1893-1902: Willis Chatman Hawley

Willis Chatman Hawley

Willis Hawley was born on a homestead near Monroe, Oregon in 1864. Hawley was a WU alumnus having earned bachelor’s degrees in arts, science and law, as well as a master’s degree. Described as possessing imagination, enthusiasm and tireless energy, Hawley joined Willamette’s faculty in 1891. At the age of 29 he was appointed to serve as acting president and then officially elected to the office in 1894; a position he held until 1902. At a time when WU struggled financially, Hawley was a hands-on president and could be seen on campus in overalls nailing down loose boards on sidewalks or painting classrooms. After leaving the office of the President, he was reappointed as a newly-minted Vice President of the University and Dean of the College of Liberal Arts. In 1907 he resigned from the faculty when elected to the United States House of Representatives. The Hawley-Smoot tariff bill bears his name from his time as chairman on the House Ways and Means committee. After serving in Congress for almost 30 years Hawley retired to Salem and remained an active member of the Willamette Board of Trustees. He died on July 24, 1941.