Fallows was born in England and immigrated to Wisconsin with his family in 1848 where he joined the Methodist Church at the age of 19. He studied at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin and at the University of Wisconsin. He was the Vice-President and Principal of Galesville University for two years, joined the Union Army in 1862, and served as the chaplain for the 32nd Wisconsin Infantry. He was also a Professor-elect of Natural Sciences at Lawrence and later a superintendent. He became president of Illinois Wesleyan University in 1873.
In 1874 he established a non-resident degree program that awarded Ph.B, M.A., and Ph.D.’s to “professional men and women whose duties and environments are such as to make a resident course of study an impossibility.” (See pp. 38-39 of An historical sketch of the Illinois Wesleyan University, together with a record of alumni: 1857-1895). This was the first-ever distance education program in the United States and it ended in 1910.