HARRY YANDELL BENEDICT
Harry Yandell Benedict, tenth president of The University
of Texas at Austin and professor of mathematics and astronomy, died
on May 10, 1937. He was 67.
Services for President Benedict were held at Gregory
Gymnasium, with three thousand in attendance. The Governor of Texas,
the Board of Regents, delegations from both houses of the Texas Legislature,
and representatives from all the state's colleges and universities were
present. Members of the Students' Association, the Longhorn Band, and
other student groups also participated. The service concluded with the
"The Eyes of Texas" played on the Tower chimes. President Benedict was
buried in Oakwood Cemetery.
President Benedict was born on November 14, 1869, in
Louisville, Kentucky. His parents were Joseph and Adele (Peters) Benedict.
In 1877 he moved to Texas with his mother and brother Carl to live on
land owned by his maternal great-grandfather, S. W. Peters, along the
Brazos River in Young and Stephens counties. With the exception of attending
schools in Graham and Weatherford, Texas, for eight months, he was taught
at home by his "well-educated" mother. Her family owned a library of
1,000 books, which they transported from Kentucky to Texas.
President Benedict enrolled in the University on examination
in February 1889 and received a bachelor's degree with honors in 1892,
and a master's degree in 1893. While a student at the University, he
was a fellow and a tutor in pure mathematics. After working with the
McCormick Observatory at the University of Virginia from 1893 to 1895,
President Benedict studied at Harvard University. He received a PhD
in mathematical astronomy there in 1898.
President Benedict was in charge ad interim of mathematics
and astronomy at Vanderbilt University in 1899. He joined the faculty
of the University in fall 1899 as an instructor of mathematics. He became
a professor of applied mathematics and astronomy in 1907. From 1909
to 1911 he was director of extension. In 1911 he was promoted to dean
of the College of Arts and Sciences. From 1913 until 1920 he was also
dean of men. In 1927 he was named president of the University. He was
the first ex-student to become president and he occupied that office
longer than anyone else in the University's history.
During his administration, President Benedict oversaw
a major building construction program that added 15 new buildings to
the campus. He did not live to see the completion of the McDonald Observatory,
a project the University started with an $850,000 gift from the estate
of banker William Johnson McDonald.
President Benedict was the author of several books.
He wrote Unified Mathematics with two other mathematicians (1915).
With John A. Lomax, he wrote Book of Texas (1916). He also completed
A Source Book of Legislative History of the University of Texas
(1917) and Peregrinusings (1924). At the time of his death, he
was writing a history of the University. The unfinished manuscript is
in the Harry Yandell Archives at the Barker Texas History Center.v
President Benedict was a fellow of the American Association
for the Advancement of Science and president of the Texas Academy of
Science. He held memberships in the American Mathematical Society, the
American Astronomical Society, and other professional organizations.
President Benedict was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree from
Baylor University in 1920. He received a similar degree from Southwestern
University in 1929. Benedict Hall, dedicated in April 1953, was named
in his honor.
John R. Durbin, Secretary
The General Faculty
Biographical sketch prepared by Teresa
Palomo Acosta and posted on the Faculty Council web site on November
17, 2000. Additional biographical sources can be found in the Barker
Texas History Center and the New
Handbook of Texas, Texas State Historical Association, 1996.