The Presidents Volume V: Henry Shull

Henry Carlton Shull was born January 16, 1892 in Sioux City. He was the fourth President of the Board of Regents, following George Baker and Preceding Dwight Rider. Shull was appointed by Governor John Hammill in March of 1925 to fill the unexpired term of Charles R. Brenton – grandfather of Des Moines philanthropist J.C. “Buz” Brenton – who died in office in September, 1924. Shull served from 1925 to 1931, left the Board for two years, and was reappointed in 1933. He then served three consecutive terms from 1933-51, and was president from 1941-1951.

Shull earned a bachelor of philosophy degree from the University of Chicago in 1914. From there, he studied at Harvard University before returning to the University of Chicago for his Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree in 1915. Shull returned to Sioux City to practice law with his father, Deloss Shull, and was made a partner of the law firm Stilwill, Shull & Wadden in January, 1921. In August of that year, he married Alice Lincoln of Alton, Iowa. 

Shull served as Board president during the Second World War, guiding higher education in Iowa through tumultuous change and unpredictability. This was expressed aptly in his 1942 letter to the governor and general assembly:

“The two years period now drawing to a close have not been normal years. Half the world was at war July 1941, and our own participation in it seemed inevitable. In less than six months, America was forced into war by a sudden attack by an unscrupulous foe.”

To his credit, Shull foresaw the explosion in demand for higher education following the war and lobbied the governor and the legislature to continue to fund Iowa’s higher education institutions during the war. 

“No one can know when the war will end or very much about what will follow the war – but of one thing we can be, and are, reasonably certain, - that, the moment war ends, there will be a greater demand for the facilities of our colleges and universities than ever before…”

Unit II of UNI’s Regents Complex was named in his honor in May of 1964. The Regents Complex grew to four dormitories and a dining center by the later 1960s, with each building named after a president of the Board of Regents. Dwight Rider, Shull, Harry H. Hagemann, Alfred Noehren, and Stanley Redeker served consecutively as Board presidents from 1941 until 1973 and were the namesakes of these buildings.