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Thomas Milton Gatch

Thomas Milton Gatch was appointed as the fifth president of Oregon Agricultural College because of his vast experience in higher education, previously presiding over Willamette University (1860-1865 and 1870-1880) and the University of Washington (1887-1895).

Thomas M. Gatch was born on January 27, 1833 in Milford, Ohio and received an A.B. degree in 1855 and an A.M. degree in 1860 from Ohio Wesleyan University.  He completed a course at Lane Theological Seminary in Cincinnati and later was awarded an honorary D.D. degree from the institution.  In 1874 the Indiana Asbury University (now DePauw University) conferred a Ph.D. degree on Gatch; Gatch was the first OAC president to hold this degree.

Gatch arrived in California in 1856 and for the next fifty years served as an educator in California, Oregon, and Washington at several institutions, including the University of the Pacific at Santa Clara, California; Willamette University; the University of Oregon; the University of Washington; and Oregon Agricultural College. 

While serving as president of Willamette University, Gatch was elected mayor of Salem in 1877 and again in 1879.  Following his presidency at the University of Washington (1887-1895), Gatch was offered the position of OAC president in 1897.  He presided for nearly ten years until July 1907, though he remained at OAC as a professor of political and mental science for another six months.  Gatch then retired to his estate near Seattle where he resided until his death on April 23, 1913 at age 81.

Related Resources: President's Office Records of Thomas Gatch, Memorabilia Collection.

Black and white photographic portrait of Thomas Milton Gatch.

Thomas Milton Gatch, 1907.

Sepia photograph of the Oregon Agricultural College faculty.

The 1904-05 OAC faculty.  Thomas Milton Gatch is seated in the middle of the front row.