SAM EDWARD CLAGG - TWELFTH PRESIDENT (ACTING), 1984-1984
Upon the resignation of Robert B. Hayes in May 1983, Sam E. Clagg, professor of geography, took over as Acting President on May 14, 1983. He served nearly a year, until March 1, 1984 when Dale Nitzschke became the next president. He later said, “I did not apply for the interim president position—this greatness was cast upon me.” Even while serving as president, he could not give up the classroom, teaching a night class in the Fall Semester. As a geographer he worked to make the campus more handicap accessible.
Sam Edward Clagg, son of Frank Clagg and Louise (Messinger) Clagg, was born November 14, 1920, at Huntington, West Virginia. He graduated from Huntington High School in 1939 and went to Marshall College on a football scholarship, playing all four seasons. He was also the co-captain during the 1942 season. He enlisted in the United States Marines in 1942 and served as an officer in the South Pacific and China from 1943 to 1946. He graduated with a B.A. degree in 1943. After the war, he returned to Marshall and obtained his M. A. degree in 1947. While a student at Marshall, he worked as an assistant coach under Cam Henderson. Upon graduating, he accepted a position teaching geography and sociology, as well as an assistant football coach, at Morris Harvey College from 1947 to 1948.
In 1948 he returned to Marshall, beginning a long career with the institution. He served both as a professor of geography and as an assistant football coach in the athletic department. He gave up the coaching duties in 1957 to devote all his energies to teaching. In 1950 he received his Ed.D. degree from the University of Kentucky. Over the ensuing years, he advanced in academic rank to full professor. He chaired the department of geography from 1961 until his retirement. For twenty years he also served on the University Council, the most influential faculty group on campus, chairing the Council for sixteen of those years. He retired in 1986, but he has continued to have affiliation with the University as a volunteer, such as chairing the University Sesquicentennial Committee in 1986. He has authored a number of books, including: West Virginia Atlas (1955); The West Virginia Conceptual Atlas (1970); The West Virginia Historical Almanac (1975); The West Virginia Town-County Place Name List (1979); The Cam Henderson Story (1981); and The West Virginia Historical Almanac and Gazetteer (200).
He resides in Huntington. Clagg married Frances “Punky” Steorts on September 26, 1947, while he was teaching at Morris Harvey College. They had one daughter. His wife passed away on December 14, 1995. He then married Jerri Burnette on March 19, 1998; she has worked with University’s B.A. Regents Program since its founding in 1975. They reside in Huntington, West Virginia.
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