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The Power of Europe
Trinity University Political Scientist Peter O'Brien Analyzes the Continent’s ‘Fragile Ego’
DR. WILLIAM E. BEESON, D.D.
First president of Trinity University founded in Tehuacana by the Cumberland Presbyterian Church from the assets of three antebellum colleges: Ewing (in La Grange), Larissa (in Cherokee County) and Chapel Hill (in Daingerfield.) Dr. Beeson, a professor of Mental and Moral Science as well as Theology and President of Chapel Hill College before the Civil War, participated as a Confederate soldier in the Battle of Shiloh.
During the Beeson presidency, the first unit of the administrative/classroom building was erected. Students established several literary societies that continued activities into the Waxahachie years.
Beeson held the first chair of the Theological Department. One of his students described him as a "a short, stout man, with stubby whiskers covering his face, a gleaming eye, a firm, quick step," and "somewhat careless in dress." Despite these eccentricities, people respected him as a kind-hearted, fearless, and independent administrator and teacher. A memorable Beeson quotation about Trinity University: "The discipline will be strict but parental."
THE REVEREND BENJAMIN G. MCKLESKEY, D.D.
Second president of Trinity University. Rev. McKleskey also served as pastor of the Tehuacana Cumberland Presbyterian Church along with his presidential duties. He initiated the building of additional wings on the original administrative/classroom building that were not completed until 1893. McKleskey, also remembered for establishing the first campus newspaper, died while serving in office.
THE REVEREND LUTHER APELLES JOHNSON, A.M.
(1885-1888 & 1896-1900)
Member of the faculty and third president of Trinity University, Luther A. Johnson became the first Trinity University graduate to serve as President of the University. Rev. Johnson is particularly remembered for his efforts to replace out-of-date textbooks with those reflecting modern scholarship. Trinity was recognized in its day as one of the first schools in Texas to repudiate traditional courses and implement new, innovative educational methods. Johnson played a significant role in the development of the Texas Public School system. He served as a member on the State Board of Examiners and as President of the State Teachers' Association. He also initiated a faculty leave program that allowed Trinity faculty to study at schools such as the University of Chicago and Columbia University.
Rev. Johnson was one of the first people to suggest relocating Trinity to a community where it would "have a place in the educational progress." At his death at age 44, he had been involved in the life of Trinity University for 27 years and was long remembered as one of its most beloved leaders.
THE REVEREND LUNSFORD DICKENS, Ph.D.
Fourth president of Trinity University. Dr. Dickens also taught English and philosophy. During this period, enrollment increased to 300 and construction continued on the Tehuacana campus. Rev. Dickens left Trinity for the presidency at Texas Female Seminary, and was later president of the Bible Institute in Houston.
THE REVEREND B. D. COCKRILL, A.M.
Fifth president of Trinity University. Three endowed professorships were established during Rev. Cockrill's term as president. He served as professor of theology and homiletics as well as pastor of a local Presbyterian congregation. During this period, students wore required uniforms on all dress occasions. Chapters of the YMCA and YWCA, the first in Texas, were active on campus as well. Interest in relocating the University continued to grow during Cockrill's presidency.
THE REVEREND JESSE ANDERSON, Ph.D.
Member of the faculty and sixth president of Trinity University, Jesse Anderson received his A.B. and A.M. degress from Trinity in 1889 and 1890 respectively. In 1890, Dr. Anderson had been named principal of the preparatory department at the University, but the following year he became professor of Latin and Greek. In 1898, he had been made a member of the Board of Trustees and Treasurer of the University. Two years later he also assumed duties as chairman of the faculty and served as the University's first librarian.
Although he opposed the move to Waxahachie, once the decision was made Anderson urged Trinity University constituents to support the new location. Anderson said in a private letter that he thought it best for him not to go to Waxahachie because if the school encountered problems, people might think that it was due to his opposition to the move. President Anderson was the last president to serve on the Trinity University Tehuacana campus.
THE REVEREND LEONIDAS C. KIRKES, A.M.
Seventh president of Trinity University, Leonidas Kirkes received his A.M. degree from Trinity in 1902. After failing to find an experienced educator who would accept the presidency, the Board of Trustees offered the position to The Reverend L. C. Kirkes, pastor of the Third Avenue Cumberland Church in Corsicana, Texas. After being assured by area ministers and session leaders throughout the Synod of their support, Rev. Kirkes accepted the presidency.
In March of 1902, the cornerstone for the new campus was laid in Waxahachie. President Kirkes gave his primary attention to developing the physical plant. He put special effort into raising funds for a women's dormitory which became Prendergast Hall. Enrollment soared from 165 when the school closed in Tehuacana to 322 in Waxahachie during Kirkes's administration. He also tried to improve the endowment and address particularly stressful financial concerns brought about by the move and several years of devastating drought. But according to Donald Everett: "Frustrated by futile pursuits and unable to satisfy patron demands, Kirkes resigned after two years of discouragement, hard work, and apparent lack of appreciation. On the occasion of his last board meeting he remarked that if he had his choice between earning his living as president of Trinity University or by digging mesquite stumps, 'it would have been awfully hard on the mesquite stumps.'" During these difficult times, Trinity continued to maintain its academic reputation and President Kirkes, according to Dr. Everett, deserves much of the credit.
ARCHELAUS EWING TURNER, Sc.D., LL.D.
Eighth president of Trinity University. Dr. Turner first declined the offer of the presidency due to what he considered an inadequate salary. He was serving as president of Waynesburg College in Pennsylvania at the time. The citizens of Waxahachie and a loyal alumnus offered to increase the offer by $1200 annually which persuaded him to reconsider.
Dr. Turner was a highly successful, experienced educator and was long remembered for his warm, enthusiastic personality. He apparently possessed a strong constitution and vigorous intellect which students, faculty, and townspeople all found attractive. He recognized early on that his major challenges were to improve Trinity's financial position and increase enrollment. During his tenure he recognized the need for a men's dormitory and Beeson Hall was erected. Drawing on resources in the Dallas area, the number of lecturers and artists on campus increased significantly as well. Still it is perceived that Dr. Turner's failure to rectify Trinity's constant financial woes led to his early resignation in 1907.
SAMUEL LEE HORNBEAK, Ph.D, LL.D.
(1907-1921 & 1933-1934)
Member of the faculty and ninth president of Trinity University. Dr. Hornbeak has been called "the grand old man of Trinity." He served the institution in various capacities for 41 years. He is the first non-ministerial president of Trinity University, the only one to serve until Duncan Wimpress.
Dr. Hornbeak viewed himself primarily as a teacher rather than administrator. Over the years he taught physics, chemistry, sociology, and economics. From 1901 to 1907 he served as Dean of the Faculty. In 1908 he became President of the University. He is remembered for being especially concerned with the academic preparation of teachers and concerned about the inadequacy of teacher pay at Trinity and elsewhere in Texas.
Notable achievements include the construction and dedication of Drane Hall, considered at the time (1912) the best dormitory in Texas, as well as initiating the first successful campaigns to develop Trinity's endowment. He was persistent in his efforts to forge a productive church-school relationship that would ensure the University's financial stability.
THE REVEREND JOHN HARMON BURMA, D.D.
Tenth president of Trinity University. Dr. Burma, an Iowa native, came to Texas in 1908 and served as pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church of Dallas for eight years. He was vice president of the University of Dubuque, Iowa, when appointed Trinity's president. He was remembered as a dynamic and influential minister who rendered invaluable service to the University in the 1914 endowment campaign. Trinity's enrollment improved dramatically, reaching more than 600, during his tenure and the financial picture initially stabilized. However, according to Donald Everett, "collapse of the stock market and the decline of cotton prices caused a nationwide slump in college enrollment. Drawing the majority of its students from an area dependent upon cotton, Trinity suffered from the restrictions of economic crisis . . . although Trinity barely achieved minimum requirements of the Southern Association of Colleges, the depression caught the institution with the largest and best paid faculty in its history." Faculty took a pay-cut, and vacated positions were left unfilled for many years. Enrollment dropped to 209 students by the third year of the Depression. "At the close of 1933, weary of his role as an 'ecclesiastical beggar,' Burma resigned as president after 13 years of service."
RAYMOND HOTCHKISS LEACH, Ph.D
Eleventh president of Trinity University. Dr. Leach, a New York native, graduated from Oberlin College and Stanford University. He had served as a professor of history as well as worked in the mission field and for several religious organizations before coming to Trinity. Like a number of his predecessors, Dr. Leach tried very hard to establish better relations between the churches and Trinity to thereby better insure the University's financial stability and economic independence.
The lack of a men's dormitory forced the University to establish three cooperative residences. More flexible social regulations were introduced. Recruitment of students was a significant problem during the Depression years and enrollment remained low.
FRANK L. WEAR, D.D.
Twelfth president of Trinity University, Frank Wear received his A.B. degree from Trinity in 1899. Dr. Wear can be credited with heroic efforts to establish Trinity's financial security at a most difficult time in the institution's history. He had worked in many of the Trinity fundraising campaigns in previous years. He traveled extensively as part of these efforts and was successful in generating considerable financial support from the Waxahachie community. As President, Dr. Wear directed funds toward improving the library that had been sadly neglected for many years. Low faculty salaries and an inadequate library were the primary reasons why Trinity was placed on probation by the Southern Association in 1936. And perhaps most significant of his contributions, President Wear was a major player in the decision-making that brought Trinity to San Antonio.
On December 9, 1941, the day after the United States declared war on Japan, Dr. Wear accepted an invitation from San Antonio businessmen to move Trinity to San Antonio. Needless to say, the citizens of Waxahachie were not pleased with this decision. Generally, according to Donald Everett, Texas Presbyterians felt that a move to San Antonio would improve Trinity's enrollment and financial prospects. Trinity held its last commencement on the Waxahachie campus in June 1942. Trinity merged with the University of San Antonio, combining the assets of the Presbyterian and Methodist colleges on the latter's Woodlawn Avenue campus, and opened for classes in the fall 1942 semester in San Antonio. It appears to have been a remarkably smooth transition thanks in large part to the efforts of President Wear.
MONROE G. EVERETT, D.D.
Thirteenth president of Trinity University. The first problems President Everett encountered involved organizing the new University on the new campus with a largely new group of students and reporting to a new Board of Trustees filled with energetic San Antonians who were thrilled to have a respected Protestant-affiliated private college in town. President Everett also faced the loss of accreditation realized when Trinity merged with the unaccredited University of San Antonio. Accreditation was again achieved shortly after the end of the War.
During President Everett's tenure, enrollment increased 700%, with most students coming from the San Antonio area. With such a dramatic increase in student population, space became an issue from Trinity's first days in San Antonio. By the end of Dr. Everett's tenure, the Board of Trustees had acquired land for a new campus, an abandoned quarry near Brackenridge Park and discussions were underway with San Antonio architect O'Neil Ford about an innovative campus design.
* M. BRUCE THOMAS, Ph.D.
(1950-1951 & 1976-1979)
In 1950, after President Everett's resignation, Bruce Thomas served one year as acting president, a role he would assume again at the beginning of 1977. But on May 12, 1977, the Board of Trustees issued the following Resolution: "BE IT RESOLVED that the prefix "Acting" be dropped from the title assigned Dean Bruce Thomas by the Board of Trustees on January 3, 1977, and that this Body vest in President Thomas full and unqualified authority to carry out all duties and responsibilities traditionally associated with the office of chief executive during his assignment." Bruce Thomas served as Dean of the University and Professor of English between 1947 and 1975. In 1977 he left retirement to serve 30 months as the president of Trinity University.
JAMES W. LAURIE, D.D., M.A.
Fourteenth president of Trinity University. Dr. Laurie's name is synonymous with the "Miracle on the Hill," the construction of the Trinity University campus. A total of 43 new buildings were added to the campus during his presidency. In addition, the University's financial assets grew from $3,000,000 to $75,000,000. The size of the Library collection doubled, and the number of faculty with earned doctorates increased from 19% in 1951 to over 60% in 1970. Faculty salaries improved as well over the years.
During Dr. Laurie's administration, Trinity's legal ties with the Synod of Texas were severed and a new covenant relationship was established, one that continues with the Synod of the Sun, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to this day.
Dr. Laurie made an impact in the San Antonio community. His personal style attracted many business and civic leaders. Much of his rhetoric suggested that the University was positioned to become an outstanding academic institution as well as an economic asset to the city. Entrance qualifications were tightened and College Entrance Examination Board scores were required of all students during this period. When Dr. Laurie presided over Trinity's 100th anniversary celebration in 1969, Trinity was a well-established San Antonio institution.
Dr. Laurie is remembered as a forceful and articulate speaker, gifted conversationalist, and successful fundraiser. While a visionary who always had words to share on Trinity's bright future, he was grounded in the reality of Trinity's past that is nearly always overshadowed by the lack of funds needed to carry out its ambitious academic programs.
DUNCAN WIMPRESS, Ph.D.
Fifteenth president of Trinity University. Dr. Wimpress was the second layperson, the first being Samuel Hornbeak, to be elected president. During the Wimpress years, the University endowment was recognized as among the 35 highest supporting independent institutions in the country. A substantial amount of debt was retired as the University, for the first time, surpassed $1,000,000 in annual philanthropic support. Special endowments to support new professorial chairs and the library were secured as well. Funds were received from the federal government to develop the nation's largest solar energy installation. Faculty involvement in sponsored research reached $2,000,000 in support with the participation of 40 professors.
The Coates University Center and Trinity University Stadium were building projects completed during Dr. Wimpress's presidency. Three new departments were established: Environmental Studies, Computing and Information Sciences, and Journalism, Broadcasting, Film. The installations of Trinity's Phi Beta Kappa and Mortar Board chapters recognizing Trinity's strong program in undergraduate liberal arts education occurred during the Wimpress administration.
RONALD K. CALGAARD, Ph.D.
Sixteenth president of Trinity University. During the Calgaard era, Trinity rose in prominence as a nationally recognized institution of undergraduate higher education. Curricular changes emphasized the liberal arts and sciences. Departments of Art History and Classical Studies were formed, and Chinese was added to the list of modern languages. Minority recruitment was particularly successful during the Calgaard years. Graduating students went on to professional and graduate schools in record numbers and a student in 1997 became the University's first Rhodes Scholar.
Major building projects included the Coates Library, the Bell Athletic Center, Mabee Hall, several dormitories, and major renovations of the Coates Student Center, Marrs McLean Science Center, George Storch Memorial Library, and in his final year the Stieren Theater in the Ruth Taylor Fine Arts Building. Major pieces of sculpture by Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth were added to the campus grounds. During the Calgaard years, several series of distinguished speakers were created with support from members of the Board of Trustees. Public figures, as well as internationally recognized artists and academics, gave speeches on campus to audiences comprised of Trinity students and faculty as well as others from the San Antonio community.
Dr. Calgaard will also be long remembered for his successful fund raising efforts. Of particular note was the Capital Campaign conducted during the 1980's. The Elizabeth Huth Coates Library collection building efforts of the 1980's catapulted the library into the ranks of those at the best liberal arts colleges in the country. The library collection grew over 200% in less than a decade. In addition, a number of distinguished professorships were established with funds raised by the Campaign. During the Calgaard years, the endowment increased in value by over 450%.
JOHN R. BRAZIL, Ph.D.
Dr. Brazil became the 17th president of Trinity University in June 1999. Drawing on a distinguished academic and administrative career, he charted an ambitious course for the University, where his leadership inspired a number of special initiatives that built on Trinity's considerable strengths and achievements.
Dr. Brazil's oft stated vision was to move Trinity from its position of eminence to preeminence and propel it into the front ranks of America's finest smaller colleges and universities. Progress toward this goal included the hiring of numerous new faculty members, a redesigned common curriculum, a re-conceptualization of student life, implementation of an Academic Honor Code, the "internationalization" of both the faculty and student body, and dramatic increases in the number, quality, and diversity of applicants for admissions.
Major new facilities added to the Trinity campus include the Robert A.M. Stern-designed administrative and academic building, Northrup Hall; the Dicke Art and Smith Music buildings; an information commons in the Coates Library; and a renovated Ruth Taylor Recital Hall. The Trinity University Press was re-established, and a historic $200 million capital campaign, Dream Inspire, Achieve., launched in September 2005, recently came to a successful conclusion with a final fund raising total of $205,953,000.
Landmarks Murchison Tower rises in the center of the campus and is visible from numerous vantage points throughout the city.