Frank Howe, a graduate of the University of Michigan, came to Healdsburg College, with two other teachers sent to the west by church leaders to bring the school more in harmony with denominational thinking. The three were called, unkindly, the “Three Wise Men of the East.”
Upon President Grainger’s resignation, Howe was selected to become the college’s third president.
A nation-wide financial panic in 1893 that had spread to the west in 1894, made Howe’s presidency an especially trying one. Enrollment at Healdsburg dropped in 1894 from an earlier high 223 to 130, and the fad of buying bicycles seemed to take priority over educational tuition. Howe met the challenge by slashing tuition and board to $13 per month if paid in advance for the whole year.
Trying to carry out instructions from church headquarters, Howe instituted a vegetarian diet for the school, and set up appointment-scheduling and bell ringing for access to the college president. The moves did not set well with the school family and especially not with the citizens of Healdsburg.
President Howe worked hard in difficult circumstances. By 1897 when the faculty scattered after the school year ended, Howe, feeling he had been unjustly treated, resigned and left the west.