Charles De Garmo
Under Charles De Garmo (1849–1934), the College established its first two fellowships as well as a loan fund to assist students unable to pay for their education. It also received a Phi Beta Kappa chapter in 1896, a sign of its increasing educational prowess.
De Garmo extolled the academic and social advantages of a coeducational, close-knit college community in comparison to larger, city-based universities. Understanding the value of professor-student contact, he pushed to eliminate teaching assistants. He also oversaw the construction of a women’s gym and the restoration and expansion of Science Hall after a fire caused its partial destruction.
Engineering had been part of the curriculum since the College’s founding. After the completion of Science Hall, De Garmo reported to the Board: “The College is now equipped for doing a high grade of work in civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering.”
Although not a Quaker, De Garmo’s ancestors were Friends and his views and philosophy were in keeping with the Society of Friends. He graduated from Illinois State Normal University in 1873 and later received a doctorate from the University of Halle in Germany. After his retirement from the presidency in 1898, De Garmo returned to teaching, joining the education faculty at Cornell University.