Nerd Factor: To Boldly Go Where No Show Has Gone Before

Dr. Clifton W Potter ~ LC History Professor

When Dr. 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 Josephus Hopwood. He resigned in June 1915.

The man who was selected as the acting president of Virginia Christian College, Dr. George P. Coler, was known for his ability to deal with financial problems.  He would not accept the presidency of the College because at the age of 62 he considered himself too old.

However, before he was able to institute any changes, Dr. 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 Dr. Hundley did was change the name of Virginia Christian College to Lynchburg College, a move which was 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 Lynchburg College.)

Dr. 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.

When the name of Virginia Christian College was changed to Lynchburg College, our Alma Mater was only 16 years old.  To some students who graduated from 1904 to 1918, this was a traumatic event.

At Homecoming in 1968, I had the opportunity to have a long conversation with a member of the Class of 1918 who was attending her 50th class reunion. She had recently retired from teaching English on the high school level, and thus she spoke with that preciseness and eloquence that I associated with teachers of her discipline.

While we talked she confessed that, although she had supported Lynchburg College over the years, she still considered herself to be a graduate of Virginia Christian College.  Her faded VCC banner still hung above her desk at home, a silent reminder of four wonderful years and friends still present and friends long gone.

As we consider changing the name of our college the situation is quite different.  For 97 years, Hornets have proudly proclaimed that they were graduates of L.C., and over the last ten decades our alumni have made the name of our college one that is respected worldwide, an institution that is honored for changing lives in the most positive ways.

Several years ago my cousin visited our campus so that her grandson could see where his great-grandfather graduated. 16 years is only a moment in time when compared to generations of memories.  When I walked onto the campus of Lynchburg College as a freshman—I came home.

No matter what the Board of Trustees does regarding changing the name of my Alma Mater, this special place where I have spent most of my life will always be Lynchburg College.  At last, I understand what that member of the Class of 1918 meant so many years ago.