James Rowland Angell

National Cyclopedia of American Biography

ANGELL, James Rοwland, university president, was born in Burlington, Vt., May 8, 1869, son of James Burrill and Sarah Swope (Caswell) Angell and a descendant of Thomas Angell, who came to America from England with Roger Williams (q.v.) in 1631 and settled in Providence, R.I. From Thomas and his wife, Alice Ashton, the descent was through John and Ruth Field, Thomas and Sarah Brown, Jeremiah and Mary Mathewson, Andrew and Tabitha Harris, Charles and Olive Aldrich, and Andrew and Amey Aldrich, the grandparents of James R. Angell. His father (q.v.) was successively professor at Brown University, editor of the Providence Journal, president of the universities of Vermont and Michigan, and U.S. minister to China and Turkey. His mother was a daughter of Alexis Caswell (q.v.), president of Brown University. James R. Angell received an Α.B. degree at the University of Michigan in 1890 and an Α.M. degree in the following year in psychology, economics and American history. After taking a second master's degree in 1892 at Harvard University, where he came under the influence of William James (q.v.) in his advanced studies iii psychology, he continued postgraduate work in Europe, chiefly at the universities of Berlin and Halle, also studying in Vienna, Paris and Leipzig. In 1893 he went to the University of Minnesota as instructor in philosophy. A year later he joined John Dewey (q.v.) at the University of Chicago as assistant professor of philosophy and psychology, and in 1905 became full professor and head of a new special department of psychology. For fourteen years he took little part in general faculty activities, devoting his time throughout that period almost solely to psychology. His administrative work began in 1908 when he accepted the office of dean of the senior colleges at the University of Chicago. In 1911 he became dean of the faculties, a post which entailed various responsible executive functions relating to problems of undergraduate scholarship and activities and conferences thereon with faculty colleagues. In 1914 he was selected as American exchange professor at the Sorbonne, Paris, and in 1915 as special lecturer on psychology at Columbia University. Later he spoke at many colleges and universities. During the First World War his services were enlisted by the U.S. government as a member of the preliminary psychology committee of the Office of the Surgeon General, U.S. Army, committees of the Office of the Adjutant General on classification of personnel and on education and special training, and as a member of the National Research Council. The protracted absence of Harry P. Judson (q.v.), president of the University of Chicago, led to Angell's designation as vice-president in 1918 and as such he bore the chief administrative responsibility during the next year. After the war he continued his work with the National Research Council as its chairman for one year (1919-20), then became president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York. In 1921 he was elected president of Yale University to succeed Arthur T. Hadley (q.v.), being the first president of Yale since 1766 who was not a graduate of that university. His administration, which continued until the close of the academic year 1936-37, when he reached the statutory retirement age of sixty-eight, was in many respects the most constructive in Yale's history. All new buildings were designed on a common architectural pattern, giving the Yale campus one of the greatest collections of Gothic architecture in the Western Hemisphere. During his presidency thirty-five buildings were erected, many of them having individual endowments for maintenance, at an aggregate cost of $52,000,000; the total endowment increased from slightly over $25,000,000 to more than $105,000,000. The work begun by Hadley in co-ordinating the various schools and departments was continued, and new facilities and opportunities for study in various fields were provided. Among the more important of the new structures were several erected under provisions of the will of John W. Sterling (q.v.), including the Sterling Chemistry Laboratory; Sterling Hall of Medicine; Sterling Memorial Library, costing over $5,000,000 and designed to house 5,000,000 volumes; Sterling Tower, for the Scientific School; and the Sterling Law and Graduate School quadrangles. Other important structures erected were new buildings for the Sage School of Forestry and the Peabody Museum of Natural History, William L. Harkness Educational Building, a building for the university Department of Health, the Raleigh Fitkin Memorial Clinic for Children, Sheffield Scientific School administration building, Institute of Human Relations building Hall of Graduate Studies, Gallery of Fine Arts, the Harry Payne Whitney Memorial Gymnasium, the Charles E. Coxe Memorial Field Gymnasium, the Divinity School quadrangles erected with funds given by the Sterling trustees, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (q.v.), and others, and an imposing Greek colonnade built as a memorial to Yale men who fell in the First World War. In 1924 Angell recommended to the board of trustees a reorganization of the undergraduate student body which would provide adequate housing under conditions resembling those of the Oxford and Cambridge colleges. The plan remained in abeyance until 1930, when it was definitely matured and adopted. Edward S. Harkness agreed to finance eight units of the program which came into operation in 1933 when seven residential colleges, Branford, Calhoun, Davenport, Johnathan Edwards, Pierson, Saybrook and Trumbull, were put into service. Two others were added later, Berkeley in 1934 and Timothy Dwight in 1935. This change was probably the most revolutionary in the history of Yale. The arrangement recognized the social and educational values inherent in small groups, giving every undergraduate the opportunity to benefit by direct social relationship with his classmates and by frequent contact with members of the faculty. The colleges were planned to co-operate with the undergraduate schools to evolve whatever combinations of formal and informal instruction made the work of each undergraduate most instructive and effective. Each had its own library, dining hall, kitchen, common rooms and squash courts, with accommodations for from 160 to 299 students. Each college had its own master living in the college, and associated with him as active fellows ten or twelve members of the faculty, some residing there and all having rooms in which to meet students. At various times during Angell's administration the Sterling Estate trustees, in addition to making appropriations for buildings, created thirty-two professional chairs for distinguished achievement, carrying unusually large salaries and the control of substantial sums for research. They also provided for a large number of scholarships and fellowships for advanced students. The total thus made available for educational work was nearly $12,000;000.

( 41) As a result of considerations which he urged in 1924 and after several years of preparatory work, a fund of $20,993,918, to be used exclusively for educational purposes, was raised in 1928 through gifts from over 20,000 graduates and other friends of the university. One of the largest single donations to Yale and the last important one during his administration was a gift of upwards of $10,000,000 made anonymously in June, 1937, for the establishment of the Jane Coffin Childs Memorial dedicated to the study of cancer. Among the major additions to and changes in the university structure not already mentioned were the combination in 1923, of the faculties of Yale College, Sheffield Scientific School, and Common Freshman Year into a general undergraduate faculty to deal with such problems as concerned two or more ut these divisions of the university and, the creation in the same year, of the School of Nursing. The latter was one of the first two nurse-training schools, the other being at Western Reserve University, established on a parity with other schools and colleges in a university and the first to make the completion of college course an entrance requirement 1924 a gift of Edward S. Harkness made possible the establishment of a Department of Drama and a University Theatre, in the School ut Fine Arts, and in the same year a grant by the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial was used to establish an Institute of Psychology. In 1929 through gifts from various foundations, the Institute of Human Relations was organized to bring all the resources of modern science and medicine to bear on the basic problems of human behavior and human society. Among the early studies undertaken under the institute's auspices were researches in bankruptcy, psychology, juvenile delinquency, human relations in industry, and the development of young children. In 1932 the School of Engineering, originally founded in 1852 and since 1861 a part of Sheffield Scientific School, was again set up as a separate school, offering both undergraduate and graduate courses. University athletics were also developed under Angell by the appointment of a central directing head so that sports could be co-ordinated and broadened. A lover of sports since his own undergraduate days when he excelled in baseball and tennis, he sought to interest students in the games they would play after they left college. A university, in his view, should produce a body of men physically fit, a group for whom sports took a place in a well rounded life, not dwarfing other interests. His conception of education defined it as a companion, in that it should make a man more at home with himself and give him something to live with, besides, as William James said, enabling him to recognize a good man when he sees one. After retiring from the presidency of Yale in 1937, Angell accepted an appointment as educational counselor to the National Broadcasting Company, of which be was a director. He spent his first year with NBC studying foreign and American systems of broadcasting to determine the relationship between radio and education. After going abroad ter a survey, he made recommendations which guided the company's expanding activities in the field of public service. He served as general director of the NBC Inter-American University of Air. He was the director of the Hall of Fame at New York University from 1944 until his death, and honorary national president of the English- Speaking Union, having been its national president in 1938-46. For many years lie was a member of the General and International education hoards and Rockefeller Foundation. Besides many monographs in scientific journals, his published writings, most of which belonged to his teaching period as a psychologist, were "Psychology" (1904), "An Introduction to Psychology" (1918), and "American Education" (1937). He also edited "Psychological Monographs." Angell was a director of the New York Life Insurance Co. and the RCA Institute, Inc., and a trustee of the American Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Science and Industry, New York city. He became president in 1947 of the Roscoe B. Jackson Memorial Laboratory, Bar Harbor, Me., founded for cancer research by the family of the former president of the Hudson Motor Co. Honorary degrees were awarded him as follows: Litt.D. by Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Cincinnati, Chicago, and McGill (1921), Middlebury College (1922), Brown University and Wesleyan College (1923), University of Illinois (1929), University of Michigan (1931), Wabash College (1932), New York University and University of California (1934), and Ph.D. by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1924. He was decorated chevalier of the French Legion of Honor in 1930 and became an officer in 1931; was made a grand officer of the Order of the Crown of Italy in 1935, and was awarded a gold medal by the National Institute of Social Sciences in 1937. In his honor the James Rowland Angell Chair in Psychology was endowed at Yale, and among several other memorials to him in New Haven was a wing in the Yale Faculty Club. He was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the British Psychological Society, American Psychological Association (pres. 1906), American Philosophical Society, National Academy of Sciences, Society of the Cincinnati, University Club, Boston, Graduate Club Association, New Haven, Cosmos Club, Washington, D.C., Century Club and Yale Club of New York city, Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma NI, Delta Kappa Epsilon and Kappa Delta Pi. His religious affiliation was with the Congregational church, and in politics he was an independent. Classical music and good plays and books were his special interests, and golf, sailing and tramping were his favorite recreations. He was married twice: (1) in Des Moines, Iowa, Dec. 18, 1894, to Marian Isabel, daughter of Charles Leach Watrous of that city, a nurseryman, and had two children, James Watrous and Marian Caswell, who married William Rockefeller McAlpin; his first wife died in 1931; (2) in Portland, Me., Aug. 2, 1932, to Katharine (Cramer) Woodman, daughter of Stuart Warren Cramer of Charlotte, N.C., and widow of Paul Woodman. Angell died in Hamden, Conn., Mar. 4, 1949.


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