UI Presidential PortraitsVirgil Melvin Hancher (1940-1964)

Virgil Melvin Hancher (1940-1964)

Virgil Melvin Hancher

Oil painting by William Franklin Draper, 1959
Gift of the State University of Iowa Alumni Association

A Rhodes scholar and a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Virgil Hancher led the University for a quarter-century, a period of unprecedented growth for the campus.

Trained in the law, Hancher received the B.A. degree in 1919 and the degree of Juris Doctor in 1924 from the University of Iowa. From Oxford University in England, he received the Bachelor of Arts degree in jurisprudence in 1922 and the Master of Arts degree in 1927.

A strong advocate of higher education, Hancher often appeared before the Iowa Legislature to appeal for greater funding for the University during the post-World War II enrollment boom. He was nationally recognized for his service to higher education, including terms as chairman of the American Council of Education and as president of both the State Universities Association and the National Association of State Universities.

Hancher was born on a farm near Rolfe, Iowa, on September 4, 1896. He married Susan Cannon on June 9, 1928. They had three children. Hancher died on January 30, 1965, in New Delhi, India, while serving as a consultant in higher education for the Ford Foundation. He was 68.