4. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Gildersleeve?

                                                         Chapter 4
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Gildersleeve?

A flower from Barnard’s own garden.
—  Nicholas Murray Butler (1911) [1]


                                    “Far From Adequate Financial Provision”
In 1894, while seeking a successor to Ella Weed as dean, Barnard’s new  treasurer George A. Plimpton wrote to his friend, Johns Hopkins President Daniel Coit Gilman,  “I have no doubt in my mind but that within a few years Barnard College will be the richest women’s college in the country.” Two years later Plimpton doubled down.  “There is no question in my mind,”  he wrote to the attorney of Mrs. Josiah Fiske, ”that ultimately Barnard College will have a great deal of money; it cannot be otherwise.” This statement  came in the immediate  wake of his successful $140,000 “site fund” campaign that also secured the conditioned $100,000 Brinckerhoff gift for a  building and the announcement of a  $170,000 gift of a second building from Elizabeth Milbank  Anderson, which in turn produced a gift of  $130,000 from Mrs.  Josiah Fiske for a third building. Yet eleven years later, the same Treasurer Plimpton in an appeal to the Rockefeller-funded General Education Board, described Barnard  as “far from having adequate financial provision for its necessary work.”  These conflicting  assessments, one  boasting and the other  poor-mouthing,  reflected the ongoing volatility and shifting fortunes of the young College’s finances. [2]

On the plus side of the ledger, Barnard in 1907 owned four buildings, the original Brinckerhoff, Milbank, and Fiske buildings, plus the just opened Brooks dormitory, with a combined book value of $750,000. These were located on a 4 ½ acre site assessed at  $1,250,000. Barnard also owned securities and mortgages with a market value of $700,000. This last amount,  in effect the College’s endowment, was largely the result of Plimpton’s tireless solicitations of gifts from many of New York’s biggest benefactors,  among them J. P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, the Harriman family, and  Joseph Pulitzer. [3]

In one instance, that of John D. Rockefeller Sr. and later the Rockefeller-funded General Educational Board chaired by John D. Rockefeller Jr., Plimpton proved to be  a more successful fundraiser on Barnard’s behalf than his counterparts at Columbia, where the Rockefellers’ recent arrival in New York (and their being Baptists?)  rendered them in the minds of  some Columbia trustees socially suspect. Plimpton, by contrast, was an equal opportunity  mendicant.  He was also lavish with praise for those who responded. “I doubt there ever [missing word?] have been a Barnard College,” he told John D. Rockefeller Jr.,  in 1910, “such as we have today had it not been for your generosity.”   From an early  “Founder” upon delivering her $5,000 gift to Plimpton: “When your drag-net is thrown out the fish give up; no use trying to escape.” [I think you might have already used this quote?] But even escapees, as with one who reneged on a pledge of $1,000, were handled with care:
I note what you say about not liking my way of raising money. I can assure you that this
whole money-making business is most disagreeable to me…. The position of treasurer
I did not seek. It was thrust upon me…. Now my good woman, do not give yourself any
anxiety or uneasiness about the matter. [4]

Contrast this description of  Emily O. Gibbes of Newport, who heard of  Barnard  through Annie Nathan Meyer’s writings, and left the college $475,000 on her death in 1908:  Meyer later characterized  her as  “an intense feminist, the man-hater type.” [5] [ok, but Meyer did not say this to her directly and one never knows what Plimpton might have said privately?]

One problem Plimpton faced with fundraising was that several of his prospects had more compelling  calls on their largesse. This was certainly the case with Abram Hewitt, one of the City’s wealthiest men and the Barnard board’s second chairman,  the bulk of whose estate went to Cooper Union. So, too, with the original trustee  Henrietta Talcott and her merchant  husband, James Talcott, whose $4 million estate went to the YWCA, the Northfield Seminary, and the New York Bible Society. Even in the case of  Elizabeth Milbank Anderson, early Barnard’s greatest benefactor, the bulk of her $32 million estate, and that of her cousin, Albert G. Milbank, who became a Barnard trustee in 1903,  was committed to the Milbank Memorial Fund Association (later the Milbank Memorial Fund).  Another original trustee of substantial wealth, Caroline Spurgeon Choate, left most of her estate to the Brearley School and to a fund that endowed her 40-acre estate, Naumkeag, in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. None of the early  board’s many lawyers or ministers  proved to be major donors, with  several directing their  wealth to their respective alma maters. This was even true of Plimpton, whose benefactions were distributed among Amherst, Wellesley, Columbia University, the Presbyterian-sponsored Robert  College  and the American College for Girls in Istanbul. [6]
On the expenditure side of the ledger, Barnard  in its second decade  operated regularly with annual deficits which were covered by end-of-the-year borrowing from the endowment or  commercial loans.  All the other leading women’s colleges had endowments several times larger than Barnard. With nearly all the college’s operating income coming from  student tuition and fees, the only long-term solution to the Barnard’s financial situation was to increase the size of the entering classes or increase the tuition from its original $150.  The latter was deemed inadvisable until Columbia did so, and in any event  would almost certainly have resulted in fewer enrollments. [7]

Increasing enrollments posed other problems, especially after the Gill-advised decision in 1904 to drastically reduce the number of “Specials”  accepted as non-degree students to be in step with the other women’s colleges. In 1905, the year the decision went into effect,  enrollments dropped from 500 to 366, with tuition income dropping accordingly. Total enrollments  would not return to 1904 levels for five more years. Meanwhile, the College’s shaky finances  did not escape scrutiny or comment. [8]

                                               2.  Barnard’s  First Merger Crisis
      Doubts about Barnard’s long-term financial viability  were given voice by Columbia’s new and  aggrandizing president, Nicholas Murray Butler.  “The fact ought to be faced,” Butler informed Annie Nathan Meyer who had written him on another matter in 1905, “that Barnard is the only branch of the University which is not springing vigorously forward with full  and increased prestige. It is not getting the financial or the personal support which it ought to have.” Over the next five years this complaint  became a standard part of communications passing westward across Broadway. As a student Butler opposed President Barnard’s efforts to have Columbia College admit women, now as an administrator, he was open to the idea that undergraduate women should have  a place in his university, just not in Columbia College. As Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy, he had opened graduate instruction in the humanities to women. One of his first moves as president was to insist that the Faculty of Political Science do likewise. No less than his predecessor, Seth Low, Butler was very much disposed to putting every educational entity within reach under the direction of the Columbia trustees, which is to say under his direction. [9]

Part of Dean Gill’s problems with Butler was  her opposition to his hopes of consolidating Barnard within Columbia. In 1904 he called for the merger  of the Registrar offices of Columbia College, the School of Mines, and Barnard College, under the direction of a Columbia administrator. When Gill objected, she was overruled by her own trustees, with Plimpton supporting the move on grounds of efficiency and economy. This followed on  a note from Butler to Plimpton in which he called for a talk between them  about “enrollment at Barnard …which is one part of the University that lags behind in the present advance.” [10.]

There is little doubt that Butler urged the resignation of Dean Gill in 1907. And it was Butler who appointed William Tenney Brewster, recently promoted to a professorship in English at Barnard and a seat in the Columbia Faculty of Philosophy, as Barnard’s acting dean.  What followed  was a four-year standoff between Butler and a set of Barnard trustees, led by Anderson,  with Plimpton as her  behind-the-scenes ally in keeping  the permanent position of dean of Barnard from going to Brewster. In 1909 Butler added to Brewster’s formal duties by naming him to the new post “Provost of Barnard.” In so doing, he signaled to the Barnard trustees that they might choose a woman as their titular dean, who would be the public face of the College, so long as the academic and financial side of the College was entrusted to his man Brewster. [11]

Butler also maneuvered to put  Barnard under the administrative leadership of the Dean of Columbia College, In 1909, he proposedthat the admissions process of all three undergraduates schools – Columbia College, the School of Mines,  and Barnard — be consolidated under a “University Committee of Undergraduate Admissions,”  to be headed by a Columbia College appointee,  Adam Leroy Jones. Barnard officials, at the urging of its acting dean, went along. [12]

Brewster wanted the job as Barnard’s  permanent dean and favored the College  being merged into Columbia, with its governance transferred to the University’s trustees. “I find myself in complete agreement with what you say in your recent letter,”  Butler wrote to Brewster in 1908, “regarding the feebleness of the Barnard Faculty as a Faculty, that I move to propose that we begin a reform without delay.” But at the same time Brewster  was the antithesis of the “country college” wannabes, seeing Barnard instead as an urban institution in the service of the City’s academically ambitious women of limited means. “It is evident,” he wrote in his first report as acting dean in the summer of 1907,
that in all probability a city college like Barnard will draw a large part of its
membership from  nearby, and that it will be made up largely of students
who are unable to enjoy the opener life afforded at country colleges. Students
other than the class described  will be attracted to Barnard College by the
soundness of its scholarship. [13]

However enlightened  his views on  Barnard as an urban institution, Dean “Billy” Brewster was not to be.  Elizabeth Milbank Anderson  opposed his candidacy and objected to Butler’s strong-arming. Plimpton agreed that the Columbia president  could be overbearing and that his objections to several women Barnard had proposed as Gill’s successor were unreasonable.  “I believe if I should find the Angel Gabriel,”  he wrote to Anderson in June 1910, “Butler would probably turn him down. Possibly he may think he has Brewster, and he may be indifferent as to what woman there is.” Knowing that  Anderson was set against Brewster and determined to have a woman as dean, Plimpton further endeared himself to Barnard’s principal benefactor with a closing call: “I say let us select a Dean after our own hearts.” [14]

Two months later, on November 10, 1910,  Butler informed  Plimpton that he wished to see  Alice Duer Miller as Barnard’s next dean. “She is a graduate of Barnard, a New Yorker, born and bred, and a lady of distinction of both mind and person.” That she was married, Butler assured Plimpton, was not a problem. He did not add that she was also the daughter of a Columbia graduate, the granddaughter of  Columbia’s 10th president, William A. Duer (1829-42), and the great grand-daughter of Rufus King, a longtime chair of the Columbia Board of Trustees.  Nor that she was  the Barnard alumna who led the call for Gill’s dismissal five years earlier. Her nomination made clear Butler’s intention to divide Barnard’s administrative responsibilities between  a socially presentable woman, in Miller’s case a journalist and writer without academic credentials, who would oversee the social and external affairs of the College, with the academic and financial affairs of the College entrusted to  a man. [15]

When the Barnard board  rejected the Miller nomination [for what reason?],  Butler proceeded  with an offer he likely thought too  good for the Barnard trustees  to refuse. It was nothing if not clear-cut. “I want to put myself on record now, “ he wrote to Plimpton on November 18, 1910, “as saying if Barnard College can be turned over bodily to the Trustees of the University, I will make myself responsible for raising the money to pay the outstanding debt of Barnard College.” [16]

Butler’s offer, if accepted,  would have transformed   Barnard from a free-standing, financially independent  institution with its own trustees into one of the several schools of the University (but separate from the all-male Columbia College) under the control of the Columbia Board of Trustees.   Barnard’s 30-person faculty would  be disbanded, with some of the male members finding places in the  lower ranks of the Columbia faculty. All that Butler implied was needed to effect Barnard’s dismemberment was the acquiescence of its  treasurer. As an added inducement , Butler  told Plimpton, with reference to their mutual friend, fellow Centurion  and Barnard’s  current board chairman,  “It is also Mr. Brownell’s wish.” [17]
Indeed it was. Two years earlier Brownell wrote privately to Butler:

For many years it has been my aim to turn Barnard College over to the Trustees of the
University for their management, and I have set my mark at an endowment of $500,000
as the suitable time for proposing to the University to take Barnard’s property and good
will, very much as it took over the College of Physicians and Surgeons. [18]

What made Barnard, in its  twenty-first year of operations, so vulnerable to a takeover?  Butler cited three factors: “Barnard’s finances shaky; salaries too low; faculty restless.”  All true, especially the “faculty restless” assertion, at a time  when  several of Barnard’s senior male professors had recently transferred  to Columbia for the higher salaries and professional status, while others were actively angling to do so. [19] [If not here, it might be helpful somewhere to have a fuller description of faculty life for Barnard professors?]
But there was more. Butler’s call for Barnard’s absorption likely had as its precipitating factor  the evolving social composition of the University’s undergraduates, which Columbia’s trustees and their eager-to-please president had recently  determined to  put right. The earlier consolidation of the admissions process was a  step in that direction,  but a more direct  way to address the perceived problem affecting all three undergraduate schools would be simply to have Columbia take Barnard over.      But  when the Barnard trustees, at  Anderson’s insistence and with Plimpton’s support, rejected Columbia’s buy-out offer, Butler quickly  reverted to Plan B. On December 10, 1910, he offered the Barnard deanship to a junior member of the Columbia English Department, the 33-year-old  Virginia C. Gildersleeve.  Whether this had been his plan all along we will never know. [20]

A Flower from Barnard’s Own Garden

Among Virginia Gildersleeve’s many academic prizes at her graduation from Barnard in 1899  was  a Fiske Graduate Fellowship,  which provided  for a year’s graduate study  at Columbia. She used it to pursue  an MA degree in medieval  history under the guidance of  James Harvey Robinson, with whom she had studied at Barnard. Degree in hand in the summer of 1900, she was offered an assistantship in English at Barnard  with responsibility  for  a section of Freshman English. For the next four years  she held the rank of tutor and taught two sections. But when in the spring of 1905, William Tenney Brewster, in charge of staffing Barnard’s English courses, informed Gildersleeve she was to teach all five sections of required Sophomore English – which would involve reading and grading 100 essays a week – she resigned. [21]

Travel in Europe that summer  was followed by the offer,  coming through  Annie Nathan Meyer’s intervention with President Butler,  of a graduate fellowship for doctoral studies in English at Columbia. During her first two years of graduate study Gildersleeve renewed her teaching ties to Barnard, only to have them severed in the spring of 1907 for budgetary reasons,  in one of Laura Gill’s last acts as dean. Three more years of study, research and writing resulted in her completing requirements for a PhD in English and the ensuing publication of her dissertation,  Government Regulation of the Elizabethan Theatre. [22]
In the fall of 1908, with PhD studies over and Gill gone, Gildersleeve returned to Barnard in an $800 lectureship to teach a section of William P. Trent’s course [in what?]. She was then offered  $500  to teach Shakespeare on a Columbia salary as part of the Columbia-Barnard  faculty exchange. A year later she was promoted to an assistant professorship in the Columbia English Department, making her the first woman to achieve professorial rank at Columbia. When a senior male  colleague accepted a full  professorship at the University of Wisconsin  and offered  to take Virginia along as an associate professor,  she declined, explaining,  ”I could not leave New York.”  To which her would-be patron rejoined:  “’Good heavens, you will never make a career for yourself that way.”’  Her decision does, however, lend credence to the self-deprecatory chapter title from her book given to her pre-deaning days: “I drift into a profession.” [23]

The noontime meeting Butler called on December 10, 1910, to offer the Barnard deanship to his 33-year-old  Columbia assistant professor of English, was to be followed by a meeting of the Barnard trustees  to proceed with her election. But when Gildersleeve  sought  assurances that as dean she – and not any provost — would have authority over Barnard’s academics and budget, the board meeting was postponed. Four days later Butler gave his personal assurances that “the provost is just a lieutenant of the dean,”  and Gildersleeve  agreed to become Barnard’s third dean.  “There seemed to be no other Barnard candidate. So I told the president I would accept.” [24]

Even if not his first choice, Butler  appreciated her appropriateness [given this, I was confused by the earlier remark the Gildersleeve might have been Butler’s pick all along?]. The Gildersleeves were only slightly less established  in New York society than the Duers and currently in better standing.  Virginia’s father, Henry Alger Gildersleeve, like Butler was a convert to Episcopalianism after being raised a Presbyterian,  and  graduated from Columbia law school before becoming a judge and a political force among the City’s veterans organizations.  “Alger”  and “Murray” were members of the Century Club and friends. It was Butler, encountering Gildersleeve on the 5th Avenue trolley,  who told the judge that his daughter had been chosen as dean just minutes earlier at  the Barnard board meeting. [25]

Despite assurances  that she would be in charge of the academic and budgetary affairs of the college, the first public announcement of her appointment  by Columbia implied a more limited mandate. This  prompted  Mrs.  Anderson’s nephew, attorney Albert G. Milbank, himself now a Barnard trustee, to relay to Plimpton his aunt’s complaint about “the inaccurate statement which appeared in connection with Miss Gildersleeve’s appointment,  to the effect that the Provost had charge of the educational administration of the College.” As with so much else in Barnard’s early history, it fell to Plimpton to secure reassurances from Columbia that Gildersleeve would  be Barnard’s dean in full and that Columbia would cease  all talk of  a merger.  Although the office of Barnard provost was not eliminated until 1922, Brewster’s return  to fulltime teaching in 1914 confirmed  Plimpton’s  success on both counts.  [26]

Still, Butler likely harbored at the outset of Gildersleeve’s deanship the happy thought that should Barnard falter, the new dean’s  youth, her  Columbia ties and deferential ways with him  would  make her amenable to  a later merger offer.   Barnard’s condition under her long deanship never became  dire enough as to prompt such an offer, but neither at any point during their 35 years of  their overlapping tenures  did she ever publicly challenge her beloved father’s friend. Butler in turn was said by other  Columbia deans  to treat Gildersleeve as a daughter. At Gildersleeve’s inauguration  on February 11, 1911, Butler called  her  “a flower from Barnard’s own garden.”  [27]

                                                                        Making Her Bones

     An early indication of where the new dean stood on the issue of Barnard’s proper constituency appears in her initial correspondence with  Plimpton about the wording of his fundraising letter intended to launch a $2 million campaign in celebration of the College’s  upcoming  25th anniversary in 1914.   “An Appeal for Barnard College” was circulated among the trustees and drew several responses.  Two were  relayed to Plimpton by Dean Gildersleeve, one  from President Butler, who thought its focus was  “too New Yorkey.” To this  the Dean appended, “I am inclined to agree with him.” [28]

The second  came from Mrs. George McAneny,  Gildersleeve’s college classmate (nee Marjorie Jacobi) and Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority sister,  recently elected alumnae representative to the board and the spouse of wealthy and politically active clubman.  McAneny objected to  a sentence in the letter’s second paragraph.  “[The] enumeration of the various races makes Barnard sound too much like an indiscriminate melting pot,” Gildersleeve reported. “She feels it might offend the sensibilities of some persons and discourage them from sending their daughters here.” The dean suggested leaving the offending sentence out. [29]

Plimpton responded the  next day. “I thoroughly approve of President Butler’s revision of your appeal.” But as for Mrs. McAneny’s objection and the dean’s suggested  solution: “Under no conditions would I leave out the enumeration of the different nationalities.  I think it a strong appeal and I am sure we will get our $2 millions.”  Indeed, three years earlier he had approached Mrs. Russell Sage for support boasting that  “there isn’t a race or nationality that is not represented here.” That Plimpton located himself on the opposite side of the inclusive/exclusive divide from the new dean may have contributed to their early frosty relationship. It would be several  years before they put each other on a first-name basis. [30]

An early controversy not of the new dean’s making – the move to dissolve Barnard’s fraternities (i.e., sororities) — sheds further light on where Gildersleeve wished to take Barnard. At the outset of her deanship Barnard had eight fraternities, their  members making up less than a third of the student body. Among  Jewish students, the percentage of fraternity participation was close to zero.  An interviewer in 1989 asked a member of the class of 1909, Hannah Falk Hofheimer, “Did you join a fraternity?”  She answered:  “No. There was only one I think open to Jewish girls…. We knew that Kappa Kappa  Gamma was ‘the’ sorority. And we knew we weren’t going to be asked.”  [31]

Bursar Liggett took Barnard’s fraternities discrimination against Jewish studentsin stride. . Not so Treasurer Plimpton, keenly alert to the fundraising implications.  “I deplore  the social prejudice which causes the discrimination at Barnard College,” he wrote in 1912 to  Mrs. Adolph S. Ochs, whose daughter Iphigene (BC 1914) had just enrolled as a regular student after beginning as a “special.” “We all know that the Hebrews of this city, by their financial and commercial integrity, by their intellectual culture, by their broad-minded philanthropy, have brought us much nearer to the day when there will be no prejudice against their race.” Plimpton then closed with an interrogative shilly-shally: “Is it not in this gradual but absolute way that we may expect the barriers to come down at Barnard?” [32]

Only part of the issue with Barnard’s fraternities was their discriminatory covenants;  membership also entailed substantial  expenditures which many of Barnard’s commuting  students could not afford. Several fraternities rented rooms off campus where  members congregated at safe remove from their less clubbable classmates,  adding  a spatial exclusivity to their doings. Other critics complained that fraternities undercut class spirit and drew students away from all-College events. [33]

In the fall of 1912 an on-campus campaign to abolish fraternities got underway. The precipitating event was the publication  of an editorial in the student literary magazine , Barnard Bear,   entitled “Fraternities vs. Democracy.” The author was sophomore Freda Kirchwey , the daughter of Columbia law professor George Kirchwey and  younger sister of Dorothy Kirchwey (BC 1910),  who had been a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma.  The younger Kirchwey was joined  by her classmate Sarah Schuyler Butler, the Columbia president’s daughter. The Student Council responded to their call for an end to fraternities by petitioning  Dean Gildersleeve to convene a committee to investigate their place at Barnard. [34]

Gildersleeve appointed a  committee of four faculty, four alumnae, four students, the provost, and herself. The alumnae and students were drawn equally from the ranks of fraternity supporters and critics. Recruiting  new members by the fraternities  was suspended until the committee completed its investigation, and in April 1913 the committee issued two reports.  The “majority report” found fraternities to be on balance “highly beneficial” to the College but said they should be more transparent in their operations.  The “minority report” concluded that fraternities were “distinctly harmful” to the College and should be abolished.  Dean Gildersleeve authored the majority report, Provost Brewster the minority report. [35] [Beneficial or harmful in what sense? I ask because it might help illuminate student life at Barnard?]

Community sentiment aligned with the  minority report.  The faculty, already on record as critical of the outsized role fraternities had on campus,  joined the opposition,  as did the parents of some Jewish students.  What followed were two separate pollings, one of the students and one of the faculty, both of which endorsed the committee’s minority report.  A story in the New York Times took the same position,  prematurely congratulating Barnard officials for its “ban on secret societies.”  The faculty   voted overwhelmingly to do away with fraternities, citing them as deflecting students from their studies. With the ban on rushing indefinitely extended,  most of the fraternities lacked the members to carry on.  The editors of the 1914 Barnard Mortarboard, which in prior years had given fraternities extensive coverage, dropped all mention of them. By 1915, when a  student referendum supported the elimination of fraternities by  a vote of 255 to 159, they had ceased to exist at Barnard. [36]

While the standard accounts of Barnard’s history, including one by her lifelong friend and sorority sister, Alice Duer Miller, have Gildersleeve favoring the elimination of fraternities,  her position  was less clear-cut. In a 1915 follow-up story in the New York Times, she pointed to a negative consequence  of the  ban that “Barnard women wishing to pledge sororities [now] go over to Columbia, and that the social life of these students becomes less centered around Barnard as their time spent across Broadway lengthens.”  Later that same year, responding  to the Dean of Swarthmore College inquiring about life-after-fraternities, Gildersleeve  waxed nostalgic:

In many ways we miss the fraternities very much in our scattered college life where
normally only a third of the student body is in residence…. They were very useful in
getting hold of certain students and helping to interest them and adjust them to
college life. On the other hand these secret societies caused a great deal of bad feeling
and suspicion. Life has certainly been more peaceful since they have been given up. [37]

Four decades later in her autobiography,  without ever mentioning Barnard’s elimination of fraternities early in her deanship,  Gildersleeve said of her own student days as a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma: “It did me lots of good.” [38]

“Deserving and Aspiring Crowds”

The point Gildersleeve made to the Swarthmore dean,  that at Barnard “normally only a third of the student body is in residence,” became a target for corrective action and provided  another opportunity to put her personal impress on the College “It will add greatly to the interest of our resident life,” she wrote in her first report in 1911, “if we can draw more extensively than hitherto on other states and countries.”  The opening of Brooks Hall in the fall of 1907 had not, as its donor and Dean Gill had hoped,  given  Barnard the feel of one of the “country colleges.” Part of the problem  was that the dorm could only accommodate 97 residents when at its opening the College enrolled 400 full-time students. By the time Gildersleeve became dean in 1911 enrollments stood at 600. [39]

A more revealing problem was that for its first five years Brooks failed to attract enough residential students  to achieve full capacity. In this instance, the new dean quickly devised a solution to  Barnard’s under-occupied-and-over-priced dormitory that advanced her personal agenda for the College. Five months  into her deanship, Gildersleeve learned that Barnard was to receive $100,000 from the estate of the newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer.  An earlier gift  from Pulitzer to Columbia had been for  scholarships for Brooklyn school graduates to attend  Columbia College and Barnard. These “Brooklyn Scholarships” had been in keeping with Pulitzer’s efforts, paralleling those of his fellow Jew, Jacob Schiff, to encourage both schools to be more welcoming to the bright children of the City’s immigrant communities. It is doubtful on ideological grounds that Pulitizer would have endorsed  the use to which Gildersleeve put Barnard’s share of his last benefaction: the creation of twelve annual “Residential Scholarships,” by which applicants from outside New York City would receive  scholarships  covering  the cost of room and board in Brooks Hall. New Yorkers need not apply. In the fall of 1913, Dean Gildersleeve announced that, thanks to these residential scholarships,  Brooks Hall was now fully occupied with undergraduates. [40]

Meanwhile, increasing numbers of commuting  students sought cheap lodgings  close to campus.   Ongoing improvements in public transportation had girls coming to Barnard from ever further away. In 1910 a quarter of the Barnard student body  travelled to campus for the outer boroughs of New York City,  and another quarter from northern New Jersey and New York’s Westchester, Nassau, and Rockland counties.    Two-hour, three-connection commutes each way were common.  Neither  Dean Gill, acting dean Brewster  nor Dean Gildersleeve displayed much interest in confronting the “schlepping” problem.”  Nor did the trustees. It  was the  Barnard alumnae, the majority of whom had experienced the travails of commuting,  who took it up.  [41.]

By 1915, The Barnard Alumnae Association, founded in 1891, included 1,500 members. Its first action of consequence had been  to convince the trustees of the wisdom of having  one of the trustees be  a Barnard alumna  elected by the College’s alumnae. Such a provision in the statutes was added in 1899, followed by  the election of Ellen Fitzgerald Bryson (BC 1894) to a three-year term. By 1910 the board had  two places reserved for alumnae-elected trustees, one of whom, Florence Colgate Speranza,  was subsequently elected to life term.   Several of these early alumnae trustees took a special interest in the financial circumstances affecting student life.  In 1915 that involved  seeking the College’s help on behalf of  “students  whose circumstances do not permit them to live in Brooks Hall.” [42]

The alumnae urged  the College to rent rooms in the neighborhood – much as the fraternities had done for social purposes – where students could live more cheaply than in Brooks.  Economies would be achieved through cooperative arrangements, with residents contributing time to housekeeping and  preparing meals.  In 1916, with a personal contribution from the ever-generous trustee  Anderson, the alumnae association rented rooms for 15 students in an apartment at 99 Claremont Avenue. The following year they moved to 606 West  116th Street directly across  from Brooks. The 44 students in residence paid less than half Brooks’s  going rates.  The lease on “606” was extended for two more years, housing  43 and 44 students, half on them on scholarships. [43.]

The plight of  the dozens of would-be residents from outside Manhattan was only partially met by these apartments.  In 1920 a sophomore transfer from Indiana, Margaret Mead, attracted by the social diversity they  fostered,  availed herself of these  apartments. At the same time, she and her classmates  enjoyed little institutional favor in living there, garnering from the Brooks resident director a description of  them as  “a mental and moral muss.”   They in turn dubbed themselves the “Ash Can Cats.”  There is no indication that Dean Gildersleeve  showed any interest in promoting these cooperative arrangements. In 1922 Barnard’s  experiment in cooperative living was terminated by administrative fiat, prompting the Barnard Alumnae Magazine to  provide the obituary. “Thus was closed the second successful effort of the Alumnae to aid in the development of the residential life of the college.” [44] [This is a bit confusing. Why would Gildersleeve not be more supportive of these efforts if she was looking to increase student enrollment outside of New York City?]

           Another  indicator of a new direction Dean Gildersleeve  sought to take Barnard involved  her in a  disagreement  with board chairman Silas Brown Brownell and put her at cross purposes to the educational egalitarianism of New York. Here, too, she seemed  intent on limiting the numbers of New Yorkers coming to Barnard, specifically public school graduates from the City’s ethnic communities,  while preserving a  place for  the daughters of the American heartland.  In the 1880s,  as municipalities opened high schools, the New York Board of Regents began administering tests in  four fields to give school administrators a means of certifying degree eligibility.  For young  New Yorkers completing public high school at the turn of the century,  scores on the Regents exam provided a ready means by which  they, their parents, and  their teachers had for gauging  readiness for college.  The tests were administered on site and without charge, whereas the College Boards were administered offsite and carried a fee. In some cases, it was a daughter’s high scores on the “Regents” that convinced parents that the heretofore unthinkable prospect of her going on to college, if the costs  could be managed, a lively prospect.  [45] [ok, but isn’t there an earlier discussion of the Regent’s. Is this a new iteration of admissions standards?]

By 1910 more than half of those applying to Barnard did so with results from Regents exams. In and of itself, the widespread adoption of these exams had significantly increased access to college for  the City’s public high school graduates, who were  more than half  the state’s graduates, a fact not lost upon Bursar Liggett nor on  members of the Barnard community who saw the college’s proper student body as  the privately prepared daughters of the City’s socially arrived families.   More troubling still was the action of the New York legislature in 1912 to create New York State Regents scholarships to be awarded to seniors with the highest scores on the Regents Exams in each of the state’s 150 assembly districts. This meant  that in the City of New York some 750 scholarships would be awarded annually to graduating seniors, more than half of them girls and a majority of them Jewish. [46]

The Regents scholarship program provided winning students an annual  grant of $100 for four years to offset costs of tuition at a New York state college, public or private. The immediate effect for a prospective Barnard student was to cut the effective annual tuition by two-thirds.  College suddenly became much more affordable for New York families with daughters doing well in high school and prepared to commute.

Among Regents Scholar winners that first year was Fanny Rosenman, a 16-year-old girl from a Yiddish-speaking Bronx family, one residential move from the Lower East Side.  Her father was from Russia and worked as a cutter in a cloak shop. The household included an older brother and four boarders, all cutters.  Prior to receipt of the notice of the $100 scholarship in  her senior year at Brooklyn Girls High School, Fanny later reminisced, attendance at a college, much less a “pay-college,” was out of the question.  With scholarship in hand,  she entered  Barnard in the fall of 1913, graduating four years later.  She went on to become head of the science department at Rye High School. [47]

That same fall,  nearly a third  of Barnard’s 184-member entering class  held Regents Scholarships, with  54 of them  graduates  of New York City public schools. Dean Gildersleeve chose the occasion to recommend  to the board, citing the need to increase the salaries of the teaching staff and build up  the College’s modest endowment [what’s the relationship between this and enrollment],  that the College raise its tuition from $150 to $200.  Left unmentioned was that doing so would  cancel half the financial benefit of  a Regents scholarship to attend Barnard, thereby  reducing the number of Fanny Rosenmans in attendance. At its January 27, 1914 meeting, the board unanimously approved the tuition increase, effective that coming fall. [48]

Absent from the January  meeting was board chairman Silas Brownell, who subsequently submitted a memorandum to the board dissenting from its decision. In so doing he provided posterity with a rare early statement of the “inclusive Barnard” persuasion and a rejoinder to the Liggett exclusionary  view , which in a less virulent form, was also the Gildersleeve view. Barnard,  he wrote, should be trying “to make college education accessible as far as possible  to those who would otherwise be precluded from its advantages.” Warming to the subject, and exploiting  his being one the board’s remaining half-dozen original members, he offered his colleagues a bracing (if factually dubious) origins story:
Barnard was not founded to make money or to get income for the College, nor
to make a more comfortable place for its instructors and teachers, but to provide
and popularize college education, especially for those who except for it might not have
the golden opportunity.

This call for inclusion came from a pillar of the City’s dominant WASP legal establishment, communicant of the Church of the Incarnation, resident of Fifth Avenue, father of Bryn Mawr daughters,  and active Centurion!  Brownell closed by reiterating his position: “Barnard should not be limited to people of means and position. It should open its doors and leave them open to the deserving and aspiring crowds.” [49]

To no effect.  At its next meeting, on February 10th, the board confirmed the tuition hike, with no recorded  reference  to the chairman’s dissenting  memorandum. For some Board members their vote had  been the  simple one  of approving a means by which the College could increase needed  future income. But for some others, including the dean,  the tuition hike provided  a partial check against the College being swamped  by the City’s  “deserving and aspiring crowds.”  [50]

                                                               The Plimpton Touch
The early Gildersleeve deanship was attended  by  modestly improving finances, a welcome relief from the chronic budgetary problems of her predecessor and the acting dean.  During Gill’s administration the College had experienced a succession of budgets where expenses outpaced income and produced annual deficits as high as $15,000 (on operating budgets of $100,000), which were covered each spring by private subscriptions or by borrowing. Available income from the College’s endowment in 1912, which had a book value of $1,000,000 but was tied up in mortgages, was unable to fill the gap.  Thus the trustees,  with a new and young dean just installed  and an upcoming silver anniversary in 1914, announced  a $2,000,000 fundraising campaign, with half to go for capital improvements and half into endowment. [51]

It quickly became clear that fundraising was not one of Gildersleeve’s strengths. She disliked asking  for money from past donors or cultivating new ones, jokingly acknowledging  in her autobiography  that the two major campaigns launched during her deanship were both immediately interrupted  by world wars. As earlier, the  College’s fundraising responsibilities fell to the board’s treasurer. [52]

Plimpton enjoyed many  triumphs over the course of 44 years raising money  for Barnard,  securing repeated  benefactions in excess of $100,000 from the Rockefellers, John Sr. and John Jr.,  from Elizabeth Milbank Anderson, and  smaller ones from Andrew Carnegie and the Harrimans. But it was his successes in the first years of the Gildersleeve deanship  that gave Barnard  its margin of  financial  well-being  during the subsequent decade and a half.

The first was Plimpton’s protracted cultivation of Jacob H. Schiff.  As mentioned earlier, Schiff was recruited by Annie Nathan Meyer to serve as Barnard’s first board treasurer in 1889. The experience was wholly unsatisfactory and prompted his resignation  in 1893. In 1896 he also gave up his seat on the Board, presumably washing his hands of the College. Perhaps the only good to come of his Barnard board years was making the acquaintanceship of Plimpton, who had quietly covered for him during frequent absences and then succeeded him as treasurer. From this chance meeting – there is no  reason for their having met before – they developed a friendship marked by a lively correspondence.. Much  of what they wrote about involved Schiff’s many efforts to convince Columbia’s trustees to elect a Jewish member,  which Plimpton agreed was in Columbia’s best interest even if its trustees and president  continued to feel otherwise.  [53]

Sympathetic listening was only one form Plimpton’s cultivation took. In 1912 he made a gift of a rare early book on mathematics from his personal collection  to the Library of the City of Frankfurt, Schiff’s birthplace, in his honor. On other occasions he made himself available for visits to Schiff’s summer compound in Long Branch, New Jersey.    In 1910, he accompanied Schiff, twenty years his senior, on a 4-week trip from Seattle to Alaska aboard a private train. One subject of conversation that came up   was how Schiff might mark the upcoming 50th anniversary of his coming to America. [54]

The result was a gift of $500,000 to Barnard in 1915 for the construction of  Students’ Hall (later Barnard Hall), which would contain a gymnasium and pool, along with space for a library and faculty offices.   At its  announcement it was the largest single building gift Barnard had received  and one which Schiff later increased to $550,000 when building costs exceeded original estimates. It was – and remains – one of the more impressive  buildings on Morningside Heights and at its 1917 opening  one of the largest.  An argument Plimpton  had used in soliciting the gift was that such a building would obviate the need for fraternities. [55]
Even the building’s placement, on Broadway (at what would have been 117th St.) directly across from and facing Columbia, was at the donor’s direction. So was his  insistence that the use of the building be at the direction of an advisory board to include  Jewish and Catholic representation. These conditions negotiated with Plimpton were in keeping with what Barnard board chairman Brownell, in accepting them and anticipating Columbia’s negative reaction, referred to as Schiff’s “well known intent and purpose to promote and exploit the equal opportunities of the Jewish race.” Both Plimpton and Brownell understood that by giving generously to Barnard, Schiff was stiffing Columbia for its board’s continuing  prejudice against his fellow Jews. [56]

If Schiff, a merchant banker, member of Temple Emanu-El  and not known  for his companionability, and Plimpton, a ninth-generation New Englander, bookman, communicant of Brick Presbyterian Church and eminently clubbable, made  an odd couple, so did the latter’s long friendship with Horace W. Carpentier,  four decades his senior. Carpentier was one of those young New Yorkers  who upon graduating from Columbia College in 1848,  anticipated  Horace Greeley’s advice by fifteen years, by setting out for California. Once there, he passed on the possibilities of mining to focus on real estate.  In 1852 he saw to the incorporation of the city of Oakland and proceeded to become the largest landowner in the East Bay.  He briefly served as Oakland’s  mayor and then was appointed a major general in the California State Militia (hence his occasionally going by “General”). A few questionable real estate transactions involving  East Bay  waterfront  properties and dealings  with Spanish land grant owners led him to diversify his investments,  becoming in the process  a principal in the Overland Telegraph Company ,  which proceeded in 1861 to complete the intercontinental telegraphic connection and make him one of California’s richest men. [57]

In 1888, at age 64 and a confirmed bachelor, Carpentier  returned to New York. Taking an interest in  alumni affairs,  Carpentier made a gift to Columbia in 1901 of $100,000 to endow the Dean Lung Chair in Chinese Studies, in recognition of his longtime man servant. When asked by President Low  to join the Columbia board, he declined, citing his age (76). Yet two years later, when approached by Plimpton, who had befriended him back in  1896 when Carpentier had given $10,000 to the Barnard site fund,  to join the Barnard board, he accepted.  At the time he admitted to Plimpton that since his return  to New York he had made few friends. “Then,” Plimpton told him, “I shall be your friend.” [58]

Three years later, when asked again by President Butler to join the Columbia board,  Carpentier  accepted and resigned from the Barnard board.  Upon doing so, he gave $200,000 to Barnard , establishing the Henrietta Carpentier Scholarship Fund in honor of his mother. During the next four years he alternated between making substantial gifts to Columbia and urging Butler to convince his board to elect a Jew to its membership. When his urgings produced no action, he resigned from the Columbia board in 1910 and returned, at age 86, to the Barnard board. Five years later, citing his age, he again announced his intention to leave the board. Upon doing so, he proposed an additional gift of $100,000 to provide Barnard scholarships for “deserving Chinese girls seeking an education there.”  When apprised of Carpentier’s intentions, Plimpton urged him to word the gift to allow that when “not so used to be applied to the general expense of the College.”  Carpentier readily agreed and further proceeded to honor his mother with yet another gift for scholarships, this time one of $500,000. 59]

At his death in 1918, the  Carpentier estate included  another $1,000,000 for Barnard. His total gifts of $1,760,000 made him, along with Mrs. Anderson and Jacob Schiff, one the College’s  three largest benefactors, a status they held for another  four decades. (Most of the  financial aid  Barnard made available during the ensuing interwar period came from Carpentier’s benefactions.)  Of the approximately $4 million from these three individuals,  only Anderson’s  gift to Barnard of the Milbank Quadrangle site, which came as a total surprise, came without  Plimpton’s direct involvement.       Gildersleeve played no discernible role in any of these solicitations, other than gratefully  acknowledging the successful efforts of her treasurer. [60]

Elsewhere on the fundraising front, the results were mixed. “The Quarter Century Fund,”   seeking  to raise $2,000,000 by  the fall of 1914 on the occasion of Barnard’s 25th anniversary, got off to a promising start when Plimpton secured a conditional pledge of a $250,000 endowment gift from the Rockefeller-funded General Education Board, if Barnard raised the other $750,000. But in August 1914, with Barnard still well short of matching the pledge, Dean Gildersleeve pointed to “the appalling calamity abroad” as the reason for deferring the 25th birthday for a year and suspended the campaign for the duration of the war.  The Rockefeller match would not be met until 1920. [61]

  Barnard in the Great War

The outbreak of war in Europe was received at Barnard with shock and dismay. Few [are you talking about students? Faculty? Does it make a difference?]  showed early interest in becoming part of it. One exception was the French instructor, Henri Muller, who returned to his native France upon the mobilization of his army unit. A few other faculty, including the  German-born  and Columbia-based  but Barnard-teaching Franz Boas, and possibly some students of Irish extraction (and thus anti-British by inheritance), declined to blame Germany for starting the  war. Among Barnard faculty, Professor of English William Peterfield Trent, a native Virginian,  publicly aligned himself with the “white Teutonic race”  when the French army used  black Senegalese troops against the invading Germans.  [62]

For most Barnard faculty, trustees and students, while less critical of the British and their allies, the policy advocated by both the president of the United States and the president of Columbia University during the first two years of the fighting in Europe – not our fight; neutral in word and deed – reflected  their sentiments as well.  But as the war and the killing  dragged on into 1916 with no end in sight, some Columbians, including  the philosopher John Dewey and some trustees, shifted away from a principled neutrality  toward intervention on the side of Britain and France. President Butler, however,  remained firmly in the anti-interventionist camp and rejected efforts by ex-president Theodore Roosevelt to have Columbia host a training school for reserve officers.  [63]

Similarly disposed  was Barnard’s dean. She later acknowledged that it was in 1916 that she became a Democrat out of her admiration of President Wilson, who that fall won re-election on the campaign appeal,  “He Kept Us Out of War.” But with Germany’s renewal of submarine warfare in February of 1917 and Wilson’s shift to a more combative stance with respect to  Germany, Butler belatedly aligned himself and the University with the interventionists.  Six weeks after the United States entered the war in April 1917,  he  conveyed to the alumni  — but with his real audience  anti-war faculty and  students – the University’s wartime policy: “What had been tolerated before, became intolerable now. What had been wrong-headedness was now sedition. What had been folly was now treason.” Dean Gildersleeve’s charge to the Barnard convocation in the fall of 1917, if less bellicose and more resignedly phrased,  was of a kind: “The cause for which we are called upon as College women to do our share.”  [64]

Meanwhile, several Columbia trustees seized the moment to settle scores with faculty members whose past public statements  they believed  had done the University one disservice or  another.  Their principal target was the psychologist James McKeen Cattell , whose oft-stated  opposition to trustee governance had been met with stony silence from his “bosses,” but whose  opposition to the military draft and support of the anti-war demonstrations of his son made him fair game. At the Trustees’ direction and  with the acquiescence of a committee of senior Columbia faculty, Cattell was fired in September 1917 for “actions detrimental to the University.” Also caught up in the Trustee witch hunt was the economist  Henry R. Mussey, who  had  for a decade divided his teaching time between Columbia and Barnard, where he was a member of the faculty.    Mussey barely escaped being fired, along with Cattell and Columbia assistant professor of English Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Dana,  for protesting the draft. [65] [Did these controversies and firings inspire any reaction from Barnard students?]

Such instances of trustee highhandedness gave Butler pause, but not before two of  his most prominent and popular faculty members, the American political scientist/historian Charles A. Beard,  and the European intellectual historian James Harvey Robinson, resigned in protest. Both men  had close  ties to Barnard.  Robinson  had taught at Barnard for twenty years,  served as acting dean in 1900, and was  a member of its original faculty. Beard, a member of Columbia’s Department of Government and Public Law,  had  been recruited by Dean Gildersleeve in 1912 to introduce a two-semester sequence  in American history required  for acceptance into the newly opened Columbia School of Journalism. During his four years of teaching at Barnard he developed a following among students and faculty alike.  [66]

Beard’s was the more dramatic resignation. It came  at the start of the 1917 fall term  in a public letter addressed to President Butler in which he excoriated Columbia’s  trustees  as having “no standing in the world of education, who are reactionary  and visionless in politics, narrow and medieval in religion.”  The New York Times  condemned  Beard’s actions  in an editorial entitled, “Columbia’s Deliverance.”  [67]

Three weeks after Beard submitted his resignation,  Mussey submitted his, citing the failure of the Columbia faculty to protest the firing of Cattell. To their  collective credit, and in contrast with official Columbia, Dean Gildersleeve, the Barnard faculty and the student editors of the Barnard Bulletin  all publicly acknowledged Beard’s services to the College and lamented the circumstances that brought about his resignation. One of the few public expressions of support  for Beard appeared  in the New York Herald-Tribune, the day after the Times denounced him, from the Barnard-based philosopher,  William P. Montague.  Mussey’s departure was similarly regretted in a resolution made by  history instructor Maude Hutman  to the Barnard faculty in December, although,  likely out of deference to official  Columbia, it was tabled.  [68]

Robinson waited to submit his resignation until the spring semester of 1918, when he joined  the economist Alvin Johnson (who had taught briefly at Barnard in 1905-06) with other New York-based academics and public intellectuals (including Emily James Smith Putnam) to establish the New School for Social Research.   Here, too, Barnard proved to be more generous to this departing faculty member than was his principal employer.  When Columbia declined Robinson’s request that he be paid  for an unused sabbatical, Barnard treasurer Plimpton promptly authorized payment  of Barnard’s share.  [69]

However ambivalent  the Barnard community may have been about the decision to enter the war, once it was made,  many  members  took an active part in its prosecution. Faculty members Franklin Giddings and  James T.  Shotwell took up civilian positions in one of the several war agencies that sprung up. On campus, other faculty joined with some 60 Barnard students under the lead of the geologist Ida Ogilvie to supplement wartime agricultural production by planting and growing some of their food on a borrowed family farm  in Bedford, New York. Still other students and staff  volunteered their services at the Boathouse Canteen, a recreational center for soldiers and sailors passing through New York City located in Columbia’s boathouse jutting out into the Hudson River at 122nd St. [70.]

Barnard’s biggest contribution to the war effort came from its alumnae, who now numbered some 1,500. Three members of the class of 1917 joined the Navy  upon graduation and spent the war decoding and translating enemy documents. Sarah Schuyler Butler (Class of 1915) organized the Barnard War Service Corps, which in turn recruited five alumnae volunteers for a Barnard Red Cross Unit, which  set up a field unit in Bordeaux, France. Another ten Barnard alumnae saw service at a YWCA canteen within hearing of the frontlines in France. In all, some 35 Barnard alumnae saw wartime and immediate post-war service in Europe. [71]

On the home front, Dean Gildersleeve used the occasion of the war to press for opening to qualified women of Columbia’s medical school, the College of Physicians and Surgeons. Her earlier success in gaining access for women to Columbia’s School of Journalism  back in 1912 had occurred without resistance and was in keeping with Joseph Pulitzer’s wishes,  but cracking either the medical or law school’s opposition to admitting women was another matter. But with a shortage of male applicants and heavy calls on the medical profession to staff field hospitals in Europe,  P & S officials reluctantly agreed to a temporary lifting of its ban on women students. Gildersleeve then recommended a graduating senior, Gulli Charlotte  Lindh, who was duly admitted. Lindh subsequently graduated at the top of her medical school class, while two other wartime female admittees finished third and fifth. These results prompted the medical school to permanently rescind its ban. Columbia law school would be next.  [72]
By war’s end in 1918, the now 41-year-old Dean Gildersleeve had consolidated her position as Barnard’s chief administrative officer and as an effective operative within the University. It was time to look for other crusades.