Dr. David J. Waller, Jr. 1877 - 1890, 1906-1920

David Waller in 1877

David Jewett Waller was a Bloomsburg native, having been born here on June 17, 1846. His father, David Waller Sr., helped to found the Bloomsburg Academy seven years before in 1839.  Waller Jr. became one of the first three graduates of the Literary Institute in 1867, and further contributed to his school by working to solicit funds for a bell to go in the tower of what is now Carver Hall.  He then went on to earn his BA from Lafayette College in 1870 and master's degree in 1873. Waller also pursued theological studies at Princeton and Union Seminary, from which he graduated in 1874 and followed in the footsteps of his father by becoming an ordained Presbyterian minister. His pastorates were in Philadelphia and Orangeville, but in 1877 he was asked to come back to Bloomsburg as principal of the normal school.  This was the beginning of his 44 year career as an educator in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

There were still problems at the school from the tenure of T.L. Griswold and dissension among the trustees.  But the president of the board, Judge Elwell, promised that there would be cooperation, and so in July 1877 Waller was elected and accepted the position of principal.  

The early years of his first tenure were marked with some financial difficulties due to problems with the state's economy.  But the growing reputation of the school and increased enrollment led to a more stable environment for both the students and faculty, even though at one time their salaries had to be reduced.  The normal school also grew in size, with land surrounding it being acquired and in 1885 the construction of the new model school building, later to be called Noetling Hall.

But in December 1889 the Pennsylvania Superintendent of Public Instruction died, and Dr. Waller became interested in the position.  It was with great regret therefore that in March, 1890 the Board of Trustees accepted his resignation as principal of the normal school.  Waller was appointed by the governor to complete the last three years of the four-year term of his predecessor.  There was a conflict however, when the new governor wanted his man, the principal at the Indiana State Normal School, to become superintendant.  It eventually went to the state supreme court which ruled in Waller's favor.  He completed his term in 1893 after a successful tenure which saw real improvements in the state's educational system, especially in terms of financial aid to the schools.

In June of 1893 Dr. Waller become, ironically enough, the new principal at the Indiana State Normal School.  He was the seventh person to hold that position and remained there for thirteen years.  During this time the institution saw the same growth and development that Bloomsburg and the public school system had experienced.  Several new buildings were constructed, including a dormitory, training school, and recitation hall.  Dr. Waller taught psychology and pedagogics as part of the normal school's professional department in addition to his administrative duties.  Indiana constructed a new gymansium in 1928 and honored David Waller twenty years later when it named the building Waller Hall.

When Judson Welsh left Bloomsburg in 1906 David Waller was asked to come back for a second time as principal, and to the relief of the school and the trustees he accepted.  The Normal School continued to grow in enrollment and stature, although no new buildings would be constructed until 1930 during the tenure of Francis Haas.  May Day ceremonies were begun in 1910, and the first school yearbook, Onward, was published in 1915.  It was followed the next year by the Obiter, which continues to be issued to this day.  Another significant event in 1916 was the formal sale of the Bloomsburg State Normal School to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  It was now a fully state-owned institution.  Further evidence of the school's growth was the need in 1919 for its first summer session.
His last two years saw the acquiring of several enduring memorials for the campus.  The first of these were four stained-glass windows purchased from the George W. Spence Company of Boston and placed in the model school in late 1918 and early 1919.  For Memorial Day of 1919 the War Memorial Pinery was established to the north of Carver Hall in honor of the men and women affiliated with Bloomsburg who had given their lives during World War I.  The greatest memorial however, was ordered in 1919 from the famed Tiffany Studios in New York City.  Three large stained-glass windows on the themes of Truth and Virtue were intended to honor the 50th anniversary of the first class of teachers in 1920.  But when David Waller announced early that year that he would be retiring at the age of 74, the windows were also planned as a tribute to his many years of service.  So on Alumni Day, June 5, 1920, an impressive cermony took place and the windows were unveiled for the first time in all their glory.  They were installed in the addition to the main dormitory building, which was named after Dr. Waller in 1927.

Dr. Waller in 1920

After his retirement he continued to be active in the life of the town and the Normal School.  He was present at most Alumni events and in 1922 received a further honor when a bronze tablet from the Tiffany Studios was purchased with an inscription detailing his many contributions to the field of education.  Dr. Waller was respected and loved by the many graduates who came back to Bloomsburg year after year, and he was selected to ring the Carver Hall bell he had helped to purchase in May, 1938 to begin the school's centennial celebration.  His devotion and contributions to the now Bloomsburg State Teachers College continued until his death on June 28, 1941, eleven days after his 95th birthday.  David Waller continues to be remembered at the institution cofounded by his father, as exemplified by the new administration building which was named after him and dedicated in 1973.  The bronze tablet purchased in his honor now hangs proudly next to the two magnificent Tiffany windows in the new library, serving as a perpetual reminder after 80 years of the reasons why Dr. Waller meant so much to Bloomsburg.

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