If ever a man was loved on the University of Nebraska—Lincoln campus, it was James H. Canfield. During his time as Chancellor from 1891 until 1895, all of Canfield’s energy was directed towards improving the academics, activities, and community outlook on the University. Canfield’s platform as he traveled 10,000 miles around the state in his first year was that the University belonged to Nebraska (Knoll 28). One fault in Canfield’s pitch came from the fact that the University accredited high schools until 1897, which caused many people to find the University overbearing. This one fault was greatly overshadowed by the positive aspects of Canfield’s Administration. Canfield’s enthusiasm affected the entire campus; faculty also began to actively promote the University, and enrollment soared. Canfield strongly promoted women’s education at the University which further increased enrollment. A defining moment for the administration under Canfield was Charter Day, the celebration of the University’s quarter-centennial, held on February 15, 1894 (Manley 115). The week-long celebration was highly publicized by Canfield, and the festivities were accompanied by high spirits and a carnival-like atmosphere. The long-term accomplishment of the administration was the example of community outreach that was set for future Chancellors.
Canfield and the Board of Regents also dealt with problems directly associated with the depression. Canfield paid special attention to ensuring that high school programs were not cut back despite the ongoing economic hardships. The jumps in enrollment caused problems with space, and repairs were needed in several of the buildings. Faculty salaries were also low, so Chancellor Canfield and the Board of Regents decided to ask the legislature for financial help. Though there was much opposition to their goals, the legislature eventually gave $196,295 for salaries (approximately $5 million today); $50,850 for current expenses (approximately $1.2 million today), and $73,000 (approximately $1.8 million today) for the completion of the library (Friedman). The completion of the library in December of 1895 directly resulted from this jump in funds (Manley 123). When Chancellor Canfield resigned in the summer of 1895, the entire campus mourned his departure. Canfield left behind a legacy of growth and development that cannot be matched.