THOMAS EDWARD HODGES - SIXTEENTH PRINCIPAL, 1886-1896
Thomas E. Hodges Marshall College’s sixteenth Principal was Thomas E. Hodges, who arrived in 1886. In his first year the college’s primary department, young children of elementary school age, was eliminated and only those students were enrolled who were "of age and advancement sufficient to admit them to the regular classes of the normal or academic departments." He also re-instituted the academic department with its classical-oriented curriculum, which had been dropped in 1877. The normal school curriculum remained a three-year program. Throughout his ten-year tenure many changes were made in the college’s courses and administration, including establishing a "Marshall Business College," which had its own principal, who also served on the College faculty.
      His time at Marshall was eminently successful, and when he left he had "set a new record that has not yet been equaled." When revisting the College in 1905, he addressed the student body and "referred to the ten years which he spent here as very pleasant ones and his first greeting was congratulations on the marvelous growth of Marshall College." Hodges left in 1896 when he accepted a faculty position as a professor of physics at West Virginia University.
During Marshall College’s centennial celebration in 1937, a new dormitory for men, called Hodges Hall, was dedicated. The speaker on that occasion was the West Virginia Treasurer, Merrill D. Carrico, whose words form a brief biography of Hodges, and will be here reproduced with only minor editing:
      This magnificent new dormitory is today named the Thomas Edward Hodges Hall, honoring Doctor Thomas Edward Hodges, who was President of Marshall College from 1886 to 1896. He is recognized by friends and acquaintances as one of the State’s outstanding contributors to the fields of education and good citizenship.
He was born December 13, 1858, near French Creek, Upshur County, in what was then Virginia, the son of John Henry and Melissa Humphrey Hodges. Thomas Edward Hodges was educated in the French Creek Academy, an institution fostered by the Presbyterian Church, in which religious faith he was thus nurtured and grew up. He entered West Virginia University in Morgantown in 1877 and graduated in 1881. He later took his Master’s Degree in Science at Cornell University. From 1881 to 1886 he served as Principal of the Morgantown Public Schools.
     In 1886 he was elected President of Marshall College at Huntington in which position he served for ten years. During this period he became known to thousands of southern West Virginians and formed friendships which lasted through his lifetime and have extended to other members of the family, notwithstanding that Doctor Hodges’ life from 1896 until his death in 1919 was spent in northern West Virginia.
In 1896 he was elected Professor of Physics at West Virginia University, at which post he served until 1909 when he was appointed by the late Governor William E. Glasscock as a member of the first Board of Control, which body was created by the Legislature of that year.
     He had served on the Board of Control one year when he was elected President of West Virginia University in 1910. Owing to a statute which existed at that time providing that no citizen could hold two public offices of the State in succession, without the lapse of one year, Doctor Hodges continued to serve on the Board of Control without pay for several months, finally leaving the Board of Control in February 1911. After a vacation trip abroad with his wife and daughter, he took up his duties as President of the University on July 1, 1911, and was formally inaugurated on November, 3, 1911. The inauguration was one of the outstanding affairs of its kind in the history of the State and was attended by President William Howard Taft.
     In 1914, Doctor Hodges voluntarily resigned as President of West Virginia University and returned to private business activities. His health began to fail in the fall of 1918, and on July 13, 1919, he died at his home in Morgantown after two unsuccessful operations. He was buried in the family plot in Morgantown.
In 1882 Doctor Hodges was married to Mary Amelia Hayes, a member of one of Monongalia County's oldest families, which settled there shortly after 1800 and whose members have been active and prominent in that community for more than one hundred and twenty-five years. Mrs. Hodges died in 1928. Two children were born to Dr. and Mrs. Hodges, both of them within the walls of Marshall College.…
Beginning with his school days at French Creek, Doctor Hodges was active in the Presbyterian Church and his loyalty and devotion to church affairs was an important part of his life. He served as an Elder in the Presbyterian Church for more than twenty- five years and was a member of its College Board for the United States.
In addition to degrees conferred upon him for work done during his college career, he had conferred upon him two honorary degrees, that of Doctor of Science by Waynesburg College and Doctor of Laws by Washington and Jefferson College.
     For a quarter of a century Doctor Hodges was prominent in school affairs of West Virginia and traveled over the entire State many times making public addresses and conducting teachers institutes. His public appearances on the rostrum and in the pulpit made him known to thousands of West Virginians in every county. To these were added the thousands of friends and acquaintances developed by thirty-five years of service with the students and faculty members of the two largest educational institutions in West Virginia. These generations of students, particularly those at the State University knew him affectionately as "Tommy" Hodges.
     It seems to me particularly fitting that this building which will serve such a useful purpose for the students of Marshall College should be named for a West Virginian who has been as distinguished in the fields of education and citizenship as was Doctor Thomas Edward Hodges.

                                                                                     • RETURN
  Logo Created and maintained by Lisle Brown, Curator Special Collections
© 2013, Special Collections, Marshall University