Maclaurin, Richard C. (Richard Cockburn), 1870-1920
- Existence: 1870 June 5 - 1920 January 15
Richard Cockburn Maclaurin, 1870-1920, was a Scottish-born educator, mathematical physicist, and was the President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) from 1909-1920. Raised in New Zealand, Maclaurin was educated in England, where he attended the University of Cambridge, achieving his BA and MS each in Mathematics in 1895 and 1896, respectively .
The following year, in 1897, he was awarded the York Prize, the highest honor in the field for a thesis on The Title to Reality. Maclaurin was considered an expert in two different subjects, physics and law .
In 1898, Maclaurin returned to New Zealand, becoming the chair of Mathematics at Victoria College, Wellington. There he began research in Mathematical Physics, specifically in the field of Physical Optics, in which he published his treatise Theory of Light. From this work, he was awarded his Doctorate of Science in 1908 from the University of Cambridge. Maclaurin was also instrumental in establishing the Law School at Cambridge, and served as the school's Dean from 1905-1907 .
In 1907, Maclaurin would relocate himself and his family to New York, where he was hired as Columbia University's Chair of Mathematical Physics . Soon afterward, he would be chosen to become the President of MIT, officially taking office in January of 1909.
As MIT President, Maclaurin is best known for his efforts overseeing the move of the Institute from Boston to Cambridge in 1916 . During the first World War, he was also appointed Educational Director of the Student Army Training Corps under the War Plans Division of the General Staff .
In 1904, Maclaurin married Alice Young of Auckland, in which they shared two sons together, William Rupert Maclaurin and Colin Maclaurin .
Richard Cockburn Maclaurin died on January 15, 1920 of pneumonia in Cambridge, MA.
1. "RICHARD COCKBURN MACLAURIN, 1870-1920" MIT Libraries (October 2004) 2. H.M Goodwin, "Richard Cockburn Maclaurin (1870-1920)" American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Vol. 69, No. 13 (February 1935)
Found in 6 Collections and/or Records:
Collection on the Celebration of the Move of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from Boston to Cambridge
The Dedication Reunion Committee was formed to oversee the celebrations for the dedication of MIT’s new Cambridge campus, which took place on June 12, 13, and 14, 1916. The committee was divided into over twenty subcommittees responsible for an elaborate set of festivities. Several subcommittees are represented in the collection, including the Undergraduate Reunion Committee and the Technology Pageant Committee, whose records form a major portion of the collection.
The collection of Richard C. Maclaurin papers consists mainly of Maclaurin’s notebooks from St. John’s College, Cambridge, 1892-1894. Included are copies of his Yorke Prize essay, the Tripos Prize essay, and the lecture notes on light, published in 1909 by Columbia University Press.