Hill, Walter B. (Walter Barnard), 1851-1905

Alternative names
Birth 1851-09-09
Death 1905-12-28

Biographical notes:

Walter Barnard Hill (1851-1905), lawyer, educator, chancellor at the University of Georgia (1899-1905), resided in Macon and Athens, Georgia. Hill married Sallie Parna Baker and their children included Parna B., Mary Minot, Roger M., and Walter Barnard, Jr.

From the description of Walter B. Hill family papers, 1818-1941. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 38476613

Walter Barnard Hill was born on September 9, 1851, in Talbotton, Georgia, and was the first University of Georgia alumnus to serve as Chancellor/President of the institution, his A.B. (1870), M.A. (1871) and B.L. (1871) degrees all having been earned at the university in Athens. From 1871 until 1899, Hill practiced law in his father's legal firm in Macon, Georgia. He was one of the founders of the Georgia State Bar Association, and he was very active on the Methodist Episcopal Church South. Hill was a man of strong convictions, and an ardent Prohibitionist. He advocated collective bargaining for workers, and first publicly defended the right of blacks to equal education in an article in Century magazine in 1884. In 1899, Hill accepted an invitation to serve as Chancellor of the University of Georgia. This proved to be an astute choice for the University's future, as Hill's ties with Emory and Mercer Universities enabled him to co-opt denominational interests in state politics who had formerly worked somewhat contrary to University interests. Since he ably lobbied for increased state fiscal support for all aspects of education at the State University, agrarian interests found a common champion with those who promoted more purely academic programs. The University's budget in 1899 was $40,000 ($8,000 in state money); between 1900 and 1905, Hill was able to persuade the state legislature to appropriate $151,000 for the comprehensive modernization of the University in Athens. This first campus master plan was Hill's vision, given life by New York landscape architect Charles Leavitt, one of many associations which Hill made via the good offices of his new friend and University of Georgia benefactor, George Foster Peabody, who first visited the campus in 1902. This new plan included laying the foundations for a new State College of Agriculture, as well as a College of Education, expanding the Law curriculum from one to two years, the establishment of a School of Pharmacy (1903), and putting the wheels in motion for a School of Forestry (which would emerge in 1906). Hill would also be vocal on a national stage with regard to the need for federal funding for public education at all levels. Several buildings at the Athens campus were completed during Hill's tenure, including Denmark Hall (1901), Candler Hall (1902), Meigs (originally, LeConte) Hall (1905), and the "modern, fireproof library" (1905), made more urgent in the wake of the fire which destroyed Science Hall (and much of the documentary record of the pre-20th century University of Georgia) in November in 1904. Science Hall would be a phoenix reborn in the erection of Terrell Hall, a three-story structure raised in the same footprint as the original building, and with the same cornerstone intact (1904). Hill's energy burned brightly, but for too brief a while, as he contracted pneumonia in December of 1905, and died from its effects on the 28th day of that month.

From the description of Walter B. Hill papers, 1873-1906. (University of Georgia). WorldCat record id: 692194035


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