Dr. William Bass Hatcher, Louisiana Educator [thesis]

Robert Gaston
The purpose of this study was to investigate and record the outstanding contributions of William Bass Hatcher. Hatcher, 1888-1947, was born at Ripley, Tippah County, Mississippi, and attended the elementary and secondary schools of Brownwood and Woodville, Texas, graduating from Woodville High School in 1904. He obtained from Louisiana State University the Bachelor of Arts degree, the Master of Arts degree, and the Doctor of Philosophy degree while holding various jobs in education. At the age
more » ... f fifteen, he started teaching at Wood ville, Texas, but remained only one year before moving to Louisiana. During the next eleven years he taught at Junction City, Arkansas, and at Mt. Gilead, Crew Lake, Crescent, and Baker, Louisiana, acting as principal in three of the schools. The outstanding manner in which he handled these jobs led to his being elected Superintendent of Schools for East Baton Rouge Parish in 1916. During his nineteen plus years as Superintendent, Hatcher carried out the largest building program in the parish up to that time. Some of the more important schools built during his time were Baton Rouge High, Baton Rouge Junior High, Istrouma High, and McKinley High. His ability to enlist interest and financial support from the people of the parish enabled the parish to make great strides. He also guided the school system through a depression with a minimum loss of school days and kept the system on a sound financial basis. While establishing an excellent relation ship with the teachers of East Baton Rouge Parish, Hatcher established salary schedules for the teachers and started an in-service program that could not be improved upon for years. Faced with the threat of loss of control of the school board to political enemies, he resigned to take a job with the Federal Emergency Relief Administration. After a short stay with the federal government, Hatcher entered the employment of Louisiana State university in 1936. During the next eleven years he held the following positions at Louisiana State University: special lecturer and professor in the history department, dean of John McNeese Junior College, dean of Junior Division, and president. His work in these positions became well known and gained him the respect of the state of Louisiana. William Hatcher was a man of highest character who possessed outstanding leadership abilities. As President of Louisiana State University, he faced the great transition problems resulting from the ending of World War II. He provided housing for the increasing enrollments while also establishing policies and regulations affecting the students and faculty of the university. Upon his resignation and viii later his death in early 1947, tributes rolled in as the state of Louisiana lost a great educator, a great man. ix CHAPTER I EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION I. BIRTH AND FAMILY BACKGROUND William Bass Hatcher was born in Ripley, Tippah County, Mississippi, on December 12, 1888. He was the first son of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas William Hatcher and the grandson and namesake of William P. Hatcher, a victim of the civil War. The eldest William Hatcher had volunteered for duty with the Confederate forces shortly after the birth of his only son, Thomas William, on March 15, 1860, in Ripley, Mississippi. William P. Hatcher's death subsequently occurred in a Chicago military prison following his capture by Union forces at Fort Donelson in northern Tennessee.'*' The son who survived him as T. W. Hatcher grew up in Ripley and then attended the University of Virginia from which he graduated in 1885. He chose teaching as his profession, and he began his career in McGregor, Texas, a small town located 9 near Waco in McLennan County. While teaching m McGregor, T. W. Hatcher met and courted Ida Hopgood. They were married on January 12, 1888. -* -Delhi [Louisiana] Banner, October, 1908. 2Ibid. ^Richard B. Morris (ed.), Encyclopedia of American History (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1953), p. 248. ^Based on personal correspondence between Elkin Jack and the writer. house, a few streets lined with stores and a few offices, a post office, and a railroad. The railroad, built by William Faulkner's grandfather, William C. Faulkner, extended the sixty-four miles from Middleton, Tennessee, to Pontotoc, Mississippi. The people of Ripley were mostly Scotch-Irish Protestants: members of the Baptist, Methodist, and Presby terian faiths. Religion was more than a faith; it was a way of life and a rigorous one at that. Elkin Jack described Q that section of the state as a "typical Bible-belt area." In addition to religion, the populace valued education. The families who achieved prominence in this community-the Andersons, Browns, Guytons, Faulkners, Lowerys, and Smithscontributed ministers, educators, lawyers, and authors to their society. Besides William Faulkner, an author whose literary achievements brought Southern literature to full maturity and to the attention and acclaim of the rest of the literary world, Ripley produced three college presidents in the first half of the twentieth century: Dr. Lawrence T. Lowery became president of Blue Mountain College in Tippah County, Mississippi?^ Dr. B. D. Humphrey served as president of both Mississippi State University and the University of Wyoming; and Dr. William B. Hatcher filled the president's ^Statement by Elkin Jack, personal interview, August 29, 1970. 9A four-year Baptist supported womens college located six miles from Ripley. position at Louisiana State University.^-® William Bass Hatcher was, then, born into an environ ment essentially rural and agricultural, but it was not an intellectually impoverished environment, for the people valued both religion and learning. Moreover, William Bass Hatcher's immediate environment-that of his home-was, of course, suffused with respect for education and its many products; for, with a father who was a school principal and a mother who was a music teacher the Hatcher home had ulti mately to offer an atmosphere conducive to intellectual pursuits. In this first period of infancy and early child hood in the life of William Bass Hatcher, however, the main stirrings in the Hatchers' home atmosphere were those caused by a rapidly enlarging family. The Hatcher's daughter, Hallie, was born on April 18, 1891, in New Albany, Union County, Mississippi, and their second son, James Franklin, arrived on May 16, 1893, in Sharon, Georgia, where the family was visiting.Î II. ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION After the births of their three children in Ripley, the Hatchers moved to Texas. Although the records detailing their lives in Texas are limited, there is evidence which ■^®Based on personal correspondence between Elkin Jack and the writer. •^Written notes of Mrs. Thomas William Hatcher. indicates that they lived in the small towns of Temple,
doi:10.31390/gradschool_disstheses.1921 fatcat:3rusqqqd5valnc54if52kwoc24