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Past Presidents

In its more than 125 years in existence, Morehead State University has had 13 leaders and experienced five name changes. 

 

Frank Button (1923-29)

Frank Button was born Nov. 19, 1863, at Oquawka, Ill., and first came to Morehead in 1887 to help his mother found the Christian Normal School. He was educated in Illinois public schools and Transylvania University, received a theological degree from the College of the Bible in 1887, and an A.M. degree from Bethany College in 1908.

From 1911-23, Button served as state supervisor of rural schools under the sponsorship of the Rockefeller Foundation. He returned to Morehead as the first president of the Morehead State normal School in 1923 and continued in this capacity until his retirement on Sept. 1, 1929. He left a wife, Hattie, when he died in April 1933. Button also served as mayor of Morehead, as a newspaper editor and as pastor of the Christian Church. Button Auditorium on campus was named in his honor.

 

John H. Payne (1929-35)

John Payne, the second president of Morehead State, had been a public school administrator and superintendent of several city school systems before coming to Morehead. He graduated from the University of Kentucky and earned a master's degree from Columbia University where the college of education ranked near the top in its field.

He assumed the presidency in 1929. During his presidency, Payne was appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to a committee to study education in Germany when Hitler was in power. He resigned from his position on Sept. 30, 1935 because of poor health. Later, until his death in 1954, he served for many years in the Kentucky Department of Economic Security at Frankfort and was a widely known public speaker. A platform orator and extemporaneous debater, he was one of two major builders of the “crescent moon” original campus.

 

Harvey A. Babb (1935-40)

Harvey Babb, Morehead State's third president, came to the college after 16 years as superintendent of schools in Mt. Sterling, Ky. He was born in Crittenden, Ky., in 1884 and received a B.A. degree in 1911 and an M.A. in 1923, both from the University of Kentucky. After his graduation from college, Dr. Babb taught high school at Springdale, Ark., for two years and at Henderson (Ky.) High School for three years. He was principal at Henderson for a year before assuming the superintendence at Mt. Sterling.

He left the college in 1940 in 1946, he was named director of unemployment compensation in Kentucky.

 

Dr. William H. Vaughan (1940-46)

Dr. Vaughan, who had been academic dean at Morehead State since 1928, was named its fourth president in 1940 and served until 1946. He received an A.B. degree from Georgetown College in 1923, did graduate work at the University of Chicago, and received a Ph.D. from George Peabody College for Teachers. He was superintendent of schools in Louisa before moving to Morehead.

In 1946, Dr. Vaughan accepted a position as director of associations and professor of education at Peabody. Upon his retirement, he moved to Nashville, where he died Oct. 31, 1972, at the age of 73.

 

Dr. William J. Baird (1946-51)

Dr. Baird, Morehead State's fifth president, served from 1946 until his death in 1951. A native of Knox County, Ky., he spent much of his life in Berea and graduated from Berea Preparatory and Berea College. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by Berea College in 1942. He was on the staff of Berea schools from the time of his graduation in 1927 until he left to join the faculty of the Berea Schools in Rome, Ga., in 1942. In that same year, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Berea College. Dr. Baird’s education also included graduate work at Columbia University, Cornell University, the University of Wisconsin and the University of Kentucky. During a leave of absence from Berea in 1940, he visited 56 campuses in the United States as a representative of the Danforth Foundation. Baird Music Hall on campus was named in his honor.
 

Dr. Charles R. Spain (1951-54)

Dr. Spain, Morehead State's sixth president, came from Peabody, where he was dean of instruction. He graduated from Bethel College in Tennessee, and earned a master's degree from Peabody and a doctorate from Columbia. He began his educational career in his native Carroll County, Tenn., where he was a teacher and a principal. Later, he taught at Arkansas State and at Florence State and was a faculty and staff member at the University of Kentucky from 1946-49.

Dr. Spain resigned the presidency at Morehead State in 1954 to accept a position as dean of the College of Education at the University of New Mexico. He later became superintendent of the Albuquerque public school system. He died from a heart attack in 1957 at the age of 51.

 

Dr. Adron Doran (1954-77)

Dr. Doran was appointed the seventh president of Morehead State in 1954. He was a graduate of Cuba High School, Freed-Hardeman Junior College and Murray State University. He earned an M.A. degree from Murray and an Ed.D. from the University of Kentucky.

His early educational experience included 15 years of service as teacher, basketball coach and high school principal. Before coming to MSU, he was director of the Division of Teacher Education in the Kentucky State Department of Education. Dr. Doran also served four terms as a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives and was Speaker for one term. Arriving on the campus with his wife Mignon, the duo was credited for building the school into a university. It was during his leadership that the campus experienced historic growth in facilities and enrollment.

Known for his trademark bow ties, he was a minister, former newspaper editor, and past president of the Kentucky Education Association and the Eastern Kentucky Education Association. Both Murray State and UK have recognized him as a distinguished alumnus. He received three honorary doctorates (Doctor of Education, MSU, 1976) and was named by the Kentucky Press Association as the Kentuckian of the Year in 1959. Gov. Edward Breathitt selected him for the “Distinguished Kentuckian Award” in 1966. Dr. Doran’s supreme honor came in 1971, when he was presented the national Horatio Alger Award. After his retirement on Jan. 1, 1977, he continued to do speaking engagements as long as his health permitted, until his death in 2001. Originally named the Doran Student House, the Adron Doran University Center (ADUC) on campus bears his name.

 

Dr. Morris L. Norfleet (1977-84)

Dr. Norfleet was named MSU’s eighth president in 1977, moving up from vice president of research and development where he had served since 1968. He came to the campus in 1962 as associate professor of education and director of student teaching, and served as director of research and program development from 1965-68.

During his term, he had hoped to introduce a more open administrative style by delegating authority; however, he retained key administrators from the Doran era and found they were versed in doing things a certain way. This led to internal strife and competition with the president feeling he could not trust his closest advisors.
 

Dr. Norfleet was the first leader to admit there was a serious financial problem at the state level. He encouraged the athletic program to begin raising money to become more self-sufficient, saw the value of computer-assisted instruction, and was the first president to be involved in private giving. Under him, the MSU Foundation Inc., was created in 1979. While the state was in an economic crisis, he succeeded in getting funds to get the Academic-Athletic Center constructed.

Dissention was high in 1980 when there was internal friction and the administration was receiving negative publicity. The next year brought the merge of University Breckinridge with the Rowan County school system, a move that brought criticism from the townspeople. The American Association of University Professors censured MSU in 1983. Dr. Norfleet stepped down as president in 1984. He and his wife Loistene now live in Nancy where he is president of a development corporation.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture at the University of Kentucky, a master’s degree in education from Purdue University where he completed a doctorate in education in 1962. He and his wife Loistene now live in Nancy where he is president of a development corporation.

 

Dr. Herb. F. Reinhard Jr. (1984-86)

Dr. Reinhard became MSU’s ninth president on July 1, 1984, coming to the campus from Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania where he had served as president for the previous five years.

His tenure on campus was not without controversy or uproar. His first priority was to get to know the students, faculty and administrators and learning the strengths and weaknesses of the institution. Within a short time, he had shaken up the framework by removing four vice presidents, eliminating the positions of three deans, consolidating 25 academic departments into 17, and reorganizing six schools into three colleges. His blunt manner of administration caused dissention on campus and in the town. 

He was credited with streamlining the campus through organizational and procedural changes. He made improvements in the physical security by instituting a master key system. Reinhard was the first president to take a serious look at affirmative action and introduced the idea of being less provincial in terms of finding and hiring the best people. 

A native of Covington, he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology from Florida State University and the doctorate in higher education from Indiana University. He was a Navy veteran of the Korean War era and a former professional baseball player.
 

After nearly two years, Dr. Reinhard resigned in January 1986, and tendered his resignation effective June 30. Upon leaving MSU, he and his wife Nancy moved to Frostburg State College in Maryland for a period before retiring in Florida.

 

Dr. A.D. Albright (1986-87)

Dr. Albright came to the campus in 1986 where he served one year as president at the request of the Board of Regents. As the school was going through a crisis period, he was asked to bring stability and get the affairs back in order.

After arriving on campus, Dr. Albright’s first order of business was to travel to the University’s service area where he proceeded to make friends and promote the school. He and his wife Grace were well respected and highly successful during their stay. 

Considered an elder statesman in Kentucky higher education, he had served in several education-related posts from 1938-54, including a job at George Peabody College for Teachers and as assistant state commissioner of education in Tennessee. He worked in various positions at the University of Kentucky for nearly 20 years, serving as provost, vice president and interim president, before serving as executive director of the Kentucky Council on Higher Public Education. 

Albright was president of Northern Kentucky University from 1976-83. During his tenure, enrollment doubled and more than $40 million construction projects were completed. Upon leaving NKU, he served as a consultant for a time. 

Dr. Albright earned a bachelor’s degree from Milligan College, master’s degree from the University of Tennessee, and a doctorate in higher education administration from New York University. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in 1987 from MSU. 

He was residing in Lexington at his death in 2009 at the age of 96.

 

Dr. C. Nelson Grote (1987-92)

Dr. Grote, the 11th president of MSU, spent 42 years in education with 16 of those at the University. He came to the campus in 1960 as an associate professor and chair of the then-Division of Applied Arts. He was then named dean of the College of Applied Science and Technology; left in 1971 to become president of Schoolcraft College in Michigan; was named CEO of The Community Colleges of Spokane in 1981, a post he held until returning to Morehead State as president on July 1, 1987. 

Interested in economic development, Dr. Grote served on various commissions at the national, state and local levels and participated in trade missions to China, Japan and Germany. He took a leadership role in education consortia, promoting cooperative efforts in education at all levels, and encouraging partnerships between business and education. On his second visit to China, he established exchange agreements between MSU and universities in the Peoples Republic of China. Committed to internationalizing MSU’s curriculum, he established a visiting international scholar program, a student teaching program for MSU students in England, and agreements with colleges and universities in the Pacific Rim. 

His five-year tenure as president was marked by an enrollment increase of more than 50 percent, modernization of residence halls and the campus utilities system, establishment of additional extended campus centers, and expanded involvement with the public schools and two-year colleges in the region. 

An Illinois native, Dr. Grote earned the Ed.D. degree at the University of Illinois, the M.Ed. degree at the University of Missouri, and the B.S. Ed. degree at Eastern Illinois University where he received the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1978 and was named its first School of Technology Distinguished Alumnus in 2002. 

The MSU Alumni Association conferred “honorary alumnus” status on him and his wife Wilma, and inducted the president into the Alumni Hall of Fame in 1992. He was named the 2002 Founders Day Award for University Service recipient. At his retirement, he was presented an honorary doctorate from MSU. On the campus, Grote-Thompson Hall bears his name. He and his wife continue to be active supporters of the University.
 

Dr. Ronald G. Eaglin (1992-2004)

Dr. Eaglin, MSU’s 12th president, took office on July 1, 1992. In his first message, he committed to openness and a reminder that the most important work of any university occurs in its classrooms and laboratories. During the first year, a new, four-year degree in early childhood development was initiated; a new financial aid program was activated at the regional campus centers; the first graduates of MSU’s four-year nursing program at an off-campus center completed degrees at Prestonsburg; and the Spring Gala made its debut as an academic fund raising event. 

Among his major achievements at MSU was the creation of the Space Science Center, reaccreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, accreditation of the Elmer R. Smith College of Business and Technology, highest enrollments in history, recognition of MSU as one of the top 25 public regional universities in the South by U.S. News and World Report,” 5,000 percent increase in endowment value, completion of $75 million worth of renovation and construction projects, expansion of regional campuses from three to five, establishment of the Institute for Regional Analysis and Public Policy as the University’s program of distinction, and founding of the Kentucky Folk Art Center and the Kentucky Center for Traditional Music. 

He retired as president in December 2004 and returned to South Carolina where he now resides with his wife Bonnie. Before leaving the campus, the Board of Regents awarded them each an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree.
 

Dr. Wayne D. Andrews (2005-2017)

Dr. Andrews became the 13th president of MSU on Jan. 1, 2005, coming to the campus from East Tennessee State University. He has nearly 40 years’ experience in higher education from working at three public, comprehensive universities, including MSU.

During his tenure, he has overseen the construction of the Space Science Center, Equine Health Education Center, Center for Health, Education and Research, Andrews Hall, Recreation and Wellness Center, and renovation of a new Kentucky Center for Traditional Music and Adoran Doran University Center (ADUC). These were accomplished even though there were continuously cuts in state appropriations and the economy did not rebound with substantial resources.

Dr. Andrews also saw many other accomplishments including record enrollment for the University, record enrollment in the freshman class, new general education requirements, review of degree programs, reaccreditation of several programs, and MSU being named among the top universities by U.S. News and World Report.

A U.S. Army veteran, he is a Fellow of the American Council on Education, and has served in leadership roles for numerous organizations.

Dr. Andrews is a graduate of Fitchburg State College in Massachusetts where he earned a B.S. degree in 1974 and of West Virginia University where he received a master’s degree in 1976 and a doctorate in 1977.

He and his wife Susan were honored with the naming of a residence hall in 2016, Wayne D. and Susan H. Andrews Hall, located on the east side of campus in the residential complex.
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