Andrew Van Vranken Raymond

The 9th president of Union College

Andrew Van Vranken Raymond

Term: 1894-1907
Academic credentials: B.A., Union College; Andover Theological Seminary

Andrew Raymond was the last of Union's four alumni presidents. He worked long hours and his desk, but also traveled a good deal on behalf of the Collge. A fine after-dinner speaker, capable of imbuing others with his faith in Union, he had what another college president called "one of the most magnetic personalities I had ever met."

Although Raymond had no previous experience as an educator or administrator, he had strong ideas about the role of education in society. In his inaugural address, he tried to distance the College from business and from the professions, defending the "exclusion of purely professional studies and of independent investigations carried on in the interests of science as such, which belong to technical schools and the university rightly conceived." The most important role of the College, he thought, was to produce good citizens, a task he deemed urgent in his view by the recent influx of immigrants who did not understand American institutions.

But Raymond saw no place in colleges for distinctions of social class; colleges must be "intensely and preeminently democratic, the persistent enemy of all fictitious distinctions between man and man," and he deplored "the rapid growth in our land of a contrary spirit who influence is felt already in the college world to the loss of simplicity of life and independent judgment."

Electrical engineering was added to the curriculum in Raymond's first year, and he would later do much to build that program. He introduced Union's first system of sabbatical leaves.

At his first meeting with the trustees, Raymond argued successfully for establishing a chair of history and sociology, but he found the board unresponsive to the call in his first annual report, June 1895, for an ambitious building program. He did persuade the board to give the library more support by replacing some f the income from a library fund which had long before been diverted.

From the "Encyclopedia of Union College History"

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