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Washington State University
Office of the President Past Presidents

Enoch A. Bryan


WSU’s influential early president, Enoch A. Bryan, believed students at the new institution must study the liberal arts and sciences as well as professional fields in order to be leaders in their careers. He set the direction for the new college to become a higher education institution with a comprehensive curriculum, as recorded in his book, The History of the State College of Washington.

Born in Indiana on May 10, 1855, Bryan earned a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University in 1878 with studies ranging from classical languages to economics. At Indiana, his mentor was David Starr Jordan, later the first president of Stanford University. Bryan taught in the public schools and was a superintendent of schools before becoming president of Vincennes University. In 1893, he earned a master of arts degree at Harvard University and soon after that became president of the Washington Agricultural College and School of Science as Washington State University was then called.

While some political forces attempted to limit the college to agriculture and science, Bryan worked tirelessly to fend off such restrictions. His drive to have the college receive a name appropriate with its growing academic breadth was accomplished on March 12, 1905, when the legislature approved the name The State College of Washington for the Pullman institution.

In Creating the People’s University: Washington State University, 1890-1990, WSU history professor George A. Frykman wrote: “When Bryan presided over his final commencement in June 1915, the impressive numbers of teachers and graduates strongly suggest that the State College of Washington had a bright future. With the president sat a faculty of approximately 140 members and 142 recipients of degrees. These included eight winners of master’s degrees, plus single recipients of professional degrees of electrical engineer and mining engineer. Six new Doctors of Veterinary Medicine trod the platform as did 116 new bachelor’s degree candidates. The largest delegation of the latter, which numbered forty-five, was in liberal arts and sciences. Agricultureā€¦ numbered forty, engineering included nineteen, and home economics added twelve moreā€¦. There were, also, three graduates in music.”

President Bryan served WSC from 1893-1915. In 1916, the University named Bryan Hall in his honor. The building’s clock tower with crimson-lit clock is a beloved landmark on the Pullman campus.

Academic field

Classics, master’s degree, Harvard University

Major challenges

Expanding the academic breadth of the college beyond agriculture and science, an effort that culminated in renaming the school the State College of Washington in 1905

Life after WSU

Became Idaho’s Commissioner of Education for several years and then returned to the State College of Washington as a research professor


Bryan Hall and Tower