May 24, 1820 - December 13, 1870
Election Year: 1863
Scientific Discipline: Mathematics
Membership Type: Member
Mathematician William Chauvenet was a highly regarded scientist who made contributions in the areas of trigonometry and geometry and in the application of mathematical principals to astronomy and navigation. He was a driving force in the development of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, where he designed the course of instruction and taught for several years.
In 1862 the Washington University in St. Louis appointed Chauvenet to serve as the chancellor of the university, where he remained until resigning in 1869 due to health complications. During his time as chancellor, Chauvenet greatly expanded the university’s facilities, student population, and faculty. He was responsible for creating the university’s law school in 1867. In addition to his academic contributions, Chauvenet was a founding member of the National Academy of Sciences and served a number of terms as its vice president.