Thomas Van Scoy (1848-1901) was born in Indiana. After serving in the Civil War, he entered Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. He left the university in his sophomore year to become principal of Brooktown Academy, the high school from which he had graduated himself. After three years, he returned to college and graduated in 1875. Afterwards, he worked as a Methodist minister in Rennsaler, Ind. for the next three years. Concerned about the health of his first wife, Jennie, however, he accepted a position as Professor of Greek at Willamette University in 1879 (despite the change in climate, she died three years later).
After only one year in Salem, Van Scoy was elected president of Willamette University and served in that capacity until 1891. During that time, he bought the house of Chloe Clark Wilson, the first instructor at the Oregon Institute, Willamette's predecessor institution, at his own expense and turned the house into an academic building for the new Women's College. The remodeled building was named Lausanne Hall, after the boat that carried the "Great Reinforcement". In 1883, Van Scoy established Willamette's College of Law.
In 1891, Van Scoy resigned from Willamette's presidency to become professor of ancient languages and dean of Portland University. In 1898, he was appointed President of Montana Wesleyan University, a position he held until his death at age 53.
- A. B., Northwestern University, 1875
- D. D., University of the Pacific, 1884