University Archives: From A&M to UWG

A&M School Beginnings

The University of West Georgia Archives contain records of permanent value documenting the administration of the university since its beginnings as an A&M school in 1907 through its transformation from junior college to four-year college to state university and now a doctoral-granting university in the University System of Georgia. Included are annual reports, faculty senate proceedings, publicity materials, yearbooks and campus newspapers, as well as individual academic department records, and the presidents' papers.

John H. Melson served as the first principal of the 4th District A&M School in 1907. He and his wife, Penelope, were house parents to what was more of a high school than a college. By 1933, the Georgia Board of Regents chartered West Georgia College, a junior college led by Irvine S. Ingram. He served for over thirty years, keeping personal scrapbooks throughout his administration. The library building was named for Ingram at the dedication of an addition opened in 1980.

Ingram was succeeded briefly by William H. Row who died of a heart attack about nine months after his appointment in 1960. Ingram stepped in until the next president, James E. Boyd, was appointed in 1961. Boyd, a physics professor from Georgia Tech, served until 1971, leading the college through great growth and a sometimes turbulent decade. He left WGC to work at the Board of Regents and Ward B. Pafford, a literature scholar from Valdosta State College, was appointed the fourth president. Pafford served until 1975 when he returned to Valdosta.

The fifth president was Maurice K. Townsend, a political science professor from Indiana State University who presided over campus for eighteen years. Unfortunately, Townsend suffered poor health during his tenure and died of cancer in 1993. Bruce Lyon, vice president for student services, stepped in until the Board of Regents appointed Beheruz N. Sethna in 1994. Sethna retired as president in 2013, succeeded by the university's seventh president, Kyle Marrero, who was vice president for university advancement at the University of West Florida as well as having an academic background in music.  

(Race track at A&M Fair in 1914, the barn being about where the library is today, Woodfin Carmical Collection LH-0023.)