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Samuel P. Capen

Samuel P. Capen, circa 1920

Image ID: UA_30H8_3

Samuel P. Capen, circa 1920

Before becoming chancellor of the University of Buffalo, Samuel P. Capen enjoyed a successful career as a specialist in higher education.  Working first for the U.S. Bureau of Education (1914-1919) and later the American Council on Education (1919-1922), Capen consulted with the leadership of colleges and universities, conducting critical evaluations of their institutions and providing professional administrative advice and assistance.


The son of Elmer Capen, the long-time president of Tufts College, Capen earned a BA and MA (both in 1898) from that institution.  He earned a second MA from Harvard University (1900) and after studying for a year at the University of Leipzig (1901-1902) he completed his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania (1902).  Capen was a professor of Modern Languages at Clark College from 1902-1914. It was during his last three years at Clark that Capen began studying and lecturing on higher education.


According to Earl J. McGrath (a protégé of Capen), as an educational specialist Capen "had an opportunity to study educational theory and practice throughout the United States."  He gained extensive experience on how other colleges and universities were administrated and how to avoid the problems many of these institutions encountered. 


By all accounts, Capen was fully engaged with his consulting work and the study higher education and had no intention of doing anything else.  So why did he leave this work to become chancellor of the University of Buffalo? 


  • Bartholomew, A Glenni. "Capen -- Ninth Chancellor University of Buffalo." Buffalo Evening News, June 11, 1972.
  • McGrath, Earl. "Fifty Years in Higher Education: Personal Influences on my Professional Development." Journal of Higher Education, v.51, no.1, 1980.
  • "Mr. Capen." The Reporter, November 10, 1977.
  • Park, Julian. "Samuel P. Capen, 1878-1956," The University of Buffalo Studies, v.24, no.1, October 1957.
  • "Retiring Dr. Capen reviews his 28 years as chancellor of U.B."  Buffalo Evening News, August 23, 1950.
  • Samuel P. Capen's Curriculum Vitae, circa 1950, located in Samuel P. Capen's Biographical File.