Artemas Wyman Sawyer
by Ann Neilson
I discovered this gem of a gentleman yesterday evening and simply felt the necessity to write about him.
Anyway, let’s get down to who this guy was and his significance.
According to the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, he was born in Westhaven, Vermont, March 4, 1827 (924). He was the son of a Reverend, Reuben Sawyer, and Laura Wyman. He was educated at New London Academy and then Dartmouth College. He taught school in Windsor, Vermont for three years before attending a theological institute. According to this source, he decided on ministry as a career early on, most likely due to his being baptized when he was twelve. He was ordained a minister of the Baptist church in Lawrence, Massachusetts, in 1853.
Not only was he super successful at this point, but he continued on to be exceptionally successful. He became professor of classics at Acadia College in Wolfville, in 1855, which he held for five years. During this time, in 1858, he married Maria E. Chase, and the couple had five children overtime, including Everett Wyman Sawyer. Artemas returned to Acadia in 1869 as Acadia’s president and held this position for twenty-seven years.
According to a memorial article found on this website, “Though stern in appearance, Dr. Sawyer was a Christian scholar and gentleman, and in the classroom ‘a prince of teachers,’ clear in his presentation and with stimulating thoughts in his classes. He stressed the importance of Christian living. The period of Dr. Sawyer’s presidency was one of great change within university structures and curriculums. He endorsed the inclusion of science, history, languages and a system of electives. Female students were first admitted to degree courses in 1884. In 1891 Acadia College became Acadia University, and in the following year introduced a course to lead to a Bachelor of Theology.”
Basically, this guy did a lot of good for the school system. He opened doors, broke the traditional system, although reluctantly at first, and even promoted health and well-being with the opening of a gymnasium in 1890. Nice! However, in regard to the bachelor in theology, “During Sawyer’s presidency theology received very little attention because Maritime Baptists seemed unwilling to commit the funds necessary to establish a program” (source).
In 1896, Sawyer asked to be replaced, apparently, but remained professor of psychology and Christianity almost until his death in 1907. Over all, his life did not go unnoticed and he was a significant part in shaping modern Acadia University.
“He brought stability, leadership, learning, and tact to the position…” (source).
“He was described as a ‘ripe scholar, a profound thinker and a wise administrator who made Acadia richer through a devoted attention to her interests” (source).
Here you can find one of his written works.
Here you can find another photo of the guy.