||Scholarly quarterly journal for the study of Hebrew (inaugural issue 1884), edited by William Rainey Harper (1856 – 1906), a noted academic who helped to organize the University of Chicago and Bradley University and served as the first President of both institutions. Born New Concord, Ohio, Harper established himself as one of America's leading academics of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.
Very early in life, Harper displayed skills years ahead of other children his age and was labeled a prodigy. By the age of eight, Harper began preparing for college level courses; at the age of ten he enrolled in Muskingum College in his native New Concord, Ohio; and at the age of fourteen he graduated from Muskingum. In 1872, Harper enrolled in Yale University to begin his post graduate studies, which he completed in 1876. Throughout his academic life, Harper wrote numerous texts. A strong supporter of lifelong learning, Harper was also involved with the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, NY, and its programming.
In 1891, John D. Rockefeller selected thirty-five year-old Harper to assist in the organization of the University of Chicago, and shortly thereafter, Harper was named its first President. In staffing the University and selecting students, Harper set the standards very high. Harper elevated the compensation of academic professions above that of school teacher, and by doing so attracted the best and the brightest to the University.
In addition to encouraging the establishment for the first department of Egyptology and Sociology in the United States, Harper ensured the establishment of the University of Chicago Press. Harper also instituted the first Extension Service in America designed to bring classes to those who could not attend regular classes because of work or other conflicts. One of Harper's ideas, that students should be able to study the first two years of college in their own communities to be better prepared for the rigors of college, helped lead to the creation of the community college system in the United States. Additionally, in 1896, Harper assisted Lydia Moss Bradley in developing her plans for the Bradley Polytechnic Institute in Peoria, Illinois. Upon the founding of the Institute, now known as Bradley University, Harper served as its first President. Harper College, a two-year college in Palatine, Illinois, is named after him. There is also an elementary school in Cleveland, Ohio named after him. He is also the namesake for a high school in Chicago, Illinois. Harper died of cancer at the age of forty-nine.