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Marshall University has been known by three official names, and thirty-nine individuals have guided it as its forty chief administrative officers—one man served as its principal twice. The institution began as Marshall Academy in 1837, was renamed Marshall College in 1858, and finally became Marshall University in 1961. Of the thirty-nine persons who have shepherded the institution during its one-hundred and seventy-five years, thirty-eight were men and one was a woman. Eight men were principals during the Marshall Academy years, and five were teachers who stepped in to keep the academy functioning during critical years, especially the Civil War. It was during these war years that a single woman kept the dream of Marshall alive. After the Civil War there were nine men who held the title of principal during the Marshall College period. In 1907 the title of principal was changed to president, and six men held that title during the rest of the college period. Since becoming a university, thirteen men have held the title of president. Of these thirteen men, two were called acting presidents and two were called interim presidents.

Each of these individuals has left his her own mark on Marshall University, whether for only a few months or for decades. Yet it has been difficult to find much information about the lives of many of them. Yes, there are a number of historical studies of the University, both published and unpublished, in which there appear brief biographical sketches of some of them, but the last of these studies was published in the 1980s, more than thirty years ago. There is no single place an interested person can go to find information about these important figures in Marshall’s history. The purpose of this brief paper is to ameliorate that unfortunate situation.


© Lisle G Brown, 2013 — All Rights Reserved

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