former president's scrapbook returns to college after decades-long absence

Release Date: April 14, 2009    

 

PLAINVIEW – Just in time for the centennial celebration, a unique possession of one of Wayland Baptist University’s former presidents has returned to the campus.

              A large leather scrapbook once belonging to Dr. J.W. “Bill” Marshall – Wayland president from 1947-53 – arrived recently after being stored in a leather goods shop in Easthampton, Mass. Hand-tooled floral designs adorn the front cover, along with the words “Wayland College” and J.W. Bill Marshall, President.”

              The book first surfaced in late 2008 when Leon King, owner of Howie V. Leather Designs was packing up the business in order to relocate the plant, which specializes in manufacturing motorcycle accessories. Believing the scrapbook held some historical significance, King called on his son, Nicholas Fournier, vice president of L.N. King Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc., for help.

              Fournier said he relied on technology for his next steps.

              “At this point, using the power of the Internet, I Googled J.W. Bill Marshall and found a nice Wikipedia article about Mr. Marshall and his place in history as the president of the first four-year university to voluntarily integrate,” Fournier wrote in an email explanation to Wayland. “I then figured out that what was Wayland College is now Wayland Baptist University.”

              That Web search led Fournier to the public relations office, where he informed the staff of his find and of the family’s desire to return the scrapbook to Marshall, his family or the university. Since Marshall died in 1977 with few descendents, the university wished the book returned for its archives.

              “We thought it was the coolest thing and it was so neat to see it come back ‘home’ during our centennial,” said Teresa Young, director of communications. “We have no idea how it got to Massachusetts or how long it had been in that warehouse, but we are so glad it ended up here where we could preserve it for viewing.”

              The scrapbook only contains a few black and white prints, mostly images from the university such as campus buildings,  a shot of administrators around a campus water well and some farmland photos. Two photos depict groups of international students, a particular fondness of Marshall, who came to Wayland from the role as personnel secretary at the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention (now the International Mission Board).

              Marshall was one of the university’s more well-known presidents, having initiated a then-controversial ban on smoking on campus and later leading the integration initiative, calling it “maximum Christianity, applied as well as advocated.” Wayland was actually the first four-year university in the former confederate south to voluntarily integrate, doing so in the summer of 1951 with the admission of four black area teachers who needed summer coursework to maintain their certification.

              His worldview literally changed the Wayland landscape, as he brought students of other nations to Wayland to both study and to impact the American students with exposure to other cultures.

              In a chapter from the new history book The Wayland Century, Marshall is credited with greatly promoting international relations in several ways.

“Marshall wanted to see an increased number of international students at Wayland. And he did. In 1947-48, Wayland had 12 international students. A year later, the school enrolled 22 …and by 1952, Wayland had 35 international students,” the book reads. “Marshall later recalled that at one time during his tenure, Wayland had a higher percentage (5 percent of the total student body) of international students than any other college in North America.”
              Though his scrapbook may hold some mystery, Marshall’s impact on Wayland was clear, according to University Historian Dr. Estelle Owens, who compiled years of research for the history book. The international student presence impacted the music department, with the International Choir formed in 1949 as Wayland’s premier performance group. Members wore costumers from other lands and sang in many different languages, bringing in foreign students to help teach the words.
              Marshall also led the university to its first distance learning venture, hosting a language school in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1948, for students and faculty members. Wayland also achieved four-year senior college status in 1948 under Marshall’s leadership, and the school nickname was changed from Jackrabbit to Pioneers.