Albion Interactive History / People / Louis Norris

Albion Interactive History

Albion Interactive History / People / Albion College

Dr. Louis W. Norris
11th President, 1960-1970


Albion College President +

Accomplishments as President

Biographical Information
The family of Mr. and Mrs. L.W. Norris consisted of seven sons and daughters, all of whom graduated from Otterbein College in their home town of Westerville, Ohio, and four of whom became engaged in education. Shortly before D. Norris, his wife Florence, and their two daughters Martha and Joanna came to Albion, the Otterbein College alumni journal, Otterbein Towers, honored the entire family for having the largest number of graduates in the history of theinstitution.

Believing that his place was in the pulpit, Dr. Norris matriculated at the Boston University School, which bestowed upon him the Bachelor of SacredTheology degree in 1931. Three years later he was ordained in the Methodist ministry, but by that time the classroom had begun to beckon. Like President Whitehouse, he served several pastoral charges even as he pursued his graduate studies at the University of Berlin, Harvard University, and Boston University. In 1937 he received his Ph.D. from Boston University.

Although he preached on many occasions thereafter, his immediate appointment as professor of philosophy and religion at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio, fixed his career in the academic world. At the beginning, he committed himself to the classroom, but others had different plans. In spite of his own reluctance, he soon found himself in a series of leadership roles. After only two years as a highly successful teacher, he was persuaded to take over the vice-presidency of Baldwin-Wallace, a position he held for the next eight years. After WorldWar II, Dr. Norris sought the classroom again by becoming chairman of the Department ofPhilosophy and Religion at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. Within months, however, he stepped in asdean of the university as well, and after that his career gravitated toward other administrative positions.

The first of these came in 1952, when he was inaugurated president of Mac Murray College, Jacksonville, Illinois. His efforts to combine this all-womenintuition with the all-male Illinois College on the other side of town and his ultimate establishment of a coordinate college for men at MacMurray lie outside the scopeof this study; suffice it to say, President Norris carved a deep niche for himself at Jacksonville.

While at Albion he was responsible for curriculum changes, developing of the Basic Ideasprogram, passing the two-thirds mark in raising of a $20 million advancement program, and expansion of the college plant. The east end of the campus was greatly changed by construction ofWhitehouse Hall, the Visual Arts building, the fraternity housing complex, Twin Towers and two units of the Science Complex. The eastward expansion of Alumni field also took place since Dr.Norris’s arrival, and the college’s enrollment rose from 1,370 in the fall of 1960 to 1,870 students.

Norris family on staircase at President’s House (L-R) Dr. Louis W. Norris, Florence Norris, and their daughters Martha and Joanna.

The innaugural procession which opened the installation of President Louis W. Norris on April 14, 1961.

The investiture ceremony confirming Dr. Norris as president of Albion College.

Board Chairman Howard C. Lawrence welcoming Dr. Louis Norris to the presidency.

Source: Gildart, Robert. Albion College, 1835-1960, A History. Chicago: Donnelley Lakeside Press, 1961.

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