James W. Reynolds
Edison E. Oberholtzer
Portrait of Dr. Edison Ellsworth Oberholtzer. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.
UH Seal
University of Houston Seal. Courtesy of the University of Houston. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.
Edison E. Oberholtzer
Edison E. Oberholtzer speaks at a University of Houston football game. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

OBERHOLTZER, EDISON ELLSWORTH (1880–1954). Edison Ellsworth Oberholtzer, a founder and president of the University of Houston, was born on May 6, 1880, in Patricksburg, Indiana, son of Augustus and Mary Anne (Collins) Oberholtzer. He was educated at Westfield College in Illinois and Indiana State Normal School. He received an M.A. degree from the University of Chicago in 1915 and a Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1934. Honorary LL.D. degrees were conferred on him by the University of Tulsa in 1921 and by the University of Houston in 1950. He taught and was an administrator in small schools in Indiana from 1898 through 1903. From 1906 through 1911 he was supervising principal in Terre Haute and superintendent of schools in both Evansville and Clinton, Indiana. In 1913 he was named superintendent in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a post he held until 1923. Oberholtzer's contributions to Texas were made in public and university education. He served as superintendent of schools in Houston for over two decades, 1924–45. During this period he was instrumental in establishing Houston Junior College (1927) and eliciting the support of Hugh Roy Cullen, Houston philanthropist, in transforming it into the University of Houston. Oberholtzer served as part-time president of Houston Junior College and the University of Houston, 1927–45; president of the University of Houston, 1945–50; and president emeritus until his death in 1954. Oberholtzer was a member of many state and national professional organizations as well as numerous civic groups. His publications included public-school textbooks and articles in leading professional journals. He was a member of the Methodist Church. He married Myrtle May Barr on March 26, 1899, and they had three children. Oberholtzer died in Houston on June 18, 1954, and was buried in Forest Park Mausoleum.


Who's Who in America, 1951–52.

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, James W. Reynolds, "OBERHOLTZER, EDISON ELLSWORTH," accessed June 20, 2019, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fob02.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on June 28, 2017. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Get this week's most popular Handbook of Texas articles delivered straight to your inbox