Principals and Presidents of Towson University

Photo of M. A. Newell

M. A. Newell 1824 - 1894
First Principal, Maryland State Normal School (MSNS), 1866 - 1890

McFadden Alexander Newell was an Irish immigrant who graduated from Trinity College in Dublin and taught school in England before settling in Baltimore. In 1865, Newell was asked to establish a state normal school (now Towson University) and served as its principal from 1866-1890. During this time, he also served as State Superintendent of Public Instruction. As Principal at MSNS, he improved both teacher education and public school instruction, set admissions standards for the Normal School and refined the school's curriculum. Described as very congenial with a keen sense of humor, M. A. Newell left a strong legacy to the public education system of Maryland and to Towson University.


Photo of E. Barrett Prettyman

E. Barrett Prettyman 1830 - 1907
Principal, MSNS, 1890-1905

A Pennsylvanian, Elijah Barrett Prettyman began his teaching career after graduating from Dickinson College. Prettyman came to Anne Arundel County where he worked as a teacher and principal for over 15 years. In 1890, he was appointed the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and Principal of the Normal School. Under his steady guidance, the Normal School extended its course of study to 3 years and added new courses.


Photo of George W. Ward

George W. Ward 1867 - 1932
Principal, MSNS, 1905-1909

Unlike his predecessors, George Washington Ward was a product of Maryland education, attending a one room school in Daisy, Maryland. He received his B.A. and Masters from Western Maryland College and his Ph. D. from Johns Hopkins University. In 1905, Ward was appointed Principal of MSNS. He served for 4 years and then resigned to engage in the brokerage business. Important developments during his tenure were broadening of the teacher training program, establishment of a departmental structure for the faculty, and the hiring of a librarian to organize and expand the library.


Photo of Sarah E. Richmond

Sarah E. Richmond 1843 - 1921
Principal, MSNS, 1909-1917

Born in Baltimore, Sarah Elizabeth Richmond was a natural born teacher. The second person to enroll at the Maryland State Normal School in its opening year, Richmond was in the first graduating class. Richmond's 55 years of consecutive service to the Normal School began in 1866, when M.A. Newell asked her to return to MSNS to teach mathematics. Within a few years, Richmond was made Vice Principal of the Normal School, and by 1909, at age 66, she became the School's first female principal. As MSNS’ leader, Richmond made moving the location of the school from the city to a larger campus in Baltimore County her major priority. In 1912, after actively campaigning by Richmond as both MSNS’ Principal and an alumna of the school, the State agreed to purchase property and build a new campus. In 1915, three former county farms were transformed into the Maryland State Normal School at Towson with the construction of three buildings: the Administration Building, Newell Hall, and the Power Plant. Richmond remained principal until 1917 when she resigned to become Dean of the school. Her death in 1921 ended the life of one of the great pioneers in Maryland public education.


Photo of Henry S. West

Henry S. West 1870 - 1961
Principal, MSNS, 1917-1920

Like his two predecessors, Henry Skinner West was Maryland educated. He earned both his B.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Johns Hopkins University. West possessed an impressive academic background, having taught at all levels from primary to college. In 1917, he was appointed to serve as principal of the Normal School. During his tenure, MSNS faced some of its most difficult times--enrollment dropped severely due to World War I, funding for the School was inadequate, dormitory space was insufficient, and the pay scale for teachers was poor. In response to some of these challenges he initiated an enrollment campaign to attract more students, reorganized the school's administration, introduced the first summer session in 1918 and was instrumental in getting the State to adopt a system of teacher certification. In 1920, he left his position as Principal to become the Superintendent of Schools in Baltimore. He held this position for five years and in 1926 went to the University of Miami in Florida to become its first Dean of the College of Liberal Arts.


Photo of Lida Lee Tall

Lida Lee Tall 1873 - 1942
Principal, 1920-1934, President, 1934 - 1938

Born in Maryland and educated in Baltimore's public schools, Tall earned her bachelor's degree at Columbia University and her doctorate at the University of Maryland. A strong, energetic leader, she guided the institution through its major transition into a 4-year college in response to the State’s changing requirement for teacher education. In 1935, the MSNS changed its name to the Maryland State Teachers College and implemented a four-year course leading to a Bachelor of Science degree. Under Tall's leadership, the College continued to expand and improve its programs, receiving national recognition for the quality of its programs and faculty. Of special interest to Tall was attracting good students to Towson and enriching their lives. She was active in the development of social and educational events and programs, promoted student government and numerous clubs and established the first honor society. An astute and capable administrator, Tall was also an avid traveler and an internationally known speaker.


Photo of M. Theresa  Wiedefeld

M. Theresa Wiedefeld 1886 - 1983
President, 1938 - 1947

A native Baltimorean, Wiedefeld was a member of the Maryland State Normal School Class of 1904. Wiedefeld joined the MSNS faculty in 1914 as a teacher in the Model School, and became the Principal for the Model School a year later, when MSNS moved to its Towson location. She remained in this position until 1919, when she resigned to become the Supervisor of Anne Arundel County schools. In 1924, Wiedefeld was appointed Assistant State Supervisor of Elementary Schools, and later became Supervisor. She held this position until returning to Towson as President of the State Teachers College in 1938. Wiedefeld was president during World War II when enrollment declined and employees were hard to retain. Under her administration, the College developed a special program for cadet teachers to help alleviate the teacher shortage, took the first steps toward preparing teachers for teaching at the junior high and kindergarten levels, and inaugurated a junior college program in the arts and sciences. After her retirement in 1947, Wiedefeld remained active as a dedicated member of the Alumni Association.


Photo of Earle T.  Hawkins

Earle T. Hawkins 1903-1972
President, 1947-1969

Like Wiedefeld, Earle Hawkins advanced through the State educational system from the level of teacher to top supervisory positions. His administration was effected by the phenomenal growth in higher education. In 1947, student enrollment totaled 600. When Hawkins retired, enrollment had risen to over 8,000 day and evening students. During his presidency, Towson added a full range of baccalaureate programs in the arts and sciences, instituted evening and summer programs and undertook an ambitious building program. Indicative of the school's growth and broadening scope was the change in name in 1963 from State Teachers College to Towson State College. Towson had become the second largest public institution of higher education in Maryland. An urbane, considerate and enthusiastic educator, Hawkins gave Towson 22 years of capable and devoted leadership.


Photo of James Fisher

James Fisher 1931-
President, 1969-1978

Towson's first leader from outside Maryland, James Fisher was born and educated in Illinois. He came to Towson with considerable experience at various levels of university administration from the University of Illinois. Fisher was an extraordinarily active president and left a significant imprint on the university. Among his accomplishments were the creation of 4 vice-presidential positions, establishment of 5 academic deans, founding of the Academic Council as a legislative and advisory body of faculty and students, creation of the Office of Institutional Development, addition of a winter session, expanded graduate and continuing education programs and new programs in nursing, occupational therapy and business. During his tenure, 13 new buildings were constructed and the enrollment climbed from 5,727 to 10,762. As a result of this growth Towson underwent another name change in 1976 to Towson State University. All of this was set against a backdrop of national and local turbulence as the nation wrestled with the Civil Rights Movement and the fallout from the Vietnam War, and tension between Fisher and local government leaders. Fisher's departure in 1978 signaled the end of the greatest period of development and expansion in Towson's history.


Photo of Hoke L. Smith

Hoke L. Smith 1931-2004
President 1979-2001

Hoke L. Smith was born in Galesburg, Illinois in 1931. In 1953, he received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Knox College, also in Galesburg. He earned a master’s degree in 1954 in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia and a Ph.D. in political science from Emory University in 1958.

Early in Smith's administration, he focused on Towson's status as a "comprehensive university." One of the first changes was the creation of a new governance structure and establishment of six colleges. With public higher education seriously under-funded, especially during the global recession in the early 1990s, Smith set out to strengthen alumni and development programs as a source of alternative funding. To underscore the reduction in funding Towson received from the State, Smith advocated dropping the word “State” from the school’s name, and in 1997, the name changed to Towson University. During his administration, Towson added 20 new undergraduate programs, 19 new graduate programs and 3 doctoral programs. In 1996, U.S. World & News Report ranked Towson second in the "Most Efficient Schools" and fourth in the "Best Sticker Price" category for institutions in the north, and two years later, Towson was ranked among the top 10 public institutions in the North by that same publication. A man of integrity, vision and compassion, Dr. Smith's legacy to Towson was the national recognition the University received for its academic programs.


Photo of Mark L. Perkins

Mark L. Perkins 1948-
President July, 2001 - April, 2002

A native of Richmond, Virginia, Mark L. Perkins earned a bachelor's degree from St. Andrews Presbyterian College in 1972, master's in psychometrics and research design from the University of Georgia in 1974, and earned a doctorate in psychometrics and statistics from the same institution in 1976. Prior to coming to Towson University, Mark Perkins was the Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay from 1994 to June, 2001. He held a variety of faculty and leadership positions at Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia and California State University - Stanislaus. In July of 2001, Perkins became Towson’s 11th President. He appreciated the history of Towson and wanted to build on it by engaging students in a more holistic approach to education. He sought to create a program that would teach the “whole” student rather than just fulfill their basic academic needs. Known as a great fundraiser, it was hoped that Perkins could elevate Towson’s reputation and, ultimately, increase its endowment. However, the very things that were supposed to aid in that endeavor -- specifically a house purchased and renovated by the school to be used as a place to entertain potential donors and a medallion used by Perkins at his Inauguration -- instead led to questions about frivolous spending at a time when the country was grappling with the effects of September 11, 2001. Three weeks after his Inauguration, The Board of Regents gave Perkins an ultimatum and he resigned from the Presidency on April 5, 2002.


Photo of Robert L. Caret

Robert L. Caret 1947-
President, July, 2003 - April, 2011

Returning to his Towson roots, Robert L. Caret became the 12th president of Towson University on July 1, 2003. As a former faculty member, dean, executive vice-president and provost of Towson University, Caret served at Towson for 21 years before assuming the presidency of San Jose State University of the California State University System in 1995. He earned his bachelor's degree in chemistry and mathematics from Suffolk University, Boston, in 1969 and received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of New Hampshire in 1974.

Now recognized as a leading metropolitan university, Caret’s leadership at Towson has expanded its physical plant, its partnerships with area schools and businesses, its academic offerings, and its research funding as well as its endowment.

In January of 2011, it was announced that Caret had accepted the President’s position with the University of Massachusetts system, and he left the University on April 19, 2011.


Photo of Maravene S. Loeschke

Maravene S. Loeschke 1947-
President, January, 2012 to the present

Maravene S. Loeschke graduated from Towson State College in 1969 with a dual bachelor's degree in Theatre and English, and went on to receive a Master's of Education from TSC in 1972. She became a Theatre instructor in 1970, and remained in the department, working her way up towards Chairperson. In 1996 she became the Acting Dean for the College of Fine Arts and Communications. In 1997 she was named Dean of COFAC and held this position for five years. In 2002, she left Towson to become Provost of Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Four years later she was named President of Mansfield University, also in Pennsylvania. In September of 2011, after an 8-month search, it was announced that Maravene Loeschke would take over the role of President at Towson University, and would become the third alumna and fourth woman in the school's history to do so.


Principals and Presidents of Towson University / Albert S. Cook Library
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Last revised: July 31, 2012