David Starr Jordan (January 19, 1851 – September 19, 1931) was born in Gainesville, New York, and grew up on a farm in upstate New York. He was part of the pioneer class of undergraduates at Cornell University, graduating with a degree in botany. He obtained graduate education from Butler University and the Indiana University School of Medicine. While at Cornell, Jordan joined the Delta Upsilon fraternity.
He was inspired by Louis Agassiz to pursue his studies in ichthyology. He taught natural history courses at several small Midwestern colleges before joining the natural history faculty of Indiana University Bloomington in 1879. In 1885, he was named President of Indiana University, becoming the nation's youngest university president at age 34 and the first Indiana University president that was not an ordained minister.