In some ways, Thomas H. Miles, S.J., (1831-1909) presided over the University in times more difficult than that of his predecessor, Fr. Roman Shaffel. There were difficulties with staffing, enrollment and curriculum. Upon his installation as president in 1880, Fr. Miles was Creighton’s only priest, aided by three scholastics. In 1881, the college staff increased to 10 Jesuits and four secular teachers. The newly formed Holy Family Parish put a strain on Jesuit resources, and sometimes the conduct of the lay teachers reflected poorly upon the College. The shortage of unqualified teachers in Omaha was exacerbated by the continued dearth of Jesuits within the province.
In August 1882, Fr. Miles was named rector. He was the first rector-president, as the order believed that one person holding both positions was the most efficient system (which remained until after World War II). The rector headed the Jesuit community and the president administered the College. The first Catalogue of Creighton College was published for the 1881-82 academic year. It described two courses of study, the classical and the commercial.
In 1883, the jurisdiction of Nebraska and the College was offered by the province to a group of German Jesuits in Buffalo, N.Y., but they declined, considering the school’s endowment too meager. That same year, the provincial, the head Jesuit of the province, restructured the College curriculum and temporarily abandoned the Ratio Studiorum.
Fr. Miles was born at Bardstown, Ky., in 1831, and attended St. Joseph’s College in Bardstown. Prior to arriving at Omaha, Fr. Miles served as president of St. Ignatius College (now Loyola University Chicago) from 1877 to 1880. After serving as Creighton’s president, he went to St. Mary’s College (St. Mary’s, Kan.). Fr. Miles died in St. Louis, Mo., in 1909.