William Lowe Bryan

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For other people with the same name, see William Bryan (disambiguation).
Bryan's house in Bloomington

William Lowe Bryan (November 11, 1860 – November 21, 1955) was the 10th president of Indiana University, serving from 1902 to 1937.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

William Lowe Bryan was born William Julian Bryan on November 11, 1860 in Monroe County, Indiana. His father, John Bryan was a Presbyterian minister and his mother was Eliza Phillips Bryan. Having been born near Bloomington, Bryan graduated from IU with degrees in ancient classics and philosophy. His interests shifted toward psychology and Bryan went on to earn his Ph.D. in psychology from Clark University in 1892.


That same year Bryan helped organize the American Psychological Association and became one of its charter members. He returned to IU in 1893 to accept a professorship in the psychology department and the appointment to vice president of the university. He succeeded Joseph Swain as president in 1902 and led the institution for 35 years until 1937, at which time he retired as president emeritus at the age of 76.

Bryan presided over the transformation of IU from a small, traditional liberal arts college into a modern research university. His most notable accomplishment was the expansion of graduate and professional training. During his administration, schools or departments of medicine, education, journalism, nursing, business, music, and dentistry were established.[2]

One of the early challenges of Bryan's presidency was providing the university campus with a sufficient amount of water for its operation. (Bloomington, and the IU campus in particular, is located on a high ground without any major rivers or lakes in the vicinity, and with little usable groundwater).[3] The city's waterworks existing in the early 20th century being utterly inadequate, Bryan commissioned a team of IU researchers, led by the geologist E.R. Cumings, to investigate the campus' water situation. On March 8, 1910, the Cumings commission recommended a site for the new reservoir, a couple miles northeast of the campus; the reservoir, which became known as the University Lake, was constructed in 1910-1914.[4] Although not used for water supply anymore, the reservoir exists to this day, and is the centerpiece of Indiana University's Research and Teaching Preserve (Griffy Woods).[5]

William Lowe Bryan died in Bloomington in 1955.


  • Studies in Platoʼs Republic, 1898
  • On the psychology of learning a life occupation, 1941
  • The measured and the not-yet-measured, 1947

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Thomas D. Clark, Indiana University: Midwestern Pioneer: Vol II In Mid-Pasage (1973), passim
  2. ^ Thomas D. Clark, Indiana University: Midwestern Pioneer: Vol II In Mid-Pasage (1973), passim
  3. ^ Maxwell, Donald H. (January 1921), "Impounded water in Bloomington, Ind.", Municipal and county engineering: design, construction, maintenance, and operation of all public works, 60 (1): 159–161 
  4. ^ Cravens, John W. (1922), "Buildings on the old and new campuses of Indiana University", Indiana University Alumni Quarterly, 9: 317–319 
  5. ^ Sahu, Neil (2008), Indiana University Griffy Lake Watershed: Sustainability Survey (PDF) 

External links[edit]

Educational offices
Preceded by
Edmund Clark Sanford
12th President of the American Psychological Association
Succeeded by
William James
Academic offices
Preceded by
Joseph Swain
President of Indiana University
Succeeded by
Herman B Wells