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William Cassady Cattell

Section N, # 77

Born: August 30, 1827

Died: February 11, 1898

Educated at Princeton University, William Cassady Cattell came to Lafayette College in 1855 as a Professor of Latin and Greek. He later became an ordained minister and settled in the Harrisburg area. In 1863 Lafayette College had few students, little money and was near collapse. In desperation, the Trustees asked Cattell to return to Easton to become its president and try to save the college.

Dr. Cattell proved to be a gifted leader and formidable fundraiser. In particular, he forged a relationship with wealthy coal baron Ario Pardee of Hazleton whose initial generous gift proved to be the turning point in fundraising efforts. Pardee continued to be a benefactor of the college for many years. Cattell’s administration helped make Lafayette one of the early leaders in the field of applied sciences and engineering. He taught Mental and Moral Philosophy and served as the college president for twenty years. He chose the college’s colors of maroon and white.

By any measure, the presidency of Dr. Cattell was one of Lafayette’s most significant. In recognition of his achievements, the main street of the College Hill section of Easton was named after him.

Poor health forced Cattell to retire in 1883, but he remained active with the Presbyterian Board of Ministerial Relief and served on several boards.