When the Sumner Academy officially became Whitworth College, on Feb. 20, 1890, trustees elected the Rev. Amos T. Fox (pictured center), principal of the academy, to assume the presidential mantle. His father-in-law, the Rev. Calvin W. Stewart (pictured right, seated next to George F. Whitworth), held the role of what today would be considered financial vice president. After seven months, however, Fox resigned his role to serve as vice president, and Stewart became Whitworth’s president. The two navigated Whitworth’s early years with patient diligence as enrollment waxed and waned and dollars dwindled (they worked without pay during 1893-94).
Stewart resigned his presidential post in 1898, but he continued on as financial agent. Later that year he secured for Whitworth a $50,000 gift, plus some Seattle real estate, from H.O. Armour, of the Armour Packing Company; this was the largest gift yet made to a denominational college on the West Coast. The gift was given on condition that the college relocate from its Sumner location. In less than six months, the Whitworth campus overlooked Tacoma’s Inspiration Point.
Fox’s brief term as president did not indicate a lack of commitment to Whitworth. As vice president, he had full control of Whitworth’s operations, which was particularly important since Stewart, as president, often traveled to raise funds. Fox also taught as a professor of mathematics and civil engineering until his death, in 1911; he held the record for length of service by any professor until 1949, and he also played a pivotal role in setting the curriculum for the college, penning in the first catalog what would become an integral part of Whitworth’s guiding mission: the idea of providing an education of both mind and heart.