The University of Houston was founded in 1927 as the Houston Junior College, operated by the Houston Independent School District. In 1934, the school was renamed the University of Houston and became a four-year college. In 1940, the first graduate degrees were awarded in the field of education. In 1945, the University became a separate, private entity with its own Board of Regents, chaired by Hugh Roy Cullen. Throughout this period E. E. Oberholtzer was the president of the University.
In 1950, W. W. Kemmerer became acting president of the University. Kemmerer served as president from 1952 to 1953, when C. F. McElhinney became acting president. General A. D. Bruce, who served as president until 1956 when he became chancellor of the University, followed him in 1954. Clanton W. Williams became president in 1956. In 1961, Philip G. Hoffman became president of the University of Houston. He held this position until 1977, when he became president of the UH System.
Edison E. Oberholtzer
From 1924-1927 Oberholtzer served as Superintendent of the Houston Independent School District. With the formation of the Houston Junior College in 1927 he was named president. He remained president through the change from a two-year to a four-year institution in 1934 and continued until shortly before his death in 1950.
Walter W. Kemmerer
In 1929 Oberholtzer offered Kemmerer the position of Director of Curriculum and Research with Houston Independent School District. He remained in this position until June 1934, when he was appointed vice-president of the University of Houston. In October 1943, the position of "vice-president" was eliminated and Kemmerer's title was changed to Comptroller and Director of Curriculum. In spring 1944 Oberholtzer created the office and title "Assistant to the President" for Kemmerer. With Oberholtzer's retirement in 1950 Kemmerer became first acting president on June 1, 1950 and president on April 15, 1952. He was asked to resign on April 27, 1953.
Charles Flemming McElhinney
Charles Flemming McElhinney (commonly known as C. F. McElhinney or "Mr. Mac") moved to Houston in 1934, taking the position of Assistant Director of Curriculum and Research for the Houston Independent School District from 1934-1939. He became Director of Research from 1939-1945, and business manager for the University of Houston which, until 1945, was operated by the Houston Independent School District. During this time he also served as a staff assistant to E. E. Oberholtzer. From 1945 until his retirement in 1973, McElhinney served as the business manager of the university. He also served as interim president of the University from 1953-1954, a position he agreed to serve in to allow time for the Board of Regents to select a new President.
Andrew Davis Bruce
General Andrew Davis (A.D.) Bruce was the third president and the first chancellor of the University of Houston. Bruce became president of the university on September 1, 1954 and chancellor in December 1956. He retired from the university after the 1960-61 academic year. In 1957 Bruce organized a Board of Governors, composed of the regents of the university and prominent Houstonians. In November 1959 the governing board sought state support for the University, which had grown rapidly in the preceding years. Bruce was one of the first to advocate tax support for the University of Houston.
Clanton W. Williams
Clanton Ware Williams served as the fourth president of the University of Houston from 1956-1960. Williams joined the University of Houston as Vice-President for Academic Affairs in January 1955. He was named president of the University at the December 10, 1956 meeting of the Board of Regents. At this same meeting, A.D. Bruce was named chancellor and chief executive officer of the university. With this new reporting structure, the president was entrusted with the internal affairs while the chancellor was charged with both external relationships and overall responsibility. From August 11, 1960 to September 1, 1961, Williams retained the title of president, but was on a leave of absence.
Philip G. Hoffman
In 1957 Philip Guthrie Hoffman came to the University of Houston as Vice President and Dean of Faculties. He was appointed as the fifth president of the University of Houston in September 1961, and was officially inaugurated on April 27, 1962. Hoffman served as president until 1977, when he became president of the University of Houston System. He remained in this position until his retirement in 1979. Some of the advances made during Hoffman's tenure include reorganization and augmentation of administrative staff, including shifts within the ranks of the academic deans; conducting an institution-wide self-study; completing a new master plan for campus development; and taking first steps toward the formation of a University of Houston System.