Homer Horatio Seerley


Homer Horatio Seerley was the second chief administrator of UNI. His predecessor was James Cleland Gilchrist. Seerley led the school from 1886 to 1928.

Seerley was born in 1848 in Indiana, but his family moved to a farm near South English, Iowa, in 1854. He began his college education with a degree in engineering as his goal. Lack of funds forced him to leave school, but he found work as a teacher. After this experience, he decided to make a career in education. Seerley received several academic degrees: he earned a Bachelor of Philosophy in 1873, a Bachelor of Didactics in 1875, and a Master of Arts in 1876. In addition, he was awarded two honorary Doctor of Law degrees: the first in 1898 from Penn College in Oskaloosa, Iowa, and the second in 1901 from the State University of Iowa. Seerley and his wife, Clara, had four children. He died in 1932 at the age of 84. President Seerley, known as the "Grand old man of Iowa education," began his career as a rural Iowa teacher in 1867. In 1873, he became Assistant Principal at Oskaloosa (Iowa) High School. He was elected Principal in 1874, and became the Superintendent of Schools in 1875, a position he held until coming to the Normal School in Cedar Falls in 1886.

While President Seerley served UNI, the campus grew from two main buildings, South Hall (later Gilchrist) and North Hall (later Central), to include most of the red brick and limestone buildings on the east side of campus. During his administration, the school's name was changed from the Iowa State Normal School to the Iowa State Teachers College. In 1890, a home (now the Ethnic Minorities Cultural and Educational Center) was built for the president and his family. In 1908 Seerley's family moved to the current President's House. Seerley Hall, which opened as the school library in 1911, was named after this president. Seerley was succeeded by Orval Ray Latham.

Compiled by Susan Witthoft; edited by Gerald L. Peterson Special Collections and University Archives January 1996