Rev. James David Moffat was elected third president of Washington & Jefferson College November 16, 1881. Rev. Moffat was born on March 15, 1846, in New Lisbon, Columbiana County, Ohio, and spent his youth in St. Clairsville and Bellaire, Ohio. Following high school he worked as a teacher and a bookkeeper. He entered Jefferson College at Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, in 1865, graduated from Washington & Jefferson College in 1869, and was a student at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1869-1871. He was ordained in 1873 and installed as pastor in Wheeling, West Virginia. In 1882 Dr. Moffat received the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity from Hanover College, Indiana, and from the College of New Jersey (Princeton University) in 1883. He received the degree of Doctor of Laws from the Western University of Pennsylvania (University of Pittsburgh) in 1897 and the same degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1901, and from the Missouri Valley College at Marshall, Missouri, in 1906.
During his tenure the College thrived and experienced a campus growth. The number of professors multiplied threefold. When he took charge of the College, it occupied two buildings. In 1884 the college purchased the "old fair ground" now known as Cameron Stadium for the sum of $7025. Students agreed to contribute one dollar each term to help defray this expense. A new gymnasium (now the Old Gym) was completed in 1893. A dormitory, Hays Hall, was completed in 1903, Thompson Memorial Library opened in 1905, and Thistle Physics Building was completed in 1912. A milestone was reached in 1893 when an electric lighting system was installed throughout the campus. In 1892 the Board of Trustees granted the request of the senior class that they be graduated in cap and gown and that cap and gown would be used at all future commencements.
Rev. Moffat resigned January 1, 1915, after 33 years as president, citing his age of 68 years and the responsibilities of his office. At the time of his retirement Dr. Moffat was the oldest college president in the United States in continuous service with the exception of the Rev. E.G. Dohan of Villanova. He was earning $7100, one of the highest paid college presidents in the United States. -The Washington Observer, April 16, 1914. He died in his home at Washington, Pennsylvania, on November 4, 1916, after a short illness.
Photograph courtesy of Observer Publishing Company.