John Milton Gregory

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John Milton Gregory
John Milton Gregory.jpg
1st President of
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
In office
Preceded by Inaugural holder
Succeeded by Selim H. Peabody
2nd President of Kalamazoo College
In office
Preceded by James Andrus Blinn Stone
Succeeded by Kendall Brooks
Personal details
Born (1822-07-06)July 6, 1822
Died October 19, 1898(1898-10-19) (aged 76)
Louisa Catherine Allen (m. 1879)
Children Mary, Walter, Helen, and Alfred[1]
Profession College administrator

John Milton Gregory (July 6, 1822 – October 19, 1898) was an American educator and the first president (regent was his official title) of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, then known as Illinois Industrial University.


Gregory was elected Superintendent of Public Instruction in Michigan in 1858, after several years spent as editor of the Michigan Journal of Education. After leaving office in 1864 he became the second president of Kalamazoo College from 1864 until 1867.

Gregory served as the president of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, from the university's founding in 1867 until his resignation in 1880. While Gregory credited Jonathan Baldwin Turner as the central figure in the university's establishment, Gregory, during his tenure as University of Illinois's first president, helped determine the direction of the university by advocating the presence of a classically based liberal arts curriculum in addition to the industrial and agricultural curriculum desired by the Illinois Industrial League and many state residents and lawmakers of the time.

One of Gregory's most important contributions to the development of the University of Illinois was his commitment to the education of women. In 1870 Gregory cast the deciding vote to admit women to the U of I, making Illinois the first university after the Civil War to admit women. In his 1872 University Report he wrote, "No industry is more important to human happiness and well being than that which makes the home. And this industry involves principles of science as many and as profound as those which control any other human employment" [2]

To keep this commitment to the education of women he hired Louisa C. Allen in 1874 to develop a program in domestic science. Although the experiment in domestic science would only last six years (1874-1880), it was the first domestic science degree program in higher education.[3]


In 1886 Gregory authored the book The Seven Laws of Teaching, [4] which asserted that a teacher should:

  • Know thoroughly and familiarly the lesson you wish to teach; or, in other words, teach from a full mind and a clear understanding.
  • Gain and keep the attention and interest of the pupils upon the lesson. Refuse to teach without attention.
  • Use words understood by both teacher and pupil in the same sense—language clear and vivid alike to both.
  • Begin with what is already well known to the pupil in the lesson or upon the subject, and proceed to the unknown by single, easy, and natural steps, letting the known explain the unknown.
  • Use the pupil's own mind, exciting his self-activities. keep his thoughts as much as possible ahead of your expression, making him a discoverer of truth.
  • Require the pupil to reproduce in thought the lesson he is learning—thinking it out in its parts, proofs, connections, and applications til he can express it in his own language.
  • Review, review, REVIEW, reproducing correctly the old, deepening its impression with new thought, correcting false views, and completing the true.

Death and legacy[edit]

The grave of John Milton Gregory on the UIUC campus

Gregory is buried just to the south of Altgeld Hall near the Main Quadrangle on the UIUC campus. (40.109005,-88.22831)

John Milton Gregory Math and Science Academy of the Chicago Public Schools was originally established in 1923 as John Milton Gregory Elementary School and is located in the historic North Lawndale, Chicago community.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Richard G. Moores (1970). Fields of rich toil. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press. 
  3. ^ Allen (Mrs. John M. Gregory), Louisa C. "The School of Domestic Science of the Illinois Industrial University". U S. Department of Education. 
  4. ^ Gregory, John Milton (1886). The Seven Laws of Teaching. Boston: Congregational Sunday-school and Publishing Society. 

External links[edit]