The End of the Kitchin Era 61
we say to President Kitchin that we have the highest confidence in his
leadership and, until he reaches an age when he feels he should retire,
that he continue as president of Wake Forest College." Kitchin was
given a unanimous standing vote accompanied by applause which,
according to the minutes of that meeting, "amounted to an ovation."
In early September 1949, Dr. Kitchin entered Baptist Hospital in
Winston-Salem for a checkup, and the news he got was not encour-
aging. He wrote about it in a letter to his good friend Odus Mull.
"[The doctors] put it this way: If you are willing to stop speaking all
over the country, stop taking hard trips, and give up your outside
work … and limit your work there at Wake Forest College, you
probably have several years to live; if not, you probably have several
months.' I told them it did not make much difference which it was."
Kitchin did limit his activity somewhat thereafter, but he could not
resist getting into some of the trickier problems concerning Wake
In late 1949 the trustees, influenced by the witch-hunting temper of
the times, were talking about requiring members of the faculty to sign
a loyalty oath swearing that they were not Communist. That shabby
practice was surfacing in educational institutions all over the country,
but Kitchin would have no part of it. "We have no radicalism here at
Wake Forest," he wrote to Mull. The college faculty, he said,
consisted of an "unusually fine type of Christian men and women"
whose total emphasis was upon "a way of life which is an absolute
contradiction to the teachings and practices of Communism."
Over the years there have been reports that Dr. Kitchin never was
enthusiastic about the Reynolds offer and in his inner thoughts
probably opposed it. No doubt the prospect of the move was very hard
for him. He had been a builder on the old campus, and he had brought
up his children and taught his students there. He felt the same loyalty
that saddened many alumni in losing the old grounds and traditions to
a new environment. Whatever his personal feelings, Dr. Kitchin
publicly endorsed the move as the best course for the institution. On
October 5, 1949, he wrote: "Today's opportunity to build in Winston-
Salem a new and greater Wake Forest College gives us a chance to
make a richer contribution to the state and nation by training
thousands of young men and women under