Thomas Milton Gatch

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Thomas Milton Gatch
Thomas M Gatch.jpg
2nd President of Willamette University
In office
1870 – 1865
Preceded by Francis S. Hoyt
Nelson Rounds
Succeeded by Leonard J. Powell
Charles E. Lambert
Personal details
Born (1833-01-28)January 28, 1833
Milford, Ohio
Died April 23, 1913(1913-04-23) (aged 80)
Seattle, Washington
Children Claud Gatch
Alma mater Ohio Wesleyan University
DePauw University
Profession educator
Willamette University info[1]

Thomas Milton Gatch (January 28, 1833 – April 23, 1913) was an American educator and politician in Oregon. He served one term as mayor of Salem, Oregon, was the president of what would become Oregon State University, served as president of the University of Washington, and twice served as president of Willamette University.[2] A native of Ohio, he was the first president of Oregon State University to hold a doctorate degree.

Early life[edit]

Thomas Gatch was born in the town of Milford, Ohio, to Lucinda and Thomas Gatch.[3] In Ohio, Gatch attended Ohio Wesleyan University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1855.[4] He then moved to Cincinnati where he took a course at Lane Theological Seminary, and was later awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from the school.[4]

Educational career[edit]

In 1856 Gatch moved west to California,[4] where he mined gold during the California Gold Rush and also taught school for three years.[3] He then taught at the University of the Pacific at Santa Clara, California.[4] At Pacific he served as chair of the natural sciences and mathematics department.[5] He was married in 1857 to Orytha Bennett, and they would have five children including Claud Gatch, who would become mayor of Salem.[6] Claud's son Thomas Leigh Gatch, commanded the battleship USS South Dakota (BB-57) and served as Judge Advocate General of the United States Navy during World War II.[3]

In 1859, Thomas Gatch moved to Olympia, Washington, where he worked as the principal of Puget Sound Wesleyan Institute.[5] The following year, he was appointed as president of Willamette University in Salem, where he served until 1865.[3] He returned to the position as president of the school, serving from 1870 until 1879.[3] During this time Thomas Gatch then earned a Doctor of Philosophy in 1874 from Indiana Asbury University (now DePauw University).[4] He also served as mayor of Salem from 1877 to 1878.[7]

From 1879 until 1881 he was a professor of history at the University of Oregon in Eugene; afterwards he helped found the Wasco Independent Academy in The Dalles, Oregon in 1881.[3] Gatch served as president of that institution until 1886.[3] Gatch was then selected to serve as president of the University of Washington in Seattle in 1887. In 1895 he left the school, and in 1897 he was appointed to the position of president of Oregon Agricultural College (now Oregon State University).[4] While at Oregon State he was also a professor of political and mental science, and was the first president of the school to hold a doctorate degree.[4] Gatch served at the Corvallis school until July 1907 when he resigned as president, though continued teaching until the end of the year.[4]

Later years[edit]

After leaving Oregon State in 1907, he returned to his home in Seattle, Washington.[4] Thomas Milton Gatch died in Seattle on April 23, 1913.[3]


  1. ^ Past Presidents. Willamette University. Retrieved on December 23, 2008.
  2. ^ Horner, John B. (1919). Oregon: Her History, Her Great Men, Her Literature. The J.K. Gill Co.: Portland. p. 125, 153-4, 176
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Corning, Howard M. Dictionary of Oregon History. Binfords & Mort Publishing, 1956.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Thomas Milton Gatch: President, 1897-1907. OSU Archives, Accessed September 12, 2007.
  5. ^ a b Thomas Milton Gatch. University of Washington Libraries, Accessed September 13, 2007.
  6. ^ Salem's Historic Figures. Salem Online History, Accessed September 13, 2007.
  7. ^ Mayors of Salem, Oregon. Political Graveyard, Accessed September 13, 2007.
Academic offices
Preceded by
Francis S. Hoyt
President of Willamette University
Succeeded by
Leonard J. Powell (interim)
Joseph Henry Wythe
Preceded by
Nelson Rounds
President of Willamette University
Succeeded by
Charles E. Lambert
Preceded by
Leonard Jackson Powell
President of the University of Washington
Succeeded by
Mark Walrod Harrington
Preceded by
Henry B. Miller
President of Oregon State University
Succeeded by
William Jasper Kerr