Wesleyan University, an institution of learning in Middletown, Conn., and the oldest college under the control and patronage of the Methodist Episcopal church. The two original buildings, which previously to 1829 were occupied as a military academy, were given to the trustees of the college on condition of their raising an endowment of $40,000. Besides these there are now Rich hall, the gift of Isaac Rich, for a library building; memorial chapel, built from the contributions of the church in the centenary year of American Methodism (1866); Judd hall, the gift of Orange Judd; and observatory hall, which has a refracting telescope of 12-inch aperture, made byAlvan Clark and sons. The five principal buildings have a common front line upon an ample campus, and command an extended and magnificent view of the Connecticut river and valley. Observatory hall and the gymnasium are just in the rear of the main buildings. The estimated value of the grounds and buildings is $400,000. The library has more than 26,000 volumes, and is annually increased from the income of the alumni library fund of over $20,000. Judd hall contains the well furnished chemical laboratory and the large museum of natural history.
The income of the institution from all sources for the collegiate year 1874-'5 was $47,000. Tuition is practically free, but this is due to a system of scholarships which will soon expire by the terms of their limitation. - The college was organized in 1830, chartered in May, 1831, and opened in the following September. Wilbur Fisk, D. D., was the first president and the leading mind in the organization of the institution, and remained in office till his death in 1839. Under his administration the proficiency of the student in each department separately was the only basis of classification, and upon satisfactory examination diplomas were bestowed irrespective of the time spent in college. This was soon abandoned, and the class system adopted. At this time the college was among the earliest to adopt the plan, now generally approved, of providing a scientific in addition to the ordinary classical course. Nathan Bangs, D. D., was elected president in 1841, and resigned in 1842. His successor, Stephen Olin, D. D., gave a great impulse to the financial affairs and widely extended the reputation of the institution. During the presidency of Augustus W. Smith, LL. D. (1852-'7), a fund of $100,000 was pledged to increase the endowment.
Under the administration of President Joseph Cummings, D. D., LL. D. (1857-75), the material facilities were extended, and great improvements were made in the course of study. The present incumbent (1876), Cyrus D. Foss, D. D., was elected in July, 1875. The president is ex officio a member of the corporation, or board of trustees, whose number by the charter cannot exceed 40, each patronizing conference appointing one trustee, elected by ballot at a regular session. The present number of patronizing conferences (1876) is thirteen, six in New England, five in New York, one in New Jersey, and one in Pennsylvania. Alumni of three years' standing may elect five trustees, and the rest are elected at large by the board itself. The board is divided into five classes, one of which retires annually. The powers of the corporation cover all matters of external or internal management. - In the university there are three courses of four years each. The classical course is substantially the same as in other New England colleges. The Latinscientific and scientific courses are designed especially for advanced culture in the sciences and in modern languages and literature. In all these courses, about half the work of the last two years consists of elective studies.
Special and post-graduate courses are also provided. The extensive laboratories of the college are now used also for such chemical investigations as belong appropriately to the state agricultural experiment station recently established here. A chemist paid by the state devotes himself to this work. Since 1872 the university courses have been open to both sexes. The whole number of alumni in 1875 was 1,107, of whom 174 have died. Accordto the "Alumni Record1' published in 1873, of 1,028 then graduated, 503 had been in the ministry, chiefly in the Methodist Episcopal church; 271 became professional teachers, of whom 43 were presidents of colleges; and in the professions of law and medicine there were 269. In 1875-'6 the faculty consisted of the president, nine professors, three instructors, a curator of the museum, and two assistants in the scientific department. The number of students was 176, of whom 9 were females.