James Gray McAllister

H-SC President, 1905-1908

James Gray McAllister The lingering view that the College was bound to fold after the departure of the Seminary and the failure to bring a railroad near - or through - the campus made the search for Dr. McIlwaine's successor discouraging. In August 1905 the Board almost in desperation elected James Gray McAllister 1894, the younger brother of Trustee J. T. McAllister 1889. The new President was, at 32, the youngest since Cushing. He had been an excellent student, a fraternity man, oratorical medallist, yearbook and magazine editor, officer in the YMCA, musician, and member of several clubs, including the United Order of Red-Heads. Before attending Union Seminary he had been a journalist; he quickly made a name as a preacher and ultimately received four honorary degrees (one being from Hampden-Sydney in 1926). In 1903-04 he had been highly visible on campus while pastor in Farmville, and had even conducted an eight-night revival, though without success (students were more concerned with legalizing "the modern dance"). A brief honeymoon for the President was followed by two years of explosive contention over an extraordinary range of old and new issues, mostly involving finances; in the end, it emerged at a show-down Board meeting in June 1908 that Dr. McAllister had been involved in private communication with his old fraternity brother George Denny 1891, the president of Washington and Lee, regarding a removal of the College to Lexington, in consolidation with that institution. His resignation was accepted the next day. He went on to be a theological and historical writer and a professor at Louisville and then Union Seminary, dying at 98 in 1970.