North Central College - Naperville, IL

150 Moments: President Edward E. Rall, 1916-1946

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President Edward E. Rall, 1916-1946
President Edward E. Rall, 1916-1946

North Central College’s fifth president, Edward Everett Rall, was born and educated in Iowa at the Iowa State Teachers’ College. He received a B.A. from the University of Iowa and a Ph.D. from Yale University.

Rall became a professor of education at the University of Texas and chaired the education department at the University of Tennessee before his appointment as president of North-Western College in 1916.

His tenure spanned the world crises of World War I, the boom years of the 1920s, the Great Depression and World War II. His dynamic leadership enabled the College to weather the crises, as well as expand its physical plant, faculty and staff, and course offerings.

Rall’s first challenge was meeting new requirements for accreditation by the North Central Association, which he managed by raising the endowment to meet new financial standards.

During both World Wars, Rall petitioned to participate in two U.S. Army-sponsored training programs—the Student Army Training Corps during World War I and the Army Specialized Training Program during World War II. The use of campus facilities for these programs helped provide needed funds to support the College in wartime.

After the armistice ending World War I, the College was able to focus on expanding its physical facilities, including the purchase of Bolton Hall in 1921 and Johnson Hall in 1922 as the College’s first women’s dormitories, purchase of the Fort Hill Campus in 1923, construction of Pfeiffer Hall in 1926 as a chapel and performing arts venue, opening of Kaufman Hall with its campus dining facility in 1928, and purchase of the President’s House in 1929. In addition, Merner Field House was completed in 1931 and the state-of-the-art physical education facility included two gymnasiums and a pool.

Throughout his presidency Rall worked closely with the Evangelical Association, then the Evangelical Church and finally the Evangelical United Brethren Church.

Rall developed a strong relationship with the Pfeiffer family—G.A. Pfeiffer and Henry and Annie Merner Pfeiffer—whose generosity toward the College is noted in the names of the Barbara Pfeiffer Memorial Hall and Merner Field House. The family also provided generous contributions to scholarship funds and the College endowment.

In 1946, Rall retired as president of North Central College after 30 years of service. He returned to campus in 1965 for the dedication of Rall Hall, named in his honor. He died in 1975 at age 99.   

Photo ca. 1917