A New Hand at the Helm 69
definitely impressed that you are not one to shy away from difficulties
when there is a real challenge, which I am sure there is in this case. I
also feel that you are especially needed in this case."
On February 15, however, Modlin wrote to Carlyle saving that he
had made up his mind. "It is with mixed feelings and sincere regret
that I tell you that the trustees [of the University of Richmond] have
persuaded me that my duty lies here and I should remain in
Richmond," he said. In a dinner conversation with a Wake Forest
professor some months later, Modlin confessed that he had also
turned the job down because he didn't believe that the kind of money
Wake Forest required for the move to Winston-Salem could be
With the front-runner eliminated, the search committee turned its
attention to Dr. Tribble, no stranger to Wake Forest. In the 1947
graduation exercises, while he was still on the faculty at the Southern
Baptist Theological Seminary, he had preached the baccalaureate
sermon, and soon after that, when he had assumed the presidency of
Andover-Newton, he was invited back to the campus to preach at
Religious Emphasis Week, his third appearance at that exercise.
Following the October visit in 1947, he wrote back to the campus,
"Nowhere have I found a more vital religious atmosphere on a college
campus. Wake Forest is a liberal college in the best sense…. I am
enthusiastic about Wake Forest."
It was an enthusiasm that never flagged, and he was bound even
closer to Wake Forest in 1948 when he was awarded the honorary
degree of Doctor of Laws.
Like Modlin, Tribble was brought to North Carolina and fully
briefed on both the immediate and long-range needs of the college.
He was taken to Winston-Salem for an inspection of the Reynolda
property, there also to meet the Reynolds benefactors. He was deeply
impressed by everything he saw.
On April 6, 1950, Dr. Warren wrote Tribble a letter inviting him to
meet with the search committee in Winston-Salem later in the month
and added, "The members of this committee have diligently sought
divine guidance in the sacred responsibility committed to us and we
are unanimous in the feeling that you are the man to lead our college
in this day of unprecedented opportunity."
That proffer of the job, however, was only a cover letter sent out to
all members of the committee. To Tribble, Dr. Warren sent an