Book cover of 'Daniel Coit Gilman'

Book Review: 'Daniel Coit Gilman'

In Daniel Coit Gilman and the Birth of the American Research University, Michael T. Benson, A&S '21 (MLA), presents the first major biography of this singular figure in some 50 years, a pioneer who upended the country's moribund collegiate system, fusing the best aspects of German and British academia into a New World original. Gilman's career began humbly and included setbacks (a rocky and comparatively brief stint heading a fledgling University of California). But his skills as visionary, orator, and recruiter led him on. Making use of Gilman's personal papers, Benson gives us the man behind the muttonchops, showing how diverse aspects of his life—from an insatiable love of travel to the early death of his first wife—shaped the man who reshaped the collegiate landscape.