Barnabas Coffin Hobbs, Earlham's first president, was appointed in 1867. Hobbs previously served as superintendent at the boarding school.
Hobbs grew up in the Blue River Quaker community in Washington County, and graduated from Blue River Academy. In 1837, Hobbs entered Cincinnati College, while teaching at Blue River and at Friends Boarding School in Mount Pleasant Ohio.
Hobbs was a recorded minister, weighty Friend, and the first clerk of Western Yearly Meeting. Hobbs served as president through 1868, leaving to become Indiana's Superintendent of Public Instruction. He was later appointed a trustee of the College.