Richard Cockburn Maclaurin

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Richard Cockburn Maclaurin
Richard C Maclaurin.jpg
President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
In office
Preceded by Arthur Amos Noyes
Succeeded by Elihu Thomson
Personal details
Born (1870-06-05)June 5, 1870
Selkirk, Scotland
Died January 15, 1920(1920-01-15) (aged 49)
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Alma mater Auckland University College (B.Sc. (Hons), Mathematics, 1890)
BA, 1895 (12th wrangler); LL.D., 1904, St John's College, University of Cambridge.[1]
Awards Smith'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 the Cyanide process for extracting gold.



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



  1. ^ a b "Maclaurin, Richard Cockburn (MLRN892RC)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  2. ^ Goodwin, H. M., "Richard Cockburn Maclaurin (1870-1920)", Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Vol. 69, No. 13 (Feb., 1935), pp. 518-521. Published by: American Academy of Arts & Sciences
  3. ^ "MACLAURIN, Richard Cockburn : (1870–1920) : University teacher and administrator", the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 22-Apr-09.

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