Richard Cockburn Maclaurin, 1870-1920, was president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1909 until his death in 1920. He was born in Scotland, raised in New Zealand, and educated in England at the University of Cambridge, where he earned a BA in mathematics in 1895, an MA in Mathematics in 1896, and a degree in law in 1898. He was considered an expert on two remarkably different subjects, physics and law. In 1896-1897 he traveled to observe educational methods at North American universities.
Maclaurin was a professor of mathematics at the University of New Zealand from 1898 to 1905 and Dean of the Faculty of Law at the same institution from 1905 to 1907. He served as professor of mathematical physics at Columbia University from 1907 to 1909 and was head of the Department of Physics in 1908 and 1909. His career as president of MIT was distinguished by his leadership overseeing the move of the Institute from Boston to Cambridge in 1916 and by maintaining efficient operations during the disruptions of World War I.
Prepared by the Institute Archives, MIT Libraries
Photograph courtesy of the MIT Museum