Presidents of Oregon State University
1865-1999 ( inclusive )
1910-1970 ( bulk )
0.5 cubic foot, including 300 prints, 7 film
negatives, 6 slides, and 1 oil painting (4 boxes, include 3 oversize boxes)
The Presidents of Oregon State University
Photographic Collection consists of images of Oregon State University
presidents from W. A. Finley through Paul Risser from a variety of sources and
in various formats, primarily b/w prints. The collection includes multiple
images for William Jasper Kerr, George W. Peavy, August L. Strand, and James H.
Funding for encoding this
finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for
Since its designation as a land-grant institution of higher learning in
1868, Oregon State University has had 19 presidents, including 5 acting (or
interim) presidents. They have been William A. Finley, 1865-1872 (Finley was
appointed president of the university's predecessor institution, Corvallis
Academy, in 1865); Joseph Emery, acting, 1872; Benjamin L. Arnold, 1872-1892;
John D. Letcher, acting, 1892; John M. Bloss, 1892-1896; H. B. Miller,
1896-1897; Thomas M. Gatch, 1897-1907; William Jasper Kerr, 1907- 1932; George
W. Peavy, acting, 1932-1934, president, 1934-1940; Frank L. Ballard, 1940-1941;
Francois A. Gilfillan, acting, 1941- 1942; August L. Strand, 1942-1961; James
H. Jensen, 1961-1969; Roy A. Young, acting, 1969-1970; Robert W. MacVicar,
1970-1984; John V. Byrne, 1984-1995; Paul G. Risser, 1996-2002; Timothy P.
White, interim, 2002-2003; and Edward J. Ray, 2003-.
The president is the chief executive officer of the university. From
1868 to 1929 the president reported to the college's Board of Trustees/Regents.
Since the creation of the Oregon University System (formerly the Oregon State
System of Higher Education) in 1929, the president has reported to the System's
The Presidents of Oregon State University Photographic Collection
consists of images of most of OSU's presidents and acting presidents. The
majority of the images are black and white prints. Several images have multiple
prints. A few of the 19th century portraits are albumen prints, and others are
copies. The collection also includes 5 camera negatives, 6 color slides, and an
oil painting; these are indicated in the detailed description of the
Use of the Collection
Restrictions on Access :
Collection is open for research.
Preferred Citation :
Presidents of Oregon State University Photographic Collection (P 1),
Oregon State University Archives, Corvallis, Oregon.
The photographs are arranged in 17 series, primarily by president: I.
William A. Finley; II. Benjamin Lee Arnold; III. John M. Bloss; IV. H.B.
Miller; V. Thomas M. Gatch; VI. William Jasper Kerr; VII. George W. Peavy;
VIII. Frank Llewellyn Ballard; IX. A.L. Strand; X. James H. Jensen; XI. John D.
Letcher; XII. Francois A. Gilfillan; XIII. Multiple Presidents; XIV. Robert W.
MacVicar; XV. John V. Byrne; XVI. Paul Gillan Risser; and XVII. Roy A.
All images have been assigned individual numbers
Future Additions :
Additions to the collection are expected.
Related Materials :
Other photographic collections containing substantial numbers of
presidential photos include Harriet's Collection and the Alumni Association (P
17), Historical (P 25), Faculty and Staff (P 46), News and Communication
Services (P 57), Gwil Evans (P 82), President's Office (P 92), Robert W.
Henderson (P 98), and Agricultural Communications (P 120) Photographic
Albumen prints of early 1890s protraits of John M. Bloss and John D.
Letcher are available in the Emile Pernot Photographs (P 230).
Detailed Description of the Collection
Series I: William A. Finley, circa 1865-1870
W.A. Finley served as the first President of Corvallis College
from 1865 until 1872. He was appointed in 1865 as President of the University's
predecessor institution, Corvallis College, by the Methodist Episcopal Church
South and was president at the time the College was chosen as the agricultural
college for Oregon under the provisions of the 1862 Morrill Act.
Benjamin Lee Arnold was named president by the bishops of the
Methodist Episcopal Church South in the summer of 1872 and arrived in Corvallis
in September. Arnold continued as president until his death on January 30,
1892, at the age of 52.
Gatch was appointed as president of Oregon Agricultural College
because of his vast experience in higher education, having previously presided
over Willamette University (1860-1865 and 1870-1880) and the University of
Washington (1887-1895). He retired from the OAC presidency in July 1907 (at the
age of 74), but remained at the College as Professor of Political and Mental
Science until the end of 1907.
William Jasper Kerr was chosen as President of Oregon
Agricultural College in 1907 and lead the College through a 25-year period of
tremendous growth in numbers of students and faculty, academic and research
programs, and physical facilities. Kerr's influence on Oregon higher education
continued as he served as the first Chancellor of the Oregon State System of
Higher Education from 1932 until his retirement in 1935.
Steffins was a speaker at the College Convocation on October
22, 1913; photograph published in 1915
Orange, p. 129 and in the 1969
Beaver, p. 60. The original
print is at
P001:040-P001:043: Portraits, circa 1930
7 prints and 1 copy negative
By Harris and Ewing, Washington,
By Harris and Ewing, Washington,
By Bushnell (Frank?), Portland.
P001:044: Seated portrait, 1930
By Harris and Ewing.
P001:045-P001:046: Portraits, 1930
By Harris and Ewing
P001:047-P001:049: Portraits, circa 1934
5 prints and 1 copy negative
P001:050-P001:054: Portraits, circa 1926
By Ball Studio.
By Steffens-Colmer Studio.
By Steffens-Colmer Studio.
By Ball Studio.
P001:108: William Jasper Kerr and
family, circa 1920
Standing (l to r): Ralph Reynolds, Vesta Kerr Reynolds,
Horace Kerr, Adma Green Kerr, Lynette Kerr McGinnis, Genieve Kerr Henry. Seated
(l to r): Leona Kerr Shinn, Leonora Deseret Hamilton Kerr, Robert Marion Kerr,
William Jasper Kerr.
George Peavy, Dean of Forestry, was appointed Acting President
of Oregon State College in 1932 when President Kerr was chosen as the first
Chancellor of the Oregon State System of Higher Education. In January 1934 he
was designated President of the College and also continued as Dean of Forestry,
positions he held until his retirement in 1940.
P001:055: Portrait, circa 1925
By Ball Studio.
P001:056: Seated in Library's McDonald
P001:057: Portrait, 1938
P001:058: Holiday greetings
P001:059-P001:061: At Peavy
4x5 negatives and 7 prints
2 4x5 negatives and 2 prints
P001:062: With students
outdoors, circa 1955
Color reproduction of a painting by Fred Ludekens. The
painting of Peavy with a group of students, made posthumously by the
Weyerhauser Timber Company, was used extensively in advertisements in trade
journals and the popular press, including
The Saturday Evening Post.
Series VIII: Frank Llewellyn
Ballard, circa 1940-1950
After a distinguished career with the Oregon State College
Extension Service, Ballard was appointed president in 1940. He served less than
a year because of illness and returned to the Extension Service administration.
Ballard was the first OSC alumnus to serve as president.
A.L. Strand was appointed President of Oregon State College in
the fall of 1942 and led the College through World War II and the post- war
period of extensive growth in students and facilities until his retirement in
P001:070-P001:071: Portraits, 1947
P001:072: Seated at table smoking a
By Robert W. Henderson.
P001:073: Making speech (at Bell
Field?), circa 1945
P001:074-P001:075: Portraits, circa 1950
P001:077-P001:078: In cap and gown, circa 1950
By Howells Studio, Corvallis.
P001:079: Portrait, 1961
P001:080: Machine show, looking at GE
airplane engine, 1951
P001:081 and P001:083: Seated at desk, circa 1945
4x5 negative and 2 prints
P001:083: Cropped version of
P001:082: Seated at desk (copy of
drawing by Ralph Iligan), undated
An internationally respected scientist, educator, and
administrator, Jensen served as Oregon State University president from 1961
until 1969 and led the institution's first steps toward becoming a University
in fact as well as name by expanding degree programs in the liberal arts as
well as scientific research programs.
Senior Professor John D. Letcher was chosen unanimously by the
Board of Regents as the acting president after B.L. Arnold's sudden death in
January 1892. According to their report, he was "better acquainted with the
duties of the president and the working of the college than any other man
living". He held the position in addition to his teaching duties for 4 months
until the arrival of John McKnight Bloss in early June.
P001:099: Modern print of published
portrait, circa 1892
See also P077:036.
P001:111: Painting, 1931
apx 25x30 in.
Painting by W. Maurice Ball of John D. Letcher made in 1931
from a photograph provided to Oregon Agricultural College by Letcher. The
original photograph was made during the time that Letcher was affiliated with
F.A. Gilfillan was officially appointed as Acting President of
Oregon State College in September 1941 after the resignation of President
Ballard. However he had been serving as chair of the Administrative Council and
carrying out the president's campus duties since October 1940. He lead the
University through the uncertain months of the beginning of World War II until
A.L. Strand's arrival in October 1942.
Series XIV: Robert W. MacVicar, 1942 and early 1970s
MacVicar came to Oregon State University in 1970 from Southern
Illinois University, where he had been a vice president and chancellor since
1964. President MacVicar was a staunch proponent of the land-grant university
concept and built close ties during his years as president between OSU and the
people of Oregon. He retired in 1984.
P001:102: 2nd Lt. Sanitary Corps, U.S.
P001:104: OSU's champion hog caller; on
Eastern Oregon tour (?), circa early 1970s
Young, Professor of Plant Pathology, was appointed in 1966 as
the University's first Dean of Research with responsibility for campus-wide
research coordination. He served as Acting President for one year until the
arrival of MacVicar in July 1970, when he resumed responsibility for research
coordination as Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, a position he
held until 1976.