Rutgers President, 1882 to 1890
Merrill Edward Gates (1848–1922), the first professional educator to assume the presidency of Rutgers College, was 34 years old when he arrived in New Brunswick to succeed the Reverend William H. Campbell in 1882 as Rutgers’ ninth president. Born in Warsaw, New York, Gates was a graduate of the University of Rochester, where he achieved high honors in mathematics, Latin, and Greek, and received the English Essay Prize of the senior year. For 12 years he was principal of the Albany Academy, where he extended the course of study from eight to 12 years, covering much of a college course, and increased the total attendance of the school from 70 to 300 students. Traveling to England in 1872, he visited the educational institutions at Rugby and Oxford. In 1875 he was elected chancellor of the University of Tennessee, but declined the offer and remained in Albany. He went abroad again in 1879, spending a year of travel and study in France, Italy, Egypt, Palestine, and Greece. The University of the State of New York conferred on him an honorary degree in 1880, and in June 1882, both Princeton and the University of Rochester awarded him the degree of doctor of laws. Following his presidency at Rutgers, he received the L.L.D. degree from Columbia University in 1891 and from Williams College in 1893. Columbia University also conferred upon him the degree of L.H.D. in 1887.