
John MacMurray
Preceded by
Alanson B. Houghton
United States Ambassador to Germany
Succeeded by
Frederic M. Sackett
This page was last edited on 29 April 2020, at 20:20
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