Ralph Van Meter was the first president of the University of Massachusetts. (Its name changed from the Massachusetts State College in 1947, the year Van Meter became acting president.)
Van Meter spent nearly 40 years learning, teaching, and leading on the UMass Amherst campus. He attended The Ohio State University as an undergraduate, earning his B.S. in 1917. He came to the then Massachusetts Agricultural College as a specialist in Food Conservation in 1917. Later he served in the pomology department as a professor, becoming the head of the department from 1936 to 1948.
The Board of Trustees appointed Van Meter as acting president in 1947 and then president in 1948. He was responsible for a number of innovations, including the creation of the position of provost (first held by Jean Paul Mather) and the establishment of new schools of business administration and engineering. The University's physical plant expanded substantially under Van Meter's leadership, with 20 new buildings.