John Howard Van Amringe


John Howard Van Amringe
John Howard Van Amringe.jpg
Dean of Columbia College
In office
Preceded bySeth Low (as President)
Succeeded byFrederick P. Keppel
Personal details
Born(1836-04-03)April 3, 1836
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedSeptember 10, 1915(1915-09-10) (aged 79)
Morristown, New Jersey, U.S.
Spouse(s)Cornelia Bucknor
ChildrenGuy Van Amringe
Alma materColumbia University (BA, MA)

John Howard Van Amringe (April 3, 1836 – September 10, 1915) was an American educator and mathematician.

Life and career

Eastman Johnson's portrait of John Howard Van Amringe, 1900

Van Amringe was born in Philadelphia on April 3, 1835. He was a son of William Frederick Van Amringe (1791–1873) and Susan Budd (née Stirling) Van Amringe (1798–1891). Among his siblings was brother, Thomas Budd Van Amringe.

He entered Columbia University in 1856 and graduated from the school with a degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1860. Three years later, he received a Master of Arts, and in 1890, he was made a Doctor of Literature.[1]


While still an undergraduate, he taught mathematics at Columbia, taking his junior classes in Greek. He became a full-fledged member of the faculty in the fall of 1860, becoming a full professor in 1865 and teaching until his retirement in 1910.[2] During 1864 to 1865, he was also a lecturer in the School of Mines.[1]

After serving as Dean of the School of Fine Arts in 1895, Van Amringe succeeded Seth Low to become the first Dean of Columbia College, the university's undergraduate school of arts and sciences, which he defended from dismemberment and incorporation into the larger university. During his long presence at the school, he made many addresses and enjoyed unrivaled popularity.[1]

Van Amringe also served as the first president of the American Mathematical Society from 1888 and 1890 and was a member of the New-York Historical Society and the American Society for the Advancement of Science.[1]

He is memorialized with a bust enshrined in a column-supported cupola on "Van Am Quad" in the southeastern portion of the campus, surrounded by three Columbia College dormitories (John Jay Hall, Hartley Hall, and Wallach Hall) and by the main College academic building, Hamilton Hall.[3] The Memorial was built in 1917 and 1918, and was dedicated on Commencement Day in 1918.[4]

Personal life

The Van Amringe Memorial (1918) on the Morningside Heights campus of Columbia University

Van Amringe was married to Cornelia Bucknor (1838–1914), the daughter of William Goelet Bucknor.[5] Cornelia was the great-granddaughter of Peter Goelet, a wealthy merchant and real estate entrepreneur in New York City. Together, Cornelia and John were the parents of:

  • Emily Van Amringe (1867–1955), who died not marry.[6]
  • Guy Van Amringe (1869–1936), a magistrate of the New York Municipal Court.[7]

Van Amringe died suddenly on September 10, 1915 at the Keeler House in Morristown, New Jersey.[1] After a funeral conducted by the Rev. Dr. William T. Manning (later the 10th Bishop of New York), Rector of Trinity Church (where he was a Vestryman), he was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.[8]

Honors and legacy

Van Amringe received a number of honorary degrees including Ph.D. from the University of the State of New York in 1877 and an LL.D. from Union College in 1895.[1]

In honor of Van Amringe, Columbia University's Department of Mathematics has presented a "Van Amringe Mathematical Prize" each year (since 1911) to the best freshman or sophomore mathematics student, based on a very challenging examination.


  1. ^ a b c d e f "EX-COLUMBIA DEAN ,VAN AMRINGE DEAD; Professor, Loved by His Students, Expires Suddenly in Morristown, N. J., at 80. 54 YEARS IN UNIVERSITY One of the Greatest Authorities on Mathematics ;- Head of Columbia Club ;- Champion of Football" (PDF). The New York Times. 11 September 1915. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  2. ^ "VAN AMRINGE TO LEAVE COLUMBIA; Dean of the College Retiring, at His Own Request, After Fifty Years' Service. PRAISE FROM THE TRUSTEES College Men Habitually Cheer Him, and a Song to His Name Is Widely Known" (PDF). The New York Times. 2 November 1909. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  3. ^ "ALUNMI HELP OPEN CLUB AT COLUMBIA; Honor Memory of John H. Van Amringe, Famous Dean, at Notable Gathering. GRADS IN PSYCHOLOGY TEST 3,000 Return to Campus and Attend Meetings -- George Beach New Head of Federation" (PDF). The New York Times. 13 February 1923. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  4. ^ Columbia Alumni News. Alumni Council of Columbia University. 1919. p. 145. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  5. ^ "Died" (PDF). The New York Times. 13 May 1914. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  6. ^ "Miss Emily Van Amringe" (PDF). The New York Times. 15 July 1955. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  7. ^ "GUY VAN AMRINGE, MAGISTRATE, DIES; Republican Appointed by Ex Mayor Walker is a Victim of Appendicitis. NOTED DEAN 'VAN AM'S' SON A Corporation Lawyer Before Going on Bench Sat in Trial of Commercial Frauds" (PDF). The New York Times. 4 April 1936. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  8. ^ "DR. VAN AMRINGE'S FUNERAL; Columbia Men Pay Last Tribute to Dean They Revered" (PDF). The New York Times. 15 September 1915. Retrieved 20 August 2019.

External links

Academic offices
Preceded by
Seth Low (as President)
Dean of Columbia College
1896 – 1910
Succeeded by