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Leading Through Crisis: Chancellor Frederic Aldin Hall

Luke Paul Martens Bretscher, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Modern chief administrators in higher education are facing a moment of significant crisis. Confidence in higher education decreases yearly, a growing anti-intellectual movement erodes trust, and educators feel ill-prepared for contemporary challenges. The pressures of the role lead to shorter tenures in the chief academic position. So, academic leaders must identify how to navigate crises better. From 1913 to 1923, Dr. Frederic Aldin Hall led Washington University (now Washington University in Saint Louis) as chancellor. Hall guided the institution through a tumultuous period of the Great War and the world-wide influenza pandemic. During his tenure, Chancellor Hall transformed Washington University. Under his leadership, the campus experienced tremendous enrollment growth, opened the school of business, dedicated a new medical campus (at the current medical school location), and advocated for equity in academia. Chancellor Hall led the university in an era “peculiarly filled with problems of unrest and complications,” such as unrest and world-wide violence (particularly in Europe), global health and medical emergencies, and political controversy over civil rights and equity. This narrative study will take a biographical approach to understand the life of Chancellor Hall and identify how academic leaders can lead through moments of crisis or controversy. This study will employ both primary source document analysis to build the narrative and provide some context for the environment and experiences of students and staff at Washington University during Hall’s leadership.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Higher Education Administration

Recommended Citation

Bretscher, Luke Paul Martens, "Leading Through Crisis: Chancellor Frederic Aldin Hall" (2023). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI30488891.