Joe Crowley, 13th president

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).