John Milton Gregory

John Milton Gregory

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" [1]

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.[2]

In 1886 Gregory authored the book The Seven Laws of Teaching, [3] which asserted that a teacher should:

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

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