Look through EIU’s presidents of the past, future

Madelyn Kidd, Editor-in-Chief

Throughout Eastern’s 128 years, the university has seen 13 presidents. Eastern was established in 1895, but the first president was elected in 1989. However, that president never began his term in 1899, so Eastern’s first active president was its second.

President Samuel M. Inglis (1898)

Samuel Inglis was appointed to be president of Eastern Illinois State Normal School in 1898. Inglis died before he could assume office in 1899.

President Livingston C. Lord (1899-1933)

Livingston Lord was president of Eastern Illinois State Normal School for 34 years and is the longest serving president. Eastern was renamed Eastern Illinois State Teachers College during his term in 1921. Lord died as president in 1933.

President Robert G. Buzzard (1933-1956)

Robert G. Buzzard was president of Eastern Illinois State Teachers College for 23 years. Eastern was renamed during his term to Eastern Illinois State College in 1947. Buzzard died in 1979. Buzzard Hall was named after the third president of Eastern.

President Quincy V. Doudna (1956-1971)

Quincy V. Doudna was president of Eastern Illinois State College for 15 years. Eastern was renamed to Eastern Illinois University during his term in 1957. Doudna’s term saw over 30 new buildings developed on campus. Student population boomed from approximately 2,000 his first year to 8,000 his last. Doudna died in 1987. The Doudna Fine Arts Center was named after the fourth president.

President Gilbert C. Fite (1971-1976)

Gilbert C. Fite was president of Eastern for five years. A significant administrative change was made in his term changing the academic system from a quarter system to a semester system. Fite died in 2010.

President Daniel E. Marvin (1977-1983)

Daniel E. Marvin was president of Eastern for six years. Marvin set the record for being the youngest president entering his term at 39. Marvin helped reconstruct general education requirements and established an honors program and senior seminar courses. Marvin died in 2008.

President Stanley G. Rives (1983-1992)

Stanley G. Rives was president for nine years. Rives’ mission was to have one of the best possible liberal arts undergraduate institutions, which led to the development of a new general education program. Rives also kickstarted a private fundraising system since state funding was not meeting the demand from the student population. Rives died in 2019.

President David L. Jorns (1992-1999)

David L. Jorns was president for seven years. Jorns’ term saw enrollment at a record high of over 11,000 students. Jorns’ strategic plans included reorganizing Eastern from six colleges to four. Jorns led the university through a change of leadership from the Board of Governors to Eastern’s own Board of Trustees.

President Carol D. Surles (1999-2001)

Carol Surles made history by being the first African American president and first full-time female president at Eastern. Prior to Surles, Barbara Hill served as acting president in 1992. Surles’ tenure was cut short due to health concerns after a diagnosis of breast cancer.

President Louis V. Hencken (2001-2007)

Louis V. Hencken was president for six years after working at Eastern for 40 years. His term oversaw several stage capital development projects including extensions on Booth Library, Doudna Fine Arts Center, Lantz Arena and more. In Hencken’s final year, enrollment jumped to the highest it has ever been at 12,349 students.

President William L. Perry (2007-2015)

William L. Perry was president for eight years. Throughout his term, Eastern established the Renewable Energy Center, one of the largest university biomass installations nationally. The Center for Clean Energy Research and Education was established at the same time.

President David M. Glassman (2015-2023)

David M. Glassman has been president for the last six years. Glassman had to lead Eastern through the state budget impasse almost immediately after assuming office. After the budget impasse, Glassman then led the campus community through the COVID-19 global pandemic. Glassman’s last day as president will be June 30.

President Jay Gatrell (2023-?)

Jay Gatrell poses for a picture in front of Old Main after being announced as the 13th president of Eastern Illinois University Friday afternoon. (Ashanti Thomas

Jay Gatrell is Eastern’s current provost and vice president of academic affairs since 2017. Gatrell will begin his term as Eastern’s 13th president on July 1. Gatrell is a first generation college student.


Madelyn Kidd can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].