Walter B. Yount
Walter B. Yount (1859-1932) was born at Koiner's Store, Augusta County, Va., and obtained a broad, liberal education by diligent study in several institutions of learning. In 1880 he received the "Normal English" degree at the Brethren's Normal College (today's Juniata College) after three years' study. In 1882 he entered the University of Virginia, where he spent six years (1882-83, 1887-92) in the study of Greek, Latin, modern languages, mathematics, moral philosophy, natural philosophy and chemistry. He also studied at the National School of Elocution and Oratory in Philadelphia and the University of Chicago. Even after he was named president of Bridgewater College in 1895, he continued his formal education by taking courses by correspondence at the Illinois Wesleyan University, receiving the Ph.B. degree in 1903, and the M.A. in 1907.
From 1892 to 1895, Yount's title at Bridgewater was "Chairman of the Faculty;" beginning in 1895, it was "President." He played a manifold role in the life of the school, not only serving as a faculty member and president, but keeper of the accounts, buildings and grounds manager and recruiter. His leadership and example were important factors in saving the school from collapse during the first years of his administration, when it was heavily in debt and when its enrollment and support were down. He labored incessantly to develop "a sentiment for real education."
When he chose to retire in 1910, the board of trustees decided to offer the position to Dr. John S. Flory, the college's vice president and professor of English language and literature.
John S. Flory
A native of Broadway, Va., John S. Flory (1866-1961) had been associated with Bridgewater College since September 1888 when he first entered it as a student. Since the autumn of 1894, except for the years 1902-05 when he was on leave of absence for graduate study at the University of Virginia, he served as a member of the college faculty. He also taught during summer sessions in the state normal schools at Winchester and Fredericksburg, Va. He held the B. Lit. degree from Mt. Morris (Illinois) College, the B.A. (1902) and M.A. (1908) from Bridgewater College and the Ph.D. (1907) from the University of Virginia.
The new president was not without administrative experience. He had served as the college's acting president "to the perfect satisfaction of all concerned" during the session of 1906-07, when President Yount was on a leave of absence, and as the school's vice president since 1905.
Flory had high aspirations for Bridgewater. He had no ambition to make it a large college, but one "just as good in the work it produces as any college of our own church, or any church for that matter." In addition to the duties of president, he also performed those of an academic dean and faculty member. In addition, he wrote most of the copy printed in the college's bulletins, which appeared as many as six times a year. He also did much of the work of a college registrar, an office not established until 1919. He also did some student-recruiting.
During Flory's tenure, the college's trustees established the office of academic dean. Literary and debating societies flourished; religious organizations were formed and spiritual life abounded; sports for men and women increased; and the college expanded the number of its baccalaureate-degree courses by 50 percent. Students working for the B.A. degree - which had consisted of only about 15 percent when he took office - had reached 55 percent when he stepped down in 1910.
Paul H. Bowman
When President Flory announced in 1918 that he would retire from the presidency of the college the following year, he worked with a committee to seek out his successor. On Nov. 12, 1918, the committee recommended Paul H. Bowman, a Bridgewater College faculty member, professor of Biblical literature and theology.
Bowman (1887-1964) was a native of Jonesboro, Tenn. He was educated at Bridgewater in 1910, at Crozer Theological Seminary (1913) and the University of Pennsylvania (1913). He served as student pastor for three years and as full-time pastor for two years of the Bethany Church of the Brethren in Philadelphia. He was the president of Blue Ridge College (1915-17) in New Windsor, Md., and professor of Biblical literature and sociology there until 1918. In August 1918 he became a faculty member at Bridgewater and, three months later, was elected president.
The new president had high ambitions for the college and an equally high sense of duty. "We hold in our hands the future of a great college, the destiny of our church in this part of the brotherhood, as well as the destiny of thousands of young lives," he told the board of trustees. "We can render no greater service to this and succeeding generations than to plan large for our college and give to it our best thought and fullest support."
During his tenure, Bowman increased the amount of financial aid available to students; pioneered among Virginia Colleges "Freshman Week," in which incoming students had the opportunity to become acquainted with one another; strengthened the curriculum; increased the scope and importance of intercollegiate sports; increased the number of semester hours of courses it offered for the baccalaureate degree from 317 to 585; created the home economics department; established the school's library in Cole Hall; established "Founder's Day" activities; and participated in many local civic and philanthropic enterprises.
Jacob I. Baugher
Jacob I. Baugher (1889-1949) took the reins of Bridgewater College in 1946, following President Bowman's retirement. He was born in York County, Pa., and was educated at Elizabethtown College (B.A., 1923) and Teachers College, Columbia University (M.A., 1925; Ph.D., 1930).
He was professor of education and psychology at Elizabethtown from 1923-29; superintendent of the public schools in Hershey, Pa., from 1929-42; and visiting professor at Pennsylvania State College during the summers from 1938-42. Until 1944 he was a senior education specialist in the planning research branch of the War Production Board and, to 1946, director of teacher education and professor at Manchester College.
Baugher's presidency witnessed a considerable increase in student enrollment, due largely to an influx of World War II veterans. During the time he was president, Bridgewater College conferred 98 B.A. degrees, 13 B.S. degrees, two diplomas in voice and 27 certificates. Two heart attacks - one in 1946 and another in 1947 - forced him to retire less than 19 months after he entered the office of president. Baugher died in August 1949.
Baugher's legacy at Bridgewater includes the establishment of a pension system for full-time employees; the allotment of office space to faculty members; the expansion of the college's physical plant; and the renewal of the "Expansion Movement," for a greater endowment fund.
Warren D. Bowman
After an 11-month period during which Charles C. Wright served as acting president, the board of trustees offered the presidency of Bridgewater College to Warren D. Bowman (1894-1987). The Dayton, Va., native was educated at Bridgewater (B.A., 1920) and at the University of Chicago (M.A., 1922; Ph.D., 1930). He was instructor at the State Teachers College in Farmville, Va., from 1923-30; head of the Department of Education and Psychology at Juniata College from 1930-37; and a teacher in the summer sessions at George Peabody College for Teachers, Emory University, the University of Virginia and Duke University. An ordained minister, he also pastored the First Church of the Brethren in Washington, D.C., from 1937-49.
The 55-year-old Bowman was thoroughly familiar with the college. Not only he, but also his brother, Rufus, and his sister, Effie, were Bridgewater graduates. Their maternal grandfather, Martin P. Miller, was an uncle of the college's founder and one of the original trustees of the school. Bowman himself was a Bridgewater trustee (1943-48), as was his brother (1936-37).
Bowman dealt with the college's problems during the eventful and troublous times of 1949-64 with courage, determination and discernment. In doing so, he proved himself to be a capable and farsighted administrator. His administration is noteworthy for many reasons. A more vigorous, extensive and effective system of recruiting students was instituted and greater selectivity was exercised. More attention was given to counseling and guidance of students. Black students were admitted, beginning in 1953. Student scholarships and loans were increased considerably, and enrollment grew during his tenure from 494 to 655.
Other achievements during Bowman's presidency included the strengthening of the faculty - the salaries of faculty and administrative officials were more than doubled - and the expansion of the college's curriculum. The endowment fund was augmented by 60 percent; the physical plant was enlarged by the construction of a science hall, a library, a gymnasium, two dormitories and a third one nearly completed; and Bridgewater's land holdings increased by more than 40 acres. Additionally, Bowman's presidency is noteworthy for the reaccreditation of the college in 1961 by its regional examining agency.
"He insisted on high standards of work and conduct for both faculty and students, in whose welfare he was genuinely interested and whose friendship and trust he enjoyed, and he gave himself unreservedly to the cause of the college," noted Francis Fry Wayland in Bridgewater College: The First Hundred Years, 1880-1980.
Wayne F. Geisert
Elmo, Kansas, native Wayne F. Geisert
(1921-) succeeded the retiring Warren D. Bowman as president of Bridgewater College on July 1, 1964. He was educated at McPherson College (B.A., 1994) and at Northwestern University (Ph.D., 1951). He was an instructor at Hamilton (Kansas) High School, instructor in economics and accounting at Kendall College, graduate assistant in money and banking at Northwestern University, associate professor of economics and business - later professor and department head - at Manchester College, and academic dean of McPherson College until his hiring by Bridgewater College. From 1944-46 he was a line and education officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve on active duty in the Pacific theater during World War II.
At Bridgewater, Geisert presided over major building projects, the restructuring of the academic calendar and four fund-raising campaigns. Enrollment also topped 1,000 for the first time during his presidency.
The Kline Campus Center, now a hub of student and community activity on campus, was built under Geisert's direction. Flory Hall, a renovation and construction project, merged two historic buildings - Wardo Hall and Founders Hall - by adding administrative offices and classrooms in a new midsection. The gymnasium was enlarged to include an Olympic-size swimming pool equipped with an adjustable floor on the shallow end to accommodate wheelchairs.
The college's athletic facilities were completely rebuilt after the November 1985 flood swept away the previous playing fields and stadium. Three residence halls were built during the Geisert administration. In 1990, one of them was named Geisert Hall in his honor.
The academic calendar adopted under Geisert's leadership included three 10-week terms and a three-week Interterm in February. During the Interterm, a student would take only one course. Many courses were designed to include off-campus instruction, either in the U.S. or in international locations. Geisert, who was intensely active in the Church of the Brethren, the local community and the educational world, also oversaw sweeping curricular changes, enlarged the faculty, increased enrollment, expanded the holdings of the Alexander Mack Memorial Library, enhanced counseling and career-planning guidance and beefed up the college's sports programs.
During Geisert's presidency, three successful fund-raising campaigns were completed and a fourth one launched. An early campaign raised $1.5 million, an $8 million effort was tied to the college's centennial in 1980 and an $18 million campaign was completed in 1991. The college announced a $60 million campaign in 1992 that was successfully completed by 2000, six years after Geisert left office.
Geisert announced in 1993 that he would retire the following year after 30 years as president of Bridgewater College. The presidential search committee reviewed some 80 applications before offering the job to Harrisonburg attorney Phillip C. Stone, a member of the board of trustees and 1965 alumnus of the college.
Phillip C. Stone (email@example.com)
Born in Bassett, Va., Stone is the son of Wilbert M. and Laura Nolen Stone.
In the fall of 1961, Stone came to Bridgewater College as a freshman. After graduating cum laude in 1965 with a B.A. in economics, he taught at Harrisonburg High School for a year before pursuing graduate studies at the University of Chicago School of Economics. Eventually deciding that he would prefer to practice law, he attended the University of Virginia Law School and earned his J.D. in 1970.
In 1970 Stone joined the Harrisonburg, Va., firm of Wharton, Aldhizer and Weaver, and remained there for the entirety of his 24-year legal career. As an attorney, Stone was an active member of the Harrisonburg-Rockingham, Virginia and American Bar Associations, in addition to serving on numerous committees and boards of the Virginia State Bar. His many accolades and recognitions include election in 1986 as a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and of the International Society of Barristers. He was elected a fellow to the American Bar Foundation in 1989 and to the Virginia Law Foundation in 1988. In addition, he was listed in all four editions of The Best Lawyers in America and in Who's Who in America Law.
In civic life he was a member of multiple boards of directors, including the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce from 1971-1977. In 1993 he received the Exchange Club Book of Golden Deeds Award, and in 1987 the Outstanding Service Award from the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society.
Dedicated in his Christian faith, Stone has been a member of the Church of the Brethren from an early age and has played some part in church leadership throughout his adult life, whether as a church lay speaker, a Sunday School teacher, a church moderator or as the chairman of a local church board.
When Stone assumed office, enrollment stood at 882. By the time classes opened in August 1997, full-time undergraduate enrollment stood at 1,066 - a 22 percent increase over the fall of 1994. The 316 new freshmen were selected from a pool of 1,056 applicants, also a record for Bridgewater. The introduction and refinement of the Personal Development Portfolio program, the establishment of new scholarships, the hiring of top-notch faculty, improved technology, athletic successes, new facilities and recruitment efforts by Stone and the admissions department resulted in the goal of 1,200 students by 2000 being met - and exceeded, by one.
Enrollment figures continued to climb over the years, experiencing a drop only once. By the time Stone celebrated his tenth anniversary at Bridgewater in 2004, enrollment had increased 78 percent.
To accommodate this impressive growth, Stone oversaw a corresponding expansion of the College's physical presence.
Since 1994, the McKinney Center for Science and Mathematics, the Funkhouser Center for Health and Wellness and the apartment-style Wampler Towers residence halls have been built. Also, the former Bridgewater Church of the Brethren was renovated in 2000 to house the department of music and several administrative offices, and became the Carter Center for Worship and Music.
In 2007, Bridgewater announced the purchase of Oak Manor Farms, a 75-acre equestrian center located in Weyers Cave, Va. Oak Manor, which had hosted the College's equestrian program for seven years, was renamed the Bridgewater College Equestrian Center.
Stone also oversaw the successful Every Student, One Commitment Campaign for Bridgewater College, the goal of which was to raise $40 million for endowed scholarships, academic enhancement, facilities improvements, laboratories, equipment and information technology, and the Bridgewater Fund. After sixteen years as president, Stone retired on June 30, 2010.
George Cornelius was Bridgewater College's eighth president. He served from July 1, 2010 to May 13, 2012. A native of Pennsylvania, he graduated from The Pennsylvania State University and earned his juris doctor degree, magna cum laude, from Penn State Dickinson School of Law.
He formerly served as secretary of community and economic development for the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and was responsible for all community and economic development policies, programs and projects for the commonwealth. Additionally, he collaborated with local governments, economic development agencies and colleges and universities on economic development projects.
Before serving in that role, he was president and CEO of Arkema Inc., the Americas division of a Paris-based, international chemical company. Before that, he was vice president and general counsel of ATOFINA (predecessor to Arkema Inc.), and earlier was a partner at Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, a national law firm headquartered in Pittsburgh.