List of longest serving higher education presidents in the United States

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Eliphalet Nott, longest serving college president in US history.

The longest serving president of a United States institution of higher education is Eliphalet Nott, who served at Union College in Schenectady, NY for 62 years, from 1805-1866. The longest living college or university president is Norman Francis, who continues at Xavier University of Louisiana as president after 45 years of service.


According to a 2007 report from the American Council on Education, only about 5% of all in-office college presidents had served longer than 20 years.[1] The table below considers candidates who can be demonstrated to have served for 25 years or longer unless another distinguishing factor warrants inclusion. Records for the longest serving college or university presidents are usually kept by the respective institutions themselves.


Name Term College Location Notes[note 1]
Eliphalet Nott 61 years (1805–1866) Union College Schenectady, NY Longest serving college president in U.S. history.
James Blair 50 years (1693–1743) College of William and Mary Williamsburg, VA The first and longest serving president of the college.[2]
Jack Evans, Sr 47 years (1967—present) Southwestern Christian College Terrell, Texas The longest serving college president still sitting.
Norman Francis 45 years (1968–present) Xavier University of Louisiana New Orleans, LA The longest serving college president still sitting.[3]
Nicholas Murray Butler 43 years (1902-1945) Columbia University New York, NY Columbia's longest serving president.
Richard I. Gouse 42 years (1971–present)[4] New England Institute of Technology Warwick, RI Only 24 at the time of assuming his position.
Joseph N. Hankin 42 years (1971–present)[5] Westchester Community College Valhalla, NY Longest serving community college president in the US.[6]
William Foster Peirce 41 years (1896–1937) Kenyon College Gambier, OH Assumed the presidency at the age of 28.
Luns C. Richardson 40 years (1974-present) Morris College Sumter, SC Life Member and Golden Heritage Member of the NAACP
Charles William Eliot 40 years (1869–1909) Harvard University Cambridge, MA
Robert H. Spence 40 years (1974–present) Evangel University Springfield, MO Served until May 1, 2014 as President, and since then as Chancellor.
Leon Botstein 38 years (1975–present) Bard College Annandale-on-Hudson, NY
David L. Eubanks 38 years (1969–2007) Johnson Bible College Knoxville, TN
James Burrill Angell 38 years (1871–1909) University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI UM's longest serving president.
Pat Robertson 36 years (1978-present) Regent University Virginia Beach, VA
Philip Pumerantz 36 years (1977–present) Western University of Health Sciences Pomona, CA Founding president of the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific (1977), which became Western University of Health Sciences in 1996.
Jerry Falwell 36 years (1971-2007) Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
John Wheelock 36 years (1779–1815) Dartmouth College Hanover, NH Dartmouth's longest serving president.
William R. Harvey 35 years (1978–present)[7] Hampton University Hampton, VA
Theodore Hesburgh 35 years (1952–1987) University of Notre Dame South Bend, IN
Nathan Lord 35 years (1828–1863) Dartmouth College Dartmouth College
Sister Joel Read 35 years (1968–2003) Alverno College Milwaukee, WI
Dennis J. Murray 34 years (1979–present)[8] Marist College Poughkeepsie, NY
Janet Eisner 34 years (1979–present) Emmanuel College Boston, MA Longest serving female president still sitting.[9]
William Lowe Bryan 34 years (1902–1937) Indiana University Bloomington, IN
James M Rosser 33 years (1979–2013)[10] California State University, Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA
Edgar Odell Lovett 33 years (1912–1946)[11] Rice Institute Houston, TX
Palmer Ricketts 33 years (1901–1934) Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Troy, NY
H. Mebane Turner 33 years (1969–2002)[12] University of Baltimore Baltimore, MD
Lincoln Hulley 30 years (1904–1934) Stetson University DeLand, FL
Daniel R. Chamberlain 30 years (1976–2006) Houghton College Houghton, NY
John F. MacArthur 29 years (1985-present) The Master's College Santa Clarita, CA
James R. Day 29 years (1894–1922) Syracuse University Syracuse, NY
Jeremiah Day 29 years (1817–1846) Yale University New Haven, CT
Jack L. Stark 29 years (1970–1999) Claremont McKenna College Claremont, CA Longest serving president in the state of California.
David Lieber 29 years (1964–1993) University of Judaism Bel-air, Los Angeles, CA
John A. Hannah 28 years (1941–1969) Michigan State College East Lansing, MI
John L. Lahey 27 years (1987–present) Quinnipiac University Hamden, CT
William P. Tolley 27 years (1942–1969) Syracuse University Syracuse, NY
Charles E. Young 27 years (1968–1997)[13] UCLA Los Angeles, CA Was also the president of the University of Florida from 1999-2003.
Benjamin Labaree 26 years (1840–1866) Middlebury College Middlebury, VT
Alfred Bryan Bonds 26 years (1955–1981) Baldwin Wallace University Berea, OH
Diana Natalicio 25 years (1988–present) University of Texas at El Paso El Paso, TX Longest serving president still sitting of a major public research university. Appointed interim president in 1987.[14]
Clyde Cook 25 years (1982-2007)[15] Biola University La Mirada, CA
James McCain 25 years (1950–1975) Kansas State University Manhattan, KS
Frederick L. Hovde 25 years (1946–1971) Purdue University West Lafayette, IN
Betty Siegel 25 years (1981–2006) Kennesaw State University Kennesaw, GA Longest serving female president of a state university.
Walter Washington 25 years (1969–1994)[16] Alcorn State University Lorman, MI
Theodore Dwight Woolsey 25 years (1846–1871) Yale University New Haven, CT

See also[edit]


  1. ^ For the purposes of the list, "Chancellor" and "President" are interchangeable titles.


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Mangan, Katherine. "The Chronicle of Higher Education". America's Longest Serving President has More to Do. The Chronicle. Retrieved 30 May 2013. 
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Sarina, Trangle (2011-09-24). "President Joseph Hankin Celebrates 40 Years at WCC". Greenburgh Daily Voice. The Greenburgh Daily Voice. Retrieved 2012-10-16. 
  7. ^ "About the President". Hampton University. Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Cal State L.A. President James M. Rosser Announces His Retirement". 18 September 2012. Retrieved 7 June 2013. 
  11. ^ | The Handbook of Texas | Accessed 13 April 2014
  12. ^ Bowler, Mike (29 June 2002). "The university that Meb built". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  13. ^ Chambers, Veronica. "College Presidents in the Spotlight". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 29 May 2013. 
  14. ^ "UTEP Encyclopedia". 
  15. ^ "Clyde Cook Biola Profile". Retrieved 4 September 2014. 
  16. ^ "Alcorn State University: Past Presidents". Alcorn State University. Retrieved 20 September 2012.