another opportunity for him. On November 18, 1949, Dr. Sankey L.
Blanton, who had been dean of the School of Religion for three years,
resigned to become president of Crozer Theological Seminary in
Chester, Pennsylvania. Dr. Warren saw that vacancy as an ideal spot
for Binkley.
In the closing days of 1949 some members of the Board of Trustees
privately expressed concern about an apparent attempt by con-
servative Baptists to gain control of the state convention and, by
extension, all of its agencies. Inherent in that movement was the threat
of imposing a fundamentalist minister upon Wake Forest as president.
On December 12, 1949, A. J. Hutchins, a trustee who was
superintendent of the Canton public school system, confided his
suspicions to Odus Mull in this way: "I feel that our convention has
fallen on bad days. There is a political click [sic] of preachers who
have been working for some years to secure control of the convention
with certain selfish purposes to be accomplished." Unless laymen
asserted themselves, he said, "matters will go from bad to worse."2
A few weeks later Irving Carlyle expressed similar misgivings in a
letter to C. B. Deane. He wrote:
A small group of fundamentalist Baptist preachers in the state have set out
to seize control of the Baptist State Convention and all its agencies. This has
been going on for some time now through the means of the convention's
Nominating Committee for members of boards of the convention agencies,
from Wake Forest College on down or up, as the case may be…. This group
is determined that the next president of Wake Forest College shall be a
fundamentalist preacher…. They are determined to block and defeat the
removal of Wake Forest College to
Even though these suspicions abounded, the first choice of the
selection committee was an educator rather than a minister. Dr.
Modlin, who had been awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of
Laws in 1947, was invited to visit the old campus, to see the new site
in Winston-Salem and to meet board members of the Z. Smith
Reynolds Foundation. Modlin agonized over his decision for several
months and could have had the job if he had wanted it. On February
3, 1950, Judge Hubert E. Olive, president of the Board of Trustees,
wrote Modlin: "There is an opportunity such as comes to few men in
your grasp. In my short acquaintance with you, I am
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