Benjamin Rush Rhees

Rush Rhees (1860-1939) came to the University in 1900 -- we had been without a president for four years -- and was the second of our presidents to serve thirty-five years. The year 1900 also saw the addition of a new building to the Prince Street Campus -- a long awaited gymnasium. One of its first uses was for Rhees' inauguration.

American mobilization for the First World War severely disrupted academic life at the University. Freshman Willard A. Goodwin, wrote to his mother: "When I went to the office to ask for my room, they told me that all reservations for rooms had been cancelled as the dorm was to be made into a barracks Oct. 1st or whenever military training begins." Enrollment of men and women, which had hit a peak of 578 in 1916, declined precipitously, with a low of only 56 men in the fall of 1918.

The decade of the 1920s was pivotal in the evolution of the University from what was essentially a college to a true University. In 1920, the campus consisted of the buildings on the Prince Street Campus. By late 1921, the die had been cast: the School of Music was under construction, the Medical Center was well into the planning stages, and the Board of Trustees had voted to keep the Prince Street Campus for the College of Women and build a new campus for the College for  Men on the site of the Oak Hill Country Club.

The first manifestation of the great expansion of he University under Rush Rhees was the opening of the Eastman School of Music in the fall of 1921. The Eastman Theater opened a year later.