Little is known of Guy Edward Cornelius' early life and formal education. Cornelius taught algebra and plane geometry in the Winslow school district as early as 1912 and later became district principal, then superintendent. In 1917, he was elected Vice President of the National Education Association and served as a wartime food administrator for Navajo County. The following year, he was named to the Arizona State Board of Education by Governor George W. Hunt, just before his appointment to the presidency of Northern Arizona Normal School [NANS].
At the start of the fall 1918 term, the deadly Spanish Influenza swept through the school, and classes were canceled from October 17 to November 12. During this hiatus, Cornelius received a commission as a lieutenant in the United States Sanitary Corps. He left Flagstaff for training in San Francisco. However, World War I soon ended, and in December of 1918 Cornelius returned to NANS. He resigned the presidency at the end of the academic year amid budgetary concerns and questions about his academic credentials. The rest of his career remains a mystery.
Condensed from Platt Cline, Mountain Campus: The Story of Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff: Northland Press, 1983), chapter IV.