William Jasper Kerr
|William Jasper Kerr|
Kerr in 1913
|8th President of
Oregon State University
|Preceded by||Thomas Milton Gatch|
|Succeeded by||George Wilcox Peavy|
|4th President of
Utah State University
|Preceded by||Joseph M. Tanner|
|Succeeded by||John A. Widtsoe|
November 17, 1863|
|Died||April 15, 1947
|Alma mater||University of Utah
William Jasper Kerr (1863 - 1947) was an American academic in the states of Oregon and Utah. A native of Utah, he served as president of Oregon Agricultural College (now Oregon State University), Brigham Young College (not to be confused with Brigham Young University), and Utah State Agricultural College (now Utah State University). He later served as the first chancellor of what became the Oregon University System. The administration building at Oregon State University is named in his honor.
Early life and education
Kerr was born on November 17, 1863, in Richmond in the then Utah Territory. He received a bachelor's degree in Mathematics from the University of Utah in 1885. He planned to study law, and turned down appointment to West Point in order to go into law, but never did go into the profession. He married Leonora Hamilton in 1885, and had four daughters and two sons.
When he was 21 years old he worked as a manager for a mercantile company before entering the teaching profession as a teacher in Smith, Utah. Raised in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) during the time when plural marriage (polygamy) was taught and practiced, Kerr later married a second wife, a schoolteacher in Smithfield, Utah. After the church renounced the practice, Kerr divorced his second wife in 1898. The emotional impact caused Kerr and his wives to leave the LDS Church. Kerr served as a delegate to the Utah's constitutional conventions in both 1887 and 1895. He also studied at Cornell University in New York.
Kerr began his academic career in 1887 when he joined the faculty of Brigham Young College as a mathematics professor. He also taught at the University of Utah. He then served as president of Brigham Young College in Logan, Utah, from 1894 to 1900. In 1900, he left Brigham Young to become the president of Utah State Agricultural College, now Utah State University, also in Logan. Kerr left Utah State in 1907 and became the eighth president at Oregon Agricultural College, now Oregon State University (OSU), in Corvallis, Oregon. When he was considered for president of Oregon State College in 1907, the public animosity for Mormonism invited attacks on Kerr's polygamous past, until he reasserted his rejection of the faith.
He served as the president of OSU for 25 years, 1907 until 1932. As president, he oversaw a large expansion of the school, adding 23 buildings and growing the campus from 225 acres (91 ha) to 555 acres (225 ha). As part of the expansion he hired John C. Olmsted to draft a master plan for OSU's campus. In 1911, he was the president of the Association of Land Grant Colleges and Universities. Kerr left OSU in 1932 when he became the first chancellor of the Oregon State System of Higher Education serving in that position until 1935.
Death and legacy
Following his retirement, Kerr moved to Portland, where he died on April 15, 1947, at the age of 83. The library at Oregon State University had been named in his honor, but after it was renamed as The Valley Library his name was added to the administration building.
- "Death Takes Dr. W.J. Kerr". The Oregonian. April 16, 1947. pp. 1, 17.
- "William Jasper Kerr". OSU Archives: Presidents. Oregon State University. Retrieved 21 December 2013.
- Tom Bennett; George Edmonston Jr. (October 26, 2001). "Chapter 19: 'An odd mix of triumph and embarrassment'... Kerr begins his presidency". Carry Me Back: A History of Oregon State University (1856-1999). Oregon State University Alumni Association. Retrieved 2014-07-17.
- Edmonston, Jr., George; Tom Bennett. "Chapter 18: OSU's 'Great Builder'...William Jasper Kerr (1907-1932)". Eclips. OSU Alumni Association. Retrieved 21 December 2013.
- Cartographic Perspectives. North American Cartographic Information Society (26): 52. Winter 1997. Missing or empty
- Reed, Edwin Thomas (1948), William Jasper Kerr, A Biography, Corvallis: Office of Publications, Oregon State College, hdl:1957/11883.
- Allen and Loni Hackworth, "William Jasper Kerr", Family Histories
Joshua H. Paul
|President of the Brigham Young College
J. H. Linford
Joseph M. Tanner
|President of Utah State University
John A. Widtsoe
Thomas Milton Gatch
|President of Oregon State University
George Wilcox Peavy