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Bulletin Winter 2017 Vol. 8 No. 1

4 B U L L E T I N the College. When Smith became president, they asked him to look for donors as well as for a site for a separate college for women. Smith undertook this work with great enthusiasm, and in fairly short order found a city (Lynchburg) and a set of potential donors who shared his dream. Apparently, Smith was not slated to be the first president of the woman’s college, however, and was only given that position when the person who had been lined up to serve pulled out at the last minute. Smith was simultaneously named president of R-MWC and the chancellor of the entire Randolph- Macon system of colleges and schools, all of which had been founded by Methodists. Smith’s real passion was the woman’s college, however. ‘An education equal to that provided at the best men’s colleges’ Our greatest debt to Smith was his insistence that the woman’s college provide “an education equal to that provided at the best men’s colleges.” He wanted the College to be an outstanding academic institution, and he was almost immediately successful in this effort because he insisted on very high admissions standards. In fact, in the early years, the academic stature of the woman’s college was much higher than for the men’s college. Smith’s success at making the woman’s college one of the top colleges in the South is evidenced by the fact that R-MWC and Vanderbilt were the first two colleges in the South designated as Carnegie institutions. This designation bestowed upon the College status as one of the best colleges in the nation. In those early years, the College had a highly structured curriculum of Latin, Greek, basic science, mathematics, and composition, as did most colleges in the United States. This meant by default that it provided a liberal arts education. Smith is reputed to have received an unusually good education as a young man, and he was dedicated to the pursuit of broad learning. One of the earliest evidences of his dedication was the fact that he hired his cousin, Louise Jordan Smith, in the first group of faculty at the College. But it is not really so much that he hired her as it is that he supported her interest in radically revamping the College’s curriculum. ‘Miss Louise’s’ big dream Louise Jordan Smith had many innovative ideas about the curriculum, but they almost all involved art. Originally hired as an instructor of French, Miss Louise (as she was called) wanted to add the creation of art (what we would call studio art today) as well as the study of contemporary art to the curriculum. Not only did William Waugh support Louise Jordan’s ideas, he allowed her to leave her position in 1895 to study at the Academie Julienne in Paris for three years to better prepare to teach art. This kind of faculty development would be very rare today, but it was unheard of in the late nineteenth century. But William Waugh was dreaming big and “Miss Louise” had a big dream in which he was willing to invest. Thanks to William Waugh and Miss Louise, the College was one of the first in the nation to have studio art classes and probably the first to incorporate the study of contemporary American art into its curriculum. But Miss “Our greatest debt to Smith was his insistence that the woman’s college provide ‘an education equal to that provided at the best men’s colleges.’”


Bulletin Winter 2017 Vol. 8 No. 1
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