Valparaiso University President, 1920-1921
One of Valparaiso University’s most controversial presidents, Hodgdon was president of the Hahnemann Medical School in Chicago and a man with many academic degrees when Valpo’s board of trustees hired him to resolve the University’s financial crisis.
Hodgdon arrived with grandiose visions of creating a great “modern” university. He quickly set about reorganizing the campus into an elaborate hierarchy of three colleges and 10 schools, and he launched a glitzy “Million Dollar Campaign” to increase endowment. In April 1921, after the flimsiness of Hogdon’s credentials was discovered, the Valparaiso Student Council and large numbers of the faculty requested Hodgdon’s resignation. Hodgdon attempted to dissolve the Council and fire the faculty, and near-riots between Hodgdon’s detractors and supporters ensued on campus. At the same time, Hodgdon was in New York on a fundraising trip and announced to a group of Valpo alumni that U.S. President Warren G. Harding would be the University’s commencement speaker the following year, a claim that turned out to have no basis in fact. At this point, the Board voted to dismiss Hodgdon.