UL in History: Remembering Hugh McNeil Scrogham Jr.

Dr. Clifton W. Potter Jr. ~ UL History Professor

Usually when I call to mind the biography of one who has served the University of Lynchburg, it is a member of the faculty, but this week I wish to remember an editor of The Critograph who later joined the senior staff and served his Alma Mater in a number of roles until his retirement in 2007. Hugh McNeil Scrogham, Jr., a native of Staunton, Virginia, entered Lynchburg College in the fall of 1962.  He earned his B.A. in Political Science in 1966, and a MEd. in School Supervision and Administration. During his senior year, he edited The Crit, having become involved in publications as the business manager of The Prism while still a sophomore. He never wasted a minute, but at various “free moments” in his college career Hugh was elected to membership in Kappa Delta Pi, Pi Delta Epsilon, Blue Key, and the President’s Council.  

Noted for his organizational skills, his ability to evaluate the most complex situation, find a workable solution to any problem, and the gift to save money without sacrificing quality, Hugh was hired upon graduation to work in the Business Office as the Purchasing Manager.  When he earned his master’s degree, he was named as Director of Residential Facilities, a position which he held until his retirement in 2007. Both positions came with built-in stress, but I never heard Hugh raise his voice—he was always calm, cool, and collected.

Outside his job, Hugh’s passion was World War II, and over the years he amassed a large collection of material artifacts from that conflict.  After his retirement, he became a volunteer at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia. He employed his finely-honed skills to document artifacts,  conduct detailed historical research, and enter reams of information into the Foundation’s database. Towards the end of his life, Hugh donated a large collection of valuable World War II artifacts which will form the core of a future museum at the D-Day Memorial.  He also created the Hugh McNeil Scrogham, Jr. ’66 Scholarship Fund at the University of Lynchburg to provide financial support for veterans—especially those who had seen combat service—to earn their degrees at his Alma Mater.

I have always sought to link the present with the past, and over the years there have members of the faculty and staff who resembled famous historical persons.  Hugh Scrogham resembled Count Camillo Benso de Cavour, the father of a united Italy. Both men worked with quiet determination to achieve specific goals, refusing to allow ill health or seemingly insurmountable barriers to deter them from the realization of their respective visions.  Count Cavour did not live to see his nation united, and Hugh Scrogham did not live to see his legacy to the D-Day Memorial realized, but as with Cavour, others will take up the challenge and see the dream completed. The University of Lynchburg is a better place because of Hugh Scrogham, and Central Virginia will be richer for his service and generosity.

UL in History: My Alma Mater, the University of Lynchburg

Dr Clifton W. Potter Jr. ~ UL History Professor

For over a decade, I have had the chance to share the history of the college with the campus community, so to begin closing this academic year I should like to introduce you to the person, who, in a very special sense, was responsible for our Alma Mater. Of course, the names that immediately come to mind are Josephus and Sarah LaRue Hopwood, but the Hopwoods would never have moved to Lynchburg had it not been for F.F. Bullard. When Frank Fontaine Bullard, the pastor of First Christian Church, notified Josephus Hopwood of the availability of the defunct Westover Hotel as a home for a college, he changed the history of higher education in Central Virginia. Born in 1857, this Southwest Virginia graduate of Milligan College was descended from a long line of ministers.  During his student days, the Hopwoods had been like surrogate parents, and after he left Tennessee, he regularly corresponded with them. When the Hopwoods decided to leave Milligan, Bullard quickly offered them a new opportunity for service.

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UL in History: Veterans of the University

Dr. Clifton W. Potter Jr. ~ UL History Professor

Last weekend, I indulged in a hobby that I share with thousands—reenacting.

My period of expertise is World War I, and I am a member of an Imperial German Unit, the IR63. Since I impersonate a retired veteran recalled back into service, I have a clerical job. I interview enemy soldiers taken prisoner during the various raids and engagements that fill the hours of an event.  It is a hobby that I share with my son, and I enjoy it for many reasons. I must assume and maintain a persona that I have carefully researched and created over the years—after all, I entered Lynchburg College with a drama scholarship. Using German, French, and sometimes Spanish gives me a chance to hone my language skills. [English has not proven a problem—yet.]  It also gives me a great deal of time to devote to contemplation. This weekend, I devoted a great deal of my “quiet time” to thinking about the many contributions veterans have made to the University of Lynchburg.

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UL in History: Westover Weekend

Dr. Clifton W. Potter Jr. ~ UL History Professor

Westover Weekend is just around the corner. Beginning on Friday, the campus will be filled with alumni ranging in age from their early sixties to—well, never matter.  The Westover Society, which is composed of the College’s senior graduates, and this year the Class of 1969 will hold its Fiftieth Reunion. Dr. Robert Whitmore and I were the sponsors of this remarkable group of alumni. Unfortunately, Bob, who was a member of the Class of 1959, died several years ago.

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UL in History: Water Balloons, Oh My!

Dr Clifton W. Potter Jr ~ UL History Professor

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This week’s pleasant weather filled with the promise of languid spring days yet to come convinced me that winter is finally done, and my thoughts began to wander back over the years to the water balloon mania that “gripped” the campus every year during second semester.  Before I precede, let me admit that I was hit one Sunday afternoon in May by a soccer player whom I dubbed “Wrong Way Walker” because he had accidentally kicked a goal for our opponent in a particularly crucial game. He had waited for months to take his revenge—but I deserved it. Most of the recipients of a water balloon were innocent victims.  Nobody was ever hurt; they just were soaked.

Walking past Carnegie Hall in the late afternoon was particularly dangerous. Without warning seemingly dozens of missiles would appear from as many windows.  Most of them missed their marks—but not always. There was one young woman who tempted fate on a regular basis by walking very close to the building and taunting the projectile crews. As they responded to her challenge, she pushed the button on a large black umbrella. The balloons burst, but their target went her way dry and very self-satisfied.  Then one day her flirting with disaster ended. Two enterprising “gunners” secured several plastic garment bags from a local dry-cleaning establishment, sealed them at one end with a warm iron, and filled the giant “balloon” using a garden hose borrowed from a town student. When their tormentor appeared on schedule, they pushed the “balloon” out of their third story window.  Then up when the umbrella and down fell the missile with a loud smack. The umbrella looked as if it had been struck by lightning. The young woman was soaked—she never tried that trick again.

When I joined the faculty in 1965, I learned that the Dean of Women had a plan to stop water ballooning forever.  All women who came into their dorms with wet hair after a water balloon incident had occurred would be “campused” for a week.  This meant that you would be restricted to your room except for classes and meals. Students with a note from a professor could go to the library.  This administrator was not popular with many faculty members, so some of them helped these young women avoid this form of punishment by providing them with head scarves which were duly washed, ironed and returned to their owners. Most of the young women in question were not participants but innocent bystanders. The Dean Christine K. Wells was not pleased, but there was nothing she could do.

In time water balloon battles went the way of goldfish swallowing and phone booth stuffing. When the 1970s arrived and Americans were dying or being maimed in Vietnam by the thousands such innocent collegiate pleasures seemed juvenile and shallow.  Yet as I grow older and I count my years at Lynchburg College in decades I long that other time when life seemed so simple and the future lay before me—a straight road with no twists and turns. One afternoon in early spring, I saw eighteen people climb into a Volkswagen that was parked in front of Memorial Gym, now Hall Campus Center—but that is another story.


Valentines Day: An Origin Story

Nathaniel Pierce, Staff Writer~

A lot of people like Valentine’s Day, and a lot of people don’t. It oftentimes depends on whether or not they have a Valentine for the special holiday. It is considered to be a day of fun and celebration in the name of love; however, it did not start out that way. Read More

Ota Benga Honored

Katherine Graves, Assistant Editor~

Ota Benga, a man who was featured as “pygmy” in the St. Louis World’s Fair and later lived in Lynchburg, will receive a Virginia Historical Highway Marker at the corner of Lynchburg’s Garfield Avenue and Dewitt Street at the historic marker’s dedication ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 16. Read More