Skip to Content

The New Century

  Members of the class of 1861 attending the centennial celebration.
   

According to Jefferson's original plan, the faculty, counseled by a Board of Visitors, governed the University. By 1900, the school had grown larger and more complex, and the board saw the need to appoint a president. When Woodrow Wilson, a University of Virginia law graduate who would later become a U.S. President, declined the offer, they turned to Edwin Anderson Alderman, well known as an innovative educator in the South and a gifted orator. Alderman was inaugurated on Founder's Day, April 13, 1905. Within the first year of his tenure, Alderman had overseen the opening of a school of education at the University.

Alderman remained president until his death in 1931. He led a university growing in size and reputation. Between 1904 and 1929, the faculty increased from 48 to 290, and student enrollment swelled from 500 to 2,450. The University celebrated its centennial in 1921, commemorating the first Board of Visitors meeting in 1819, but was forced to delay the ceremonies two years, until after the end of World War I. Eight hundred alumni returned to the Lawn and made a parade of more than 100 automobiles up Monticello Mountain to pay homage to Jefferson.