William Lowe Bryan

William Lowe Bryan (November 11, 1860 – November 21, 1955) was the 10th president of Indiana University, serving from 1902 to 1937.[1]

William Lowe Bryan
10th President of the Indiana University
In office
Preceded byJoseph Swain
Succeeded byHerman B Wells
Personal details
Born(1860-11-11)November 11, 1860
Monroe County, Indiana
DiedNovember 21, 1955(1955-11-21) (aged 95)
Bloomington, Indiana
Resting placeCrown Hill Cemetery
Academic background
Alma mater
ThesisOn the development of voluntary motor ability, with a preface on the requirements of work in experimental psychology (1892)
Doctoral advisorG. Stanley Hall
Other academic advisorsDavid Starr Jordan
Academic work
InstitutionsIndiana University

Early life and education

William Lowe Bryan was born William Julian Bryan on November 11, 1860 in Monroe County, Indiana. His father, John Bryan was a Presbyterian minister and his mother was Eliza Phillips Bryan. Having been born near Bloomington, Bryan graduated from IU with degrees in ancient classics and philosophy. His interests shifted toward psychology and Bryan went on to earn his Ph.D. in psychology from Clark University in 1892 under the direction of G. Stanley Hall.[2][1]


That same year Bryan helped organize the American Psychological Association and became one of its charter members. He returned to IU in 1893 to accept a professorship in the psychology department and the appointment to vice president of the university. He succeeded Joseph Swain as president in 1902 and led the institution for 35 years until 1937, at which time he retired as president emeritus at the age of 76.

Bryan presided over the transformation of IU from a small, traditional liberal arts college into a modern research university. His most notable accomplishment was the expansion of graduate and professional training. During his administration, schools or departments of medicine, education, journalism, nursing, business, music, and dentistry were established.[1]

One of the early challenges of Bryan's presidency was providing the university campus with a sufficient amount of water for its operation. (Bloomington, and the IU campus in particular, is located on a high ground without any major rivers or lakes in the vicinity, and with little usable groundwater).[3] The city's waterworks existing in the early 20th century being utterly inadequate, Bryan commissioned a team of IU researchers, led by the geologist E.R. Cumings, to investigate the campus' water situation. On March 8, 1910, the Cumings commission recommended a site for the new reservoir, a couple miles northeast of the campus; the reservoir, which became known as the University Lake, was constructed in 1910-1914.[4] Although no longer used for water supply, the reservoir remains, and is the centerpiece of Indiana University's Research and Teaching Preserve (Griffy Woods).[5]

William Lowe Bryan died in Bloomington in 1955.[6] He was buried next to his wife at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.[7]


  • Studies in Platoʼs Republic, 1898
  • On the psychology of learning a life occupation, 1941
  • The measured and the not-yet-measured, 1947

See also


  1. Hearst, Eliot; Capshew, James H., eds. (1988). "Psychology at Indiana University: A centennial review And compendium" (PDF). Indiana University Department of Psychology.
  2. Bryan, William L. (1892). On the development of voluntary motor ability, with a preface on the requirements of work in experimental psychology (Ph.D.). Clark University. OCLC 11645931 via ProQuest.
  3. Maxwell, Donald H. (January 1921). "Impounded water in Bloomington, Ind". Municipal and County Engineering: Design, Construction, Maintenance, and Operation of All Public Works. 60 (1): 159–161 via Google Books.
  4. Cravens, John W. (1922). "Buildings on the old and new campuses of Indiana University". Indiana University Alumni Quarterly. 9. pp. 317–319 via Google Books.
  5. Sahu, Neil (2008). "Indiana University Griffy Lake Watershed: Sustainability Survey" (PDF).
  6. "Dr. Bryan dies; Retired head of Indiana U.; Directed Expansion of University". Chicago Daily Tribune. November 22, 1955. p. a10. Dr. William Lowe Bryan, 95, president emeritus of Indiana University died here today in his home on the university campus. Alternate Link via ProQuest.
  7. "Dr. Bryan's Story Read At Rites". Indianapolis Star. November 24, 1955. p. 25 via Newspapers.com. Dr. William Lowe Bryan, 95-year-old president emeritus of Indiana University, was buried beside the body of his wife in simple graveside services at Crown Hill yesterday
Academic offices
Preceded by
Joseph Swain
President of Indiana University
Succeeded by
Herman B Wells

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