Daniel Coit Gilman was the first president of Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore,
and is viewed as a pioneer in the American university movement. During his time
at Johns Hopkins University, Gilman helped the school become one of the first major
graduate schools in the U.S.
Gilman was born July 6, 1831, in Norwich, Conn. He attended high school in New York
and entered Yale University, New Haven, Conn., as a member of the class of 1852.
At Yale University, Gilman befriended Andrew D. White, who later became the first
president of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.
In 1853, Gilman and White traveled to Europe as attachés of the American legation
in St. Petersburg, Russia. Gilman visited England, France and Germany, gaining knowledge
regarding European education.
In 1855, Gilman became chief administrator and secretary of the board of directors
for Yale University's Sheffield Scientific School. He was a spokesman promoting
instruction and research in science and technology. At the request of geologist
James Dwight Dana, Gilman proposed a plan for the complete organization of a school
of science. The plan was published in 1856 and acknowledged Europe's advancement
in providing opportunities for the study of science "for its own sake.”
Gilman became professor of physical geography at Yale University and remained in
that position until he left for the University of California, Berkeley, becoming
president of the university in 1872. While in California, he remained connected
to New Haven, serving as school visitor for New Haven Public Schools. He was involved
with various reforms, including promoting and creating a public high school in New
Haven. He later became a member of the Connecticut State Board of Education.
However, Gilman's main career achievement was creating and developing Johns Hopkins
University. After Hopkins' death in 1874, a $3.5 million bequest was passed into
the control of 12 trustees who chose Gilman as the university's president.
Gilman accepted the position in 1875 and spent the summer in Europe gathering ideas
and seeking faculty members. He wanted to establish an institution that would make
available a higher level of intellectual training than at other U.S. colleges and
universities. In February 1876, Johns Hopkins University opened with a faculty of
six and numerous young associates. Gilman strongly was influenced by German education,
and the establishment of graduate education emphasizing research and scholarly publications
as a leading element in U.S. universities began with the founding of Johns Hopkins
Gilman resigned as president of Johns Hopkins University in 1901 and served as president
of the Carnegie Institution from 1902-04. He continued as a trustee until his death
Oct. 13, 1908. During his lifetime, he also was president of the National Civil
Service Reform League and was connected with the Peabody Fund, Slater Fund and Russell