Saturday, June 17, 2006

This Week in Texas Methodist History-June 18

Matthew W. Dogan Named President of Wiley College--June, 1896

The 1896 General Conference of the MEC named President I. B. Scott of Wiley College, Marshall, as the new editor of the Southwestern Christian Advocate. Scott had been the first African American president of Wiley which had been founded in 1873. His departure left a vacancy. Where could the college find a new president who would guide it through difficult times? The depression of 1893 and resultant hard times had made it more difficult for students to attend college. Wiley's enrollment had decreased. The 1890s saw a hardening of Jim Crow segregation and an increase in lynchings. The generation of northern Methodist philanthropists who had given so generously to African American causes in the South was dying out. The new president would face tremendous challenges.

Matthew W. Dogan, a thirty-two year old mathematics instructor at Walden College in Nashville was named President of Wiley in June, 1896. Few college presidential appointments have been so fortuitous. Dogan was to remain in the Wiley presidency for a remarkable 46 years. In those years he led it to the upper tier of colleges with the same mission. Among his accomplishments was the construction of the first Carnegie college library west of the Mississippi River and ending the preparatory department to make Wiley a strictly upper level institution.

Other institutions including his alma mater, Rust College, as well as Howard awarded him honorary degrees. He was elected a delegate to all General Conferences of the MEC from 1904 to 1940. After his retirement in 1942, President Dogan continued to reside in Marshall until his death in 1947.


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