The OU Presidents: Biography in short


Original list created from B. Smith Haworth’s OU: Its history and its spirit.          

                                           THE OTTAWA UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT BIOGRAPHY


Isaac S. Kalloch – ( Ottawa 1866-1868) was one of the founding fathers of Ottawa, Kansas. He was the first president of Ottawa University. He was given almost unlimited authority to run the school. The first building on campus was begun in 1866 but due to financial problems wasn’t completed until 1869. Originally called the University building it has also been known as Science Hall, Old Science Hall, and now Tauy Jones Hall. It was the only building on campus until 1893.2 He was also the first minister of the 2nd Baptist Church (now the 1st Baptist Church), editor of the first newspaper in Ottawa, and responsible for getting the first railroad to Ottawa. He was and still is a very controversial character in American history.

Isaac Smith Kalloch was the son of a preacher, Rev. Amariah Kalloch and his first wife Mercy Hathom born in Rockland Maine, July 10, 1832. He first served in Rockland, Maine, then the Tremont Temple Baptist church in Boston, Mass as a preacher. He is credited with saving that church from financial ruin but soon ran into controversy with "the liquor interests" and worse allegations of sexual improprieties. He moved to New York and then Kansas. He is credited as being a founder of the town of Ottawa in Kansas and the newspaper in town, The Western Home Journal (Haworth, 1957).  In May 1864, Kalloch became the first minister of the Second Baptist Church in Ottawa which was held at Lathrop Hall, the First Baptist Church having been founded by Rev. Jotham Meeker (First Baptist Church, 2014). Kalloch bought 5000 acres of college land for $1.25 per acre in 1862 and he became Board President of Roger Williams University in 1864 and was involved in the first school building project on Indian lands (Haworth, 1857). In May 1865 Kalloch went to Washington with a plan to unite the Miami and Ottawa Indians, and it is claimed that he said that this union happening was prevented by “designing white men” (Haworth, 1957, p.10). Kalloch, age 33, was one of the signatories on the Ottawa University Charter which changed Ottawa University’s name from that of Roger Williams University in 1865. He had complete control to manage the school and its building project and consistently billed the university for his activities. In 1866, Philetus Fales was made principal of the school in Ottawa, Miss Lucy Hatch became principal of the Ladies’ Seminary at Ottawa University, while Isaac Kalloch became principal and president of the College while a separate building was rented to provide schooling to the Indians (Haworth, p.11). The Trustees decided to ask Tauy Jones to accompany Isaac whenever he went on University business, because he was seen as having a steadying effect on Kalloch. In 1867 Kalloch resigned from his post at Ottawa, and the board planned to bring Rev. Jeffery from Philadelphia to Ottawa, but when plans fell through, Isaac was restored as president at Ottawa, but resigned for a second time in 1868 while the Board was at work on building the college building. In 1868, the Trustees at Ottawa and the Baptist Convention discovered the mis-management of the Ottawa lands by CC Hutchinson and Isaac Kalloch since there was a $30,000 deficiency. Kalloch was found to have sold, without permission, 2872 acres of Ottawa land below the proper price and pocketing the money. Kalloch is quoted to have said “ if you won’t make me pay, I won’t collect from you” and suggested that if the Trustees ratified his sales he would drop any claims he had against the college(Haworth, pg.12, 14).

Moving once again, Kalloch became minister of the Metropolitan Temple Church in San Francisco and Workingman's Party mayor of the city, (1879-1881).  He was shot in the street by an angry newspaper editor, Charles DeYoung and survived to become the 18th mayor of San Francisco. His son, Milton, later shot Charles DeYoung in the Chronicle Building. Isaac moved from San Francisco to Washington Territory died in Bellingham, Washington Territory in 1887 at age 55.


First Baptist Church of Ottawa. (May, 2014) Retrieved from

The Hall Family Geneology Photo Album. Isaac Smith Kalloch. Retrieved from

 LePage, S. (1929). Ottawa University, a short history. Ottawa: Ottawa University.

 Rev. Isaac Kalloch. (n.d.). Retrieved from 

 Ziv, Stav. (1880, April 9). Chronicle founder shot dead in feud, 1880. The Francisco Chronicle, Retrieved from

(Photo RG4.032.02)


Rev. Edward Coffin Anderson (1874-1876).         (He was “in charge” – not enough evidence he was president)


Edward Coffin Anderson After his student years, both in the United States and in Europe, he began his long literary life. He contributed to various literary publications, the most notable of which was THE DIAL. Through his contributions to THE DIAL, he became a friend of Francis Fisher Browne, the Editor, and this long and satisfying friendship can be traced through the Browne letters contained in the collection.

Edward Coffin Anderson, the first member of the family for whom there are extensive records, was born on Prince Edward Island, Maritime Provinces, Canada, in 1821, the fourth of thirteen children. His grandfather, John Anderson, had migrated to North America from Scotland with his brother, David, and son, David. David Anderson, the son, married Miss Jeanette Coffin, whose father had come to Prince Edward Island from Nantucket. Edward Coffin Anderson received his education in Nova Scotia at Acadia College, and later went to Newton Seminary near Boston for further theological study. While he was attending Acadia College at Wolfville, Nova Scotia, he met Miss Helen Best, a teacher in a school for girls.

The Best Family was also of Scottish descent. Helen's mother, Isabella Playfair, was a daughter of Robert Lawyer Playfair and a niece of John Playfair, the great mathematician of the University of Edinburgh. Her mother, Margaret McNevin was said to have been a brilliant and clever woman. When John Playfair was contemplating marriage, a friend advised, If you marry Margaret McNevin, all your children will be gifted. Isabella was educated at a school for young ladies conducted by her two aunts in Edinburgh. At sixteen she married Henry Best, of the British Navy, and they settled in Nova Scotia. They had thirteen children. Later, to help out the family finances, she established a school for girls in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. Isabella, herself, served as headmistress and two of her daughters, including Helen Best, were teachers in the school.

In 1850, Helen Best became the wife of Edward Coffin Anderson and later that same year the young couple emigrated to the United States where they lived for the rest of their lives. Anderson, when he finished his training at Newton Seminary, was ordained in the Baptist Church and began his long career of preaching and teaching. His first appointment was at Kalamazoo, Michigan. Edward and Helen Anderson had three sons, Melville Best Anderson, Robert Playfair Anderson (who died in infancy), and Edward Playfair Anderson. In January, 1875 the interior of the only building on the Ottawa campus was destroyed by fire. It was rebuilt by the citizens of Ottawa in only 90 days.4 Classes were held at city hall until the repair was finished

From Kalamazoo, the family went to Newton Center, Massachusetts, to Milford, New Hampshire, and back to Kalamazoo where Mr. Anderson was professor of Classical Languages and acting president of Kalamazoo Baptist College. From Kalamazoo, they went to Margett, Michigan where Anderson was pastor. In 1866, the Andersons went to Portland, Oregon where Anderson assumed the post of pastor of the Baptist Church, and from there he went to San Jose, California. After a short time in San Jose, the family returned to the East coast, to Groveland, Massachusetts, where Mr. Anderson was pastor and also principal of Highlands Academy in Petersburg, Massachusetts. He became principal of Ottawa College in Ottawa, Kansas, and pastor of Lake City Baptist Church in Lake City, Minnesota. About 1880, he became president of McMinnville College, McMinnville, Oregon, a post he held for seven years. In 1887, he had a stroke, and died three years later, in 1890, at the home of his son, Edward Playfair Anderson, in Lansing, Michigan.

The first son of Edward Coffin and Helen Best Anderson, he was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1851. He attended Cornell University where, to a great extent, he worked his own way.


Philo, J. Williams (1877-1881) was born in 1825 in Connecticut. He was a Dartmouth-educated preacher and preached for several years in western New York. He was superintendent of the public schools at Leavenworth, Kansas, for six years and came to Ottawa University from Atchinson where he had been in the ministry and normal school which had been started in Leavenworth. Williams had developed a reputation as an educator in the state of Kansas with a speciality in methods teaching (LePage, 1929), 7 His compensation package at OU included the proceeds from the college farm, all tuition received, and $1200. Out of these he was to meet all expenses for the school. His first year there was a $600 deficit in the president’s salary. During his tenure the majority of the 23 courses offered were in the fields of Latin, Greek, and mathematics. In 1879 the first catalogue was published. Williams developed a strong normal department at OU.6 The institution at this point was a university in name only and offered an “academy” course.


Rev. Thomas. M. Stewart - (1881-1883) was a graduate of Alton and Shurtleff College, Upper Alton, Illinois and an experienced Mathematics and Natural Philosophy teacher.8 There were only four faculty members, including Stewart, listed in the catalog. The first literary societies as well as a Y.M.C.A. were formed during his tenure. “Rhetoricals” were emphasized as they would be for the next thirty or forty years. Tuition was $25 a year if paid in advance and there were 54 students enrolled5.


Milan L. Ward - (1883-1887) was the beloved “grand old man of Ottawa University.” He taught at OU for several years before going to the agricultural college at Manhattan. When he returned to Ottawa “all land south of Seventh street was unimproved. There was a high hedge fence all along Ninth street in front of the Campus, and one entered it through a hole cut in the fence and a large wooden gate. The Campus was a mess of weeds, old nursery stock, trees, etc…”4 He was president when the first collegiate graduate, Joseph W. Stocks, received his degree in 1886. The Ottawa Campus was started during Ward’s tenure. Ward was a strong believer in abstinence and for at least 35 years carried a book to gather temperance pledges. (Photo OU RG4.045.195).


George L. Sutherland - (1887-1890) taught Greek, grammar, arithmetic, geography and physiology at OU in 1884. He became acting president of the university in 1887, and the continued in the presidency until 1890.  Sutherland became head of the department of Greek in 1889 and then transferred to the department of History where he worked until 1893. Sutherland started an endowment campaign. He raised funds to lay the foundation for the second building (Administration building) on campus. In 1887 the trustees borrowed money to pay the arrears in teachers’ salaries. Six students were expelled. When one of the trustees suggested they reinstate some of the boys he was told “if all the trustees would get down on their knees before us and ask us to take those boys back, we would not do it.”3 During Sutherland’s presidency, for the first time the College surpassed the Academy in student numbers. There were 265 students enrolled at the end of Sutherland’s tenure.8


Franklin O. Johnson - (1890-1892) is best remembered for composing the alma mater My Ottawa.  In 1890, Johnson worked with Mrs. Charlton and the Board to make a site selection for Charlton Cottage. Charlton Cottage, a residence for women students, was built in 1891. The American Baptist Education Society gave a grant of $10,000 to the University to aid the university with paying for teaching staff.   One historical account says that when Johnson became president “All were ready to turn the perplexing problem of Bible study over to the new President. They did so, with the result that neither Bible study nor the vexed question concerning it were ever heard of again.”3 The senior class was given permission to plant ivy around the new building.This tradition lasted for many years. Johnson completed an endowment campaign which started during Sutherland’s presidency sending Robert Atkinson to the Boston Baptist Churches to secure financing to help fund the university’s endeavors.

Franklin Johnson's father Hezekeah Johnson, was influential in founding Denison University, of Granville, Ohio, circa 1831. In 1846 he moved to Oregon, where he organized the first Baptist church on the Pacific Coast. While living at Oregon City he was one of the founders of Oregon City College, which was the predecessor of McMinnville College.

Frederick W. Colegrove - (1892-1895) was a Colgate University graduate and taught Latin there8. He was cited as an “intellectual man with worldwide interests. “ The first gymnasium on campus was begun in 1895 due to his efforts. In 1895 enrolment was 401.5 More than 20 students were expelled after refusing to comply with Colegrove’s request in regard to the time their class social was held. They were later reinstated.9


John D. S. Riggs - (1896-1905) was a native of Washington, Pa. Moved to Rockford Ill., where he grew up.  He attended Shurtliff College until the middle of his Sophomore year when he entered the University of Chicago for one term. He pursued a career before returning to Chicago University in 1875 and then graduated in 1878. He got a job teaching at Salt Lake Academy after graduation. In 1879 he married Marry E. Chaney. He became President of Ottawa University in 1896. He was President for five years where he built a reputation for scholarships, sympathy and sociability. He was honored with position on the State Board of Education. He received a Ph.D. from the University of South Dakota. In 1900 he was elected to the positon of President of the State College Presidents’ Association of Kansas. The First OU basketball game was also played in 1895 between Baker and OU. Riggs was president when fire hit the central part of the administration building which meant the loss of the chapel, offices, classrooms and the library. Riggs led a successful campaign to rebuild. In 1898 the faculty voted to offer free tuition to the highest graduate of Ottawa High School.9 OU was a charter member of the Kansas Inter-Collegiate Athletic Conference. Riggs suggested both a plan for student self-government and the awarding of the “O” for athletic excellence.13


R. A. Schwegler (acting) - (1905-1906)14, 12, 15, 18 was a professor of philosophy and Greek when asked to be acting president. He later became the head of the Department of Education at the University of Kansas. (Photo, 1905 Ottawa Campus faculty near front)


Silas E. Price - (1906-1924) was born in Ohio and educated at Denison University and Baptist Union Theological Seminary. He was pastor at 1st Baptist church in Ottawa before being called to be OU’s president. During his long tenure a new gym and Ward Science Hall were built, Cook Athletic Field was completed and Tauy Jones Hall was remodeled. The Y.M.C.A. and Y.W.C.A. were very strong on campus. Chapel attendance was still required. Oratory and speech activities were dominant in student activities. Pi Kappa Delta was organized by OU student John Shields. During Price’s tenure Ottawa University became a member in good standing of the North Central Association.


F. Erdmann Smith - (1924-1931) came to OU from William Jewell College. OU was operating at a deficit when he took office and he staged a successful campaign to raise money. The U.S. depression made it difficult to collect the pledges, though. The Academy was closed in 1925. By 1930 college enrollment decreased to about 225 students. His tenure has been described as “one of educational growth” as well as a period of financial over-spending.10


Warren P. Behan (acting) - (1931-1935) – had been part of the OU staff since 1922. He was popular with staff and students and was described as “immensely human.” His efforts were focused on collecting the unpaid pledges from the Smith campaign, making the endowment funds more productive, and increasing enrollment. The alumni organization was reorganized and the Ottawa Foundation was started to encourage alumni to support the school financially. Only 73% of faculty wages were actually paid.


Andrew B. Martin - (1935-1967) was OU’s longest serving president. He was a proud Irishman with degrees from Colgate University, Northern Baptist Seminary, and Marquette University. He promoted progressive education. Martin believed college was to serve the whole person.

The first health plan for students was offered during Martin’s tenure. It became the policy that the school not incur an operating deficit rather than borrow for current expenses. He initiated the social club system. A number of buildings were built under his tenure including the field house, the union, the chapel, and several dorms.


Peter H. Armacost – (1967-1977) had been a professor of psychology and dean of students at Augsburg College before becoming Program Director of the Association of American Colleges. At Ottawa University he established the College Without Campus program with the OUKC site and three years later a site in Phoenix. He provided leadership for the “New Plan of Education, “ an innovative curriculum.Computer-assisted instruction was also begun during his tenure. At the end of his term there was a large deficit and staff was cut by 20 percent.


Milton Froyd (interim)- (1977-1978) was a Baptist pastor and spent 21 years with Colgate Rochester Divinity School. Being president of Ottawa University was one of several interim positions he undertook after retirement from CRDS. Even though he was at OU for less than one year the faculty adopted a resolution saying “At a critical and difficult time in the history of the University, his courageous, inspirational leadership renewed our faith, lifted our hearts and revitalized our energies as we worked together to help the University.”


Robert E. Shaw – (1978-1983)was a Baptist pastor who had also served in various national offices of the denomination. Before being named president he was on the Board of Trustees for several years. He felt convicted to revive the “OU Spirit” among alumni, friends, and the American Baptist Church.


Wilbur D. Wheaton- (1983-1992) was the first Ottawa University graduate to assume the role of president. In fact he and his wife met and married while students at OU. He was superintendent of the Fresno, California, school district before becoming president of Ottawa University. He balanced the budget for 9 consecutive years. His goal as president was to stabilize OU.


Harold D. Germer – (1992-2000) established the Milwaukee campus and the International Program .Many buildings on campus received major renovations including Atkinson, Tauy Jones, Martin Hall, Mabee Center, and Wilson Field House.17


John E. Neal –(2000-2005) was educated in Tennessee and came to OU from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri. Before becoming president he was OU’s Vice President for Adult & Professional Studies. He was a native of New Castle, Indiana. He established the Jeffersonville, Indiana campus.


James C. Billick (interim)–(2005-2006) came out of retirement to serve as interim President. He had previously served Ottawa University as Vice-President of Academic Affairs, Provost of OUKC, and political science professor.


Frederick R. Snow – (2006-2007)came to OU from Norwich University where he was the Vice President. His focus as president was to increase enrollment. He left to work on his dream of developing an international university.16


Fredric B. Zook – (2007-2008) had been dean of students and provost at OU’s Arizona site before becoming president of Ottawa University. He built OU’s first fully online degree program.


Kevin C. Eichner – (2008- )was another OU graduate chosen to lead the school. He was director of admissions at OU for two years before getting an MBA from Harvard. He founded and led financial & consulting institutions before coming back to OU. He developed the Vision 2020 plan to enlarge the school’s finances, enrollment, and buildings. In his first year he signed an agreement with the Chief of the Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma to renew the providing of free education for members of the tribe.





1. Haworth, B. Smith, Ottawa University: its history and its spirit

2. Lambertson, John Mark, letter to Richard D. Pankratz, Kansas State Historical Society, Sept. 15, 1981 (OU RG73.01.010)

3 Sutherland, George, Ottawa University 1884-1890 (OU RG73.01.009)

4 Ward, Milan L., History of Ottawa University, (OU RG73.01.???)

5 History of Ottawa University (OURG73.03.160)

6 Olin, Annie S., Ottawa University in the late seventies and early eighties (OU RG4.05.???)

7 Klock, J. E., Leavenworth county,

8 Manuscript of the early history of Ottawa University, (OU RG73.03.???)

9 Ottawa University faculty minutes 1891-1895,

10 Wilson, William B., Founders and Educational leaders (OU RG73.03.127)

11Anonymous, History of Ottawa University, p. 4 (OU RG73.03.160)

12LePage, Samuel M., Ottawa University, a short history.

13Riggs, J.D.S., “A suggestion or two”, Ottawa Campus,v. 20., Nos. 9 & 10, May & June, 1904.

14 Ottawa Campus, v. 22, nos. 9 & 10, May-June, 1906.

15 Officers and teachers of Ottawa University, RG73.01.158

16 Ottawa Campus, v. 122, #6, April 27, 2006.

17Ottawa Campus, v. 115, #1, Sept. 15, 2000.

18 Ottawa Campus, September 1, 1906, p. 18.