Albert Harkness (1822-1907), professor of Greek languages and literature, was born in Mendon, Massachusetts, on October 6, 1822. His early education took place at Uxbridge High School, Worcester Academy, and also at home under the direction of a minister. He graduated from Brown in 1842, the valedictorian of his class. He taught in the Providence High School for ten years, serving as principal for eight of those years. From 1853 to 1855 he was in Germany, studying in Berlin, Bonn, and Göttingen. His Ph.D. degree was earned in Bonn in 1854. From 1855 until his retirement in 1892 he was Professor of Greek at Brown. He travelled to Europe again in 1870-71 and 1883-84 during leaves of absence. He was a founder and president of the American Philological Association and a founder of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens. He published A First Greek Book in 1860. He taught Greek at Brown, but maintained his early devotion to Latin and published fourteen Latin textbooks between 1851 and 1905. At his death on May 27, 1907, the Brown Alumni Monthly printed these lines about him:
"Professor Harkness was a drill-master of the old school, insistent in accuracy of form and statement, impatient of slovenly preparation or recital. With a pellucid mind himself it sometimes seemed difficult for him to comprehend at the full the difficulties surrounding the undergraduate mind; yet there was never a member of the university faculty more modest in the expression of his own views, more amiable in the face of intellectual challenge of an inferior, more kindly disposed toward anyone, whether student or not, in the time of trouble.A bronze bust of Harkness modeled by William Manatt of Providence six months before Harkness’s death was given to Brown by his widow in 1909.
"If the typical scholar be, in outward appearance, stern and unbending, Professor Harkness did not conform to the conventional ideal. His brow was clear, and a cheerful light habitually lurked within his penetrating eye. He was neither domineering nor obtrusive; conscious, no doubt of his sure footing in the classics, he was the reverse of voluble; though on appropriate occasions he could maintain his opinions with equal force and firmness, and in formal address he possessed the happy faculty of combining academic tradition with modern frankness of presentation."