Winfield Scott Chaplin

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Winfield Scott Chaplin (1847 – March 12, 1918) was the chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis from 1891 until 1907.

Early life[edit]

He was born in Maine in 1847 and graduated from West Point in 1870 as a second lieutenant of artillery. After resigning in 1872, he held a number of academic positions in civil and mechanical engineering; including Maine State College, Imperial University in Tokyo, Harvard University, and Union College. He served as dean of the Lawrence Scientific School at Harvard for six years before being named Chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis at age 43.[1]

Washington University[edit]

During his tenure, Washington University in St. Louis moved from downtown St. Louis to the 103-acre (0.42 km2) Hilltop Campus (now known as the Danforth Campus) on the western edge of Forest Park. The St. Louis Medical College joined the University as did Missouri Dental College. The University awarded its first Ph.D. during Chaplin's administration. He brought key figures onto the board of directors who would have lasting influence of the University, most notably Samuel Cupples, Adolphus Busch, and Robert S. Brookings.

Later years[edit]

He led Washington University in St. Louis for 16 years before going on to lead the American Rio Grande Land and Irrigation Company, the largest enterprise of its kind in the American Southwest. He later lived in San Antonio, Texas, where he devoted himself to independent study and served as president of the Academy of Science. When his health began to fail in 1917 he returned to St. Louis, where he died a year later.


Following his years as Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Tokyo, he was awarded the Imperial Order of Meiji in 1882.[2]


  1. ^ "Prof. Chaplin's New Post; He will be Chancellor of the Washington University", New York Times, August 30, 1891.
  2. ^ Rossiter, Johnson, ed. (1904) "Chaplin, Winfield Scott", The Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans, Vol. II (n.b., not paginated).

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