Lewis McLouth came to Dakota Agricultural College from Michigan Agricultural College, where he had served as professor of physics. His time in office was marked by the continued growth and development of the school. The construction of many buildings occurred during his term, including North building, South building, the shop building, and many barns and farm buildings. McLouth also privately built Woodbine Cottage, which was later bought by the college and has housed almost all of the presidents. It served as the president's residence until 2017.
As President, McLouth created the School of Pharmacy and changed the institution's focus from preparatory level work to college courses in industrial and vocational fields. In a trend that has marked almost every presidential term, McLouth added many additional college courses and hired numerous teachers. A controversial change of the college calendar allowed students to work on the college agricultural farms during the terms and to teach in rural schools during the winter months. Although the change was popular with many students who were able to earn their room and board, it ended soon after McClouth’s presidency. McLouth’s term was characterized by political upheaval and student unrest. The regents asked for his resignation in July 1894, but McLouth did not leave until 1896 when he was asked to hand over his keys to the campus buildings.