Research files: Shortest serving president

Someone recently asked, “Who was IWU’s shortest-serving president?”
With a length of service at just 14 months, the record goes to Clinton W. Sears: August 1855-October 1856 (see p. 54-55 of Elmo Watson’s IWU Story; available at

Photographs of all of our presidents are available at

Others who served short terms include
Wiley G. Brooks (22 mos.) took office in December 1937 and left in September 1939 (Watson p. 168-169).

Samuel J. Fallows (23 mos.) served fromĀ August 1873 until the 1875 Commencement which was in mid- to late-June in those days (Watson p. 113).

Wayne Anderson (24 mos.) August 1, 1986 – July 31, 1988
The official inauguration didn’t take place until April 25, 1987, but archival records confirm that Anderson was appointed in April 1986 and his first day in office was August 1, 1986. A letter from the Board of Trustees (filed with Anderson’s appointment documents in RG 2-11/1) verifies receipt of his resignation letter and says it was effective July 31, 1988. The same letter confirms Dr. Wendell Hess would serve as interim president. Dr. Hess discusses this period and others in his long association with IWU in his oral history interview (see An April 15, 1988 Argus news story on this topic is available at,6439.

Note: We’ve combed our research files for interesting requests and with this post will start publishing “staff picks” and the ones that seem likely to be asked again. Stay tuned!

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