Our look at the PC Presidents brings us to the man who served when Clinton College became the Presbyterian College of South Carolina and the one serving when PC began to attract students outside the Clinton area.
PC’s Third President: Joseph Whitner Kennedy, 1888-1891
Two very significant events happened during the presidency of Joseph Whitner Kennedy: the college became known as the Presbyterian College of South Carolina, and the college received sixteen acres for the development of the West Plaza.
Raised in Williamston, SC, Kennedy had been a teacher and the Superintendent of Public Education in Greenville County for two years. He came to Clinton as the principal of the preparatory department of Clinton High School and taught English literature in the collegiate department. He had been admitted to the bar in 1883 but preferred educational work.
According to a letter written about him, Kennedy “gave much of his small salary to help the struggling college.” He was the father of four children, including 1896 PC grad Fronde Kennedy. Fronde later became the second Dean of Women at Duke University and received an Honorary Doctorate of literature from PC in 1924.
Kennedy’s presidency was ended by his sudden death at the age of 36 in February of 1891.
PC’s Fourth President: John Irvin Cleland, 1891-1894
John Irvin Cleland had been serving as a professor of Latin and philosophy when he was named President in 1891. During Cleland’s tenure, Alumni Hall, the first building on the current campus, was completed. Two other buildings were also built during his tenure: a small dining hall seating fifty and a professor’s cottage, later called the Cottage Dormitory, that would house 14 students.
According to Ben Hay Hammet’s Spirit of PC, “Gradually more students were coming to PC from beyond the Clinton area to make use of the residential facilities on the new 16-acre site. In 1892, there were 62 students enrolled in the college division and 71 in the preparatory classes—all taught by a seven-man faculty, which included President Cleland.”
In 1894, Cleland resigned from the role of President and left PC to pursue graduate studies at Johns Hopkins University. After a year of graduate school, he became the third President of Arkansas College, now called Lyon College, serving until 1897.
Cleland went on to attended McCormick Theological Seminary and became a minister in the northern branch of the Presbyterian Church. He served the rest of his life as a minister and evangelist and died in 1927.
Source: Information provided by PC Archives