Richard Cockburn Maclaurin


Richard Cockburn Maclaurin
Richard Cockburn Maclaurin 1910.jpg
Maclaurin in 1910
6th President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
In office
Preceded byArthur Amos Noyes (acting)
Succeeded byElihu Thomson (acting)
Personal details
Born(1870-06-05)June 5, 1870
Selkirk, Scotland
DiedJanuary 15, 1920(1920-01-15) (aged 49)
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Alma materAuckland University College (B.Sc. (Hons), Mathematics, 1890)
BA, 1895 (12th wrangler); LL.D., 1904, St John's College, University of Cambridge.[1]
AwardsSmith's Prize (1898)

Richard Cockburn Maclaurin (/ˈkbərn/; June 5, 1870 – January 15, 1920)[2][3] was a Scottish-born U.S. educator and mathematical physicist. He was made president of MIT in 1909, and held the position until his death in 1920.

During his tenure as president of MIT, the Institute moved across the Charles River from Boston to its present campus in Cambridge. In Maclaurin's honor, the buildings that surround Killian Court on the oldest part of the campus are sometimes called the Maclaurin Buildings.

Earlier, he was a foundation professor of the then Victoria College of the University of New Zealand from 1899 to 1907. A collection of lecture theatres at the Kelburn campus of that university were named after him. He was also a professor at Columbia University from 1907 to 1908.


Maclaurin was born in Scotland, and was related to the noted Scottish mathematician Colin Maclaurin. He emigrated to New Zealand with his family at the age of four. In 1904 he married Alice Young of Auckland, and they had two sons. His brother James Scott Maclaurin (1864–1939) was a noted chemist, who invented a process for extracting gold with cyanide.



  • On the Nature and Evidence of Title to Realty, 1901
  • Treatise on the Theory of Light, 1908



  1. ^ a b c "Maclaurin, Richard Cockburn (MLRN892RC)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  2. ^ Goodwin, H. M. (1935). "Richard Cockburn Maclaurin (1870–1920)". Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 69 (13): 518–521. JSTOR 20023089.
  3. ^ "MACLAURIN, Richard Cockburn : (1870–1920) : University teacher and administrator", the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 22 April 2009.
  4. ^ Auckland Grammar School List 2018 (2018) p.122.

External links

  • Works by or about Richard Cockburn Maclaurin at Internet Archive
  • 'MACLAURIN, Richard Cockburn', from An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock, originally published in 1966.
  • 'Richard Cockburn Maclaurin, 1870–1920', from History of the Office of the MIT President, Institute Archives, MIT Libraries, October 2004.
  • Maclaurin in Mathematics at Victoria University College
Academic offices
Preceded by
Henry Smith Pritchett
President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
1909 – 1920
Succeeded by
Ernest Fox Nichols