Levi Rowland (1865-1869)


Born in Nashville, Tennessee on September 17, 1831, Levi L. Rowland was the first President of Monmouth University (1856-1865).

In 1844, at the age of thirteen, Rowland crossed the plains to Oregon with his father, Judge Jeremiah Rowland, and settled on a government donation claim. He later traveled to the gold fields of California where he acquired enough gold to purchase a herd of cattle and finance a four-year education at Alexander Campbell’s Bethany College, in what is now West Virginia.

He became a professor at Bethel College and taught Greek, Hebrew, Moral and Intellectual Philosophy, Rhetoric, and Logic. During his time there, Rowland created the first State Teachers Institute in 1862, which Rowland would later consider the greatest achievement of his career. Bethel College closed after less than ten years of operation and merged with Monmouth University, renamed Christian College, in 1865. Along with being President of Christian College, Rowland was Professor of classics, belles – lettres (“literature that is an end in itself and not merely informative; specifically: light, entertaining, and often sophisticated literature,” Merriam-Webster), and ethics.

After leaving his presidency, Rowland went on to pursue a medical degree at Willamette University and where he later taught and became an Emeritus Professor in the medical department. He was State Superintendent of Public instruction from 1874 to 1891, and Superintendent of the Oregon State Insane Asylum from 1891 to 1895, where he oversaw the treatment and housing of 700 – 800 patients. He retired in 1895 and died of dropsy (now more commonly known as edema) in Salem, Oregon on January 19, 1908. He is buried at City View Cemetery in Salem, Oregon.