Luther College Moment in History #74

Ove Jacob Hjort (J. H.) Preus was the fourth president of Luther College. Son of C. K. Preus (the second president of Luther College) and Louise Augusta Hjort, he was born on January 21, 1880. He began as a student at Luther in 1895 and graduated in 1901 with degrees in theology and law. He also "completed the course at Luther Seminary in 1904, and spent a year in postgraduate study at Johns Hopkins University in 1904-05" (David T Nelson, 251). He served as a pastor in Washington and Wisconsin from 1905 to 1929. He also served as president of Augustana College in South Dakota before his term as president of Luther from 1932 to 1948. His administration at Luther College spanned a crucial period in the college’s history, which included declining enrollments, financial difficulties, the possible loss of accreditation and rumors of mergers with other colleges. Highlights of his term of office included the institution of co-education, the Diamond Jubilee, and major changes in the governance of the college. After weathering the Great Depression and facing World War II, he retired from the presidency on June 30, 1948. He continued to teach part-time at Luther until his death on February 13, 1951.