Past Presidents

The 16 Presidents of the University of Nevada, Reno

Black and white image of LeRoy Brown sitting for a portrait

LeRoy Brown, first President of the University from 1887 to 1889

Brown, a former Ohio education commission member, was a cashier at an Ohio bank when he was selected by the Nevada Board of Regents to serve as president. A veteran of the Civil War, Brown selected his first assistant and faculty member, Hannah K. Clapp of Carson City, who would go on to serve the University as librarian and instructor for 14 years. Within two years Brown built a faculty of 10 and student body of 127 in the fields of Liberal Arts and Mechanical Arts, Normal School, Mining and Agriculture, and a Commercial Department.


Black and white image of Stephen White seated in the President's office with letters on his desk and a shelf sitting the background

Stephen Jones, 1889 - 1894

Jones came to the University from a high school in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was a student of classical languages, receiving his training from Dartmouth and at the universities at Munster and Bonn in Germany. The faculty increased to 15 members during his presidency, and enrollment grew to 179 in his final year as president. The University observed its first graduating class, in 1891, during the Jones presidency.


Black and white image of Joseph Stubbs seated in his office looking at a piece of paper

Joseph Stubbs, 1894 - 1914

Stubbs, from Ohio, had received his training at Ohio Wesleyan University, specializing in Greek and Latin Studies. He was president at Baldwin University when he was selected president, and took over an institution that had seen six principals and two presidents in 20 years. Over his 20-year tenure, Stubbs would provide stability, vision and a missionary-like zeal in relating the value of the University to the community. In 1894, the University had five buildings; by 1900, there were 11, including two student dormitories and a gymnasium. He encouraged the establishment of more high schools in the state to ensure the University’s students were well-prepared for the rigors of higher education.

He stressed the value of extension work, and was the first president to take the University’s resources into rural Nevada. He was the first University president to actively take a stand on the moral issues of the day, stressing “ethical values” in his speeches. When he died unexpectedly in office in 1914, the University had 41 members of its instructional faculty, had implemented summer school for the state’s teachers, opened a new library building with 27,000 volumes, and was considered the best location in the state of Nevada to process scientific and technical information.


Monotone color image of Archer Hendrick wearing a suit and tie looking directly at the camera

Archer Hendrick, 1914 - 1917

Hendrick was Canadian-born and was president of Whitman College in Washington when he was appointed.


Black and white headshot of Walter Clark looking directly at the camera

Walter Clark, 1918 - 1938

A native Ohioan, Clark had trained at Ohio Wesleyan University and Columbia, and was known for scholarly research in economics and business, as well as a distinguished 15-year teaching career at City College of New York. The growth of the University’s physical facilities continued under Clark, including the expansion of the football stadium, construction of $415,000 Mackay Science Hall, and the opening of a new $250,000 library. Clark was known for his support of academic freedom, and often defended the faculty in its name.


Black and white image of Leon Hartman wearing glasses and a suit looking at the camera

Leon W. Hartman, 1938 - 1943

Hartman, a faculty member, succeeded President Walter Clark, who was in poor health during his final year of the presidency. From acting president in 1938 he was formally inaugurated in 1939. He insisted on academic freedom and welcomed faculty participation in the University’s affairs. He was only the second University president to die in office.


Black and white image of John Moseley dressed in academic attire shaking the hands of a gentleman carrying papers and a hat

John O. Moseley (pictured left, wearing academic attire), 1944 - 1949

Moseley was acting dean of students at the University of Tennessee when he was appointed. Originally from Texas, he had received his A.B. degree from Austin College and attended Oxford. The University saw a brief upsurge in enrollment in the years immediately following World War II, as students under the G.I. Bill flocked to college campuses. It was during this period when the University acquired benefactor Max C. Fleischmann’s 258-acre farm near east Reno.


Black and white image of Arthur K. Bourne (left), University President Malcolm Love (center), and Mrs. Alberta Bourne (right) stand in front of the donated Buick Aerocar car and the Zephyr trailer

Malcolm A. Love (pictured center), 1950 - 1952

Love received his advanced training at the University of Iowa. He welcomed input from faculty and students about the direction of the University. An academic council was established to advise his administration. He met regularly with the Student Life Council and was considered a forerunner of how modern university presidents seek student participation in an institution’s affairs. His administration came to later be known as the “era of good feelings.”


Black and white image of Minard Stout wearing a suit and facing the camera

Minard W. Stout, 1952 - 1957

Stout, a former high school principal and a professor of education from the Midwest, brought a stern leadership style when he arrived on campus. Early on, according to “The University of Nevada: A Centennial History,” he “startled a number of faculty members with … rough talk in early meetings.” Stout had strong chain-of-command feelings that ran counter to academic freedom. He seemed to take offense when Biology Professor Frank Richardson, had shared a scholarly article about nationwide university entrance requirements. Soon, Richardson another respected faculty member, English Professor Robert Gorrell, and three others, all professing the right as tenured faculty to express their views that the University needed to maintain high entrance standards, were fighting for their professional lives as efforts were made by Stout to remove them.

This led to the eventual resignation of several key faculty members, including Nevada’s most famous novelist of the time, Walter Van Tilburg Clark, who resigned from his position in the English Department. Van Tilburg’s words, which indicted Stout for wanting to create a “manageable mediocrity” at the University, appeared in Time Magazine. More than 300 students demonstrated against the Stout administration. Richardson eventually left the University; a dean was removed and salaries of faculty who were supportive of the academics’ right to freedom of expression were reduced, all as retribution by the Stout administration. The American Association of University Professors censured the University for its treatment of the faculty. Stout was eventually fired.


Black and white image of Charles Armstrong wearing a suit and resting his hands on a chair with a bookcase behind him

Charles Armstrong, 1958 - 1967

Armstrong, a bespectacled, patient man, was fresh off a successful five-year stint as president of Pacific University in Oregon. In his inaugural address, Armstrong spoke of a new beginning for the campus: “I conceive that it must be my most urgent and continuing responsibility to do all within my power to maintain a certain atmosphere both within and without the University. Within the University this means an atmosphere of freedom, and of the responsibility inherent in freedom; an atmosphere in which all members of the University community, students, faculty, and administration, may work toward our common goals in mutual confidence and respect … an atmosphere, in sum, wherein the concept of human dignity and worth is practiced as well as preached.” Armstrong’s words heralded a new time of campus healing and a new sense of purpose for the University. He stimulated research, erected a new library (Getchell Library) featuring more book-holdings for increased scholarly activity, implemented a sabbatical leave program to further spur faculty productivity and supported the founding of the University of Nevada Press.


Black and white image of N. Edd Miller headshot looking directly at the camera

N. Edd Miller, 1967 - 1973

Beginning in 1965, Miller, formerly of the University of Michigan with an expertise in rhetoric and speech, served as the chancellor of the northern campus of the state’s two universities, the University of Nevada. With reorganization and advent of a Nevada system of higher education in 1968, Miller became president of the University. Low-key, friendly and popular with the majority of students, the shave-headed Miller handled many campus issues that were a reflection of the student activism and war protests across America.

Miller’s popularity was such that a counter-demonstration, specifically aimed to counter the occurrences on other campuses where protesting students had been tear-gassed, “N. Edd Miller Day,” was held on campus. More than 2,000 students attended. The campus had fewer than 100 African American students, however, and during campus discussions about lack of opportunity for minorities on campus, Miller patiently listened, and created an Educational Opportunities Program to assist members of underrepresented groups. When two fire bombs were tossed into University-related buildings, Miller urged calm and a cooling-off period. During his administration, with copious input from students, an Honors Program, Ethnic Studies Program and Environmental Studies Program were established.


Black and white image of Max Milam seated in his office wearing glasses in a suit and holding a pipe to his mouth

Max Milam, 1974 - 1978

Milam came to Nevada with an impressive professional portfolio: Former chairman of the political science department at the University of Arkansas, director of the Department of Finance and Administration for the State of Arkansas. Milam used his talents as a business and political manager while in office, and changed many of the university’s methods of operation. In taking the job, Milam felt the University needed to rebuild some of its linkages with the community; he also felt it needed to do a better job of relating its mission to the overall concerns of the community. Milam battled a difficult budget situation as the country slowly slid into recession starting in late 1975, and often felt state funding was lacking. During Milam’s tenure, the University appointed its first female dean outside of Home Economics or Nursing with the choice of Rebecca Stafford to head the College of Arts & Sciences.


Black and white image of Joe Crowley wearing a suit and standing in his office with a desk in the background

Joseph N. Crowley, 1978 - 2000

After joining the University faculty as a professor of political science in 1966 and serving as chair of the Faculty Senate, Crowley was appointed interim president in February 1978 following the dismissal of Max Milam, and then one year later assumed the position on a regular basis. When Crowley stepped down from the presidency at the end of 2000, he was the longest-serving president at a single institution among the nation’s principal universities. Known as an accessible (his phone number was listed in the phone book) and avuncular man (he told everyone he met to “Just call me Joe,”) the student enrollment grew to more than 12,000 by 1992, and the University’s national prestige increased just as noticeably.

Crowley’s presidential service included the establishment of a university foundation; completion of a major capital campaign; expansion of the campus School of Medicine into a statewide institution; development of a new core curriculum and, jointly with that initiative, of an ambitious effort to enhance sponsored faculty research; and founding of the new College of Human and Community Sciences and of the Reynolds School of Journalism. During his administration, initiatives were also launched to put in place a National Public Radio station, a campus-based, community-owned public television station, an effective long-term legislative relations strategy, and a federal relations program to help diversify the university’s financial support. A large-scale campus construction/facility expansion and remodeling plan was implemented, along with significant property acquisitions.

Crowley has been credited with an institution-wide rededication to, and enlargement of, the University’s land-grant missions. He was also a national intercollegiate athletics leader, serving a two-year term as president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (1993-95).


John Lilley wearing a suit and tie, seated while looking at the camera

John Lilley, 2001 - 2005

A native of Louisiana and the son of a Baptist minister, Lilley came to Nevada after serving as the president of Penn State Erie, during which time his 21-year presidency there had led to dramatic and record-setting growth. As University president, Lilley led the campus through a comprehensive strategic planning process and presided over an expansion of the institution’s external funding and the creation of new research centers and institutes to further its scientific outreach. He often challenged the campus to think not in terms of single fiscal years, but to broaden its perspective to five, 10, 20 years into the future, saying, “Some people say that when you get out planning past five years, you’re wasting your time. That’s not true. You need to be bold.”

Through private fundraising and collaboration with the state government and the student body, he achieved approval of approximately $400 million in new buildings to campus. His efforts paved the way for the eventual opening of perhaps the most complex and expensive capital improvement project the University had ever seen – the simultaneous construction of the Joe Crowley Student Union (opened in 2007) and one of the country’s most sophisticated and technologically advanced libraries, the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center (opened in 2008).


Milton Glick wearing a blue suit, shirt and tie smiling at the camera

Milt Glick, 2006 - 2011

Glick was appointed president following a distinguished career as a chemistry professor and as provost at one of the nation’s largest universities, Arizona State. At age 67, he was one of the oldest “new” presidents ever appointed at the University, and quickly won the campus over with his engaging personality, energy and emphasis on student success. Wearing a wide-brimmed, slightly sweat-stained hat, Glick was a constant campus presence, and the University responded. The University increased its number of National Merit Scholars from a handful to 38 during the 2010-2011 academic year – a record.

For these efforts, the University was named a prestigious National Merit Scholarship Sponsor School. In 2010-2011, the University set all-time records for enrollment and graduation. In addition, freshman retention rates reached 80 percent, also an institutional record. In fall 2010, for the first time in the University’s history, the University was named a Tier I school in U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings. Glick stressed the value of creating a “sticky campus” – a dynamic campus setting where both the student body and the community are engaged – and with the opening of key buildings such as the Joe Crowley Student Union, Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center, the Center for Molecular Medicine and the Davidson Mathematics and Science Building, he was able to markedly strengthen the connection between the campus and the community.

When he died unexpectedly in April 16, 2011, at age 73, the campus mourned the loss of a president who had told all of Nevada during his inaugural address on Sept. 29, 2006 that, “The next Comstock Lode is not in the mines of Nevada. It is in the minds of Nevadans.”


Marc Johnson wearing a blue suit and blue tie standing in front of the Clark Administration Building with ivy hanging from the brick building

Marc Johnson, 2012 - Present

Johnson, a native of Kansas and an economist by training, came to the University from Colorado State University to serve as Provost in 2008. Upon the death of President Milt Glick in 2011, he served as interim president for one year until he was named president in April 2012. During his tenure at the University, Johnson has stressed the creation of a culture marked by student success, faculty-led and world-improving research and creativity, and statewide engagement with communities and business.

The University has responded with all-time high enrollment and graduation figures, as well as institutional records for the diversity and accomplishment of its student body and investment by its donors. Johnson established the University's Office of Diversity Initiatives and represented the University in its move to the Mountain West Conference in intercollegiate athletics. Johnson has led the University through one of the institution’s greatest periods of faculty growth, with more than 400 tenure-track positions either being currently filled or planned on being filled in the future.

His leadership has seen the University grow to nearly 22,000 students, as well as nine consecutive years for the University being ranked in the top tier of best national universities by U.S. News & World Report. In late 2018, culminating a process and goal first stated by Johnson during his 2013 “State of the University” address, the University was elevated to an “R1” Carnegie research university, ranking among the top 130 doctoral universities with the highest levels of research excellence – a first for the state’s oldest institution of higher learning.

Numerous capital improvement projects have been completed under Johnson’s leadership, including new on-campus living learning communities (Peavine Hall, Great Basin Hall), a new University Arts Building with teaching and performance space, the William N. Pennington Student Achievement Center as well as renovation of several of the campus’ most historic buildings, such as Lincoln Hall and Palmer Engineering.

Learn more about President Marc Johnson