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J. Howard Van Amringe

Mathematician

Centurion, 1866–1915

Full Name John Howard Van Amringe

Born 3 April 1835 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Died 12 September 1915 in Morristown, New Jersey

Buried Woodlawn Cemetery and Conservancy, Bronx, New York

Proposed by Henry Drisler and Frederick A. P. Barnard

Elected 3 November 1866 at age thirty-one

Archivist’s Note: Second vice president of the Century Association, 1912–1915

Century Memorial

As The Century this year has lost its Treasurer [Elgin R. L. Gould] in the prime of life, so has it seen its Second Vice-President pass to his grave in the fullness of his eighty years. Rarely has a man carried on his last journey so large a measure of the love of the generations who have known him as John Howard Van Amringe, Dean, par excellence, of Columbia. He graduated from the college in 1860, and was at once made tutor in mathematics, adjunct professor in 1863, and full professor in 1865. He retired as emeritus in 1910, still Professor of Mathematics and Dean of the College. During the absence of Mr. Low, he acted as President pro tem in 1899.

Perhaps in America no man has ever symbolized the sentiment of a college—we use that word, rather than university, when speaking from the heart—as Van Amringe. So the chairman of the alumni on presenting his bust to the Columbia University Club in 1913 said: “Van Am. has become more than a man to us; he’s a sentiment. What the Yale fence is to Yale, the ivy to Princeton, Van Am. is to Columbia—a tangible, concrete expression of sentiment to which our memories lovingly cling.” On his side Van Amringe, even from the time when he was an undergraduate and incidentally taught Greek in the professor’s absence, gave himself utterly to Columbia, and to the rolls of young men that the college turned out in slowly increasing numbers, year after year. As a hearty, friendly, virile man, he loved those boys for their best good. He was a strict teacher, entirely free from mawkish amiability. He had a manly heart and a very big one. We of The Century who are not graduates of Columbia College will still claim that that heart included us. As valiantly and big-heartedly as in his college, did the Dean serve on our Admissions Committee and preside as Vice-President at meetings of the Board of Management or of the Association. Many an old Centurian friend had he. We too within these walls claim good fellowship with Van Am.

Henry Osborn Taylor
1916 Century Association Yearbook