LC in History: Golden Age
Dr Clifton W. Potter ~ LC History Professor
When Dr. Josephus Hopwood left Virginia Christian College in 1910, his place was taken by Dr. S.T. Willis who resigned in 1912. The third president of the college, Dr. G.O. Davis had served as vice president and financial agent before he assumed the chief leadership position in an administration haunted by the less-than-orthodox monetary policies of Hopwood. He resigned in June 1915.
The man who was selected as the fourth president of Virginia Christian College, VCC, Dr. George P. Coler, was known for his ability to deal with financial problems. However, before he was installed as president, Coler died while attending an amateur dramatic presentation in Hopwood Auditorium.
His financial secretary, Dr. John T.T. Hundley, was elected president on June 7, 1915. He would transform the college during his 21-year tenure.
One of the first things that Hundley did was change the name of VCC to Lynchburg College, a move finally approved by the Virginia State Corporation Commission on July 23, 1919.
The colleges and universities sponsored and supported by the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, had essentially divided the map of the United States among them, and the territories
allotted to our college were Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. (Delaware and Florida would later be assigned to LC.)
Hundley felt that including “Virginia” in the college’s name was misleading. The change was criticized by some of the supporters of the college because they were convinced—incorrectly as time would prove—that Christian education had been abandoned by the new administration.
In April 1917, America entered the war against the Central Powers, and as they have always done, LC students answered the call of their country.
To maintain a male presence on campus, Hundley worked with the army to organize a Student Army Training Program. It was disbanded soon after the Armistice was signed on Nov. 11, 1918. The civilians on campus devoted a great deal of time and space to planting and harvesting what during World War II would be called “Victory Gardens.”
In 1919, the first edition of “The Hornet” appeared, and the nickname “Hornets” was applied to our victorious football team. Hopwood had not approved of America’s favorite autumn pastime, but Hundley encouraged the organization of a team in 1916. LC would continue to field a football team until 1932, when shrinking revenues due to the Great Depression led to its termination.
When Hundley assumed the presidency, the student body numbered 68; a year later, it had increased to 105, but the college still had a total indebtedness of $46,000. This translates to approximately $5,000,000 in 2017 dollars!
To eradicate this debt, the college joined the Men and Millions Movement, a program sponsored by the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ. By the end of the 1917 academic year, Hundley and the Board of Trustees were able to ceremoniously burn the symbols of the debts which dated from the last years of Hopwood’s administration.
With the beginning of the 1920s, a “Golden Age” began for LC.