The Margaret H. Gardiner Chair of Greek and Sanskrit was endowed at Catholic University in 1905. Since that time it has supported the work of a number of distinguished members of this department's faculty:
- George M. Bolling 1906-1913
- Roy J. Deferrari 1936-1961
- James M. Campbell 1962-1967
- Bernard Peebles 1967-1976
- Thomas P. Halton 1987-2000
- Frank A. C. Mantello 2002-2016
The current Gardiner Chair is Professor William Klingshirn, who was named in 2017.
Margaret Helen Gardiner (ca. 1840-1905) of Bryantown, Charles County, Maryland was the youngest of five children born to Ignatius Francis Gardiner (1779-1841) and his second wife, Catherine Eleanor Gardiner (1799-1864).1 At the time of her birth, her family owned a 522-acre farm in Brandywine, a tobacco-growing region of Prince George's County, purchased by her father in 1835. A house built on the property ca. 1835, the Catherine Gardiner House, is described in the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties as "one of a few remaining I-houses from the first half of the nineteenth century extant in Prince George's County."2 A "small but active commercial port" on the Patuxent river called Magruder's Landing was also located on the property.3 When Catherine Gardiner died in 1865, the farm was left to her three surviving children, Margaret and her sisters Catherine Celeste (d. 1897) and Anna Frances (d. 1901).
Margaret Gardiner died on 24 Feb. 1905 in Baltimore. She was buried in the cemetery of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Bryantown, Maryland.4 At her death Miss Gardiner left an estate valued at between $150,000 and $200,000.5 In a codicil to her will dated Feb. 18, 1905, the Catholic University of America was named residual legatee, to receive the remainder of her estate after all other legacies and expenses had been paid out. When the estate was eventually settled, the University received a little over $100,000.6 The headline in the Washington Post drew attention to the size of the gift: "$100,000 TO UNIVERSITY: Catholic Institution Remembered by Wealthy Baltimore Woman."7
At its meeting of Nov. 8, 1905, the Board of Trustees earmarked the sum of $50,000 for "an endowment of a Professorship, to be known as the Margaret H. Gardiner Chair of Greek and Sanskrit."8 The chair's first incumbent was Dr. George Melville Bolling, associate professor of comparative philology, Greek, and Sanskrit.
1 Gardiner's first wife was Mary D. Hardy (3s Ignatius Francis Gardiner).
2 Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties (PG 87A-014).
3 Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties (PG 87A-016).
4 This cemetery is also the final resting place of Dr. Samuel Mudd, the physician who treated John Wilkes Booth after his assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
5 Washington Evening Star, March 22, 1905, p. 15.
6 Report of the Rector, April 1906, p. 14.
7 Washington Post, Nov. 3, 1906, p. 5.
8 The Catholic University of America, Year-Book 1913-14, p. 51.