Warren E. Howell was a very tall, slender man, said to be a remarkable combination of scholarship and dignity. He came to the presidency of Healdsburg College in 1904 from Emmanuel Missionary College in Battle Creek, Michigan. His most challenging task was attempting to halt the financial decline at the school.
President Howell cut the time of classes from 55 to 35 minutes. That allowed each of a smaller group of retained teachers to teach more classes. He and his wife worked themselves to exhaustion, he serving as business manager and dean of men in addition to his administrative leadership duties. He and Mrs. Howell also personally supervised all student study periods. In spite of his numerous efforts toward cutting costs, financial debt mounted and enrollment declined.
In 1906, President Howell learned of his dismissal from the college presidency while he was in a hotel in San Francisco, which crumbled around him in the great earthquake that struck the city that year. Shortly after his departure from Healdsburg, he was named the first president of the Loma Linda College of Evangelists.