University of Memphis Magazine
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Summer 11 Features



SUMMER 2011 HOME PAGE

100 years and going strong
Sporting an attitude
These times they are a-changin'


Newsbits
Legend of the fall

The Columns: Alumni Review
Club and Chapter News
"Tigers Around Town" make
splashy debut

Classnotes
In Memoriam

The Columns: Alumni Review
A gallery of presidents, from past to present
Centennial reflections
Looking back: Centennial timeline
A gallery of presidents, from past to present

Seymour A. Mynders
(1912-1913)

Seymour A. Mynders
Seymour A. Mynders
Seymour A. Mynders helped create the school that was to one day become the University of Memphis. The Knoxville native graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1880 and dedicated his life to education. Sporting the hot wool suits and high-collared shirts of the time, Mynders and his successor, John Willard Brister, trekked the state from county to county – by wagon and train – in a relentless pursuit of a school to better educate teachers. They met with success in 1909 when the Tennessee General Assembly passed the General Education Bill proposing a Normal School for each of the state’s three grand divisions.

But Mynders’ hard work had only begun. He negotiated the first construction contracts for the West Tennessee State Normal School, recruited the faculty and developed the curriculum. In 1912 the school opened to 200 young women and men hoping to become teachers. Sadly, the job took its toll. Mynders died in 1913 of a heart ailment that many attributed to the grueling work he did to launch West Tennessee State Normal School.

Did you know?
• Students could earn extra money by working in the dormitories, farm or dining hall. A few defrayed their expenses by fetching the mail or ringing a gong to signal change of classes.

• The football team had several nicknames, including Blue and Gray Warriors, Normals and Normalites. For the first few seasons they played high school teams.

John Willard Brister
(1913-1918, 1924-1939)

John Willard Brister
John Willard Brister
An 1893 graduate of Peabody College, John Willard Brister served as a college professor until 1911 when he was named Tennessee superintendent of education. His tenure as president of WTSNS that began in 1913 was a rocky one. The Latin scholar left the office after five years in 1918, but was destined to return.

As young Americans were fighting in the trenches of France during World War I, Brister joined the war effort as education secretary for the YMCA. When the war ended, he was named a state high school inspector, a position he held until 1924, when he once again joined the Normal School. His tenure was to see a major change just a year later. In 1925 the school was upgraded to a four-year, degree-granting institution and West Tennessee State Teachers College was born.

Did you know?
• Original plans for the Normal School did not include a library. Brister solicited private donations to buy 4,000 books and installed his wife as librarian.

• Brister proposed a system to cool the auditorium in the Administration Building by forcing air across pipes filled with cool 60-degree water from the college’s well and into the auditorium. The cooling project became a casualty of the national economic crash of October 1929.

Andrew A. Kincannon
(1918-1924)

Andrew A. Kincannon
Andrew A. Kincannon
Andrew A. Kincannon occupied the president’s office between John Willard Brister’s two terms. A native Mississippian, Kincannon held a master’s degree from National Normal University in Lebanon, Ohio, and an honorary doctorate from the University of Arkansas. A veteran college administrator, he served as chancellor of the University of Mississippi before being named to replace Brister.

Did you know?
• Kincannon was determined that all students learn to swim. A “pool” was constructed by building an earthen dam over a gully located east of the Administration Building. It was lined with sand and filled with clean Artesian water. The pool was used for swimming lessons and recreation for three summers until the dam gave way.

• 150 students became ill during the influenza epidemic of 1918. The school was quarantined for a time, but all the students recovered.

Richard C. Jones
(1939-1943)

Richard C. Jones
Richard C. Jones
Richard C. Jones had an uncanny knack for being in the right place at the right time, it seemed to many. After earning an MS from Peabody College in 1932, he became a public school teacher, superintendent and administrator. In the late 1930s, Jones was appointed principal of the Campus Training School at WTSTC – although he never held the post. Before he could take the helm, the job of dean of the college became vacant and Jones was named to fill the post. Brister soon became ill and Jones stepped in as acting president. When Brister died in 1939, Jones was tapped to fill the presidency. He held the job until 1943, when he went to work for the Texas prison system. During Jones’ tenure, the school’s name was changed to Memphis State College.

Did you know?
• The entire 1942 football team joined the Marine Corps Reserves during halftime of a game in 1942, leading to a hiatus in athletics that lasted until 1947.

• The college was home to the Civilian Pilot Training Program from 1939-44. Three female students were among the 20 students completing flight training during the 1941-42 school year.

Dr. Jennings Bryan Sanders
(1943-1946)

Dr. Jennings B. Sanders
Dr. Jennings B. Sanders
Dr. Jennings B. Sanders is regarded as the University’s first true scholar-president. He was recognized for making significant contributions to the historical literature of the Colonial period. Sanders graduated from Franklin College in 1923 and earned his doctorate five years later from the University of Chicago. Before joining Memphis State College, he was a professor and chair of the University of Tennessee Department of History from 1935-42. Sanders resigned as president in 1946 to devote his time to scholarly writing.

Did you know?
• Sanders held conferences with the Army and Navy to restore working relationships (which had been strained during World War II), resulting in several courses in aerial science launched in the summer of 1944.

• Sanders made it his chief goal to restore the college to full SACS accreditation. He was successful in earning reinstatement in 1946 and resigned just three months later.

J. Millard “Jack” Smith
(1946-1960)

Jack Smith
Jack Smith
Jack Smith was the first alumnus to lead the University. He graduated from Memphis State with a BS in 1929 and went on to Peabody College for his MA in 1930. Smith spent 15 years as a teacher and principal in the public school system. Before assuming the presidency, he was director of the Training School and dean of Memphis State College. Under Smith, the college achieved full university status in 1957. He led the school through one of its watershed moments, admitting its first African-American students in 1959.

Did you know?
• The Air Force ROTC rifle team compiled a record of 26 wins and no losses in 1951, tying for 15th among AFROTC units nationally.

• Elvis Presley was pictured signing a “We Want University Status for Memphis State” postcard to be sent to the governor.

Dr. Cecil C. Humphreys


(1960-1972)

Dr. Cecil C. Humphreys
Dr. Cecil C. Humphreys
Dr. Cecil C. Humphreys earned his master’s from the University of Tennessee in 1938 and his doctorate from New York University in 1957. As president, he saw student enrollment climb above 20,000 as post-World War II baby boomers flooded the nation’s campuses.

Plagued by growing pains, MSU grew rapidly. New buildings popped up everywhere as students and dollars poured into the growing school. Academic achievements were also on the rise: MSU awarded its first doctorate and established a law school. The student pranks of a simpler time mirrored the turbulent mood in the country, giving way to angry student protests over the Vietnam War, civil rights and other issues. The Department of Theatre and Dance staged the controversial musical Hair.

Did you know?
• Humphreys first joined the University in 1937 as a teacher and assistant football coach, and was named athletic director in 1946.

• He served with the FBI during World War II.

• The University fielded its first costumed mascot, Pouncer, in 1960.

Dr. Billy Mac Jones
(1973-1980)

Dr. Billy Mac Jones
Dr. Billy Mac Jones
Dr. Billy Mac Jones graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1950 and earned master’s degrees in both history and education from George Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. At Texas Tech University, he was a history instructor from 1961-63 and received a PhD in history and political science. The former star football player was a professor and department chair in history specializing in the American Southwest. He was serving as president of Southwest Texas State University, San Marcos, when he was chosen as the University’s eighth president. Under Jones’ direction, the University continued to mature despite shrinking state support. Initiatives by Jones led to the development of two new colleges – the innovative University College, which offered interdisciplinary degree programs, and the College of Communication and Fine Arts.

Did you know?
• The nationwide fad of streaking hit the campus in 1974.

• In 1976, Smokey Robertson, a part-German Shepherd, part-Labrador mix, was an official candidate for Homecoming queen. Although Smokey received more votes than any human candidate, many were tossed out because they didn’t include Smokey’s last name.

• The first scholarships were offered to female athletes in 1976.

Dr. Thomas G. Carpenter
(1980-1991)

Dr. Thomas G. Carpenter
Dr. Thomas G. Carpenter
Dr. Thomas G. Carpenter graduated from then-Memphis State in 1949 and received his master’s degree in economics from Baylor University in 1950 and his PhD from the University of Florida in 1963. The Atlanta native was in his 11th year as president of the University of North Florida at the time of his selection as Memphis’ president.

Carpenter understood the urban university he led, with 80 percent of students holding full- or part-time jobs. He had worked 40 hours a week at an auto parts warehouse while attending Memphis State. Carpenter placed emphasis on quality teaching, tougher admissions policies, and faculty research and scholarship aimed at regional and national recognition. While president, he received the Alumnus of the Year award from the Fogelman College of Business & Economics.

Did you know?
• Carpenter established six Centers of Excellence.

• He wrote, “Our goal is to make the University one of the top research centers by the year 2000, its 88th year.”

Dr. V. Lane Rawlins
(1991-2000)

Dr. V. Lane Rawlins
Dr. V. Lane Rawlins
Dr. V. Lane Rawlins received a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University and a PhD in economics from the University of California, Berkeley. The Idaho native made higher education his life’s work. Before coming to Memphis, he served as vice chancellor for academic affairs for the University of Alabama system and as vice provost and department chair in economics at Washington State University. Under his leadership, MSU changed its name to the University of Memphis to reflect its move toward becoming a leading urban research institution. The campus underwent a major facelift with the opening of the Ned R. McWherter Library and construction of a clock tower and student plaza. Rawlins left the U of M to return to Washington State, this time as president. He served there until 2007, and now is president of the University of North Texas.

Did you know?
• Rawlins presided over the dedication of the Ned R. McWherter Library, the largest facility on campus.

• Frosh Camp began during Rawlins’ tenure.

Dr. Shirley C. Raines
(2001-present)

Dr. Shirley C. Raines
Dr. Shirley C. Raines
Dr. Shirley C. Raines became the first woman to hold the presidency of the University in 2001. Before her appointment, she had been vice chancellor for academic services and dean of the College of Education at the University of Kentucky. Raines also taught at George Mason University where she received the Distinguished Faculty Member award, and has received two awards from the Eastern Education Research Association. Widely regarded as an expert in teacher education and early childhood education, she is the author of 14 books and numerous journal articles. A graduate of the University of Tennessee at Martin, Raines received her master’s and doctorate in education from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

Raines has become recognized for building productive partnerships both on and off campus. Her work has focused on such areas as student retention, expansion of the University’s Honors and Emerging Leaders programs, guaranteed internships for qualified students, and living-learning residential and curricular communities throughout the campus.

Did you know?

• The U of M reported its highest enrollment in fall 2011 with nearly 23,000 students.

• The Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law relocated to the historic former U.S. Post Office/Customs House downtown in 2010.

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