Paul Ansel Chadbourne served as the second president of the Massachusetts Agricultural College. With Levi Stockbridge and Henry Goodell, he has the distinction of having been named president twice.
Chadbourne was born in North Berwick, Maine. After graduating from Williams College and teaching for several years, he joined the faculty of Williams College as professor of chemistry, botany, and natural history in 1883. Interested in politics, Chadbourne served in the Massachusetts Senate in 1865 as a member of the new Republican Party. He was appointed to the state Board of Agriculture, where he met several of the founders of the college.
His first term began in 1866, with a vigorous push for the construction of buildings for the campus, including South College and College Hall. Chadbourne's term also saw the development of the college's first curriculum. But he resigned due to ill health before the college opened to admit its first class of students.
He later accepted the position of President and Professor of Metaphysics at the University of Wisconsin at Madison from 1867 to 1870. Two years later he returned to Williams College to assume the duties of president there until 1881.
Chadbourne returned to the Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1882, 15 years after the conclusion of his first term. In his second term, he advocated for financial support for poor students and additional funding for expansion of the campus and the faculty. He also reformed the curriculum, offering two broad courses of study, one "agricultural and scientific" and the other "scientific and literary." Chadbourne intended to close the gap between the agricultural college and the more established liberal arts colleges. The new curriculum he planned had not yet come into effect by the time of his death in 1883.