1908-1914: Fletcher Homan
The Rev. Dr. Fletcher Homan was born in Iowa in 1868. He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Simpson College, as well as a bachelor of Sacred Theology from the Garrett Biblical Institute. In 1898, he entered the Methodist ministry after several years in the mercantile business, and was vice president of Simpson College—in charge of financial matters—when elected president to Willamette University in 1908. This “large man of commanding appearance who made a fine impression in public address” was welcomed with optimism by the Willamette community after the Board’s clash of personalities with Coleman. Homan did no teaching during his tenure but rather, as directed by the Board, focused on the financial campaign to raise a half million dollars. Thanks to Homan’s galvanizing efforts, the university was able to secure an endowment that put it on firm financial footing for the very first time. However, Homan’s unwillingness to entrust internal administrative duties to others during his absence while fundraising and his “dictatorial” approach with students and faculty ultimately led the Board to offer a year-long paid leave of absence upon receipt of Homan’s resignation. Dr. Homan returned to the ministry until his retirement in southern California.