Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search results

Rogers, Henry Wade, 1853-1926

 Person

Dates

  • Existence: 1853-1926

Henry Wade Rogers was born October 10, 1853 in the small town of Holland Patent, New York. After serving as a law professor for 2 years and Dean of the Law School at the University of Michigan for 5 years, Rogers became President of Northwestern University in 1891. As President, Rogers instituted many changes that shaped the future of the University, including uniting all professional schools under the power of the Board of Trustees, pushing for co-education, and insisting on supporting research in addition to teaching objectives on the part of faculty.

He attended the University of Michigan, receiving a B.A. in 1874 and an M.A. in 1877 (he also took law courses at Michigan's Law School during the 1876-77 academic year). He married Emma Ferdon Winner (see biography below) in 1876. After practicing law in Minnesota, Rogers returned to the University of Michigan as Professor in the Law School in 1883. From 1885-1890 he served as Dean of the Law School. He is generally credited with making it the largest law school in the country at the time.

Rogers was asked to become President of Northwestern University in the fall of 1890, at the age of thirty-seven, after an extensive nationwide search. He was selected for his academic credentials and his administrative abilities, two traits that the University Board of Trustees had identified as key to the successful growth of the University. At the time, Rogers was not only known for his work building the program at Michigan but for his books and speeches, his involvement in the Methodist Church, and his progressive politics. Rogers made it clear from the beginning that he would make changes at Northwestern. At his February 18, 1891 inaugural, responding to University founder Orrington Lunt's remark that “wise conservatism” was needed in running a university, Rogers offered the sentiment that the University “must not hesitate to make changes in the established order of things.”

The changes that Rogers had in mind altered Northwestern University significantly and in many ways built it into a more modern and progressive institution. Rogers expanded the University's liberal arts programs to give students access to a broader program of learning, including the fields of political science and economics. He worked to unify the various professional schools under the authority of the University's Board of Trustees so that all programs would be governed as one. He hired new faculty for all the schools and insisted that they be given time and facilities for research as well as teaching. He strongly supported coeducation at Northwestern, at a time when there was talk that including women students weakened the University. In all of his efforts he insisted that Northwestern should match or exceed the standards of more presitgious universities. His leadership lead to a dramatic increase in enrollment, and a recognition of the school as one of the top universities in the country.

In 1900, Rogers came under pressure from the Board of Trustees to leave the University. Although the specific reasons for Rogers' resignation remain unknown, they most likely included the Board's general disagreement with his political views, including his opposition to the 1898 annexation of the Philippines by the U.S. government; his lack of comprehensive fundraising initiatives; and his longstanding conflict with the Board on issues of coeducation. Rogers left Northwestern and immediately began teaching in the Yale University law school. He taught at Yale from 1900 until 1921. He served as Dean of the Law School from 1903 until 1916. During his time at Yale, Rogers was appointed Judge of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (2nd district) by President Woodrow Wilson. He retained this position until his death in 1926.

Emma Ferdon Winner Rogers was born on January 20, 1855 in Plainfield, New Jersey. She graduated from the University of Michigan in the 1870s and married Henry Wade Rogers in 1876. During her husband's time on the faculty of the University of Michigan Law School, Emma Rogers was involved in various women's clubs, including Sorosis and the Methodist Women's Home Missionary Society. When her husband became President of Northwestern, Emma Rogers took on various projects in Evanston. She helped to found the University Guild, which was meant to bridge the “town and gown” gap that traditionally existed between the Universtiy and the residents of the city. She was involved with the leading women's organization in Chicago, the Fortnightly Club. And she was instrumental in founding the Northwestern University Settlement Association in 1891, which offered programs and social services in a mostly immigrant community on Chicago's near west side. She served as President of its Board and even resided at the Settlement for a short time. (Both the Guild and the Settlement are still active.) Emma Rogers continued her interest in social reform when she moved with her husband to Yale University. She was involved in New Haven's Model Housing Association and the Lowell Settlement House. She also served as Treasurer of both the National Women's Suffrage Association and the Women's Bureau of the Democratic National Committee. During World War I she was involved with the Women's Overseas Hospitals organization. Emma Winner Rogers died on March 3, 1922 in New York City.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Henry Wade Rogers (1853-1926) Papers

 Collection
Identifier: 3/9/1
Abstract Henry Wade Rogers was born October 10, 1853 in the small town of Holland Patent, New York. After serving as a law professor for 2 years and Dean of the Law School at the University of Michigan for 5 years, Rogers became President of Northwestern University in 1891. As President, Rogers instituted many changes that shaped the future of the University, including uniting all professional schools under the power of the Board of Trustees, pushing for co-education, and insisting on supporting...