Elwin D. Farwell

Sixth President of Luther College (1963-1981)

Early Years

Elwin D. Farwell, the sixth president of Luther College, was born on May 1, 1919 in Branch County, Michigan. He married Helen Irene Hill in August 1942. They have four children. A 1943 graduate of Michigan State University with a degree in animal husbandry, he received a B.D. degree from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in 1959 and held the position of academic dean at California Lutheran College before his call to Luther.

Years at Luther

 The second century of Luther College was ushered in by its sixth president, Elwin D. Farwell, who was officially inaugurated on May 11, 1963.. Described by Leigh Jordahl and Harris Kaasa in their college history as the most assertive of Luther’s presidents, Farwell’s presidency (1963-1981) was called “democracy with a strong executive branch.” During the Farwell years the faculty expanded and diversified away from a homogeneous mixture of Lutherans, Luther graduates, and Scandinavians. Enrollment increased and the building program started under J. W. Ylvisaker continued as Ylvisaker Hall, Miller and Dieseth Halls, the Center for Faith and Life, and Preus Library were completed. A strong commitment to a liberal arts curriculum was made by Farwell as the calendar was changed to a 4-1-4 system, along with the addition of the Freshman Core Program in 1964 and later Paideia in 1977. Disturbances, such as the early closing of school due to race relations in December of 1971 or the student occupation of Main in 1973, were handled coolly and competently by Farwell. His retirement in 1981 marked the end of an era for Luther College, one that saw much change but still retained the strong academic and social characteristics the school has always maintained.

Resources in the Luther College Archives

  • Stability and Change: Luther College in Its Second Century by Leigh D. Jordahl and Harris E. Kaasa

Works Referenced

  • Jordahl, Leigh D. and Harris E. Kaasa, Stability and Change: Luther College in Its Second Century, Luther College Press, Decorah: 1986.
  • Who's Who in the Luther College Archives

External Resources