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University History: Past Presidents of UNC

SOURCE: RG2 S9 F4 Herman Lujan inauguration program, October 7, 1992

Thomas J. Gray 1890-1891

Principal Gray presided over the formative first year of the State Normal School. Created in 1889, the school offered its first classes in the fall of 1890 in various community buildings. Gray put together the first curriculum for the school, organized its initial faculty, purchased supplies and equipment, and welcomed the first 76 students who enrolled. Gray came to UNC from the Minnesota Normal School at St. Cloud.

James H. Hayes. Interim 1891, November 11, 1915-1916

Zachariah X. Snyder 1891-1915

A national leader in teacher education, Zachariah Snyder arrived at the State Normal School after resigning the presidency at Indiana State Normal School in Pennsylvania. Snyder was not only a student of German education models, but an innovator. He pushed some radical ideas such as simplified spelling, a phonetical spelling system endorsed by President Teddy Roosevelt, and Sloyd, a Swedish manual arts program. Among the innovations he introduced to Colorado were kindergarten and an on-campus laboratory school.


Snyder's leadership put this institution in the forefront of the nation's teacher colleges, as he added bachelor's and master's degree programs that led the institution to become the Colorado State Teachers College in 1911.

John G. Crabbe 1916-1924

With a strong background in public education, John Crabbe, president of the Eastern Kentucky State Normal School, became president of the Colorado State Teachers College. Crabbe was a product of a classical education, and emphasized liberal arts education in Greeley. He broadened the curriculum into a core of courses required of all and a menu of electives. He organized a student government and created a student voice in campus affairs. Crabbe also revamped the summer school, using the allure of spending a summer in Colorado as a marketing tool.

George W. Frasier 1924-1948

More than any other leader, George Fraser promoted the academic excellence that turned what had become the Colorado State College of Education into a national force in teacher education. During Frasier's tenure, the school became known as the "Columbia of the West". Faculty research, publications and textbooks were highly regarded throughout the nation. Chosen as president at the age of 33 after serving 15 months on the college faculty, Frasier was a remarkable leader, who believed learning should center on students and should stress the experiences they will encounter in the outside world. He was an advocate of progressive education, which became popular in the 1930s.

William R. Ross 1948-1964

A Colorado native, Ross had served as president of Trinidad Junior College, and was Frasier's Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds before being named College president. Ross had a long history of teaching and administration in public education throughout the state, and he knew what kinds of teachers were needed. Ross took a very practical approach to education, creating programs such as Special Education and Nursing, for which there was a demand in Colorado. Ross was faced with not only preparing for the post-war influx of students, but then for the baby boom generation. He purchased hat became the Darrell Homes (West) Campus, and set in motion the expansion of what was then Colorado State College.

Darrell Holmes 1964-1971

The former executive dean at San Diego State College, Darrell Holmes served as president during tumultuous times on college campuses around the nation. Holmes oversaw the tremendous growth in student population of the late 1960s, along with an incredible building program that more than doubled the size of the school. The academic program was broadened to serve the many students seeking a liberal arts education. Holmes successfully led the move to rename the College, and it became the University of Northern Colorado in 1970.

Frank P. Lakin. 1969, 1971 Interim President

Richard R. Bond 1971-1981

Coming to UNC from his post as Vice President of Academic Affairs at Illinois State University, Richard Bond set out to follow the "road less traveled by." Bond wanted to make education as accessible as possible. He believed in expanding the University's role beyond the confines of the campus, and also worked for a more innovative, student-oriented and accessible institution. Nevertheless, he also underscored the importance of UNC remaining a leading teacher education institution.

Charles Manning, Acting President. 1981.

Robert C. Dickeson 1981-1991

The Director of Arizona's Department of Administration, Robert Dickeson, came to UNC to bring focus to the academic program and use his administrative skills to guide the school through increasingly tighter budgetary years. Dickeson streamlined the educational offerings of the University, and placed the school on a firm financial footing. He focused resources on four areas of emphasis: teacher education, business, music, and the nursing and health professions. As the University celebrated its centennial, Dickeson laid the academic and financial foundation for a solid beginning to a second century of quality higher education for the people of Colorado. 

Richard O. Davies. 1987 Acting President January 1-August 29, 1987

Stephen T. Hulbert. 1991 Interim President July 1-September 30, 1991

Herman Lujan. 1991-1996

Howard Skinner. Interim President June 1996-June 1998

Hank Brown. July 1998-June 2002

Kay Norton. July 2002 -