century association biographical archive

Earliest Members of the Century Association

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Jacob G. Schurman

President, Cornell University/U.S. Ambassador to Germany

Centurion, 1903–1942

Full Name Jacob Gould Schurman

Born 22 May 1854 in Freetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Died 12 August 1942 in New York (Manhattan), New York

Buried Saint Matthew’s Episcopal Churchyard, Bedford, New York

Proposed by Salem H. Wales and Henry E. Howland

Elected 4 April 1903 at age forty-eight

Archivist’s Note: Father of Jacob G. Schurman; brother of George W. Schurman

Seconder of:

Century Memorial

Long recognized as one of our elder statesmen because of his many years of distinguished service in education, diplomacy, and public life, Jacob Gould Schurman had his roots in two tough enduring stocks, belonging as he did to a Scotch Nova Scotia family of Dutch origin. His long and useful life began eighty-eight years ago on Prince Edward Island. There he won a scholarship in Acadia University which took him to the University of London and then to Edinburgh. To finish his course in philosophy he studied in Heidelberg, Berlin and Göttingen. He taught for a few years in Acadia University and in Dalhousie University in New Brunswick before going to Cornell to serve there as Professor of Philosophy for five years and as President of the University for twenty-eight. During that time he spent a year, in 1919, in the Philippines and was President of the United States Philippine Commission which drew up the original charter for the Islands. After his retirement in 1920 from the educational world he went as Minister to China and then in 1925, at the ripe age of seventy-one, was appointed Ambassador to Germany, where he remained four years. To the end of his life he was actively and energetically occupied in public affairs and he enjoyed an international reputation as an educator, philosopher, and publicist. His activities did not often bring him into the general life of the Club but he added something of high value to its associations.

Geoffrey Parsons
1942 Century Memorials