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Valparaiso University: Presidents

William H.T. Dau, 1926-1929

The Lutheran University Association had been organized and had negotiated the acquisition of Valparaiso University so late in 1925 that it was unable to name a president in time for the fall opening of the 1925-26 school year. So it was in January 1926 that Dr. William H.T. Dau, a well-known and respected clergyman-scholar, became Valparaiso University’s first Lutheran president, assuming the two-fold task of refashioning the University into a truly Lutheran institution and achieving accreditation.

At the time of his appointment, Dr. Dau, who was born in Lauenburg, Pomerania, on February 8, 1864, was almost 62 years of age. He was professor of dogmatics at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, where he taught for 20 years. Prior to teaching at Concordia St. Louis, he served in the parish ministry for nearly 20 years, and was president of Concordia College, Conover, North Carolina for seven years thereafter Additionally, Dr. Dau edited the infant Lutheran Witness for four years, the official English-language periodical of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and other states -- now known as The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

His wife, already an invalid, died while he was in office and his own health began failing. But in just two and a half years, before he retired in 1929, Dr. Dau succeeded in getting the University accredited and set it on a course that would establish it as an outstanding academic institution with a strong Lutheran Christian identity.

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