Columbians Ahead of Their Time
 Frederick A. P. Barnard
Frederick A. P. Barnard

"It is earnestly to be hoped that no single and earnest seeker after knowledge, of whatever age, sex, or previous condition, shall be denied the privilege of coming here."

Frederick A. P. Barnard (1809–1889)
University President 1864–89

The first career academic to assume Columbia's presidency, Barnard did more than anyone else to transform the College into a university. Neither a member of the New York Knickerbocker aristocracy nor a Columbia alumnus, he was a true outsider: a New Englander who graduated from Yale and taught mathematics and astronomy there and at the Universities of Alabama and Mississippi for a quarter-century before assuming the Columbia presidency in 1864. When he took the helm, he inherited a student body of 150 young men and a faculty of six. By the time he died 25 years later, he had achieved his stated goal of making Columbia "the most important institution in the most important state in the most important city." Under his leadership, the School of Architecture, the Faculty of Political Science and the School of Library Economy were established. He integrated elective courses into the structured curriculum and recruited students from outside the New York metropolitan area. The student body increased to 1,500 and the faculty to almost 100.

Barnard was a strong advocate of women's education at Columbia. In 1879, he broached the topic of admitting women to Columbia, but was thwarted at the time by opposition of trustees, faculty, and students. Columbia College remained single-sex until 1983. Barnard's efforts paid off in 1889, when the trustees compromised by voting to create an affiliated women's college. Barnard did not regard the establishment of an annex where women were taught by Columbia faculty as a triumph, but rather as an unacceptable alternative to co-education throughout all of Columbia. Still, the new college was named for him upon his death.

Read more about Barnard in the Columbia Encyclopedia.

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Columbia president who engineered the move to Morningside Heights.

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Founder of the School of Mines and father of the chemistry department.

Stand, Columbia

The first single-volume interpretive history of the University in a century.

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Columbia's history, as seen by those who have studied, taught, and worked here.

Columbians Ahead of Their Time

Columbians have changed the world and how we see it.

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