Skip to main content

Thomas Van Scoy

Professor of Greek at Willamette University, 1879-1880; 6th President of Willamette University, 1880-1891

Headshot of Thomas Van Scoy

Contact Information


Thomas Van Scoy (1848-1901) was born in Indiana. After serving in the Civil War, he entered Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. He left the university in his sophomore year to become principal of Brooktown Academy, the high-school from which he had graduated himself. After three years, he returned to college and graduated in 1875. Afterwards, he worked as a Methodist minister in Rennsaler, Ind. for the next three years. Concerned, however, about the health of his first wife, Jennie, he accepted a position as Professor of Greek at Willamette University in 1879 (despite the change in climate, she died three years later).

After only one year in Salem, Van Scoy was elected president of Willamette University and served in that capacity until 1891. During that time, he bought the house of Chloe Clark Wilson, the first instructor of Willamette's predecessor institution, the Oregon Institute, at his own expense and turned the house into an academic building for the new Women's College. The remodeled building was named Lausanne Hall, after the boat that carried the "Great Reinforcement". In 1883, Van Scoy established Willamette's College of Law.

In 1891, Van Scoy resigned from Willamette's presidency to become professor of ancient languages and dean of Portland University. In 1898, he was appointed President of Montana Wesleyan University, a position he held until his death at age 53.


  • A. B., Northwestern University, 1875
  • D. D., University of the Pacific, 1884
Willamette University

Classical Studies

Willamette University
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.
503-370-6077 voice
503-370-6944 fax