Past Presidents

Reverend Samuel McKinney
1850-1853 & 1862-1871

Rev. Samuel McKinney (1807-1879) was born in County Antrim, Ireland, and immigrated to Philadelphia with his family in 1812. After growing up in Tennessee, he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1832. Originally a student of medicine, McKinney decided to change his major to theology and become a preacher. After serving as a missionary in the “backwoods” of Illinois and teaching in Tennessee, he became President of Chalrners Institute in Holly Springs, Mississippi. At the request of Rev. Daniel Baker, McKinney came to Huntsville, Texas, and assumed the presidency of Austin College in 1850. In addition to his administrative duty, McKinney had charge of the Classical Department and supervision of the English Department of the preparatory school for an annual salary of $1500. During his presidency, he also acted as pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Huntsville. McKinney presided over the erection of the first permanent Austin College building. He served until a personal dispute with Sam Houston prompted his resignation on June 29, 1853. He returned to Mississippi, but was called again to serve as the College’s president through the difficult years of the Civil War and early Reconstruction, 1862-1871.

Reverend Daniel Baker
1853-1857

Daniel Baker, founder and second president of Austin College, was born in Midway, Georgia, August 17, 1791. His early education was self-taught. Baker attended Hampden-Sydney for two years before graduating with honors from Princeton in 1815. After serving pastorates along the eastern seaboard, he turned to missionary work and came to Texas for the first time from Alabama in 1840. In 1849, he returned to Texas as a missionary, determined to establish a college on the frontier.Dr. Baker devoted himself to the duties of financial agent of the College, education lobbyist to the Legislature, and itinerant preacher. He reluctantly stepped into the presidency of Austin College with the resignation of Samuel McKinney in 1853 and served until 1857. During this period his continued efforts on behalf of public education in the Texas Legislature contributed to the eventual passage of public school legislation. Baker resigned the presidency of Austin College in January, 1857, in order to devote all his time and energies to fundraising for the College and died in Austin on December 10, 1857, while trying to obtain aid for the College from the Texas legislature.

Rufus William Bailey
1858-1862

Rufus Bailey was born in Yarmouth, Maine, April 13, 1793. He was educated at Dartmouth, receiving his Masters Degree in 1816. Subsequently, he studied law with Daniel Webster, before changing directions and entering Andover Theological Seminary. He entered the ministry in 1818 as pastor of a Congregational Church in Connecticut and at the same time held the post of Professor of Moral Philosophy (history) in the local military academy. Bailey maintained an active interest in higher education, serving as trustee of Williams College in Massachusetts and the University of Vermont. It appears Bailey felt a commitment to the education of women as well as men. Before reaching Texas in 1854, he organized the Pittsfield Female Seminary, established the Richland Normal School in South Carolina, taught at a female school in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and founded Augusta Female Academy (now Mary Baldwin College) in Staunton, Virginia. He emigrated to Texas for health reasons and was appointed Professor of Languages at Austin College in Huntsville, Texas, in 1855. In 1858, the Board of Trustees elected him to the presidency of Austin College. Bailey assumed the presidency on the heels of an administrative debacle in June of 1858 that produced a revolt of the faculty and a resulting failure of the college to open the fall semester of that year. In the tradition of Daniel Baker and Samuel McKinney before him, he also served as pastor of Huntsville Presbyterian Church, where his keen mind and ready wit earned him the nickname the “Walking Library” among his congregation. Bailey tendered his resignation as president of the College in 1860, pleading ill health, but in the face of the unsettling events of that year agreed to serve until a replacement could be found. As a result, Bailey’s actual departure did not occur until 1862. He died in Huntsville on April 23, 1863, only three months and three days prior to the death of the College’s most famous and colorful trustee, Sam Houston, who died in the house Bailey himself had built.

Reverend Samuel Magoffin Luckett
1871-1878 & 1887-1897

Samuel M. Luckett was born in Logan County, Kentucky, April 9, 1835. He completed his B.A. degree at Center College in Danville, Kentucky in 1859. After the Civil War, Luckett finished his course at Danville Theological Seminary and preached in Kentucky until elected to the presidency of Austin College. He assumed his duties January 1, 1871. During Luckett’s first administration, Austin College, staggering under a heavy debt and the depletion of the student body, moved to Sherman at the urging of the Synod. After overseeing the closing of the Huntsville campus, Luckett devoted most of his time and energy to traveling, soliciting financial support. Despite the severe depression gripping the nation following the Civil War, Luckett managed to considerably reduce the College’s debt. Luckett resigned in April of 1878, but returned to the presidency in 1887 to find one instructor, twenty-five pupils, and a debt of several thousand dollars. In the fall of 1889, Austin College adopted a military program which lasted through the spring of 1897. During that time, the College made swift advances, establishing a strong faculty, a growing student body, a YMCA chapter, intercollegiate athletics, Greek fraternities, and adding two wings to the college building, one of which was funded by the President’s wife, Jewel Link Luckett, and her family. Samuel Luckett himself donated land he owned for the college’s first athletic field. Luckett left Austin College in June of 1897 to pastor the First Presbyterian Church in Beeville. He died in San Antonio in 1905.

Reverend Henry B. Boude
1878-1881

Henry Boude was born in Mason County, Kentucky, August 20, 1833. He received a B.A. degree from Center College in Danville, Kentucky in 1857 and completed his seminary work at Danville Theological Seminary in 1860. Boude served as a Captain in the Confederate Army, Second Batallion Cavalry, until a broken leg forced him from the saddle. He then served as chaplain of the second regiment for the remainder of the war. After the war, Boude served pastorates in Galatin, Tennessee, and Paris, Texas. He became President of Austin College on April 24, 1878, and immediately began an active campaign for the completion of the College building. He achieved this goal within a matter of months, but in the process, incurred a bonded debt to Eastern bankers that created bad feelings among some Board members. Having brought Austin College over a major obstacle to its continued presence in Sherman by rescuing the foundering building project, Boude returned to the ministry in 1881. He died in May, 1913.

Reverend Edward Porter Palmer
1882-1885

W. D. Vinson, a graduate of Lee’s college in Lexington, Virginia, and an outstanding mathematics teacher and chairman of the faculty under Boude, stepped in as Acting President from 1881-1882. The College, however, was not ready to accept a layman as President, and the Reverend E. P. Palmer was thus called to the presidency in 1882. Palmer was born in Summerville, South Carolina in 1826. He attended the University of Georgia and Columbia Theological Seminary and was ordained a minister in 1849. He served as pastor of churches in South Carolina and Alabama before becoming a professor at Louisiana State University in 1869, where he received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in 1874. Palmer had a strong reputation as a preacher and teacher, but the financial situation facing the College required the talents of a businessman. Palmer resigned in 1885 to resume his ministerial career until his death in 1905.

Reverend Donald MacGregor
1885-1887

Businessman turned preacher, Donald MacGregor, who assumed the reins of the presidency of Austin College from Reverend Palmer, was born in Glasgow, Scotland. He served with the legendary 42nd Regiment of Scotch Highlanders before turning to the mercantile business that brought him first to New Orleans and then to Houston. In his fifties MacGregor heard the call to preach and, after studying for the ministry, was ordained in 1874. Before coming to Austin College he served as pastor of the Chappell Hill Presbyterian Church and the Second Presbyterian Church of Houston. While at Chappell Hill, MacGregor acquired the friendship and admiration of J. N. Chadwick. After MacGregor became president of Austin College, Chadwick became the College’s chief benefactor. MacGregor also expended a portion of his own fortune to help relieve Austin College’s financial distress, and he used his business contacts and skill to liquidate the bonded indebtedness quickly. The pressures of the position were physically devastating to MacGregor, and he died in 1887, but his legacy as a shrewd and successful businessman continued. His widow, Harriett Speake MacGregor, bequeathed to Austin College a valuable piece of property in downtown Houston which provided the College with essential income well into the twentieth century.

Reverend Thornton Rogers Sampson
1897 – 1900

Luckett’s successor, Thornton Rogers Sampson was an outdoorsman as well as an intellectual. He was born at Hampden Sydney, Virginia, October 9, 1852, and graduated from the University of Virginia. He pursued post-graduate studies at universities in Scotland, Germany, and Syria. After his ordination in 1878, he served as missionary to Greece until 1892, as Secretary of Foreign Missions, 1892-18q4, and as President of the Presbyterian Assembly’s Home and School, 1894-1897. He came to Austin College on June 10, 1897. Being a physical health enthusiast himself, Sampson established the first gymnasium at the College and encouraged the physical training of students. During his administration compulsory physical education, several business courses, and a course in pedagogy were added to the curriculum. The first college yearbook, The Chromascope, was published, and Sampson had the distinction of being the first (and only) Austin College president to have his buggy hoisted to the top of the tower of Old Main on April Fools Day, 1899. He resigned the presidency in June, 1900, and became President of Austin Theological Seminary in which capacity he served from 1900-1905. An experienced mountain climber, Sampson disappeared on a mountain climbing expedition in the Colorado Rockies in September, 1915. His body was not found until the following spring, presumably the victim of an early blizzard.

Reverend Thomas Stone Clyce
1900-1931

Thomas Stone Clyce held the longest tenure of any president in Austin College history. He was born in Kinsgport, Tennessee, September 12, 1863. He received degrees from King College in Bristol, Tennessee, Columbia Theological Seminary and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Clyce served pastorates in Alabama and Kentucky before becoming president of Jackson Agricultural College in Jackson, Alabama, in 1896. Upon T. R. Sampson’s resignation Clyce came to Austin College in 1900, bringing with him his wife, May Perrin, a formidable personality herself, who would make major contributions in the life of the college. During his tenure, Dr. Clyce presided over numerous changes in the physical plant. By 1910, a dormitory, Luckett Hall, replaced the wooden shacks that had served as dormitories, a multi-purpose YMCA building was erected, a fence and grandstand were added to the Athletic Park. Sherman Hall, Thompson Science Hall, and a powerhouse, later known as Cern Hall, were completed by 1915. By 1922, a new athletic field was added, and by 1927, a new gymnasium with a basketball court was built on it. Clyce had great plans for the construction of an administration building to replace Old Main as well as other projects, but most never came to fruition. Although he oversaw the groundbreaking, Clyce never saw the administration building progress beyond the framework erected in 1925. It was finally completed in 1947, the year after his death. Clyce also presided over important changes in the educational program. New courses in history, government, physical education, and pedagogy were added, the sciences and modern languages were expanded, and the traditional classical curriculum received less emphasis. The faculty grew, and a singing instructor was added for the first time. With the Great War came military instruction, and, with Dr. Clyce’s support, so did coeducation. Clyce’s years as President ended on a series of somber notes. In 1928, his daughter died in an airplane crash. In 1929, the Great Depression gripped the nation, and in 1930, a race riot devastated the Sherman community. Clyce retired in 1931, but remained active as President Emeritus and Professor of Philosophy until his death in 1946.

Everett Brackin Tucker
1931-1943

Everett Brackin Tucker came to the presidency of Austin College on February 5, 1931, in the very long shadow of Dr. Clyce. Tucker was an educator and devoted to the cause of education, first and foremost. He was the first layman to hold the office of President of the College. Tucker was born near Smyrna, Tennessee, April 12, 1881 He was educated at Vanderbilt University and George Peabody College for Teachers, and received an LL.D. from Arkansas College in 1925. Tucker brought to Austin College thirty years experience as an educator, having served as President of Arkansas College, Director of the Forward Education Movement in Arkansas, Business Manager for the Arkansas Education Association, and editor of the Journal of Arkansas Education which he founded. Tucker endured some of the most difficult years Austin College had yet seen. When he assumed his duties, the College was a quarter million dollars in debt, and the Depression threatened to close it all together. The coming of World War II decimated enrollment even further, and in 1939, proposals for merger of Austin College and Trinity began to emanate from the Presbyterian Synod. The combined struggles divided members of the Synod, the Board of Trustees, and the administration. Tucker resigned in 1943. Nevertheless, under his administration, the net worth of the College increased, science, library and dormitory equipment increased, and a business school and aviation school were added. As part of the war effort, the College trained over 300 men and women during 1942 through Engineering, Science, and Management courses sponsored by the United States Office of Education. Tucker returned to Tennessee where he continued to teach. He was awarded the Austin College Founders Medal in 1963.

Reverend William Barnett Guerrant
1944-1953

William Barnett Guerrant hailed from Danville, Kentucky. He was an English major at Centre College in Danville, where he received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. He earned a Doctor of Sacred Theology degree from New York City Bible Seminary and a Doctor of Divinity from King College in Bristol, Tennessee. He served the ministry for ten years before becoming President of Stonewall Jackson College at Abingdon, Virginia, from 1927 to 1929. He was Chair of Bible and pastor of the University Church at Harrogate, Tennessee, and Superintendent of Bachman Memorial School and Home in Farner, Tennessee, before coming to Austin College in 1939 as Professor of Bible. He served as acting president in 1943 and his appointment to the presidency was announced during graduation in 1944.

Austin College saw many changes and advances under Guerrant’s administration. In addition to the engineering, science, and management war training program, Austin College operated a Cadet Nurses training program in cooperation with Wilson N. Jones Hospital and hosted the Texas Home Guard and the Naval Reserve. In 1943, the 77th Flight Army-Air Training Corps filled Luckett Hall and part of the Y Building with Air Corp cadets. Funded by the G.I. Bill, the college provided education to a flood of returning veterans after World War II, prompting a surge of campus construction, new courses, and a fifty percent increase in the faculty. The College was admitted to the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools; the Administration Building was, at long last, completed in 1947; Paul Coffin Dormitory for Girls was built in 1948; the Hughey Gymnasium was erected in 1949; the Student Union and Adams Health Center in 1951. A department of Fine Arts was added in 1946 and a department of Home Economics in 1952. Also under Dr. Guerrant, the College celebrated it 100th anniversary.

John Dean Moseley
1953-1978
Chancellor, 1978-1981

John D. Moseley was the second lay president of Austin College during its history. He was born in Greenville, Texas, November 17, 1915. He received his Bachelor’s degree at East Texas State University and a law degree from the University of Texas. Moseley had already established a high reputation in public administration both in Texas and in Washington, D.C., when he came to Austin College in 1953. Under his administration, the College saw unprecedented growth and change, physically, socially, and academically. During the 1950s, Clyce Hall, Baker Hall, and Wynne Chapel were added to the physical plant. During the 1960s, Arthur Hopkins Library, Moody Science Center, Craig Hall, two more dormitories, Caruth and Dean Halls, and the Guy M. Bryan apartments were constructed. In the 1970s, the Jonsson Plaza, Windsor Mall, Ida Green Communication Center, Sid Richardson Recreation Center and Hannah Natatorium were completed, and the college established a lake campus at Preston Point on Lake Texoma.

During Moseley’s administration, segregation ended, as did compulsory chapel attendance; women were elected as student body presidents, Dean Hall became co-ed, Mary Foulks Gourlee became the first woman to chair the science department, Evelyn Milam became the first woman Director of Admissions, and Abraham Nelson, Jr. became the first African-American member of the full-time faculty. The campus witnessed expansion and experimentation in programs and curriculum. Crossroads Africa, Summer Seminars abroad and in Mexico, A Capella Choir tours, and an all-amateur athletics program were instituted. January Term was initiated in 1968, but even earlier, Moseley pioneered the integrated core curriculum with the help of a large grant from the Ford Foundation. Freshman English was supplanted by Communication/Inquiry, and interdisciplinary studies such as Asian Studies, Latin American Studies, and Communication Arts appeared. Black History, Ecology, Macroeconomics, and Computer Science were added to the curriculum. During Moseley’s administration, the control of the Presbyterian Synod over the Board of Trustees was replaced with a covenant relationship between the college and church. Student government was given a larger role in the coordination of programs and policies. Moseley gradually retired from the presidency by assuming the role of Chancellor in 1978, remaining on hand to assist the new president and continue his research in higher education. He retired in 1981, to pursue still other challenges in education and public policymaking. John D. and Sara Bernice made their home on Grand Avenue. He passed away in 2009.

Dr. Harry F. Smith
1978-1994

Harry Smith, like John Moseley, was a native Texan. He was the first Austin College president to have earned a Ph.D. and the first since McKinney, Baker, and Bailey to boast an Ivy League background. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Texas, his Bachelor of Divinity from Yale, and his Ph.D. from Drew University. In the traditional mode of Austin College presidents, Smith combined interests in religion and education. He served as campus chaplain at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Executive Director of the Society for Values in Higher Education, and associate professor at Yale Divinity School before coming to Austin College. His aim would be to focus the attention of Austin College students on establishing a framework of personal, social, civic, and international values in preparation for the increasingly complex future they would face. Smith’s administration, too, saw many new features added to the life of the College. A department of international relations was established; the study of foreign languages was emphasized; more foreign teachers were recruited and more students went abroad to study. The College’s endowment soared and the long elusive goal of a capacity student body was attained. The college grounds were extended; landscaping and imposing sculptures were added; Wortham Center, the Honors Court, and Abell Library were built. Luckett Hall received a major overhaul; Hopkins was converted to new uses, the Administration Building and Sherman Hall were remodeled and refurbished. In addition, Smith left Austin College with a new image for the future in a newly designed logo reflective of its Texas pioneer heritage and enduring spirit. He and his wife, Etta, retired to Santa Fe, New Mexico where he passed away in 2002.

Dr. Oscar C. Page
1994-2009

Oscar C. Page was the 14th president of Austin College. He and his wife, Anna Laura, a successful musician, joined the College community in July 1994.  Before his move to Austin College, Page spent six years as president at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. He had previously served 10 years at Lander College in South Carolina where he was provost and vice president for academic affairs, with a term as acting president during the chief executive’s leave of absence. Page also served as dean of the college at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, and was part of the history faculty at the University of Georgia and Western Kentucky University. A historian, Page earned a bachelor’s degree from Western Kentucky University and a master’s degree and doctoral degree from the University of Kentucky.

Those who worked with Page during his Austin College presidency said his ‘roll-up-your-sleeves’ approach was bolstered by an enduring optimism. Such energy and outlook allowed Page to set goals and create a vision that was difficult, lofty even, but never impossible. Page’s dedication to Austin College and his commitment to leadership through service and example were the main drivers of his success. But, one of the most important aspects of Page’s legacy was his leadership in fundraising. The success of the $120 million Campaign for the New Era, the largest fundraising effort in Austin College history, served as a milestone in Page’s tenure. He increased the endowment 78 percent, from $83 million to $148 million, and raised the number of $1 million donors from 11 to 46, with several donors above the $5 million mark. The numbers were impressive, but those numbers and percentages were a means to an end, and, for Page, the end always was education.

By the time of his retirement in 2009, Page orchestrated more than $100 million in capital improvement projects on campus, creating better facilities and a beautiful campus environment in which students, alumni, and the entire College community could take pride. Those projects included construction of Jordan Family Language House, Jerry E. Apple Stadium, the Robert J. and Mary Wright Campus Center, the Robert M. and Joyce A. Johnson ’Roo Suites, and the Betsy Dennis Forster Art Studio Complex, as well as the first efforts toward the funding of the IDEA Center. Page also oversaw renovation of the David E. and Cassie L. Temple Center for Teaching and Learning at Thompson House and of Wortham Center, and creation of the John A. and Katherine G. Jackson Technology Center; the Margaret Binkley Collins and William W. Collins, Jr., Alumni Center; and the College Green in Honor of John D. and Sara Bernice Moseley and Distinguished Faculty. In establishing the Robert T. Mason Athletic-Recreation Complex, all the athletic facilities within were renovated and the Verde Dickey Fitness Pavilion added. Later, baseball’s Baker Field and stadium were refurbished and Russell Tennis Stadium was relocated and updated. Plus, landscaping and other projects significantly enhanced the entire campus, particularly the addition of the Margaret Binkley Collins Fountain, the Clyde L. Hall Graduation Court, and the Sandra J. Williams Founders Plaza.

Programmatic changes implemented during his tenure, enriched the curriculum. The addition of four majors and eight minors to the academic program are remembered as just as important as new buildings and beautiful landscaping projects. Page led the effort to make some 300 new scholarships available to students, add 20 new tenure-track faculty positions, and increase enrollment while maintaining a climbing SAT average. During his leadership, a Phi Beta Kappa chapter was established at Austin College, the student body grew increasingly diverse, and growing numbers of students studied internationally.

Under Page’s direction, the College created four new academic centers, including the Posey Leadership Institute, which did much to garner national exposure for the College through bringing well-known figures to campus as speakers, such as Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, Oscar Arias, and George H. W. Bush. Through his philosophy of servant leadership and daily example of integrity, he served as a builder of character in the lives of countless students and other members of the Austin College community.