University Presidents

A biographical guide the principals and presidents of Eastern Michigan University (previously named the Michigan State Normal School, Michigan State Normal College, and Eastern Michigan College)

About this Guide

The University Archives is responsible for the research behind these biographical sketches. If you feel that any of the information listed in this guide is incorrect, or that there is information missing, please contact the University Archives.             

Leadership and Governance at EMU

In 1849 when Act No. 138, entitled "An Act to Establish a State Normal School," was passed it was placed under the authority of the Board of Education. This board was to consist of three members, with a term of three years, and two ex-officio members--the Lieutenant Governor and the Superintendent of Public Instruction. By 1850 this was changed to three elected members for six-year terms and one ex-officio member-Superintendent of Public Instruction who would also serve as secretary. The powers of the Board included the annual election of a president, the appointment of a principal, assistant, and teachers; prescribe the textbooks and make all regulations and bylaws necessary "for the good government and management of said school."

The first Board of Education and Superintendent Francis Shearman selected Ypsilanti as the site of the normal school, and in 1852 a new set of Board members selected the first faculty and staff positions. They included Adonijah Strong Welch, Principal and Professor of Greek and Latin Languages; Abigail C. Rogers, Preceptress and Teacher of Botany and Belles-Lettres; Orson Jackson, Professor on Intellectual Philosophy; J.M.B. Sill, Teacher of English Grammar and Elocution. Four other positions were created but not filled.

In 1897, under the leadership of principal Richard Gause Boone, the Michigan State Normal School became a four-year college and was recognized as such by the State Legislature in 1897, who authorized a change of name from 'School' to 'College.' Richard Gause Boone became the first President of the school when its name changed to Michigan State Normal College.

In 1902, the Legislature created the Normal Executive Council which was composed of the president of the Michigan State Normal College (MSNC) and the principals of the other State Normals. It was to be presided over by the president of the MSNC and was to meet at least once each quarter. This structure continued until, under the new State Constitution of 1963, effective January 1, 1964, when each school was provided with its own board of control.

Under Michigan's 1964 state constitution, Eastern Michigan University is governed by an eight-member Board of Regents. The Regents are appointed by the governor, "with the advice and consent of the Senate", and serve eight-year terms. The Regents, in turn, elect the president of the University.

Institutional Name Changes

1849-1898-- Michigan State Normal School

1899-1955-- Michigan State Normal College

1956-1959-- Eastern Michigan College

1959-Present-- Eastern Michigan University