Popular Science Monthly/Volume 11/May 1877/Sketch of President Barnard
AMONG the promoters of science and liberal culture in our time, few men have labored more efficiently and successfully than the present versatile and accomplished President of Columbia College. Although Dr. Barnard has done his share of original scientific work, it is not claimed for him that he has made any great discoveries; nor could this be justly expected of a man whose life has been so absorbed in the work of educational reform, the progress of scientific culture, the organization and administration of collegiate institutions and the furtherance of those higher measures and agencies of intellectual improvement which are never carried out except through the executive force and indomitable perseverance of a few men who are specially constituted for such tasks. Dr. Barnard has been untiringly busy in these important spheres of activity for nearly half a century, and seems still in the prime and vigor of his powers, and the meridian of his public influence.
Frederick Augustus Porter Barnard was born in Sheffield, Massachusetts, in the year 1809. He was educated at Yale College, where he graduated in 1828. He began his career as teacher by taking the position of tutor in that institution in 1829. In 1831 he went to Hartford, and engaged as instructor in the Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb; and, becoming interested in this branch of teaching, he subsequently pursued it in the Deaf and Dumb Asylum of New York. He afterward published an "Analytic Grammar, with Symbolic Illustrations," based upon a system he had originated for teaching the deaf and dumb, and which is still used in institutions devoted to their education. Dr. Barnard early chose the South as his field of labor, and in 1837 became Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy in the University of Alabama, at Tuscaloosa, and subsequently took the chair of Chemistry in the same institution, which he held until 1854. The same year he took orders in the Protestant Episcopal Church. In 1854 he became Professor of Mathematics, Astronomy, and Civil Engineering, in the University of Mississippi, at Oxford, was elected its president in 1856, and promoted to its chancellorship in 1858. During his long residence at the South, Dr. Barnard devoted himself with great energy to the subject of education, both primary and academic, and advocated liberal and advanced views regarding college polity in several able reports. Never an opponent of classical culture, he freely criticised it, and strongly urged the claims of science to a larger and higher place in modern study than had been hitherto allowed. At the approach and outbreak of the civil war, President Barnard, remaining loyal to the Union, found himself embarrassed in his Southern position, and in 1861 he resigned his chancellorship and his chair in the university, and returned to his native North. In 1862 he was engaged in continuing the reduction of Gilliss's observations of the stars in the southern hemisphere. In 1863 he was connected with the United States Coast Survey, and had charge of chart-printing and lithography. Prof. McCulloch, who occupied the chair of Physics in Columbia College, New York, having left the institution and gone South to take his chances with the Confederate cause. Dr. Barnard became an applicant for the vacant position; but, instead of accepting him for this place, the trustees of the institution elected him as its president in 1864, which office he still holds. Coincident with his accession to the presidency of Columbia College, an important step was taken by the managers of the institution for the promotion of scientific education by the establishment of the School of Mines, and the appointment of an able faculty to carry it on. This branch of the college has been so well administered as to become a great success. Its facilities for scientific training are ample and well directed, and in the number of its students it is already the rival of the classical department.
Dr. Barnard has written much upon both scientific and educational topics, and done a good deal of important work in connection with the various international expositions of industry, to which he has been commissioned by our Government. His last important literary undertaking has been the editorship of Johnson's "New Illustrated Universal Cyclopædia." He has received many honors from institutions of learning and leading scientific societies, both in this country and abroad, and has been President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, of the American Microscopical Society, and of the American Institute, New York. The following are President Barnard's most important publications:
Among his educational papers may be mentioned: "Letters on College Government," 1854; "Report on Collegiate Education," 1854; "Art-Culture," 1854; "Improvements practicable in American Colleges," 1855; "University Education," 8vo, pp. 104, 1858; "Relation of University Education to Common Schools," 1858; "Studies best adapted to Early Culture and Preparation for College," 1866; "Elective Studies in College Education," 1872; "Analysis of Statistics of Collegiate Education," 1870; Annual Reports to the Trustees of Columbia College, 1865, et seq.—a series; and numerous papers on Deaf-Mute Instruction, 1832-'37.