George Edwin MacLean (1899-1911)

George Edwin MacLean

Oil on canvas by Alide Gollancz, 1923

Under the leadership of George MacLean, the University of Iowa moved to the forefront of America’s public universities. The University received a high ranking for the first time in a 1911 survey of the nation’s universities conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Education.

MacLean received his A.B. at Williams College and, in 1874, his B.D. degree from the Yale Divinity School. After several years in the ministry, he studied at the universities of Leipzig and Berlin, receiving his Ph.D. degree at Leipzig in 1883.

After serving 12 years as a member of the faculty at the University of Minnesota, he became chancellor of the University of Nebraska in 1897 before arriving in Iowa City two years later.

New colleges were organized at Iowa during MacLean’s administration, including the College of Applied Science (now Engineering), the College of Education, and the Graduate College. Most notable were his efforts to raise academic standards, including admission requirements and the level of scholarship at both undergraduate and graduate levels.

MacLean was born in Rockville, Connecticut, on August 31, 1850, and married Clara Stanley Taylor on May 20, 1874. MacLean died in Washington, D.C., on May 3, 1938, at age 87.