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Scots and Scots Descendant in America
Part V - Biographies
John Huston Finley, LL.D

JOHN HUSTON FINLEY was born October 19, 1863, in. Grand Ridge, Ill., the eldest son of James Gibson and Lydia Margaret McCombs Finley. His father and mother went out as early settlers on the prairies from the East. His father was the great-grandson of the Rev. James Finley, the first minister, it is believed, to settle permanently beyond the Allegheny Mountains in Western Pennsylvania, and brother of Dr. Samuel Finley, President of Princeton College in the middle of the eighteenth century. Mr. Finley’s brother, Robert, who died in his early thirties, was associate editor of the Review of. Reviews; his sister, Bertha, died as a missionary in Korea.

Dr. Finley was educated in the public schools of Grand Ridge, the Ottawa (Ill.) High School, and Knox College, Galesburg, Ill., receiving the degree of A.B. and A.M., and afterward took up post-graduate work at Johns Hopkins University. He was valedictorian of his class at Knox and won the interstate prize in oratory in 1887. He was made an honorary member of the Northwestern Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. He was Secretary of the Illinois State Charities Aid Association, 1889-1892, and President of Knox College, 1892-1899. In the latter year, he came to New York, but after a year in the editorial departments of the publishing houses of Harpers and McClure, returned to educational work, upon an invitation to take a newly established chair in Princeton University. He was Professor of Polities in Princeton University, 1900-1903, and President of the College of the City of New York from 1903 until 1913, when he was appointed President of the University of thc State of New York and Commissioner of Education, State of New York. He was also Harvard University exchange lecturer on the Hyde Foundation at the Sorbonne, Paris, 1910-1911.

Dr. Finley is a man not alone of fine scholarship and great executive ability, but of deep sympathy, tact and personality, a pleasing speaker much in demand on public occasions, and a master of his profession. In his ten years at the College of the City of New York, that institution was moved into its magnificent new buildings on Washington Heights, and in the reorganization of all the old and in the establishment of many new departments and activities, Mr. Finley showed himself one of the very greatest constructive educators in the country. This success made him the unanimous choice of the Regents for his present responsible and honoured position as the head of the entire educational system of the Empire State. He has received the degree of LL.D. from Princeton University, the University of Wisconsin, Knox College, Park College, Tulane University, Williams College, Dartmouth College, Hobart College, Columbia University and Brown University; and of L.H.D. from Colgate University and New York University.

Dr. Finley served as a member of the Arbitration Board in the eastern railway controversy in 1913, and was Chairman of the New York State Cornmission for the Blind, 1913; he is a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters; member and Vice-President of the National Institute of Social Sciences; Knight of the Legion of Honour of France; Imperial Order of the Rising Sun, Japan; President of the American Social Science Association; member of the American Historical Association, American Economic Association, American Political Science Association; trustee of the Sage Foundation: trustee of Knox College; trustee of the New York Life Insurance Cornpany; Senator of the National Phi Beta Kappa; a director of the National Education Association and former President of the New York Japan Society. He is a member of the Century, Players’ and City College Clubs, New York; and the Fort Orange, University and Country Clubs, Albany. He is an elder in the Presbyterian Church, being the fourth elder in direct line from his first American ancestor. He assisted Dr. Richard T. Ely, when in Johns Hopkins University, in the authorship of Taxation in American States and Cities. He wrote, with the assistance of Mr. John F. Sanderson, a book in the Century Series entitled, The American Executive, and he wrote, first as lectures for the French universities, and later for publication in book form, The French in the Heart of America. He has for many years been editor-in-chief of the Nelson Encyclopedia. His only physical recreation is walking, probably an inherited Scotch predilection. He has as good a pedestrian record as Carlyle and Christopher North.

Dr. Finley married, June 29, 1892, Martha Ford Boyden, daughter of Hon. A. W. Boyden, of Sheffield, Ill. They have three children: Ellen Boyden, born 1894; Margaret, born 1897, who died in 1901; Robert Lawrence, born 1900; and John Huston, born 1904. Dr. Finley’s address is the State Education Building, Albany, N. Y.

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