Marshall W. Brown, 1945-1963
When Marshall Walton Brown, a graduate of Centre College, was named the 13th President of Presbyterian College, 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 in 1945. Hammet 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 ’43, 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, Spirit of PC, 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, Spirit of PC, 103). By 1955, Laurens Hall had been updated and Bailey Hall dormitory was ready when 509 students arrived on campus (Hammet, Spirit of PC, 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, he left the Registrar’s Office to become the first Business Manager of the college (Keeping Posted on Presbyterian College, March 1957).
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 said: “I just went out for a walk and cried.”
Under Dr. Brown, the campus grew to 175 acres after the purchase of two tracts of land adjacent to the campus in 1962 (Hammet, Spirit of PC, 130). Completing his most successful year as president, Dr. Brown submitted his resignation to the board of trustees in March 1963.
Marshall Brown had given his life to PC, moving through the campus over 38 years from the History Department to the Dean’s Office to the President’s Office. Hammet quoted Dr. Brown’s resignation statement saying, “It’s like giving up a child.” (Hammet, Spirit of PC, 130) Following his retirement, Brown served as the SC coordinator for the Higher Education Facilities Act. He and his wife, former registrar Lillian Gross Brown, retired in Clinton, where he died in 1986.