The fourth president of UVM, the Reverend Willard Preston, was born in Uxbridge, Massachusetts, on May 29, 1785, and graduated from Brown University with high honors in 1806. He received a license to preach in 1808. After serving in various churches in Rhode Island and Vermont, he was installed as pastor of the First Congregational Church in Burlington in 1823 and was elected president of the university on January 12, 1825.
The most notable event to occur during President Preston's short term of office was the visit to the university of the Marquis de Lafayette on June 29, 1825, to lay the cornerstone of South College at the "Old Mill", a new, three-part structure that was being erected to replace the original College Edifice. The Reverend Mr. Preston resigned as president of the university on August 8, 1826, due to differences with members of the corporation. After he left Burlington, he became pastor of the Independent Presbyterian Church of Savannah, Georgia, where he served with distinction for more than a quarter of a century. The University of Georgia conferred the degree of doctor of divinity on him prior to his death at the age of seventy on April 25, 1856.
President Preston's resignation in 1826 marked the end of the university's founding years. Perhaps, in light of all the difficulties it had experience, it would be more accurate to say that UVM had actually been founded and refounded during its first quarter-century of operation. Now the university was about to embark on a bold new course of action under the innovative academic leadership provided by its next president, the Reverend James Marsh.
FIG.11 Cornerstone Old Mill laid by General Lafayette in 1825