Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Seventy Years



THOMAS CORWIN MENDENHALL, third president, differed from his predecessors in many respects, conspicuously in point of background. He had arrived. Long before reaching the mature age of fifty-three, he had achieved national and some international renown as a scientist and an administrator. His career had been unique. Its zenith came perhaps during the five-year period just prior to his appointment by the Institute trustees. That was his term of office as superintendent of the United States Coast & Geodetic Survey. The activities of this and other governmental services were to be among his major interests for the rest of his life.

Self-education, built on a common school training, raised Dr. Mendenhall to the stature of one of the conspicuous men of science in his generation. Born in a small Ohio town, October 4, 1841, he found no opportunity for academy or college training. Yet, at the age of twenty he was teachingin a high school. He advanced to the post of school superintendent and, in 1873, was appointed professor of Mathematics and Science in the newly-organized Ohio StateUniversity. Five years later, when he was called away from the University, he was awarded the Ph.D. degree. The call was to Japan and its Imperial University, where he was to be professor of Physics. He taught there from 1878 to 1881,


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Last Modified: Fri Jul 30 11:15:25 EDT 1999