John Worst

North Dakota State University Walking Tour

John Worst

Fargo, North Dakota 58105, United States

Created By: North Dakota State University

Point of Interest Details

John Worst spent much of his life working in education. Worst was born on December 23, 1850 in Ohio. Not much is known about his early years, however, we do know that he spent several years during his early adulthood alternating between attending college and teaching in local schools. He would eventually receive an honorary LL.D. degree from Ashland College. In 1883, Worst moved and homesteaded in Emmons County, Dakota Territory. He continued his involvement in schools, and was ultimately elected county superintendent of those schools. He would hold this position for six years. After serving as superintendent, he was elected state senator where he served two terms and eventually became lieutenant governor of North Dakota in 1894. In 1895 he got back into the education world by becoming the president of North Dakota Agricultural College. While he was not the first president of the college, Worst is considered to be one of the most influential.

During his administration, faculty and staff numbers increased, and student attendance grew rapidly. He played an important role in convincing Andrew Carnegie to support the building of the first campus library. Throughout his tenure as president, the campus received ten new buildings, and various gardens and trees were planted around campus as well. One of the gardens was built to honor the students that served in the Spanish-American War in 1898. In 1937, a stone was placed to mark the spot of it. Worst retired from the university in 1916 and became State Commissioner of Immigration in 1919 until he officially retired in 1923. John Worst passed away on September 25, 1945. An exclusive collection of his reports and correspondence can be found at the North Dakota State University Archives.


  1. North Dakota State University Archives, Finding Aid: President John H. Worst Papers (Institute For Regional Studies and University Archives, North Dakota State Libraries, 2009),
  2. Photograph of John Worst, NDSU Archives

This point of interest is part of the tour: North Dakota State University Walking Tour


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