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Frank Strong, 1902-1920

Call Number: 2/8

Biography of Frank Strong (1859-1934)

Born in Venice, New York in 1859, Frank Strong graduated from Yale University and worked as a lawyer and superintendent in St. Joseph, Missouri and Lincoln, Nebraska. He had been serving as the President of the University of Oregon for 3 years when the Kansas Board of Regents selected him as a candidate for Chancellor. Lured by a salary of $4,500 a year, Frank Strong accepted their offer and came to KU in 1902.

The businesslike Strong made significant inroads to improving the stability and prestige of KU. He convinced the legislature of the necessity of steady funding for the university. During the first 6 years of his tenure, 7 buildings were erected on campus, including Robinson Gymnasium, Haworth Hall, Marvin Hall, and the east and west wings of what is now Strong Hall. The four year School of Medicine began with Strong's encouragement. Significantly, Strong pushed for the University of Kansas' entrance into the elite Association of American Universities (AAU), contributing to the renown of the university.

Straightforward and professional, Frank Strong was nonetheless not above some fun. He was the first to come out in a nightshirt to lead a victory parade, beginning the Nightshirt Parade tradition that would go on for nearly 50 years. However, Strong was no fan of football, finding it violent and the number of casualties alarming. Understanding that he could not simply abolish such a popular game, he was the premier organizer of the Missouri Valley Athletic Association that brought the athletic organizations of each school into the university so that they could be administered responsibly.

By the late 1910s, Frank Strong had enough of the trials of being chancellor. Disheartened by seeing so many of his students killed in World War I and troubled by discontent among faculty, students, and alumni, Strong asked to be relieved of his duties as soon as the Board of Regents could find a replacement. They found one by 1920, and Strong stepped down after 18 years as chancellor to become a law professor. He also at that time became the president of the American Tuberculosis Administration. He died 14 years later in 1934.


80 Linear Feet (99 document cases + 3 volumes)

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States