| the history of wake forest
Southern College; Paul Geren, U.S. Ambassador to Libya; Sam Hill,
professor of religion at the University of North Carolina at Chapel
Hill; Hugh McEniry, dean of Stetson University; and Harry Phil-
pott, president of Auburn University. Faculty members who remem-
bered alumnus John Chandler from the days when he was a student
and from later years, when he was a Wake Forest faculty member
in philosophy, were hopeful that he might be interested (he was then
dean of the faculty at Williams College).5 Terry Sanford, former
Governor of North Carolina, was also mentioned (in October 1966
he had agreed to become chairman of a $72,000,000 campaign for
the College), but search committee Chairman Marsh made it clear
that Wake Forest’s next president must, as always in the past, be a
Baptist. (Chandler would later become president of Williams, and
Sanford, a Methodist, would be named president of Duke Univer-
sity. There is no indication that either of them would have been
available for the Wake Forest presidency in 1967.)
Ultimately, Marsh said, even though more than one hundred
names came to their attention, there was only one which “met
with the approval of the entire committee.” That was James Ralph
Scales, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Oklahoma State
University. The position was offered to him after the Board gave
its unanimous approval on April 28, 1967, and he enthusiastically
In many ways Scales was a natural choice for the Wake Forest
presidency. Besides his earned degrees (B.A., Oklahoma Baptist
University; M.A. and Ph.D., University of Oklahoma) he had done
postgraduate work at Chicago and at the University of London; he
had taught history and government at Oklahoma Baptist; and for
four years he had been president of OBU. He was, in the words of
James Mason, “a dedicated Baptist” who, as another observer said,
“has more religion accidentally than most people have on purpose.”
During World War II he had been in the Navy, serving for part of
the time as signal officer aboard an aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Sara-
toga. He was married—to the former Elizabeth Ann Randel—and
had two teen-age daughters, Laura and Ann.
But it was not Scales’s academic qualifications alone that com-
mended him to the search committee. When Mason and Rice went
to Oklahoma to interview him in his home state, they met “many
people in all walks of life,” and everyone agreed that Scales “had an
An article entitled
“Selecting a Univer-
sity President” by
Trustee James
Mason [The Wake
Forest Magazine,
XIV (July 1967),
7–9] provides a
detailed account
of the process that
led to the selection
of Scales.
Chandler spoke—
with his character-
istic eloquence
—at the College’s
Founders’ Day
Convocation on
February 2, 1967.
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