Way, way back in the day in the year 1853, if you will, a little all-boys college up in Rochester, N.Y., nominated Martin Anderson as the first president. Anderson had previously been an editor of a Baptist periodical and saw this presidential opportunity as a great new opening in life.

A conservative guy, even for about 150 years ago, Anderson was a big believer in all of his students receiving a classic liberal arts education.

Anderson seized the opportunity to prove that he had clear goals as well as career paths for the young men of his institution.

In his inaugural address, Anderson was quoted saying, “training, discipline and learning have been undervalued, and that kind of education alone has been deemed ‘practical,’ which tends directly and immediately to make the student a better instrument for production.”

During his time in office, Anderson found himself in constant financial struggle. Despite this difficulty, he was able to raise enough money – $38,000 in fact – to build a large complex off University Avenue that was to become the university’s new home.

It was built to accommodate approximately 350 students and was named Anderson Hall. Anderson’s “noble-hearted efforts” were the reason for the building’s name.

It was also obvious that the money-hungry university was also grateful for the donation and willing to trade a building’s name for money any day.

As the Civil War came to an end, there were many colleges and universities all over the country that were reforming their curricula.

Thus, Rochester too, began to liberalize the curriculum and brought courses such as German, French, medieval and modern history and Sanskrit to the campus in the 1870s.

Unfortunately, just as Rochester was beginning to tackle its new curricula, Anderson’s health began to deteriorate.

After being urged by many of the other trustees, Anderson continued his time in office until fall 1889. At this time, UR’s second president, David Jayne Hill, arrived. A few months later, Anderson passed away.

Lewis can be reached at slewis@campustimes.org.



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I strongly oppose the proposed divestment resolution. This resolution is nothing more than another ugly manifestation of antisemitism at the University.

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