Oregon State Agricultural College. Office of the President

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Benjamin Lea Arnold was born October 29, 1839 in Mecklenburg, Virginia. He received his B.S. from Randolph Macon College and taught in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. After serving in the Confederate army under General Robert E. Lee, Arnold taught at colleges in Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia. Benjamin L. Arnold became the second president of the State Agricultural College in 1872 and served in that capacity until his death on January 30, 1892. During his twenty year career, he oversaw major funding and organizational changes to the college, growth of the institution to a dozen faculty members and more than 150 students, and the development of new academic departments including Military Science, Agriculture, and Household Economy and Hygiene.

From the guide to the President’s Office Records of B.L. Arnold, 1888-1892, (Oregon State University Libraries)

John Davidson Letcher, a Virginia native and son of Virginia's Confederate Governor, graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in 1873 with a degree in Civil Engineering. He joined the staff of the State Agricultural College in 1888 with a double appointment as Professor of Mathematics and Engineering and Professor of Military Science and Tactics. Following the death of President B. L. Arnold, Letcher was named Acting President of the college until the appointment of John M. Bloss later that year. In 1894, Letcher took a position as Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oregon. In 1896 he returned to Virginia where he remained until his death in 1938.

From the guide to the President's Office Records of John D. Letcher, 1892, (Oregon State University Libraries)

Thomas Milton Gatch was born in Milford, Ohio in 1833. He earned his A.B. degree in 1855 and his A.M. in 1860, both from Ohio Wesleyan University. Gatch then entered Lane Theological Seminary in Cincinnati. In 1856, he accepted a position at the University of the Pacific at Santa Clara, California. Later, he moved to Salem where he served simultaneously as President of Willamette University and mayor of the city of Salem. In 1887, Gatch became President of the University of Washington where he remained until 1895. From 1897 to 1907, Gatch served as the President of Oregon Agricultural College. During this time, OAC saw major growth including the construction of several new buildings and a sanitation system, the formation of new students groups, the admission of the college's first international students, the development of new curricula, and the creation of the first Branch Experiment Station. Following his retirement from OAC, Gatch returned to Seattle where he died on April 23, 1913 at the age of 81.

From the guide to the President's Office Records of Thomas Gatch, 1897-1907, (Oregon State University Libraries)

John McKnight Bloss was born in 1839 in New Philadelphia, Indiana. After graduating from Hanover College in 1860, he joined the 27th Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment and fought in several battles including the Battle of Antietam. Bloss resigned his commission in 1864 and enrolled in the Ohio Medical College in Cincinnati where he attended school through 1865. Bloss served first as a teacher and then an administrator for a number of public schools in the midwest until, in 1892, he was simultaneously appointed President of the State Agricultural College of Oregon, director of the Experiment Station, and professor of Mental and Moral Science. During his tenure as President, Bloss introduced football to the college, established a school color and mascot, oversaw the construction of several new campus buildings, and established new course offerings including the Farmer's Short Course. Bloss resigned from his post in 1896 as a result of failing health and returned to Hamilton Township in Indiana. There, he established Royerton, the first consolidated school west of the Allegheny Mountains. John M. Bloss died on April 26, 1905.

From the guide to the President's Office Records of John M. Bloss, 1892-1897, (Oregon State University Libraries)

Henry B. Miller was born April 11, 1854 in Sidney, Oregon. After graduating from Toledo High School in 1873, he joined his father's firm of bridge builders and contractors. Beginning in 1879, Miller supervised a Josephine County lumber company, a post he maintained even after being elected to the Oregon Legislature in 1891. In 1896, he left the Rogue River Valley for Corvallis, Oregon where he assumed the position of President of the State Agricultural College of Oregon following the resignation of John M. Bloss. Miller held the position of President for only eleven months before resigning. He went on to head the state board of horticulture, serve as consul-general in China, Japan, and Ireland, and act as Director of extension and publishing programs for the University of Oregon's School of Commerce. Miller retired in 1917 as a result of ill health and died in Portland in 1921.

From the guide to the President's Office Records of H. B. Miller, 1896-1926, 1896-1897, (Oregon State University Libraries)

William Jasper Kerr was born November 17, 1863 in Richmond, Utah. At a young age, Kerr dropped out of school in favor of a position on his father's railroad construction crew. He later returned to school, earning a B.S. in mathematics from the University of Utah in 1885. Following graduation, Kerr accepted a position teaching in Smithfield, Utah. Shortly thereafter, he was promoted to Superintendent of the Smithfield district. Between 1887 and 1894, Kerr taught mathematics at Brigham Young College and the University of Utah. In 1894, Kerr was appointed President of Brigham Young, a position he held until 1900 when he became President of Utah State Agricultural College. In 1907, Kerr resigned his position at Utah and became President of Oregon Agricultural College.

Kerr's presidency at OAC was defined by a period of prolonged and aggressive growth. During his tenure, the college constructed more than twenty buildings, including the Memorial Union, and more than doubled the total size of the campus to 555 acres. He tightened admissions requirements, expanded curricular offerings, and added talented staff to the college's ranks. Kerr resigned from his post in 1932, ending the longest reign of any OSC president.

After leaving the college, Kerr became the first Chancellor of Oregon's system of higher education. He held this position for three years before retiring. William Jasper Kerr died in 1947 at the age of 83.

From the guide to the President's Office Records of William Jasper Kerr, 1907-1964, 1907-1940, (Oregon State University Libraries)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Oregon State University. Office of the President. President's Office photographs, 1923-1998 (bulk 1935-1995). Oregon State University Libraries
creatorOf President's Office Records of H. B. Miller, 1896-1926, 1896-1897 Oregon State University LibrariesSpecial Collections & University Archives Research Center
creatorOf President's Office Records of John D. Letcher, 1892 Oregon State University LibrariesSpecial Collections & University Archives Research Center
creatorOf President's Office Records of Thomas Gatch, 1897-1907 Oregon State University LibrariesSpecial Collections & University Archives Research Center
creatorOf President’s Office Records of B.L. Arnold, 1888-1892 Oregon State University LibrariesSpecial Collections & University Archives Research Center
creatorOf President's Office Records of William Jasper Kerr, 1907-1964, 1907-1940 Oregon State University LibrariesSpecial Collections & University Archives Research Center
creatorOf President's Office Records of John M. Bloss, 1892-1897 Oregon State University LibrariesSpecial Collections & University Archives Research Center
referencedIn President's Office Photographs, 1923-1998, 1935-1995 Oregon State University Libraries University Archives
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Arnold, B. L. (Benjamin Lea), 1839-1892 person
associatedWith Association of American Universities. corporateBody
associatedWith Berchtold, Frederick. person
associatedWith Bloss, John McKnight, 1839- person
associatedWith Corvallis College. corporateBody
associatedWith Gatch, Thomas M. person
associatedWith Kerr, William Jasper, 1863-1947 person
associatedWith Letcher, John D. person
associatedWith Letcher, John D. person
associatedWith Miller, H. B. person
associatedWith Nash, Wallis. person
associatedWith Oregon Agricultural College. corporateBody
associatedWith Oregon State Agricultural College. corporateBody
associatedWith Oregon State Agricultural College. Agricultural Experiment Station. corporateBody
associatedWith Oregon State Agricultural College. Board of Regents. corporateBody
associatedWith Oregon State Agricultural College. Executive Committee. person
associatedWith Oregon State Board of Higher Curricula. corporateBody
associatedWith Oregon State College. Office of the President. corporateBody
associatedWith Oregon State System of Higher Education. corporateBody
associatedWith Oregon State University. Office of the President. corporateBody
associatedWith Quinlan, Dennis P. person
associatedWith Reed, Edwin Thomas, 1872-1948 person
associatedWith United States. Bureau of Education. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Department of Agriculture. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. War Department. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Oregon. corporateBody
associatedWith Weatherford, James K. person
associatedWith World's Columbian Exposition (1893 : Chicago, Ill.) corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Subject
College buildings
College presidents
Universities and colleges
Universities and colleges
Universities and colleges
Universities and colleges
Universities and colleges
Corvallis
Education, Higher
Military
Military education
Oregon
Science
Student Life
Advertising and Marketing
Agriculture
Occupation
Activity

Corporate Body

Active 1923

Active 1998

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