In 1917, Northeastern’s fledgling basketball team finished its third season with six victories and five losses. Not exactly a dream team, and a far cry from the remarkable season men’s basketball enjoyed this year.

But credit the coach (seated, far left) for playing to win. Carl S. Ell, H’59, eventually became the university’s second president. In that position, he applied his team-building skills toward establishing Northeastern as a highly regarded university.

Ell started teaching in 1910 with only eight students; that group later turned out to be the first class in civil engineering in what’s now the College of Engineering. Ell became assistant dean in 1914, and then took over as dean in 1917. Serving as the university’s president from 1940 to 1959, he earned the nickname “Mr. Northeastern.” During his tenure, the university grew in stature and size: Enrollment reached 18,000 students in 1958, and numerous buildings, acres, and the first dorm were added to the campus.

The Carl Stephens Ell Student Center (now known as Ell Hall) was dedicated at President Ell’s retirement party. By the time he stepped down, Ell was far better known for his accomplishments away from the court.