From Ahmedunggar to Lavonia:
Presidents at the University of Georgia 1785-1997
Harmon W. Caldwell
Born January 29, 1899, Meriwether Co. GA; Died April 15, 1977, Atlanta, GA. A.B. University of Georgia (1919); LL.B. Harvard University (1924); Hon. LL.D., Emory University (1935); Hon. LL.D., Mercer University (1935); Hon. LL.D., Tulane University (1938).
Caldwell earned his Bachelor's degree at Georgia in two years, and taught in Georgia public schools for two years prior to entering Harvard Law School. In 1924, he was appointed Assistant Professor of Law at Emory University, and he came to the UGA School of Law as a Professor of Law in 1929. In 1933, he became Dean of the Law School, and in 1935, was named President of the University. After he left UGA, Caldwell became Chancellor of the University System in 1948, a position he held until his retirement in 1964. For the rest of his life, Caldwell remained active as a trustee of the Berry Schools, and Calloway Gardens, as well as his affiliations with Kiwanis, Masonry, and the Baptist Church.
Caldwell's greatest legacy to the University of Georgia was the extensive building program on campus during his administration. He also reorganized the Graduate School in 1937, the same year he persuaded the Regents to buy the DeRenne Library of Georgianna, which formed the nucleus of the present day Department of Special Collections at University Libraries. In 1939, he oversaw creation of the University of Georgia Press, and saw the school through the difficult years of interference from the Governor's office during the term of Eugene Talmadge in the early 1940s. This determination to set policy for the University in the face of what became known as the Cocking affair (1941) brought about the unseating of Talmadge in 1942, and more amicable relations with his successor, Ellis Arnall. The war years saw UGA as host to a Navy Preflight School, a reduced student population, and plans for the growth that was sure to come with the peacetime influx of veterans. During the Caldwell administration, growth was substantial, with the addition of numerous buildings, a physical plant of 3,500 acres, and a Library with 185,000 volumes. After the war, student attendance jumped from 2,468 in the fall of 1945 to 6,643 in the fall of 1946.
Mary Lyndon Hall (1936); Four Towers (1937); Hoke Smith Building (1937); Clark Howell Hall (1937); Forestry Resources Building (1938); Baldwin Hall (1938); LeConte Hall (1938); Park Hall (1938); Rutherford Hall (1939); Dairy Science Building (1939); Snelling Hall (1940); McPhaul Child and Family Development Center (1940); Payne Hall (1940); Founders' Memorial Garden (1941); Fine Arts Building (1941); Alumni House (1943); Stegeman Hall (1943).
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