Index of Memorial Resolutions and Biographical Sketches
DAVID FRANKLIN HOUSTON
David Franklin Houston, retired president and professor of government, died on September 2, 1940. He was 74.
President Houston was born on February 17, 1866, in Monroe, North Carolina. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of South Carolina in 1887. He received a master's degree from Harvard University in 1892.
President Houston became an adjunct member of the faculty of The University of Texas at Austin in 1894. After being promoted to associate professor in 1898, he was named dean of the faculty in 1899. President Houston left the University for three years, when he was named president of Texas A&M University in 1902. In 1905 he returned to UT Austin to serve as its president. During his three-year administration, the University organized its doctoral program and raised admission standards for freshmen and for law and medical students. A new law school building was also completed. President Houston left the University in 1908 when he was selected chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis.
In 1913 President Houston was appointed secretary of agriculture in the cabinet of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. A record number of agricultural laws were passed by Congress during his seven-year tenure. Important legislation included the Farm Loan Act, the Warehouse Act, and the Federal Aid Road Act. During the last year of the Wilson Administration, President Houston served as secretary of the treasury.
After leaving government service, he became president of the Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York. President Houston also served as a director of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, the Guaranty Trust Company, and the United States Steel Corporation. He was an overseer of Harvard University and a member of the board of trustees of Columbia University.
President Houston published A Critical Study of Nullification in South Carolina. He later published a two-volume memoir of his experiences as a cabinet member, Eight Years with Wilson's Cabinet.
John R. Durbin, Secretary
The General Faculty
Biographical sketch prepared by Teresa Palomo Acosta and posted on the Faculty Council web site on January 5, 2001. Additional biographical sources can be found in the Barker Texas History Center, UT Office of Public Affairs, and the New Handbook of Texas, Texas State Historical Association, 1996.