Thirteenth in a Series Exploring the History of Freed-Hardeman University
When FHC’s Board of Trustees found itself unable to keep neither A.G. Freed nor N.B. Hardeman
in Henderson, they created a new team, chosing W. Claude Hall as president and C.P. Roland as dean. Hall had been a high school principal for more than a decade and had chaired the education department at David Lipscomb College for three years. Roland, an alumnus, was already a member of the FHC faculty.
Following commencement week in 1922, Freed and Hardeman went their separate ways. Freed accepted a position at David Lipscomb College as vice-president of the college and as principal of the high school. Hardeman took the opportunity to fulfill a long-time desire. As a teacher of Bible geography, he had wished to visit the Palestine and Egypt. So, he set sail for a three-month journey to the Holy Land.
Hall and Roland acknowledged that they were not Freed and Hardeman but, they assured those concerned, they would seek their counsel. Despite the changes, the school’s values remained the same. “A discipline in keeping with the past will be our aim,” they wrote. Like their predecessors, they encouraged intramural athletics but not intercollegiate athletics. They looked to the Bible for “standards of right and wrong.”
Hall and Roland expected a drop-off in attendance, which had been low for years. However, the 1923 fall enrollment was stable and the number living in the girls’ dormitory increased somewhat. To enhance student life, the administration built tennis courts and allowed students to form and operate a newspaper, with Mary Nelle Hardeman, daughter of N. B. and Joanna Hardeman, serving as the first editor. Any student could write and submit articles for publication. Hall announced a contest to name the paper and offered a prize to the student whoSubmitted the best name. The first edition of The Sky-Rocket appeared Oct. 15, 1923. The name appeared on the masthead for the next 48 years. The Sky Rocket gives evidence of increased activities for students. For example, the paperreported a volleyball game between six members of the faculty, including Hall and Roland, and a team of students with a sizeable crowd of spectators. “Although ‘Our Boys’ brought ‘Our Faculty’ to the earth to the tune of three games out of four, ‘Our Faculty proved to be the highest type of sportsmen,” the paper reported. “After the game they left the court smiling, beaten but praised, lost but loved.”
Intercollegiate competition did appear in 1924, not in athletics but in debate. A team from FHC went to Martin to debate a team from Hall-Moody Institute, a forerunner of the University of Tennessee at Martin. The judges decreed the FHC team the winner in a rout. The Sky-Rocket writers described how the FHC team had “mopped up” their opponents.
Information and quoted material are drawn from Dr. Greg Massey’s forthcoming book, “By the
Grace of God: The Story of Freed-Hardeman University,” which will be published and available
for purchase from the university this spring.