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No Finer Site

VI. The Presidents, 1895 - 1913

When President Charles W. Eliot of Harvard was a visitor to the university, he asked Professor Johnson what chair he occupied.

"I don't know what chair you would call it, Mr. President. I teach zoology, botany, physiology, physics, astronomy and---"

"Oh, yes, I see. I see. You don't occupy a chair. You occupy a settee."

-- Clarence Bagley - History of Seattle, vol.1, p.154


The President's office in Denny Hall (UW 6843)

UW Presidents, 1895-1902

In 1895 UW moved to its new campus and welcomed a new president, Mark Walrod Harrington, the first director of the U. S. Weather Bureau. Harrington's term as president was short, from August 26, 1895 to April l, 1897. Harrington nonetheless strengthened the University academically through faculty recruitment, limiting non-collegiate enrollment, and building the library. Older faculty were somewhat uneasy about the newcomers to their ranks, many of whom had stronger academic credentials and were from the East or Midwest. With Harrington's resignation, the Regents appointed Professor William Franklin Edwards as acting president. Edwards had joined the faculty in 1895. He served only six months, his term marked with altercations with the faculty and Regents. Charles Francis Reeves, Professor of German, was appointed acting president in October and served until August 1898 when Franklin P. Graves became President.

Frank Pierrepont Graves

After a period of internal strife and two acting presidents the campus community welcomed the arrival of President Graves in 1898. Graves served until June 1902 during a period of rapid growth and change. The Law School was established by the Regents in May 1899 and John T. Condon appointed Dean, a position he continued in until his death on January 5, 1926. The Law School initially occupied space in the old University building in downtown Seattle. Graves made a number of other notable faculty appointments: Thomas Kane in Latin, Frederick Padelford in English, Milnor Roberts in Mining, and Charles C. More in Civil Engineering; he promoted Trevor Kincaid, Biology, from Instructor to Assistant Professor. There was a marked increase in scholarly research and publication, and the Graduate School was established during the 1899-1900 academic year. The preparatory school was reopened temporarily from 1900 to 1902 since there were only nine high schools in the state with college preparatory courses. The pharmacy school was reopened and the College of Mines became a department of the College of Engineering. Graves obtained the largest appropriations for the University in its history and capital funding for two dormitories, a new science hall (Parrington), and a power plant. In the seven years since the move to the new campus, the faculty and student body had almost doubled to 37 faculty and 601 students in 1901-02.


University of Washington Faculty, 1901. President Franklin Pierrepont Graves is in the center of the front row. (UW 6340)

"My main reason for desiring a married man only, is that we are already overrun with bachelors. We have some twelve unmarried men on the faculty, two women professors, and one widower. This leaves very few homes open to the students, and shifts the burden of entertaining upon a few professors, some of whom are the least able to indulge in this pleasant sort of hospitality. Yet, it is quite necessary that our students should become acquainted with good homes and should learn the usages of the best society.

"I wish to keep far away from the Young Ladies' Boarding School ideal, but I think that a social training is a very substantial part of a college education. It is absolutely necessary, therefore, for awhile, to insist that the new members of the faculty shall be married men."

-- UW President Frank Graves, in letters to Horace Byers and A. N. Taylor, 1899

Thomas Franklin Kane, UW President, 1902-1913

Thomas Franklin Kane, who had been appointed professor of Latin in 1900, was appointed acting president in June 1902; a year later his appointment was made permanent. Kane led the University during a period of rapid growth. Enrollment in 1901-02 was 60l. In 1913-14, Kane's last year as president, there were 2,810 students, with 667 students enrolled in the 1913 summer session. Subtracting summer students attending during the regular year, total enrollment for the year was 3,340.

Kane vigorously recruited new faculty. Most of the new appointees had Ph.D degrees and many would have significant impacts on the academic development of the University. Charles Gates, in his First Century of the University of Washington, states, "Considering the number of persons appointed and the relative increase of staff which was thus brought about, we may well believe that the resulting impact of new faculty on the University was greater than at any other time in its history except for the years of expansion following World War II."

With the growth of the faculty came more specialized courses and new programs such as Forestry, Home Economics, Library Economy, Oriental History, and Scandinavian Languages and Literature. Education again became a college. The Puget Sound Marine Station was established at Friday Harbor. A summer school was organized in 1903 and an Extension Division established in 1912.


President Kane's Dismissal


Discontent among students, faculty, and regents over President Kane's performance led to his dismissal by the Board of Regents at its December 1913 meeting, and to Governor Lister's request for the resignation of several of the regents. Kane's handling of several incidents in 1912 tarnished his reputation and he was perceived by some of his critics as ineffectual. Among these incidents were student reaction to the Regents' acceptance of some chimes for the campus, a ban on political speakers on campus, and the feeling on the part of some faculty that Kane was insensitive to the needs of campus scientists. Although assessments of Kane's performance vary, in 1970 the Regents named a major lecture hall Kane Hall in recognition of his "outstanding contributions to the University during the tenure as President." The Regents appointed Henry Landes as acting president and on May 18, 1915, they elected Henry Suzzallo as the new president. The first two decades on the new campus had seen the University grow from a small college to a true university. With Suzzallo's appointment the University entered a new stage of its development and growth.

Blethen Chimes

In December 1911, Regent John A. Rea asked A. J. Blethen, publisher of the Seattle Times and a former regent, to donate a set of chimes to the University. Blethen offered the chimes and the Board of Regents accepted. On October 21, 1912, there was to be a public ceremony of acceptance. President Kane learned that the student newspaper, The Daily, was to publish a petition denouncing the chimes acceptance. Kane called The Daily editor and asked that the petition be deleted. The editor refused and Kane stopped the presses. The students went to a commercial printer and distributed the leaflet (shown above) on campus, including to those exiting the auditorium where the ceremony of acceptance was held. Although a faculty panel charged with investigating the incident recommended disciplinary action against the students, the full faculty tabled such action, and the Regents failed to pass a resolution insisting upon it. Blethen offered to take the chimes back, but the Regents refused. The chimes were placed in a tower located north of Denny near NE 45th Street, where they remained until they were destroyed by a fire in 1949.


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Last modified: Tuesday November 25, 2008