Selecman, Charles Claude, 1874-1958

Born on October 13, 1874 on a farm near Savannah, Missouri to Isaac Henry and Josephine Smith Selecman, Charles Selecman entered Central College in Fayette, Missouri in 1892. He quarterbacked the school’s football team for four seasons and was undefeated as a sprinter on the track team. In 1898, at the age of 24, Selecman began pastoring in a church in Pattensburg, Missouri, dropping out of college two months before graduation to do so. Here he met Bess Kyle Beckner, whom he married on April 27, 1899. They subsequently had two children: Frank and Josephine. After serving in several locations in Missouri as pastor and circuit rider, Selecman engaged in "home mission work" in Louisiana and Missouri before being appointed pastor of a church in Los Angeles, California in 1913. In 1920 he was called to the First Methodist Church, South, in Dallas, Texas. He became president of Southern Methodist University in March 1923.

During Selecman’s fifteen years at the helm of SMU, the school grew despite the financial struggle brought on by the Great Depression. At the beginning of his term the campus had two permanent buildings and an endowment of $883,000. By 1938 the school had eleven buildings and an endowment of $2,300,000. In 1923 SMU was a liberal arts college with a seminary and music school. A decade and a half later the university boasted schools of engineering, law, education, and business, as well as graduate programs. Research and scholarly output also increased during the period. In 1924 the university acquired the Southwest Review, a literary magazine, from the University of Texas. In 1932 the departments of geology, geography, physics, biology, and chemistry began publishing Field and Laboratory, a semiannual journal. In 1937 the school established its own publishing press.


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