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Adonijah S. Welch

(1821-1889; president 1868-83)
Portrait painted by artist Othmar J. Hoffler

President Adonijah S. Welch

Son of a Connecticut farmer, Welch graduated from the University of Michigan with honors, studied law, prospected for gold in California, served as first principal of the "normal school" which later became Eastern Michigan University, went to Florida for his health and became a lumberman and fruit grower, and was serving as Reconstruction senator from Florida when he accepted appointment as Iowa State's first president. Removed from office under pressure from narrow-gauge interests dissatisfied with the College's development, he continued on the staff until his death in 1889. Recognized as one of the ablest pioneer administrators in Land Grant education, Welch was a frail man, but drove himself and others relentlessly. He acted with dignity and decisiveness, introduced advanced ideas of faculty and student participation. As a teacher he pioneered such subjects as landscape architecture, genetics, the philosophy of science, and the history of civilization, and evidenced his breadth of interests in conducting classes in rhetoric, geology, political economy, and sociology.

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