Thomas Sovereign Gates

Last updated
Thomas Sovereign Gates
1st President of the University of Pennsylvania
In office
Preceded by office established
Succeeded by George William McClelland
Personal details
Born March 21, 1873
Died April 8, 1948
Nationality American

Thomas Sovereign Gates (March 21, 1873 – April 8, 1948) was an American investment banker and educator. He was the first president of the University of Pennsylvania from 6 October 1930 until 1944, and was the father of United States Secretary of Defense Thomas S. Gates, Jr.

An investment bank is a financial services company or corporate division that engages in advisory-based financial transactions on behalf of individuals, corporations, and governments. Traditionally associated with corporate finance, such a bank might assist in raising financial capital by underwriting or acting as the client's agent in the issuance of securities. An investment bank may also assist companies involved in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and provide ancillary services such as market making, trading of derivatives and equity securities, and FICC services. Most investment banks maintain prime brokerage and asset management departments in conjunction with their investment research businesses. As an industry, it is broken up into the Bulge Bracket, Middle Market, and boutique market.

University of Pennsylvania Private Ivy League research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania is a private Ivy League research university located in the University City neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Chartered in 1755, Penn is the sixth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States. It is one of the nine colonial colleges founded prior to the Declaration of Independence. Benjamin Franklin, Penn's founder and first president, advocated an educational program that trained leaders in commerce, government, and public service, similar to a modern liberal arts curriculum. The university's coat of arms features a dolphin on its red chief, adopted from Benjamin Franklin's own coat of arms.

United States Secretary of Defense Leader of the United States armed forces following the President

The Secretary of Defense (SecDef) is the leader and chief executive officer of the United States Department of Defense, the executive department of the Armed Forces of the U.S. The Secretary of Defense's position of command and authority over the U.S. military is second only to that of the President and Congress, respectively. This position corresponds to what is generally known as a Defense Minister in many other countries. The Secretary of Defense is appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, and is by custom a member of the Cabinet and by law a member of the National Security Council.


Born in Philadelphia, Gates was a student at Germantown Academy and University of Pennsylvania.

Philadelphia Largest city in Pennsylvania, United States

Philadelphia, sometimes known colloquially as Philly, is the largest city in the U.S. state and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the sixth-most populous U.S. city, with a 2017 census-estimated population of 1,580,863. Since 1854, the city has been coterminous with Philadelphia County, the most populous county in Pennsylvania and the urban core of the eighth-largest U.S. metropolitan statistical area, with over 6 million residents as of 2017. Philadelphia is also the economic and cultural anchor of the greater Delaware Valley, located along the lower Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers, within the Northeast megalopolis. The Delaware Valley's population of 7.2 million ranks it as the eighth-largest combined statistical area in the United States.

Germantown Academy

Germantown Academy, informally known as GA and originally known as the Union School, is the oldest nonsectarian day school in the United States. The school was founded on December 6, 1759, by a group of prominent Germantown citizens in the Green Tree Tavern on the Germantown Road. Germantown Academy enrolls students from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade and is located in the Philadelphia suburb of Fort Washington, having moved from its original Germantown campus in 1965. The original campus is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The school shares the oldest continuous high school football rivalry with the William Penn Charter School. The academy recently completed the first two phases of a campus rebuilding plan.

He went into banking and eventually served as a director of several companies, including the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Fidelity-Philadelphia Trust Company, the Baldwin Locomotive Company, and more. [1]

Pennsylvania Railroad former American Class I railroad

The Pennsylvania Railroad was an American Class I railroad that was established in 1846 and was headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was so named because it was established in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Fidelity Trust Company

Fidelity Trust Company was a bank in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1866 as Fidelity Insurance, Trust, & Safe Deposit Company, the bank was later renamed Fidelity Trust Company, Fidelity-Philadelphia Trust Company, The Fidelity Bank, and Fidelity Bank, National Association. It was absorbed in 1988 in the biggest U.S. bank merger up to that point, and is today part of Wells Fargo.

Before his election as university president, Gates had served for ten years as a Trustee of the University and as Chairman of the University of Pennsylvania Fund. Gates was heavily involved in plans for the development of the new Valley Forge campus for the University; however, the idea was eventually dropped in favor of expanding Penn's West Philadelphia campus, not before currying strong support. [2] He worked to fund and create a number of other facilities throughout the university. [2] Gates also worked on major fundraising efforts with a campaign known as the Bicentennial Fund, after the University's 1940 bicentennial, which aimed to raise $12.5 million. [2]

Gates seemed to have partially foreseen America's involvement in the Second World War when creating a position of University Committee on National Defense and started a defense training program within the university's engineering school. [2] Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor Gates oversaw the use of the university campus as a training ground for American troops. He also worked to create a committee to oversee an overhaul of part-time courses and women's education systems. [2] He worked to establish a College for Women by 1 July 1933 that would have the same curriculum as the current colleges. He created the Institute of State and Local Government in 1937, and the Fels Institute of the Wharton School in March of that year.

Attack on Pearl Harbor Surprise attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy on the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor in Hawaii

The Attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Territory, on the morning of December 7, 1941. The attack, also known as the Battle of Pearl Harbor, led to the United States' formal entry into World War II. The Japanese military leadership referred to the attack as the Hawaii Operation and Operation AI, and as Operation Z during its planning.


  1. Baltzell, E. Digby (1989). Philadelphia Gentlemen: The Making of a National Upper Class. Glencoe, Illinois: Free Press. p. 440. ISBN   9781412830751.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 University Archives and Records Center University of Pennsylvania Thomas Sovereign Gates retrieved on 29 April 2007
Academic offices
Preceded by
President of the University of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by
George William McClelland

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