1 Cath. U. L. Rev. 58 (1950-1951)
William C. Robinson and the Early Years of the Catholic University of America

handle is hein.journals/cathu1 and id is 74 raw text is: WILLIAM C. ROBINSON AND THE EARLY YEARS OF THE
Frederick H. Jackson
Instructor of History
University of Illinois
In the fall of 1895, the Catholic University of America installed its School
of Philosophy and School of Social Sciences and opened its doors to laymen.
At that time, William C. Robinson, long a professor of law at Yale, was called
to head the School of Social Sciences. Under his charge were the depart-
ments of sociology, economics, political science and law. I
His tenure was at first temporary, for Dean Robinson was sixty-two and
deeply rooted in New Haven. He feared that his health might be impaired by
the climate of the District of Columbia. 2 By the end of his first year in
Washington, it was evident that the task of building a university was not the
work of months but of years, and Robinson decided to remain until the new
venture was successfully launched. 3 Although he was Dean of the School of
Social Sciences, his primary interest was the Department of Law. In a few
years, he was designated as Dean of the Faculty of Law, a position he held
until his death in 1911.
William Callyhan Robinson was born in 1834 at Norwich, Connecticut.
After receiving his early education in Norwich's public schools, he attended
Wesleyan University and Dartmouth College, graduating from the latter in
1854. Although he was reared in the Methodist Church, soon after graduation
he entered the General Theological Seminary, where he studied for the
Episcopal Ministry. His first charge was as missionary of a parish at
Pittston, Pennsylvania. Soon thereafter he became a rector in Scranton.
His tenure as an Episcopal clergyman was brief and was terminated by his
conversion to Roman Catholicism in the early 1860's. Had he not been
married, Robinson would probably have become a Catholic priest.
Forced to change his vocation, he chose the legal profession and began
the study of law in 1862. Two years later he was admitted to the bar of
Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, but in 1865 he moved to New Haven, Con-
necticut, where he practised for the next three decades. For a time he served
as judge of the municipal court and of the New Haven County common pleas
court. During the 1870's he sat for a term in the Connecticut House of
Representatives. In the next decade he was chairman of the Connecticut
Tax Commission. 4
1. Patrick H. Ahern, The Catholic University of America, 1887-1896. The Rector-
ship of John J. Keane, p. 99.
2. William C. Robinson to Simeon E. Baldwin, Nov. 13, 1895. All Manuscript sources
are from the Baldwin Collection, Yale University Library.
3. William C. Robinson to Simeon E. Baldwin, May 22, 1896.
4. Biographical data, except where otherwise quoted, is from Charles S. Lobingier,
Robinson, William Callyhan, Dictionary of American Biography, XVI, 56-57.

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