By Christopher Fernandez, Contributing Writer
Four score and seven years ago, we had barely begun to scratch the surface of the long history of McKendree University. The school that we call home and have come to love over the years has developed from the small McKendree College to the now prosperous McKendree University. In this time McKendree has seen its fair share of Presidents come and go. While many individuals who held the title of President have helped to shape McKendree into the bustling university that we enjoy today, some have had much more interesting histories and achievements than others.
With such a rich and deep history dating back to our origins in 1828, the McKendree University Archives & Museum group put on a Brown Bag to showcase the history of these men. Justin Smock and Debbie Houk worked to produce an informative but also comedic history of McKendree University’s Presidents.
Their Brown Bag, “A Presidential History,” which took place on September 11, 2019 showcased the thirty-two Presidents that McKendree has had and how they have impacted the campus or funny, quirky items about certain individuals. Justin and Debbie bounced between the two of them with each of them presenting on roughly sixteen of the Presidents each.
Our first President, Edward Raymond Ames, was only recognized as the Principal of the school during his stent here from 1828 to 1833. Having been a member of the Lebanon Seminary, a trait that was shared with many of the other Presidents that were discussed at the Brown Bag, Edward Raymond Ames is the namesake for the dining hall in which we now enjoy many meals.
Several other Presidents were also covered including McKendree Hypes Chamberlin who was named for both our school and as a namesake to “Uncle Ben” Hypes for whom we get the name of our field.
“As McKendree is preparing to say goodbye to its longest serving president, I felt it important to compile a history of past presidents as a way to portray how the institution has developed since its very first foundation’s president. Once can not advance forward without first knowing from which they came,” said Justin Smock when asked about why he wanted to give this presentation.
The Archives and Museum’s Brown Bag taught about the important history of McKendree University’s fine men who shaped the school into what we have today. Without these leaders and developers, many of us might not have the wonderful home which we have been able to share and grow in and for that, I thank them for all of their efforts.