Lane Library

Impeachment of President Ellinwood

Directors' Meeting, 5 February 1907

The following were present at the meeting of the Directors on 5 February 1907: President Ellinwood and Drs. Taylor, Gibbons, Stillman and Rixford. Dr. Barkan was absent in Europe. [38]

The meeting was called to order by President Ellinwood who assumed the chair.

Dr. Stillman moved, seconded by Dr. Taylor, that President Ellinwood be requested to resign his office of President of Cooper College in the best interest of the College.

President Ellinwood thereupon refused to resign.

Director Taylor then offered the following resolution which was seconded by Director Gibbons:

Whereas, there has arisen great disharmony between Dr. C. N. Ellinwood, the President of this College, and the members of this Board and of the Faculty;

And whereas, the members of this Board and of the Faculty do not any longer possess that confidence in Dr. Ellinwood as such President which is conducive to the best interests of this College;

And whereas, said Ellinwood has declined to resign such Presidency:

Now therefore, be it resolved that said Ellinwood be and he hereby is removed from the office of President of this College.

President Ellinwood ruled the resolution out of order.

Director Taylor thereupon appealed from the decision of the chair. The President refusing to submit the appeal to the Board, Vice President Taylor was called upon to put the motion.

Vice President Taylor thereupon put the motion "Shall the decision of the chair be sustained?"

The Board having voted in the negative the resolution offered by Dr. Taylor was then submitted to the Board.

The Resolution to remove Dr. Ellinwood from the office of President of Cooper Medical College was adopted - all the Directors voting for it with the exception of Dr. Ellinwood. The Vice President thereupon declared the motion carried.

Dr. Ellinwood thereupon presented the following protest against this action of the Board:

"Director Ellinwood files his protest against this action of the Board as not authorized by the Bylaws and Articles of Corporation" - and the same was ordered spread upon the minutes.


Directors' Meeting, 11 February 1907

Those present were: Vice President Taylor in the chair, Directors Gibbons and Stillman, and Secretary Rixford. Directors Ellinwood and Barkan were absent. [39]

On motions of Director Stillman, the Secretary was directed to communicate to the Faculty at its next meeting the proceedings of the Board of Directors at the meeting held 5 February 1907 as disclosed by the minutes.

On motion by Director Stillman, seconded by Director Gibbons, the committee appointed at the meetings of February 6th 1906 and October 12th 1906 in the matter of the proposed consolidation of Stanford University and Cooper Medical College was discharged and the following committee appointed instead: Vice President Taylor, Directors Gibbons and Stillman, and Drs. Ophüls and Rixford.


Faculty Meeting, 18 February 1907

A Regular Faculty Meeting was convened on 18 February 1907. Those present were Professors Ellinwood (President of the Faculty), Cheney (Secretary of the Faculty), Ophüls, Gibbons, Gardner, Hirschfelder, Rixford, Garrey, Somers, Stillman and Hanson. [40]

A communication was presented by Professor Rixford, Secretary of the Board of Directors, informing the Faculty that Professor Ellinwood was no longer President of the Board of Directors. Professor Ellinwood then read the following communication and asked that it be spread upon the minutes:

"This communication from the Board of Directors of Cooper Medical College just read informed you of my summary removal from the office of President during the term for which I was elected, thus ignoring and in defiance of the Bylaws under which Cooper Medical College is governed.

"The Bylaws provide that the President shall be elected for one year from the time of his election and until his successor shall have been chosen and qualified; thus establishing a definite term of office which cannot be abrogated by the Board, and I am advised that I am now and will remain legally, the President of Cooper Medical College during the remainder of the term for which I was elected; and that Courts of Law, if appealed to, would sustain my position and invalidate the action of the Board in removing me.

"I filed my protest and refused to acquiesce in the unwarranted proceedings of the Board.

"I accept the notice from my confreres in the Board of Directors that my usefulness is at an end, with the best grace I can, considering the way of its presentation.

"My long service and perhaps over zealous devotion to what I thought best for the College, ever remembering the views of Dr. Lane as to his policy and management, have brought me many disappointments and some enemies which I sincerely regret.

"When Dr. Lane asked me to succeed him as President of the College, he expressed his apprehensions that the developing characteristics of the men he has raised and reared in the institution, would divert it from his hopes and aspirations.

"He said, speaking of himself, 'If I live long enough they will put me out of the College and the same fate is in reserve for you.'

"Time, the wisest of things, will reveal to us the wrongs and the rights in the administration of Cooper College.

"My abiding hopes and best of wishes are for the success of our loved Institution.

"Now, asking that this my response to the communication from the Board of Directors be spread upon the Minutes of the Faculty, I respectfully withdraw leaving the matter entirely at your disposition."

Upon the withdrawal of President Ellinwood, Professor Hirschfelder assumed the chair. On motion, it was decided to spread the communication of President Ellinwood upon the Minutes as requested by him.

On motion of Professor Cheney, the action of the Board of Directors in removing Professor C. N. Ellinwood from the Presidency of the Corporation of Cooper Medical College was approved by the Faculty unanimously.

The following resolution was then presented by Professor Stillman and was adopted unanimously.

"Whereas, the Board of Directors of this College has removed Dr. C. N. Ellinwood from the Presidency thereof, and whereas, this Faculty no longer reposes that confidence in said Ellinwood which is conducive to the best interest of said College; and whereas great disharmony has for some time existed and still exists between said Ellinwood and this Faculty; now therefore, be it resolved, that the office of President of this Faculty, now filled by said Ellinwood be, and the same hereby is, declared to be vacant."

On motion of Professor Somers, the following was unanimously adopted: that the Board of Directors of Cooper Medical College be requested to declare vacant the Chair of Physiology at present held by Professor C. N. Ellinwood.

On motion duly made and seconded Professor Gibbons was elected President of the Faculty for the remainder of the College year.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned.


Directors' Meeting, 20 February 1907

The recommendation by the Faculty at its meeting on 18 February 1907 that Dr. Ellinwood be removed from his position as Professor of Physiology was approved by action of the Directors on 20 February 1907 as follows: [41]

To the Directors of Cooper Medical College from the Faculty of the College:

Gentlemen: At a meeting of the Faculty of Cooper Medical College held February 18th, 1907, the following motion was unanimously adopted: That the Board of Directors of Cooper Medical College be requested to declare vacant the Chair of Physiology , at present held by Dr. C. N. Ellinwood.

Signed by the Faculty

Whereupon Director Stillman offered the following resolution which was seconded by Dr. Gibbons and was unanimously adopted:

Resolved that in pursuance of the request of the Faculty, the Chair of Physiology now held by Dr. C.N. Ellinwood be and the same hereby is declared to be vacant.



By the above actions the Board of Directors and the Faculty of Cooper Medical College removed Dr. Charles. N. Ellinwood from the following positions:

  • 5 February 1907: removed as President of Cooper Medical College
  • 18 February 1907: removed as President of the Faculty
  • 20 February 1907: removed as Member of the Faculty.

Dr. Ellinwood continued to hold his position as a Director of Cooper Medical College until the Annual Meeting of the Board of Directors on 12 August 1907 when he was not reelected to the directorate which was reorganized on that date as follows: [42]

Board of Directors
Effective 12 August 1907
  • Edward R. Taylor President
  • Adolph Barkan Vice President
  • Henry Gibbons, Jr. Treasurer
  • Emmet Rixford Secretary
  • Stanley Stillman


San Francisco Newspapers Feature the Ellinwood Affair
20-24 February 1907

The ousting of Ellinwood from the Presidency and Faculty of Cooper Medical College in February 1907 at once became public knowledge, sparking a lengthy and acrimonious exchange of views in the San Francisco newspapers.

One of the first reports of Ellinwood's dismissal was published in The San Francisco Call for 20 February 1907 under the following page-wide headline: [43]

Dr. Ellinwood Charged with Retaining College Funds

Charged with withholding more than $500, 000 in cash and property said to have been intended for the benefit of Cooper Medical College and the Lane Hospital, Dr. C. N. Ellinwood has been deposed as president of the two institutions. The money was left Ellinwood in cash and real estate by Mrs. Lane, widow of the founder of the school and sanatorium, four years ago, the residue of her estate after she had willed one-third of her property, then valued at $600,000, to the twin institutions. The probate laws precluded a larger endowment, and it is claimed that Ellinwood was to be the medium for the transmission of the entire property. This, it is claimed, he has failed to do, and at a stormy meeting of the faculty and trustees, held Monday night, he was deposed and Dr. E. R. Taylor was chosen to fill the place.

Dr. Ellinwood says that his removal was inspired by jealousy on the part of his associates and denies any understanding that the money was left him by Mrs. Lane for the college.

Dr. Henry W. Gibbons, dean of the college, made a reluctant affirmation of the truth of the report last night. "Yes," he said, when seen at his home on Washington street, "the differences over the withholding of the fund received by Dr. Ellinwood from Mrs. Lane's estate had some influence in bringing about his removal. But relations had been strained for some time and the faculty had lost confidence in the doctor. The matters were brought to a climax when he failed to advance funds for the continuance of the Lane Lectures, which he had pronounced failures."

Dr. Rixford, another faculty man, was equally reticent in discussing the case.

It is believed by the faculty of the college that Dr. Lane had intended that his entire estate should go to Cooper College and the hospital which bears his name and which stands on the block bounded by Sacrament, Clay, Webster and Buchanan streets. When Lane retired from the active practice of medicine he had money in the bank and property on Broadway which was unimproved and consequently produced no income. It was his intention to sell the Broadway property and endow the college, but he died before his hope was realized. The estate was bequeathed to his wife, who understood the plans and was devoted to the objects of her husband's benevolence.

Mrs. Lane died suddenly four years ago, leaving the property still unsold. Under the probate laws of California but one-third of an estate can go to charity, so Mrs. Lane left that fraction to the hospital and college and the balance to Dr. C. N. Ellinwood, old-time friend of her husband, who for years had been head of the two institutions. At that time the estate was worth $600,000 and the two-thirds which Ellinwood received in the will as residuary legatee was valued at $400,000. That residue has increased in value to approximately $550, 000, of which sum between $ 90, 000 and $ 100, 000 is money in the bank.

For two years after the death of Mrs. Lane there was harmony in the faculty, Ellinwood, as president, promising continually, it is said, to deliver his share of the endowment to the college. The matter had to be but tacitly understood, for an open avowal of the purpose of the Lane bequest would have meant a violation of the probate law. Two years ago the feeling became dominant among the faculty that their president was too leisurely in fulfilling the implied conditions of his legacy. The welfare of the college was a vivid thing with the physicians and others who had given the best part of their lives to it, and they grew fearful of Ellinwood's procrastination.

The corporation of the college and hospital cannot recover the money said to have been intended for them through any process of law. While the Broadway property had not been sold, it was known that Ellinwood had nearly $180,000 in cash which he could have used in aiding the two institutions. So the storm broke.

Dr. Ellinwood denied positively last night that the bequest he received had been left him with any understanding, direct or implied, that it would afterward be turned over to the college and hospital, but asserted, on the contrary, that Dr. Lane had expressed a fear before his death that he was to be deposed from his position in the college.

"The action in removing me was directly due to my unwillingness to continue the Lane Lecture Course this year." Dr. Ellinwood said, "I have paid $10,000 out of my own personal funds for the keeping up of the Lane Lecture Course since Dr. Lane's death and spent $2,000 on it last year, but owing to the scant and discourteous attention given the course by the faculty and the general lack of interest in it, I determined to omit it during 1907. Nobody had been selected for the course and in my annual report to the college I advised the omission and stated that I intended to endow it permanently to the extent of about $60,000.

Dr. Ellinwood stated that he had also contributed a medical library of 25, 000 volumes to the college and declared that there was at present strife and jealousy among the men who had removed him from the presidency of the two institutions and that they were trying to remove him from the Board of Trustees. According to Ellinwood's assertions, Lane would have endowed the college before his death if he had wished the money to go to it, but instead of this, Ellinwood declares, Dr. Lane told him that the men he had reared and trained in the institution had "developed characteristics which would divert the institution from the purpose for which he had intended it," and who would, if he lived long enough, put Dr. Lane out of the college. Ellinwood explained this, he said, at the meeting at which he was removed from the head of the faculty.

When asked how much the estate was worth, Dr. Ellinwood studied a moment and said he thought it would amount to about $200,000.

The San Francisco Bulletin, also of 20 February 1907, received from Dr. Ellinwood a different version of his removal from the Presidency of Cooper Medical College and its Faculty. [44]

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