category: Faculty Emeriti - Presidents

James Blaine Davis

First President, 1928-1930

James DavisOn Sept. 3, 1928, Boiling Springs Junior College opened for its first session. Prior to this time, it existed only as a high school. Rev. James Blaine Davis, a graduate of Mars Hill College, Wake Forest College, the University of North Carolina and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, had been elected as President. Davis came to Boiling Springs College from a pastorate at the Henderson Street Baptist Church in Cleveland, Texas. Some years earlier (1918-1919) he had served as an instructor at North Carolina State College; for four years (1919-1923) he was an instructor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

At the annual meeting of the Kings Mountain Baptist Association in October 1928, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees referred to President Davis as “a young man with striking personality, a profound scholar, an exponent of Christian education; we believe we have in Dr. Davis a President worthy of the highest esteem of our people and whom we shall be glad to follow. Under his able leadership and by the cooperation of his true and tried co-workers, we believe Boiling Springs Junior College will have a great future.”

Speaking at association meetings, addressing the student body, and in many other ways, Davis began identifying with the various constituencies of the school. At the Kings Mountain Baptist Associational Annual Meeting in 1929, he presented Professor J.D. Huggins as the Dean of the College. Before the messengers, these two men pledged each other their loyalty and cooperation in carrying forward the work of the institution. The recognition of Huggins, along with others who had been closely identified with the high school, had the effect of bridging the high school era with the college era during the transition period.

There were seven departments in the college: English, mathematics, natural science, foreign language, social science, Bible, and education. One of the requirements to receive the diploma Associate in Letters was to submit a thesis of not fewer than 2,500 words on a subject approved by the professor in whose department it was written.

During the tenure of Davis, the college continued to struggle financially. Another concern was the goal of becoming accredited by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction. Several needs had to be met. These included a new or remodeled building with modern classrooms and modern equipment, an adequate library facility, more endowment, and liquidation of existing debts. Davis resigned effective May 20, 1930.

Sources: Dedmon, “Lengthened Shadows: A History of Gardner-Webb College;” Hamrick, “Born at the Crossroad;” and Jolley, “Dreaming, Daring, Doing…The Story of Gardner-Webb University.” – Lansford Jolley

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