In celebration of NYU's 186th birthday, we present fifteen questions to stump even the most knowledgeable NYU history buffs.
By now you've probably gotten to know Andy Hamilton, NYU's 16th president, pretty well.
But how much do you know about his predecessors—the other 15 presidents and chancellors who led NYU, beginning with its founding in 1831? How many were Rhodes scholars? Which ones ran for public office? Who appeared on the cover of Time?
As we celebrate NYU's 186th(!) birthday this April 18, test your knowledge with our quiz below. And for even more NYU trivia, check out The Miracle on Washington Square and New York University and the City, both available in Bobst's first floor reference section.
Click the links in each clue to see answers as you go, or use the key at the bottom of this page to score yourself on all 15.
This Illinois public school teacher, NYU Press founder, and wartime leader allowed the campus to be used by the military to train recruits, but also participated in international peace movement conferences. He convened a Conference of Universities in which educators from top institutions worldwide were invited to examine the role of universities in a rapidly changing world.
This former Illinois Institute of Technology president is remembered at NYU for issuing the 419-page New York University Self-Study Final Report, which examined the institution's future and championed unification of the University over loose alliances between its schools and colleges. He later appeared on the cover of Time magazine for his subsequent work as president of the Ford Foundation.
This pastor of the South Dutch Reformed Church believed densely populated cities were ideal sites for universities, and took a religious approach to education. His inauguration took place during one of New York's worst cholera epidemics.
At 37, this Rhodes scholar became the youngest person to assume the NYU presidency. He led the University through the tumultuous Vietnam War period and orchestrated the merger of the School of Engineering and Science with the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn. He also sold the University Heights Campus to save the University from bankruptcy.
This NYU alumnus, a Presbyterian minister and Greek professor (he began studying the language at 6), fondly remembered having spent "four happy years on the University benches." Under his leadership, his alma mater stopped charging tuition—and soon ran into major financial trouble.
This Rhodes scholar and 22-year Indiana Congressman co-sponsored legislation creating the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. After his term at NYU, he was appointed chairman of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.
This Northern Ireland-born preacher known in America as "the young Irishman with the golden mouth" presided over NYU during the period when the University's charter was amended to distance the University from city politics by removing the mayor from its council.
It was during this president's term that the University adopted its new motto, "a private university in the public service." A former head of the Federal Energy Administration, he would go on to hold government positions during the Nixon, Ford and Carter administrations, and to become president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy.
Serving the university for 42 years, this Russian and European history professor was the first NYU faculty member to become president. During his tenure, applications tripled, and NYU completed the first $1 billion fundraising campaign in higher education.
This former pastor of the Market Street Dutch Reformed Church championed night classes for working students and separated science instruction from the liberal arts at NYU. He personally oversaw building repairs—right down to water closet construction and leaky roof mending—and once posted a reward for microscopes, prisms, and mercury stolen from an NYU lab.
This former president of the University of North Carolina and the University of Illinois came to NYU during the Great Depression and led the University through a period of enormous expansion. After World War II he became known for his anticommunist sentiments.
This philosophy professor, a champion of graduate education, created NYU's School of Pedagogy, introduced the Graduate School of Arts and Science, and moved the undergraduate college to the University Heights campus in the Bronx.