William Preston Few

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William Preston Few
Wm Preston Few.jpg
Few pictured in The Chanticleer 1912, Duke yearbook
President of Duke University
In office
Preceded byJohn Carlisle Kilgo
Succeeded byRobert Lee Flowers
Personal details
Born(1867-12-29)December 29, 1867
Greenville County, South Carolina
DiedOctober 16, 1940(1940-10-16) (aged 72)
Durham, North Carolina

William Preston Few (December 29, 1867 – October 16, 1940) was the first president of Duke University and the fifth president of its predecessor, Trinity College.

Early life[edit]

Few received his B.A. from Wofford College, Class of 1889, where he was a member of the Chi Phi Fraternity. He also received a Ph.D. from Harvard University.

William Preston Few in his later years, Courtesy of the Duke University Archives


Few joined the faculty of Trinity College in Durham, North Carolina in 1896 as a professor of English. He became dean in 1902 and president in 1910.[1]

In 1924, Few presided over the transformation of Trinity College into Duke University, and was president of the renamed university until his death in 1940. During his 30 years as president, Few oversaw an expansion of the institution that is difficult to compare in modern terms. He worked with James B. Duke to make The Duke Endowment a reality and led the school’s growth from a college of 363 students and 32 faculty in 1910 to a university consisting of nine schools, 3,716 students, and 476 faculty. Much of the growth occurred during the Great Depression, which brought hard financial times to most universities.[2] He died of coronary thrombosis in 1940.[3]

William Few was a member of The Order of the Red Friars, a Duke University secret society.[4]


Few died on October 16, 1940.


  1. ^ Trinity College Presidents "Duke University Library" Accessed on November 16, 2018
  2. ^ William Preston Few "Duke University Libraries" Accessed on November 16, 2018
  3. ^ "Papers and Addresses - William P. Few - Google Books". Books.google.ca. Retrieved 2011-11-10.
  4. ^ Mielke, Ellen (October 31, 2000). "Secret societies: Do they still haunt the campus?". Duke Chronicle. Archived from the original on 2008-04-30. Retrieved 2018-11-16.CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)

External links[edit]