Caldwell, Harmon White, 1899-1977

Alternative names
Birth 1899-01-29
Death 1977-04-15

Biographical notes:

Harmon White Caldwell was born January 29, 1899, in the Carmel community in Meriwether Co. GA. He received his undergraduate degree (A.B.) from the University of Georgia in 1919, and his LL.B. from Harvard University in 1924. In 1935, he was awarded an Honorary LL.D., from Emory University, and that same year, he received a second Honorary LL.D. from Mercer University. In 1938, his third Honorary LL.D. was bestowed by Tulane University. Caldwell, a quick study, 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. Upon graduation from Harvard in 1924, he was appointed Assistant Professor of Law at Emory University. He held this position until 1926, at which point he was admitted to the Georgia Bar, 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. Harmon Caldwell's greatest legacy to the University of Georgia was the extensive building program on campus during his administration. Caldwell should also be remembered as the man who drafted, organized and put into effect the first Statutes of the University, the first formalized organizational structure of the modern university. 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 original nucleus of the present day Department of Special Collections at University Libraries. In 1939, he oversaw creation of the University of Georgia Press, and he saw the University 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 serve 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. The myriad of buildings erected during Dr. Caldwell's tenure include: 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). Harmon Caldwell died on April 15, 1977, in Atlanta, GA.

From the description of Harmon White Caldwell papers, 1927-1950. (University of Georgia). WorldCat record id: 690914470

Harmon White Caldwell was born in Meriwether County, Georgia, the son of Lucius Alexander Caldwell (1869-1957) and Lillie Reynolds Caldwell (b. 1875). In 1944 he married Gwendolyn Burton and they had three children: Harmon White, Jr. (b. 1948), Edea Marie (b. 1951) and Robert Burton (b. 1955). Caldwell received his A.B. degree from the University of Georgia and his L.L.B. from Harvard University. He was a professor of law at the University of Georgia (1929-1932), Dean of the University of Georgia Law School (1933-1935), President of the University of Georgia (1935-1948), and chancellor of the University System of Georgia (1948-1964).

In the summer of 1941 Governor Eugene Talmadge instituted the most devastating assault on higher education in the history of Georgia. His firing of professors, administrators, and members of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia generated a storm of adverse publicity throughout the nation and led the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to withdraw accreditation from all of Georgia's state-supported colleges for whites. Walter Cocking, dean of the College of Education at the University of Georgia, was a key target in the Talmadge purge. A native of Iowa, Cocking earned his doctorate at Columbia University in New York and compiled an outstanding record of scholarly achievement before his arrival in Georgia in 1937. After holding important administrative positions in Iowa, Texas, and Missouri, he served for five years as professor of school administration at the George Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville, Tennessee, and was commissioner of education for Tennessee from 1933 to 1937. Hired to improve the academic standards at the University of Georgia's maligned College of Education, he quickly instituted reforms that accomplished that goal, but his brash and domineering style offended members of his staff. At the May 30, 1941, meeting of the Board of Regents, Talmadge, who was an ex-officio member of the board, asserted that Cocking wanted to integrate a demonstration school in Athens. The governor announced that he would remove any person in the university system who advocated "communism or racial equality." After heated debate the regents, most of whom were Talmadge appointees, decided by a vote of eight to four not to reemploy Cocking. When the regents reconvened that evening after dedicating a building, they learned that Harmon Caldwell, president of the university, would resign unless Cocking received a hearing. After acrimonious debate the regents, unwilling to lose the services of the esteemed Caldwell, reconsidered their earlier action and agreed to permit Cocking to answer the charges brought against him at the next board meeting. New Georgia Encyclopedia. ( Retrieved 12/10/2009.

Regarded by many as the fiercest competitor in baseball history, Tyrus Raymond "Ty" Cobb won a record twelve batting titles and established the all-time mark for highest career batting average, .367. Cobb's fiery temper and insatiable desire for success propelled him to greatness but also earned him an enduring reputation as one of the game's most belligerent players [... ] An astute investor, Cobb was a millionaire by the time of his retirement. By 1961 his fortune had grown to between six and thirteen million dollars. Cobb enjoyed the luxury of two retirement homes, one in Atherton, California, the other on Lake Tahoe in Nevada. Later he maintained a third residence, an apartment in Cornelia, Georgia. Cobb also used his wealth for philanthropic purposes. In 1945 he donated $100,000 to Royston to establish a hospital in his parents' memory. The hospital was the cornerstone of what is now known as Ty Cobb Healthcare System, an association of hospitals, convalescent centers, and other health care facilities in northeast Georgia. In 1953 Cobb announced the creation of the Cobb Educational Fund and gave $100,000 toward its endowment. Still in existence, the fund annually provides tens of thousands of dollars to needy Georgia residents who wish to attend college. New Georgia Encyclopedia. ( Retrieved 12/10/2009.

James Wallace "Wally" Butts Jr. coached the University of Georgia (UGA) football team from 1939 to 1960, leading the Bulldogs to four Southeastern Conference (SEC) titles, one undefeated season, and eight bowl games. His intense desire to win, knowledge of the game, and innovative techniques - including a devastating passing game - made him a coaching legend even before he retired. Though he was wracked by scandal late in his career, he is remembered as one of the great coaches in the history of UGA, and in all of college football. Butts led the Bulldogs to the Orange Bowl, UGA's first bowl game, in 1941. The next fall the Bulldogs took the SEC championship and earned a bid to the Rose Bowl. With future College Hall of Famers Frank Sinkwich and Charlie Trippi on the field and "the Little Round Man" Wally Butts on the sidelines, the 1940s were a decade of dominance for Georgia football. From 1945 to 1950 the Bulldogs played in five bowl games and earned two more SEC titles. In 1946 the team posted an undefeated record, including a win over the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the Sugar Bowl. Butts's fortunes took a downturn in the 1950s. His teams posted five losing seasons, and the coach did not regain his former glory until 1959. In January he was elected president of the American Football Coaches Association. In the fall the Bulldogs, including quarterback Fran Tarkenton, had a ten-and-one season and were again named the SEC champions. Butts resigned as head coach after a disappointing six-and-four season in 1960. He remained UGA's athletic director, but his tenure was marred by scandal. In March 1963 the Saturday Evening Post published a story that accused Butts and Alabama head coach Paul "Bear" Bryant of fixing the 1962 Georgia-Alabama game, which the Crimson Tide won thirty-five to nothing. Butts and Bryant sued the Post for libel. In the ensuing trial Butts was awarded $3.06 million, at the time the largest amount ever awarded to a libel plaintiff. (The amount was later reduced to $460,000.) Though Butts won the trial, his reputation had been severely damaged, and he was forced to resign as athletic director. Butts's career record at UGA was 140-86-9, second only to Vince Dooley in total wins. Butts was elected to the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1966; in 1997 he was elected posthumously to the College Football Hall of Fame. Wally Butts died on December 17, 1973. New Georgia Encyclopedia. ( Retrieved 12/11/2009.

From the description of Harmon Caldwell papers, 1916-1991, bulk 1954-1962. (University of Georgia). WorldCat record id: 489082819


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  • African Americans--Education (Higher)
  • Agriculture--Research
  • Segregation in higher education
  • Real property
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  • World War, 1939-1945


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  • Georgia (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Georgia--Meriwether County (as recorded)