3 things you didn't know about UD's earliest leaders

This photograph of St. Mary's Institute taken in 1879 is the oldest dated picture on record. The first president, Rev. Leo Meyer, purchased 120 acres of farmland and founded St. Mary's School for Boys. University of Dayton Archives Collection
Caption
This photograph of St. Mary's Institute taken in 1879 is the oldest dated picture on record. The first president, Rev. Leo Meyer, purchased 120 acres of farmland and founded St. Mary's School for Boys. University of Dayton Archives Collection

Credit: Unknown

Credit: Unknown

The University of Dayton will celebrate its 166th birthday on July 1. That's the date it was opened as St. Mary’s Institute.

Since, it has been led by some of the most innovative educational minds in southwest Ohio. The latest of those presidents, Eric Spina, will begin his tenure on Friday. Here are three things you didn't know about the earliest leaders at the University of Dayton:

1. The first president was from France. Eguishheim, near Colmar in Alsace, to be exact. That's where Father Leo Meyer, the first UD president, was born in 1800. He first got to the U.S. in 1849 and opened St. Mary's Institute (which eventually became UD) in 1850.

2. A building boom produced the largest building in Dayton. It came under Maximin Zehler, the third UD president (1860-1867). St. Mary's Hall, when completed in 1871, was Dayton's largest building.

3. The fourth UD president was the first to retire in style. Rev. Francis Feith (1876-1879) went to Hawaii after he left St. Mary's Institute as Chaplain to the Hawaiian Islands and died there in 1930.