A. Paul Funkhouser, Founder, 1875-1885
During the Civil War Reconstruction Period in Dayton, Va., Funkhouser and Jay Newton Fries organized a primary school in Dayton, Va., Shenandoah Seminary, to teach small children the three Rs, as well as specialized subjects of higher education.
Jay Newton Fries, 1885-1887
After serving as a teacher and administrator for 10 years, Fries became president of the newly renamed Shenandoah Institute.
George P. Hott, 1887-1895
Under Hott’s leadership, the Virginia Conference of the United Brethren Church agreed to maintain a permanent fund to support Shenandoah.
Elmer U. Hoenshel, 1895-1910
Hoenshel built on the expanded curriculum and campus Hott established, hiring new faculty and growing enrollment. In 1902, the school became Shenandoah Collegiate Institute and School of Music
James H. Ruebush, 1910-1922
Ruebush, who had been head of the music school, became the school’s leader and worked to construct a four-story brick building with classroom, gymnasium and dormitories to accommodate the school’s growth.
David T. Gregory, 1922-1926
A Shenandoah graduate himself, Gregory helped the institution receive junior college accreditation. In 1925, the school became Shenandoah College and Conservatory of Music.
Arthur L. Maiden, 1926-1930
Maiden, who had been academic dean, became president and entered into a new lease contract with the church to operate the school, pay the bills and assume responsibility for all operations.
Vernon L. Phillips, 1930-1933
Phillips recommended that Shenandoah College and Conservatory of Music be incorporated separately so the conservatory could grant four-year degrees, though no action was taken.
Wade S. Miller, 1933-1942
Miller and the board of trustees secured approval from the State Board of Education for the conservatory to confer four-year degrees. Miller also dropped the high school department.
Elmer N. Funkhouser, 1942-1943
President of the board of trustees, Funkhouser was asked to serve as absentee president while a search for a new president was conducted.
Lycurgus P. Hill, 1943-1952
Under Hill’s leadership, the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools accepted Shenandoah College for full membership. Hill did, however, predict difficult times for Shenandoah as other nearby colleges – Bridgewater, Eastern Mennonite, Mary Baldwin and State Teachers College (now James Madison University) – were attracting many more students.
Troy R. Brady, 1952-1956
Understanding that Shenandoah must move or it would close forever, Brady drove to Winchester to meet with Senator Harry F. Byrd, Jr. With Byrd’s help, Brady opened negotiations with the Winchester-Frederick County Chamber of Commerce to move Shenandoah College and Conservatory of Music to Winchester.
Forrest S. Racey, 1956-1969
Racey, Shenandoah’s business manager, became president and carried on with Brady’s vision, working with the Winchester-Frederick County Chamber of Commerce, which had established a College Project Committee. The Dayton campus was sold in the summer of 1960, and the Winchester campus opened for classes that fall.
Robert P. Parker, 1969-1982
Parker continued building the institution and, in 1974, the college and conservatory were joined to become Shenandoah College and Conservatory of Music, which had four divisions: the conservatory, arts and sciences, health professions and business.
James A. Davis, 1982-2008
Davis helped the college become Shenandoah University, a singular entity with six schools: College of Arts & Sciences, Harry F. Byrd Jr. School of Business, Shenandoah Conservatory, School of Education & Human Development, School of Health Professions and Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy. Enrollment grew from 874 students in 1982 to 3,300 in 2008. Under Davis, endowment grew from $500,000 to more than $50 million.
Tracy Fitzsimmons, 2008-Present
Fitzsimmons came to Shenandoah University in 2001 to serve as dean of the College of Arts & Sciences dean and quickly proved herself to be a compassionate teacher and bold leader. She became vice president for Academic Affairs in 2002 and senior vice president & vice president for Academic Affairs in 2005. She was elected to be Shenandoah’s 16th president in 2007 and moved into the President’s Office on July 1, 2008.