Skip to Content - Skip to Navigation

Brief History of Presidential Leadership at IUP

Meet some of the visionaries of IUP's past. In celebration of the Presidential Inauguration of Michael A. Driscoll on April 26, 2013, Charles Cashdollar, professor emeritus of history, has written this wonderful historical overview of the university's leadership. Portraits are courtesy of Harrison Wick, IUP Special Collections librarian and university archivist.

Founded in High Aspiration

The selection of Edmund Burke Fairfield (1875–76) as Indiana’s first principal indicated the founders’ high aspirations. A well-known educator, theologian, and abolitionist, Fairfield brought a résumé that included 21 years as a college president and one term as lieutenant governor of Michigan. Although his tenure was brief, he gave the institution immediate credibility.

With the exception of Leonard H. Durling (1881-89), none of the other early principals—David M. Sensenig (1876–78), John H. French (1878–81), Zachariah Xenophon Snyder (1889–91), and Charles W. Deane (1892–93)—stayed more than three years.

Crucial Consistency in Early Leadership

Jane Leonard - past presidentsThe most consistent leadership during Indiana Normal School’s first decades came from Jane E. Leonard (photo at left), preceptress and professor of history, geography, and literature.

Assessing the eminence that the school had attained by its 40th anniversary in 1915, the trustees proclaimed her “the guiding spirit that animated and made possible this success.” At her death in 1924, Leonard was hailed across the state as “the greatest woman educator Pennsylvania ever had.”

Significant early leadership also came from the trustees, who as investors were involved in day-to-day financial operations. Rightfully, Indiana’s first four buildings were named for Leonard and for trustee presidents John Sutton, Silas Clark, and A. W. Wilson.

David Waller - past presidentsThe first of Indiana’s great executive leaders was David J. Waller (1893–1906; photo at right). During his tenure, the second longest in school history, Indiana increased enrollment by nearly 60 percent, constructed four major buildings, developed competitive athletic programs, lengthened its curriculum to three years, and established a music conservatory led by Hamlin Cogswell.

Under James E. Ament (1906–17), the fine arts continued to flourish, and the school’s elegant Art Nouveau catalogs evidenced not only Ament’s own artistic flair, but the presence of a strong art program led by Jean McElhaney. Ament, a talented architect in his own right, designed extensions to Sutton Hall and added the ambulatories and classical features to the Blue Room.

Conversion to a State Teachers College and Weathering National Challenges

John Keith - past presidentsJohn A. H. Keith (1917–27, photo at left) oversaw the purchase of the school by the state and prepared for its conversion from a normal school to state teachers college.

In 1927, Keith resigned to accompany Indiana alumnus, trustee, and newly elected governor John S. Fisher to Harrisburg as the superintendent of Public Instruction.

Charles Foster - past presidentsCharles R. Foster (1927–36, photo at right), the first to be accorded the title “president,” was especially student oriented, and the first student government organization and the Student Cooperative Association were formed. Also, Indiana granted its first four-year college degrees and opened two new buildings—Waller Gymnasium and McElhaney Hall, which housed art, business, and home economics.

Both Foster and his successor, Samuel Fausold (1936–39), struggled with the economic exigencies of the Great Depression. Fausold, despite severely troubled health, oversaw the construction of Keith Laboratory School and Fisher Auditorium.

Leroy A. King (1939–42), whose presidency was cut short by a fatal heart attack, strengthened academic work and the library to gain Middle States accreditation. Joseph M. Uhler (1942–47) provided calm, steady leadership that enabled the college to weather a 45 percent enrollment drop brought on by World War II. He was setting plans for postwar expansion when his presidency also was ended by a fatal heart attack.

Transformation and Growth: Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Willis Pratt - past presidentsThe presidency of Willis E. Pratt (1948–68, photo at left) was not only the longest in the institution’s history, but the most transformative. Enrollment expanded nearly sixfold, and a graduate school and two-dozen buildings were added as Indiana emerged from teachers college to state college to university status.

William Woods Hassler (1969–75) expected to devote his attention to academic quality, but found himself coping with austere state budgets and turbulent campus life; a significant achievement was the creation of the University Senate. Robert C. Wilburn (1975–79) calmed campus tensions, made the decision to save and restore the original sections of John Sutton Hall, and encouraged community involvement.

John E. Worthen (1979–84) pushed the institution to achieve the full potential of its university status by encouraging external fund-raising, graduate programs, and research, a commitment marked by funding of faculty research grants and the opening of Stapleton Library in 1981.

Lawrence Pettit - History of Past PresidentsDuring the presidency of John D. Welty (1985–91), the university conducted its first multipurpose capital campaign and focused on teaching and learning with a Liberal Studies revision, Teaching Excellence Center, and diversity initiatives.

The presidency of Lawrence K. Pettit (1992–2003; photo at right), the third longest in Indiana’s history, saw increased state support for doctoral programs, founding of the nationally recognized Robert E. Cook Honors College, a sevenfold increase in the endowment, acquisition of South Campus, and erection of a presidential home, which had been noted as an “urgent need” since at least the 1930s.

Driscoll - History of PresidentsDerek J. Hodgson (2003-4) recognized that the campus residence halls had become obsolete. During the presidency of Tony Atwater (2005–10), a major Residential Revival went forward, as did work on the Performing Arts Center and the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex. David Werner then held a two-year interim presidency.

Michael A. Driscoll (photo at left) began his term as the 26th president of IUP on July 1, 2012.

  • President’s Office
  • Sutton Hall, Room 201
    1011 South Drive
    Indiana, PA 15705
  • Phone: 724-357-2232
  • Office of University Events: 724-357-2145
  • Fax: 724-357-3060
  • Office Hours
  • Monday through Friday
  • 8:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
  • 1:00 p.m.–4:30 p.m.