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Fast Facts
Presidents of Purdue University

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Richard Owen, President

Owen became the first president of Purdue at a time when there were no buildings, faculty, or students. He guided the Morrill Act idea of an “Indiana Agricultural College” into reality. He resigned the day before the first class met.

Abraham C. Shortridge, President

Shortridge was in charge when Purdue matriculated its first students in September 1874. Thirty-nine applicants were admitted, some conditionally. Women were enrolled for the first time the following fall. Shortridge’s administration lasted just 18 months due to his failing health.

John Hougham, Acting President

Professor Hougham was Purdue’s first faculty member and served as a campus “handyman” for the trustees who appointed him acting president between the administrations of presidents Shortridge and White. He resigned not long after White was appointed.

Emerson E. White, President

Under White’s leadership, Purdue was set firmly on its course of emphasis on agricultural and “mechanical arts” as mandated by the Morrill Act. White also is remembered for his failed attempt to ban fraternities on campus, which led to his resignation in 1883.

James H. Smart, President

Smart was known as “the engineers’ President.” The schools of civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering as well as the school of pharmacy and pharmacal sciences were established during his tenure. During Smart’s administration, “old gold and black” were established as the school colors.

Winthrop E. Stone, President

Purdue’s first vice president, Stone became president upon the death of James Smart. He appointed Purdue’s first dean of women, Carolyn E. Shoemaker, in 1913. The schools of agriculture and engineering grew rapidly during Stone’s tenure, which ended tragically when he was killed in a mountain-climbing accident.

Henry W. Marshall, Acting President

Publisher of the Lafayette Journal and Courier and a member of the Board of Trustees, Marshall was elected acting president of the University following President Stone’s death.

Edward C. Elliott, President

Elliott was responsible for a major building program that saw construction of Ross-Ade Stadium, the Memorial Union, and development of the Purdue University Airport. During his tenure, the Graduate School, the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and the Purdue Research Foundation were established. Elliott recruited top names to Purdue, including Amelia Earhart as a woman’s counselor.

Andrey A. Potter, Acting President

Purdue's dean of engineering from 1921 to 1953, Potter was considered the “dean of deans” of American engineering education.

Frederick L. Hovde, President

Hovde presided over the University’s greatest period of growth, leading to its emergence as a top research university. During his tenure, Purdue saw its greatest enrollment growth, from 5,628 to 25,582 students, its annual budget increased from $12.7 million to $136 million, and the schools of industrial engineering, materials engineering, technology, and veterinary medicine were established.

Arthur G. Hansen, President
The first Purdue president who was also an alumnus, Hansen’s administration saw enrollment increase to more than 32,000 and new buildings were constructed for agriculture, psychology, life sciences, and athletics. He supported the establishment of Purdue’s first Black Cultural Center.

John W. Hicks, Acting Presiden
A professor of agricultural economics, Hicks served as Hovde’s executive assistant and the University’s lobbyist in the Indiana General Assembly after 1955. He also served as executive assistant to presidents Hansen and Beering and retired in 1987 as senior vice president.

Steven C. Beering, President

Beering’s tenure was marked by sustained growth in academics, facilities, and private support. Enrollment and scholarship set records. More than 20 new buildings were constructed on the West Lafayette campus and 13 others were expanded or renovated. He fostered efforts to make Purdue an international university. His name appears on the diplomas of more than half of the University’s living alumni.

Martin C. Jischke, President

Under Jischke’s leadership, Purdue University completed a strategic plan, which was approved by the Board of Trustees in 2001. This plan calls for data-driven decision-making with several data points for comparison with peer institutions. He has announced that Discovery Park, a research and entrepreneurial cluster, will be built on the south edge of campus. The President continues to build alumni and donor support and create a number of educational partnerships within the state of Indiana, working cooperatively with state government to achieve better education for Indiana citizens as one of his highest priorities.


Source: Office of Institutional Research

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