Frederick Augustus Porter Barnard (1809-1889), American scientist and educationalist, was born in Sheffield, Massachusetts, on the 5th of May 1809. In 1828 he graduated, second on the honour list, at Yale. He was then in turn a tutor at Yale, a teacher (1831—1832) in the American Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb at Hartford, Connecticut, and a teacher (1832—1838) in the New York Institute for the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb.
From 1838 to 1848 he was professor of mathematics and natural philosophy, and from 1848 to 1854 was professor of chemistry and natural history in the University of Alabama, for two years, also, filling the chair of English literature. In 1854 he was ordained as deacon in the Protestant Episcopal Church. In the same year he became professor of mathematics and natural philosophy in the University of Mississippi, of which institution he was chancellor from 1856 until the outbreak of the Civil War, when, his sympathies being with the North, he resigned and went to Washington. There for some time he was in charge of the map and chart department of the United States Coast Survey.
In 1864 he became the tenth president of Columbia College (now Columbia University) in New York City, which position he held until the year before his death, his service thus being longer than that of any of his predecessors. During this period the growth of the college was rapid; new departments were established; the elective system was greatly extended; more adequate provision was made for graduate study and original research, and the enrolment was increased from about 150 to more than 1000 students. Barnard strove to have educational privileges extended by the university to women as well as to men, and Barnard College, for women, established immediately after his death, was named in his honour.
He died in New York City on the 27th of April 1889. Barnard was a versatile man, of catholic training, a classical and English scholar, a mathematician, a physicist, and a chemist, a good public speaker, and a vigorous but somewhat prolix writer on various subjects, his annual reports to the Board of Trustees of Columbia being particularly valuable as discussions of educational problems. Besides being the editor-in-chief, in 1872, of Johnson’s Universal Cyclopaedia, he published a Treatise on Arithmetic (1830); an Analytical Grammar with Symbolic Illustration (1836); Letters on Collegiate Government (1855); and Recent Progress in Science (1869).