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Melvin Amos Brannon

1917-1923

Excerpted from "Seven Presidents of Beloit College" by Dr. Robert Irrmann:

In 1917 a turning point in the College's life was marked by the retirement of President Eaton and the election to the Presidency of Melvin Amos Brannon. Beloit's first two presidents had been ministers; President Brannon was a scientist, a biologist. A Wabash College graduate, Dr. Brannon had done his graduate work at the University of Chicago. He brought not only academic scholarship to his presidency, but administrative experience as well, for he had been Dean of the University of North Dakota, and came to Beloit from the presidency of the University of Idaho. President Brannon came to Beloit at the crisis of America's entry in World War I, and he stayed to try to solve the problems of post-war adjustment that faced American education after 1918. Melvin Brannon "had a keen sense of the necessity of relating the College to life, that the interests of the social order might lend an impetus to academic study and that academic ideals might be brought to bear upon Society." To this end President Brannon led change in the College: summer sessions, the quarter system, and substantive curricular changes of a semi-professional or pre-vocational nature. A Department of Journalism was instituted, as was a field of study in Home Economics. Work in Music was expanded. As had his predecessor, President Brannon sought new funding for the College, and nearly one million dollars was added to the endowment. Called to the Chancellorship of the University of Montana in December, 1922, on his leave-taking in the summer of 1923, President Brannon left a college refreshed and refurbished in its physical plant and challenged by the changing temper of America and the stresses of the Twenties.

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