ROBERT BRUCE HAYES - ELEVENTH PRESIDENT, 1941-1983
Robert B. Hayes Upon John D. Barker’s resignation in 1974, Robert B. Hayes, Dean of the College of Education, stepped in as interim President while the search for a new president commenced. On November 4, 1974, the West Virginia Board of Regents named him Marshall University’s eleventh President, making him the first native born West Virginian to lead the University since Lawrence Corbly in 1915. His term of office has been called the “Decade of Progress” because of the academic advancements and facility improvements that took place on Marshall’s campus during his tenure. One of Hayes’s first achievements was the creation of the Marshall University Community College, whose first classes were held in the fall of 1975, and the adoption of the “Board of Regents Degree” program to assist non-traditional, returning students’ degree goals. In 1977 the Marshall School of Medicine was established with its first class graduating in 1981. The College of Science, the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Fine Arts were created during the restructuring and modernization of Marshall’s academic programs during his term. An expansion of campus facilities also took place, including the construction of classroom buildings Harris and Corbly Halls, the Cam Henderson Center and additions to the science and medical school facilities. After serving nearly nine years as president of Marshall, Hayes resigned on May 11, 1983.

Robert Bruce Hayes, the son of Bruce Hayes and Ruby Irene (Hitt) Hayes, was born on November 25, 1925, in Clarksburg, Harrison County, West Virginia. He attended Victory High School in Clarksburg, and served in the United States Marine Corps from 1944 to 1946 during World War II. Upon returning home, he attended Fairmont College for two years and then transferred to Asbury College, where he earned his B.A. degree in 1951. After graduating, he taught school at Yates Center, Kansas for three years, and in 1956 he was named principal of Fairview High School in Fairview, Kansas. During this time he also attended the University of Kansas, earning his master’s in education in 1956. From 1957 to 1959 he was chairman of the Division of Education at Asbury College, and in 1959 he accepted the position of Dean of Teacher Education at Taylor University, Upland, Indiana, where he remained until 1965. He earned a doctorate in education from the University of Kansas in 1960.

Dr. Hayes’s long association with Marshall University began in the summers of 1961 and 1962 when he appeared on campus as guest professor of education for Marshall’s Graduate College. He joined the Marshall administration full time in April 1965 when he was named the Dean of its Teachers College. In November of 1970, he was asked by interim President Donald Dedmon to serve as the liaison between the University and the families of victims of the Marshall plane crash tragedy. After serving as the University’s president from 1974 until 1983, he returned to teaching in the renamed College of Education, where he stayed until his (first) retirement at the end of the fall 1990 semester, and completing a twenty-nine year association with the institution; however, it was not to be his last. Although he formally retired in 1990, he was asked to serve as a consultant to Warner Southern College in Lake Wales, Florida during its accreditation and administration reorganization. In 1992 at the request of then-Marshall President J. Wade Gilley, Hayes returned to Marshall as the interim dean of the College of Business, serving until 1993. From 1993 to 1995, he coordinated the University’s self-study for its national accreditation review and from 1995 to 2007 he worked in the Marshall (now Mountwest) Community and Technical College - first as vice-president (1995-1996), as provost (1998-2000) and then as interim president (2006-2007). In 2006, in conjunction with C.T. Mitchell (former Marshall Director of Informational Services), he authored “$7,000 in the Bank: The Remarkable Story of Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine”. Finally, in 2007, he accepted a position with the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing (RCBI) and served that facility and its CEO, Charlotte Weber, as curriculum developer until he (again) retired in 2013.

Dr. Hayes married Ruth Harrison on July 19, 1947 and the couple had three children, all graduates of Marshall University – Steven Hayes of Hoboken, NJ; Ruthann Waters of Hickory, NC and Mark Hayes of Huntington. After the death of his first wife, Dr. Hayes married Kathleen Peters and the couple currently resides at the Woodlands Retirement Community in Huntington.

(Updated biography courtesy of Dr. Hayes' son Mark H. Hayes December 2016)


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