If Johns Hopkins' first board of trustees had even the
slightest doubt about their new
president's ability to create a university without
guidelines from them or the founder, they probably
heaved a collective sigh of relief in one of their earliest
meetings with Daniel Coit Gilman. He knew
that assembling an outstanding faculty was a first
priority, and he knew how to do it.
Gilman clearly had taken time to reflect on what he
wanted to tell the trustees about the
selection of the first faculty, reading to them from a
lengthy paper he had prepared and saying they
were about to embark "on one of the most important
responsibilities which devolves to Trustees." The
document is on file in the Ferdinand Hamburger University
Archives of the Eisenhower Library.
First, he said, the faculty should be composed of
"only such teachers É as have achieved a
distinguished reputation, and who are regarded as eminent
among their co-workers in special branches
of literature and science."
"The renown of a great scholar," he said, "draws to
the lecture room men of high aspirations."
Distinguished faculty "ensure liberality of culture,
enlightened counsel and advanced pursuit of
learning. They give tone to all the scholastic work; they
inspire younger teachers; they attract the
attention ... of all who observe the progress of
Citing the German universities, he said that their
"example is constantly quoted as showing the
wisdom of such a course." But, he added, there were
circumstances peculiar to German universities
that did not exist in the United States. He cited the ease
with which German professors and students
moved from one university to another. "In this country," he
said, "it is not often easy to induce
professors of distinguished reputation to leave the
institutions with which they are connected."
The trustees had suggested that an annual salary of
$5,000 would be sufficient to attract
outstanding faculty to Baltimore. Gilman was not so sure.
That salary, he said, "is larger than is paid at
Cambridge, New Haven or Princeton ... but it is not so much
larger than is paid to seem very
Realizing these limitations, Gilman said that "our
strength will probably lie among those who
already have done enough to show their intellectual
abilities but who have not yet attained the more
enviable positions in college life."
Gilman acknowledged that some faculty are highly
regarded as teachers and others as
researchers. He said he would seek professors "who combine
the qualities of both the investigator and
Gilman told the trustees that he had four
"considerations which should be constantly in mind in
the selection of permanent professors.
"First: Talent, taste and preparation for some
particular department of work. Unless he is
proficient in a specialty, he will be of little use to the
"Second: Power to attract and influence young
"Third: A disposition to cooperate with others in
building up a new institution, where
responsibilities and duties cannot be absolutely
"Fourth: In respect to ecclesiastical and political
differences ... a spirit that does not prevent
wide differences of opinion, but precludes the uncalled-for
expression of these differences ... which
are likely to impair the usefulness of the University."
The first five professors to meet Gilman's criteria
were Basil L. Gildersleeve, in Greek; James
J. Sylvester, in mathematics; Ira Remsen, in chemistry;
Henry A. Rowland, in physics; and Henry N.
Martin, in biology.