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Walter Dill Scott
May 1, 1869
Cooksville, Illinois
September 23, 1955
Evanston, Illinois
1919 - 1939
B.A., Northwestern (1895);
B.Div., McCormick Theological Seminary (1898);
Ph.D, University of Leipzig (1900);
Hon. LL.D., Cornell College (1921);
Hon. LL.D., University of Southern California (1932)
"Dr. Scott has written his name imperishably into the annals of an institution which, in his own words, 'performs the highest possible form of service to mankind.' He was a dedicated man who loved his Alma Mater. His manifold contributions to Northwestern, his boundless optimism in respect to her future, his simplicity, his modest, his friendliness, have won the respect and love of all members of this Board and all friends of Northwestern. We pause here to pay tribute to him as one of Northwestern's great leaders."
- from a memorial tribute
Walter Dill Scott

!!!!Walter Dill Scott was born on May 1, 1869 in Cooksville, Illinois, the second son of James Sterling Scott and Henrietta Sutton Scott. Because of his father's poor health, Walter, his older brother, John, and their three sisters, Mary Louise, Retta, and Myrtle, did much of the work around their farm. Walter obtained what education he could at the local rural schools and by studying during his rare free moments. Both Walter and John had decided at an early age that they wanted to become teachers. Walter spent two and a half years at Illinois State Normal University in Normal, Illinois. By teaching at country schools in Leroy and Hudson during 1890-1891 and with the aid of a scholarship, Walter was able to enter Northwestern University as a freshman in the fall of 1891. He supplemented his funds while in college by tutoring his fellow students.

In 1895, Scott received his Bachelor of Arts degree and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. His goal was to become president of a university in China. Since most of the Chinese universities were sponsored by religious organizations, Scott enrolled at McCormick Theological Seminary, from which he received a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1898. On July 21 of that year he married Anna Marcy Miller in Chicago. The Scotts had two sons: John Marcy, born February 12, 1902, and Walter Sumner, January 8, 1908. As no suitable openings in China occurred, Scott's growing interest in the new science of psychology took him to Germany where he obtained his Ph.D. in psychology and educational administration from the University of Leipzig while Mrs. Scott obtained her Ph.D. in philology and art from the University of Halle, both in 1900.

Scott's doctoral work under the direction of Wilhelm Wundt, who had pioneered the separation of psychology from philosophy and transformed it into an experimental science, was a crucial turning point in his life. Upon returning to the United States, Scott accepted an appointment as instructor in psychology and pedagogy at Northwestern beginning in the fall of 1900. In 1907 he was promoted to professor of psychology and two years later he was appointed head of the new Department of Psychology.

Northwestern granted Scott a leave of absence for 1916-1917 to enable him to serve as Director of the new Bureau of Salesmanship at the Carnegie Institution of Technology. Scott's main area of interest at the Bureau was the application of scientific knowledge to business problems. His leave was extended through 1917-1918.

Scott's early books The Theory of Advertising (1903) and The Psychology of Advertising (1908), as well as his articles, reflected his research work and the current state of the young field. He later turned from analyzing the psychological elements and effects of advertising to investigation of successful salesmanship. This led to an examination of the selection process for identifying such individuals and the development of pertinent tests to aid in the process.

By the time of the First World War, Scott was well equipped to test, evaluate, and utilize the talents and skills of large numbers of people. In June, 1917, the staff of the Bureau voted unanimously to donate their services to the war effort. Scott devised and offered to the Army a proposal for selecting officers by scientific methods, which received a trial run at Fort Myer, New Jersey.

Colonel ScottThe Fort Myer experience produced such favorable results that Scott was given another chance at Plattsburg. Here, after a vigorous effort, Scott was finally able to win approval for his method. It was so successful in selecting good officers that it was later used to determine promotion of officers and, most importantly of all, to determine effective use of the vast pool of talents and skills among enlisted men. For this work, Scott, who was discharged as a colonel, was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal in 1919. In addition to this military recognition Scott was featured in American Men of Science, upon the recommendation of his colleagues in psychology, and elected President of the American Psychological Association for 1919.

In February, 1919, Scott and several of his associates founded the Scott Company Engineers and Consultants in Industrial Personnel. The company had offices in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Dayton, and in its first year provided assistance to more than 40 industrial and business concerns.

Meanwhile, the departure of President Lynn Harold Hough from Northwestern in 1920 had left the University in an unsettled condition. The Board of Trustees invited Scott to become Northwestern's tenth president. This presented Scott with a difficult decision since the Scott Company had a bright future and Northwestern was in difficulty with an inadequate financial base and physical plant. However, the opportunity for service to his alma mater and the challenge of refinancing the University and transforming it to an outstanding institution proved decisive. Scott began his tenure as President on October 2, 1920, and was formally inaugurated on June 14, 1921.

Three major problems faced Scott in the fall of 1920. He had to provide a solid financial base for both current activities and future growth; he had to find donors who would underwrite new dormitory, classroom, and research buildings in Evanston and Chicago; and he had to forge an integrated university out of a collection of quite disparate elements.

One indication of Scott's success as a fund-raiser is the increase in the University's endowment from $5.625 million in 1920 to $26.7 million in 1938. His establishment of the University Associates in 1928, an organization of carefully selected advisors, provided an opportunity for influential men of the Chicago area to learn of and support the manifold activities at Northwestern and support new programs as well.

The value of Northwestern's physical plant rose from just under $12 million to almost $48 million between 1920 and 1939. Scott had retired by the time the largest building in Evanston was completed, the Technological Institute, but for many years he had quietly and effectively pursued Walter P. Murphy, who eventually donated $28 million toward the Institute and related programs.

Deering Library DedicationAnother major gift obtained by Scott was a Chicago office building valued at $3 million, donated to endow scholarships by Frederick C. Austin. Scott's careful cultivation of the Deering family led to generous gifts of over $1 million, which supported construction of the Deering Library, opened in 1932 (video of dedication at link). Housing for students, especially for women, was a pressing need and Scott solved the problem by a jointly-financed program that led to the construction of the women's quadrangles (dormitories and sororities), which were dedicated in 1927. Housing on the Chicago campus improved considerably with the construction of Abbott Hall in 1939. In Evanston, Dyche Stadium was erected and opened in the fall of 1926.

The development of Northwestern's Chicago campus was probably the single most important event during Scott's presidency. The major gifts for these buildings came from Mrs. Montgomery Ward ($8 million), Mrs. Levy Mayer ($800,000), the Wieboldt Foundation ($500,000), Judge Elbert H. Gary ($460,000), and Mrs. Elden M. Thorne ($250,000). By persistence Scott was even able to obtain funds from these donors for the maintenance of the buildings.

Scott enhanced the University academically by establishing the School of Journalism (1921), the School of Speech (1926), and the University College (1934). He helped to involve the faculty in the governance of the university by abolishing the University Council and establishing the much more representative University Senate. A General (university-wide) Alumni Association was also established, as was a university-wide purchasing department.

The Personnel Office, established in 1926, was a direct outgrowth of both Scott's work in psychology and his ability to tap donors for specific purposes. L.B. Hopkins, one of Scott's closest associates in the Army Classification Program and the Scott Company, had installed an industrial personnel system at the Wilson Brothers sporting goods business. The system worked so well that Scot approached Mr. Wilson to see if he would underwrite such a program at the university. Wilson and Hopkins wholeheartedly supported Scott's proposal, and Hopkins became the first Director of Personnel at Northwestern. The office shortly became so successful that the idea was emulated at other universities. It was designed to promote "the systematic consideration of the individual, for the sake of the individual, and by specialists in the field." Counseling in educational, career, and personal matters formed the bulk of the office's activities. Hopkins served as director until 1925 when Wabash College called him to be its president. Professor Delton T. Howard took over until 1936, when Scott felt that a restructuring of the office was required in order to integrate more fully the functions of the university. This led to abolition of the officers of Dean of Men and Dean of Women and the formation of the Board of Personnel Administration that combined counseling services (for both undergraduates and graduates) with housing, financial aid, admissions, student records, and a placement service.

Wieboldt HallIn the fall of 1937, Scott took a major step, which he had been discussing for some time with the members of the Board of Trustees. He had long desired to free himself from some of the educational administrative duties of the presidency in order to devote more time and efforts to an endeavor in which he had been remarkably effective—fundraising. To achieve this, as well as to provide a division of administrative responsibilities, the Board created two vice-presidential positions. Franklyn B. Snyder, Dean of the Graduate School, was promoted to Vice President and Dean of Faculties, and Harry Wells, Business Manager, was promoted to Vice President and Business Manager.

The appointment of Franklyn Bliss Snyder in 1937 as Vice President and Dean of Faculties was apparently viewed as a trial run for a possible successor. Scott had informed the Board in 1937 that he wished to retire by July 1, 1938. The Board requested that he remain in office until they could choose a successor, and Scott reluctantly assented. He finally retired on August 31, 1939. Snyder became the eleventh president of Northwestern on September 1st.

Scott and his wife remained in Evanston, retaining many of their relationships and university activities. Scott revised his textbooks, wrote a new book, and served on the Editorial Board of the American People's Encyclopedia. During World War II he served as chairman of the Solid Fuels Advisory War Council.

Scott suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died at his apartment at the North Shore Hotel in Evanston on Friday evening, September 23, 1955. Funeral services were held in the Cahn Auditorium of Scott Hall on Monday afternoon, September 26. The University was closed during these services. Scott was survived by his wife, two sons, three grandchildren, and a sister, Mrs. D.K. Campbell, of Bloomington, Illinois. Mrs. Scott died in 1966.

Scott was a popular and effective teacher and administrator. He inspired affection and trust among students, faculty, trustees, and alumni. As a psychology his pioneer work in advertising and the classification and evaluation of business, industrial, and military personnel had lasting importance. Walter Dill Scott will be recalled as the president who transformed Northwestern into a financially stable, administratively consolidated, and academically respectable university.

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