Entrance Torch 2

Henry Baker Brown


Northern Indiana Normal School President, 1873-1917

Henry Baker Brown’s passion for teaching began when he was a teenager and flourished with his study of pedagogy. After earning a bachelors of science from National Normal University and a bachelors of arts from Northwestern Normal, Brown sought to open his own school. He came to Valparaiso in 1873 to look over the defunct Methodist college, and, sensing the possibilities, he persuaded several young teachers to join him there.

Brown opened the Northern Indiana Normal School and Business Institute in fall 1873 with 35 students. He aggressively marketed the school as a populist, low-cost, “no-frills” institution. By 1875, enrollment reached 900 students, making Northern Indiana Normal School the largest of its kind in the nation. The school was originally organized into three departments: preparatory, teaching, and business. By the late 1870s, Brown added additional programs, including a law school.

In 1900, with an enrollment of 2,500 students, the Northern Indiana Normal School was rechartered as Valparaiso College, and then in 1907 as Valparaiso University. The University continued to expand, adding medical and dental school programs. By 1910 Valparaiso University was one of the largest American universities, second in size only to Harvard, which earned it the popular description “The Poor Man’s Harvard.”

In 1912, Brown suffered a stroke that rendered him unable to govern the University. He retained the title of president until his death in 1917.