Marshall W. Brown, 1945-1963
When Marshall Walton Brown, a graduate of Centre College, was named the thirteenth president of Presbyterian College in 1945, he had been a history professor at PC since 1925 and dean since 1928. He had taken on additional administrative duties during the presidency of his predecessor, William P. Jacobs II, and was well prepared when he took office. Hammet (Spirit of PC, 89) quotes Dr. Jacobs as saying, “In fact, he really knows more about the current affairs of Presbyterian College than anyone else, including myself.”
In more than 18 years as president, Dr. Brown quadrupled the college’s assets, increased the endowment from $200,000 to $1.4 million, and tripled professors’ salaries. Three new buildings were built and plans were in the works for three more.
As World War II came to a close, The Blue Stocking and The Pac Sac resumed publication and PC welcomed veterans back to the campus. Intercollegiate sports became a means of bridging the age gap between freshmen and veterans. Ben Hay Hammet, class of 1943, returned to campus in 1949 to develop a comprehensive program of alumni and public relations, receiving national awards for publications and for alumni support (Hammet, 102).
Post-war enrollment at PC was up to 476 in 1947 and students were housed in Springs Gymnasium and the second floors of Judd Hall and the student center house, with others scattered in accommodations across town (Hammet, 103). By 1955, Laurens Hall had been updated and Bailey Hall dormitory was ready when 509 students arrived on campus (Hammet, 116).
Douglas House (1958) and Belk Auditorium (1960) were later completed with plans for Richardson Science Hall, Greenville Dining Hall, and a women’s dormitory awaiting funding.
President Brown’s responsibilities had included business management of the college during the first eleven years of his tenure. Ed Campbell, a 1950 summa cum laude graduate of PC, was hired by the college upon his graduation to become the college registrar. In 1956, Campbell left the Registrar’s Office to become the first Business Manager of the college (Keeping Posted on Presbyterian College, March 1957).
Under Dr. Brown the campus grew to 175 acres after the purchase of two tracts of land adjacent to the campus in 1962 (Hammet, 130). Completing his most successful year as president, Dr. Brown submitted his resignation to the board of trustees in March, 1963.
Dr. Brown’s first official act as president was to fire his wife, Lillian Gross Brown, longtime registrar and originator of the Bee Mail letters to PC soldiers during WWII. At her 100th birthday celebration, Mrs. Brown, reflecting on getting fired, stated, “I just went out for a walk and cried.”
Marshall Brown had given his life to Presbyterian College, moving through the campus over 38 years from the History Department to the Dean’s Office to the President’s Office. Hammet (130) quotes Dr. Brown’s resignation statement saying, “It’s like giving up a child.” Following his retirement, Brown served as the South Carolina coordinator for the Higher Education Facilities Act. He and his wife, Lillian Gross Brown, retired in Clinton, where he died in 1986.