172 History of Wake Forest College
been urging for many
years,17
and he strongly urged them on the
attention of the Trustees at their meeting in June, 1880. One of the
two departments in which he advised immediate improvements was
physical science, under which term he included biology, physics and
chemistry, especially agricultural chemistry. In response to this
request the Trustees raised W. L. Poteat from the rank of Tutor of
Languages to Assistant Professor of Science at a salary of $600 a
year. It was November, 1883, before Poteat was elevated to the full
professorship, that of Natural History, but his work was such that it
brought strong commendation and a recommendation for an increase
of salary from President Pritchard as he was retiring from the
presidency in June, 1882; in his report to the Board he said:
"Professor W. L. Poteat is recommended to the Trustees as meriting a
larger salary than he has heretofore received. He is a very accurate
scholar, a careful, painstaking and enthusiastic teacher, and one of the
most valuable members of the faculty." The trustees responded by
raising Poteat's salary to
$800.18
Later in this history will be found an estimate of the work of
Professor Poteat as teacher of biology; here it is only necessary to
state that he is credited with being the first who introduced the
biological method, that is, the laboratory method, in the South, and
also the first by 15 years to present the theory of evolution to the
classes.
The other department for which the Trustees made provision at this
time was that of English Language and Literature, but it was with
evident reluctance that they adopted the President's recommendation.
They elected for the place Dr. William Royall, whom he
recommended, but on condition that half of his salary of $1,200 be
paid by Mr. W. C. Powell, his son-in-law, and with the further
provision that he should teach not only English but also
―――――――
17 See above, Chapter VII.
18
These further words of President Pritchard on Poteat's work indicate something
of the arduous duties of faculty members of those days: "He has taught four regular
classes in college, and as keeper of the rolls and Alumni Editor of the College
Magazine has performed duties equal to the teaching of two classes, and for such
arduous and responsible labors, I submit he has been inadequately paid."
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