Roanoke College

Julius Daniel Dreher - 1878 to 1903

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Julius Dreher (Class of 1871), at the age of thirty-two, became one of the youngest men ever named a college president. He served Roanoke in that capacity for twenty-five years, from its Quarto Centennial through its Semi-Centennial. While the physical campus changed somewhat, it was Dreher’s impact on the face of the student body and the curriculum that was most significant. Dreher was a firm believer in education for all groups of people. He recruited heavily in the Indian Territory, bringing 35 Choctaw students and several other Native Americans to the College. Dreher had an international focus long before it became fashionable. Roanoke College was among the first to graduate Korean students, including Korean patriot Kyu-sik Kim. Other students came from countries such as Japan, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Conversely, Dreher encouraged his faculty to study abroad and the students to travel. In the 1880s, the all-male college saw the admission of "special students"--daughters and other female relatives of faculty and Board members, who could earn a certificate, but not a diploma. Curriculum changes included the addition of the Bachelor of Science degree, majors and electives.

Like his mentor, David Bittle, Julius Dreher spent much of his presidency on the road, recruiting students and raising funds. (No Admissions or Resource Development people in those days!) While Roanoke never flourished financially, Dreher did manage the beginnings of an endowment, a goal for which Bittle strived but was never was able to achieve.

After leaving Roanoke, Dreher finally found time to court and marry at the age of 56. He and his bride began his new career as a U.S. Consul, first to Tahiti (an appointment from friend Theodore Roosevelt), then Jamaica, Canada and Panama.