When Read was offered the position of university president, he conditioned his acceptance on the addition of colleges of agriculture, education, and law to the University of Missouri. When Read called for the establishment of what would become the University of Missouri School of Law, there were only three other schools of law west of the Allegheny Mountains and none in the state of Missouri.
Read was a member of the Ohio Bar and a lifelong academic who served as a professor at the University of Wisconsin, Vice President of Ohio University, and President of Indiana University prior to becoming President of the University of Missouri. During his tenure are President, Read championed for the formal education of women. Gradually, the University opened enrollment to women without restriction.