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was the founding president of the University of California
The University of California is a public university system in the U.S. state of California. Under the California Master Plan for Higher Education, the University of California is a part of the state's three-tier public higher education system, which also includes the California State University...
Graduate of Yale College. Trained at Phillips Academy
Phillips Academy is a selective, co-educational independent boarding high school for boarding and day students in grades 9–12, along with a post-graduate year...
, Andover, and the Andover Theological Seminary, he founded the Contra Costa Academy, later chartered as the College of California
The College of California was the predecessor of the University of California system of public universities. The private college was founded in 1855 by noted educator Dr. Samuel H. Willey...
after leaving his position as headmaster of the Dummer Academy (today known as The Governor's Academy
The Governor's Academy is an independent school located on in the village of Byfield, Massachusetts, United States ; north of Boston. The Academy enrolls approximately 385 students in grades nine through twelve, 70% of whom are boarders...
) in Byfield, Mass. The college later disincorporated and merged with the state of California's Agricultural, Mining, and Mechanical Arts College to create the University of California in 1868 (now the Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley , is a teaching and research university established in 1868 and located in Berkeley, California, USA...
campus of the UC system). Durant was elected the first president of the University on August 16, 1870 and resigned only two years later in order to relinquish the position to a younger man (Daniel Coit Gilman
Daniel Coit Gilman was an American educator and academician, who was instrumental in founding the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale College, and who subsequently served as one of the earliest presidents of the University of California, the first president of Johns Hopkins University, and as...
). Old age did not keep Durant from being elected the 16th mayor of Oakland
, although he only served for three years before dying in office, on January 22, 1875.