(1855 — October 5, 1933)
The third Iowa State President from 1885-1886.
Leigh Hunt was born in Indiana in 1855. He obtained his undergraduate degree through Middlebury College in Vermont via correspondence course. Hunt studied law independently and passed the bar in Indiana. He then taught at public schools in Indiana before moving to Iowa and becoming superintendent of schools at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa (1880) and East Des Moines Independent School District, Des Moines, Iowa (1882). Hunt became the third president (1885) of Iowa State Agricultural College (now Iowa State University). His lack of experience and aggressive style of leadership led to conflicts with the students and faculty.
The summer before arriving at Iowa State Hunt married Jessie Noble (attended Iowa State, 1882) of Des Moines. They would go on to have two children: Helen and Henry. Both Hunt and his wife were noted for their society connections and Hunt’s behavior, including the carriage he used for transport, caused friction with the student body. He was a poor match for an agricultural state college, did not know college customs or faculty behavior and his expulsion of two seniors led to a strike of the junior and senior classes. Although Hunt “won” the strike and the majority of the students returned, his unpopularity caused him to resign after only one year.
Hunt moved to Seattle, Washington, and over the course of his lifetime participated in a wide variety of successful business ventures. He became a newspaper publisher (1886), real estate developer, and president of a bank while in Seattle. Hunt also would operate a gold mine in Korea (1893), grow cotton in Sudan (1904 -1910), and eventually pursue mining, agriculture, and land development in Las Vegas, Nevada (1923 - 1933).
Leigh Hunt died on October 5, 1933, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“Foundations of the People’s College: The Early Years of Iowa State” in A Sesquicentennial History of Iowa State University: Tradition and Transformation by Pamela Riney-Kehrberg (separate editors)