Harper, William Rainey

Harper, William Rainey,

1856–1906, American educator and Hebrew scholar, b. New Concord, Ohio, grad. Muskingum College, 1870, Ph.D. Yale, 1875. The author of many texts on Hebrew language and literature, Harper taught Hebrew at Baptist Union Theological Seminary in Chicago after 1879 and also gave (after 1883) courses at Chautauqua Institution. In 1886 he went to Yale as professor of Semitic languages, resigning in 1891 to become first president of the Univ. of Chicago. With vast funds at his disposal, Harper was able to recruit an outstanding faculty. He was committed to fostering advanced instruction and research in his university and maintained a policy whereby promotion for members of the faculty was directly related to their scholarly research.


See biography by T. W. Goodspeed (1928); R. J. Storr, Harper's University (1966).

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Harper, William Rainey

(1856–1906) educator, Hebraist; born in New Concord, Ohio. A Yale Ph.D. at age 18, this widely published and brilliant teacher of Semitic languages and literature planned and served as the first president of the University of Chicago (1891–1906), which he created as a great research university, recruiting a brilliant faculty and establishing its extension system, cooperative programs, graduate schools, and university press.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.