Roderick Sterling Owen came to the presidency of Healdsburg College in 1897 from a background that included the study of law, ship missionary work in San Francisco harbor, and service as a highly respected Bible teacher at the college. An administrator he was not: “I am a homemade affair.” he had said, but the College Board tapped him to be the school’s leader and he pledged to do his best.
During President Owen’s tenure the faculty of the college was built up again from the somewhat dispirited group it had become during Frank Howe’s presidency. Vocational education was again emphasized with a broom factory added to the school’s prospering tent factory. The president taught night classes to ministerial students and they preached in neighboring towns; the girls met on Wednesday nights for classes in giving Bible studies.
Finances were continually troublesome during Owen’s brief, two-year leadership. In 1899 the humble and beloved Roderick Owen bade farewell to Healdsburg College. Afterward he served, first as a church pastor, and then as a respected teacher at the College of Medical Evangelists, today known as Loma Linda University.