Eliot, Charles William

born March 20, 1834, Boston, Mass., U.S.
died Aug. 22, 1926, Northeast Harbor, Maine

U.S. educator and influential university president.

He studied at Harvard University and taught mathematics and chemistry there (1858–63) and at MIT (1865–69). Eliot was named president of Harvard in 1869 after studying European educational systems, and he soon set about a program of fundamental reforms. He demanded a place for the sciences in liberal education, and he replaced the program of required courses for undergraduates with the elective system. Under Eliot, the graduate school of arts and sciences was created (1890), Radcliffe College was established (1894), the quality of the professional schools was raised, and the university became an institution of world renown. His reforms had widespread influence in American higher education. After resigning in 1909, he edited the 50-volume Harvard Classics (1909–10), wrote several books, and devoted himself to public service.

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▪ American educator
born March 20, 1834, Boston, Mass., U.S.
died Aug. 22, 1926, Northeast Harbor, Maine
 American educator, leader in public affairs, president of Harvard University for 40 years, and editor of the 50-volume Harvard Classics (1909–10).

      Eliot graduated from Harvard in 1853 and was appointed assistant professor of mathematics and chemistry there in 1858. In 1867, during his second trip to Europe, he made a study of European educational systems. His published observations (in The Atlantic Monthly, 1869) brought his name to the attention of the directors of Harvard, who were looking for a new president. Eliot was inaugurated in October 1869. By the time he retired in 1909 he had elevated Harvard into an institution of world renown.

      Contending that higher learning in the United States needed to be “broadened, deepened, and invigorated,” Eliot demanded a place for the sciences as well as the humanities in any sound program of liberal education. To counter the rigidity of the Harvard curriculum—which, following what was then general practice, was then almost totally prescribed—Eliot eliminated required courses. Under his successor, A. Lawrence Lowell, a balance was struck between required and elective courses.

      Eliot's influence reached into secondary education. During his presidency Harvard raised its entrance requirements, and other major colleges did likewise. This, in turn, effected a corresponding rise in secondary-school standards. In the report of the Committee of Ten, a national commission on secondary education (1893), he urged the introduction of foreign languages and mathematics during the student's seventh school year. The idea was embodied later (1910) by the introduction of junior high schools in the United States. Eliot served as president of the National Education Association (1903) and was the first honorary president of the Progressive Education Association (1919).

      Eliot's writings include Educational Reform: Essays and Addresses 1869–1897 (1898) and University Administration (1908).

Additional Reading
Henry James, Charles W. Eliot: President of Harvard University, 1869–1909, 2 vol. (1930, reprinted 1973), includes a bibliography of Eliot's books, articles, and published speeches. Hugh Hawkins, Between Harvard and America: The Educational Leadership of Charles W. Eliot (1972), is a biography and social history.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Eliot,Charles William — El·i·ot (ĕlʹē ət), Charles William. 1834 1926. American educator and editor who was president of Harvard University (1869 1909) and edited the Harvard Classics (1909 1910), a 50 volume selection of world literature. * * * …   Universalium

  • Eliot, Charles William — (20 mar. 1834, Boston, Mass., EE.UU.–22 ago. 1926, Northeast Harbor, Me.). Educador y rector universitario estadounidense de gran influencia. Estudió en la Universidad de Harvard, donde dictó las cátedras de matemática y química (1858–63), al… …   Enciclopedia Universal

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  • Charles W. Eliot — Charles William Eliot Charles William Eliot (* 20. März 1834 in Boston, Massachusetts; † 22. August 1926 in Northeast Harbor, Maine) war ein US amerikanischer Professor für Chemie, Autor und Herausgeber. Mit einer Amtszeit von 40 Jahren (1869 bis …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Eliot — /el ee euht, el yeuht/, n. 1. Charles William, 1834 1926, U.S. educator: president of Harvard University 1869 1909. 2. George (Mary Ann Evans), 1819 80, English novelist. 3. John ( the Apostle of the Indians ), 1604 90, American colonial… …   Universalium

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