MORRIS PURDY SHAWKEY - FOURTH PRESIDENT, 1923-1935
Upon the departure of Frederic R. Hamilton, Morris P. Shawkey became the Collegeís fourth president. Although a native of Pennsylvania there was no one who was as "intensely loyal to the Mountain State" as he was. One of the first tasks Shawkey undertook was to get the new four-year college accredited in the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools, which he attempted in 1925 and accomplished the following year. He reorganized the faculty into two colleges: Teachersí College and College of Arts and Sciences, each with its own dean. Shawkey added a number of buildings during his tenure, including Fairfield Stadium in 1928, the James E. Morrow Library 1932, the Student Union in 1933, and the presidentís residence along Fifth Avenue. He guided the College through the difficult Great Depression years. As a staunch Republican, he was forced to resign on April 27, 1935, when the Democrats took control of the State, but he stayed on until July 1.
Morris Purdy Shawkey, the son of George Shawkey and Annie Elizabeth (Witherspoon) Shawkey, was born on February 17, 1868, on a farm near Sigel, Jefferson County, Pennsylvania. Eschewing a life of farming, he attended Bellevue Academy, acquiring a teaching diploma in1883 at the tender age of fifteen. He accepted a job teaching in a one-room school in the Mill Creek District of Clarion County, Pennsylvania, finding his lifeís vocation in the classroom. He continued his education while teaching, attending not only Bellevue Academy in 1884 and 1885, but also Oberlin Business College, in Oberlin, Ohio, between 1886 and 1889. Instead of returning to Oberlin to complete his degree, in 1889 he enrolled in Ohio Wesleyan Academy, at Delaware, Ohio, and from there he matriculated at Ohio Wesleyan University in 1890. He received his A.B. degree in June 1894.
After graduating, he accepted a position as superintendent of schools at Reynolds, North Dakota, where he worked for only one year, 1894 to 1895; he found the cold winter almost intolerable. From there he accepted a position as a professor at West Virginia Wesleyan College at Buckhannon, arriving in August 1895. In 1897 he was offered and accepted the position of chief clerk in the West Virginia Department of Free Schools, where he worked until 1907, except for a brief period in 1902-1903 when he obtained a leave of absence to serve as a delegate in the State Legislature. During 1907-1909 he was the Superintendent of Kanawha Public Schools. In 1909 he was hired as the State Superintendent of Schools, which job he "filled most creditably." He held that position until becoming the fourth President of Marshall College in 1915. After leaving Marshall College in 1935, he accepted a position on the faculty of Morris Harvey College and he was named its president on November 23, 1935. He served in that position until 1941. At Marshall Collegeís centennial celebration, he returned to campus and spoke at the dedication of the murals in the library, painted by Marion Vest Fors. When he became ill in 1941, he left Charleston for St. Petersburg, Florida, to recuperate with friends. When he did not improve, his physicians directed him to return to Charleston, West Virginia, for a major operation. When en route by train, he died in his sleep in a Pullman car, near Savannah, Georgia, on February 6, 1941. A memorial service in Charleston, was followed by his interment in the family cemetery in Sigel, Pennsylvania.
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