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Garrett Droppers was born on April 12, 1860 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He earned a Bachelors of Arts degree in 1897 from Harvard University. Droppers had been a teacher of economics at the National University of Tokyo for ten years when assuming the presidency at USD in 1899. His presidency began under auspicious political and economic circumstances. Politics threatened to invade the policies of the Board of Regents and USD. Droppers was a liberal Democrat with Populist leanings just when conservatives began to dominate state politics at the turn of the twentieth century. His administration also confronted declining enrollments due to a nationwide economic depression after the Spanish American War. Moreover, internal dissension began to emerge among faculty members. It was during his administration that engineering courses were started and the College of Law was established. In addition, he replaced the three term system with two semesters and began finding featured speakers for commencement ceremonies. Droppers would also be the last president to teach classes on a regular basis. USD conferred an honorary doctoral degree upon Droppers in June 1905, but he resigned from the position several months later. After leaving USD, he taught economics at the University of Chicago and Williams College, became a U.S. minister to Greece during World War I, and was a visiting professor in Japan before his death on July 7, 1927 in Williamstown, Massachusetts.
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