History of the Presidency

Biographical sketches of Penn Presidents (including Acting and Interim Presidents) and historically significant aspects of University history during each administration.

1930-1944

Thomas Sovereign Gates, President

Born 1873 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died 1948 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Ph.B. in the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, 1893
LL.B., University of Pennsylvania, 1896
Hon. LL.D., University of Pennsylvania, 1931

  • Practicing attorney in the office of John G. Johnson, 1896-1906

  • Trust Officer and Vice President, First Pennsylvania Bank, 1906-1912

  • President, Philadelphia Trust Company, 1912-1918

  • Partner, Drexel and Company, 1918-1930

  • Partner, J.P. Morgan and Company, 1921-1930

  • Trustee, University of Pennsylvania, 1921-1948

  • Chairman, University of Pennsylvania Fund, 1925-1929

  • Chairman, Board of Trustees, 1944-48

Significant events in or aspects of University history during the Gates administration:

  • 1930: The University of Pennsylvania was composed of a College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences; five undergraduate professional schools – Education, Engineering, Fine Arts, Veterinary Medicine, and the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce; and four graduate professional schools – Law, Medicine, Dental Medicine, and Graduate Medicine. Penn also owned and operated the University Museum, the University Hospital, the Veterinary Hospital, and the Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology.

  • 1932: Penn acquired the Morris Arboretum, located in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia, established onsite research programs in botany and opened the ninety-two-acre Victorian garden to the public.

  • 1933: The College of Liberal Arts for Women established. It was Penn's first, full-time, undergraduate liberal arts degree program for women.

  • 1935: The Pennsylvania School of Social Work affiliated with Penn as a graduate, professional school. Penn conferred, for the first time, the degree of Master of Social Work (MSW).

  • 1936: Women first earned the degree of Bachelor of Architecture (B. Arch.).

  • 1937: The Fels Institute of State and Local Government established. Penn conferred, for the first time, the degree of Master of Government Administration (MGA).

  • 1938: Women first earned the degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVD).

  • 1940: The School of Veterinary Medicine became a graduate professional school. All first-year students were required, for the first time, to demonstrate the completion of a minimum of two full years of higher education as a prerequisite to admission.

  • 1943: World War II training programs established, including the United States Naval Flight Preparatory School, the Navy College Training Program, the Army Specialized Training Program, and the Women's Army Corps. Total enrollment in these wartime programs exceeded 3,500.

Biographical sketches of Penn Presidents (including Acting and Interim Presidents) and historically significant aspects of University history during each administration.