Wake Forest men and women, for all the years to come, will
honor the name of James Ralph Scales. Like Wait and Wingate,
like Taylor and Poteat, like Kitchin and Tribble, he too has now
arrived at a final and secure place in Wake Forest history—not
alone because for sixteen years he sat at the President’s desk and
did the President’s business, but because he brought to the Pres-
idency an exuberance and a spirit of adventure and—I think the
word is right—a glamour the office had not known before.
The Scales personality was evident from the beginning. I
remember the night in the Magnolia Room when he delivered
his first major address here: a heartfelt tribute to his native state
of Oklahoma, so eloquent and so loving that we in the audience
could almost hear in the distance the Oklahoma wind come
sweeping down the plain. President Scales always delighted in
words, and he could use words unexpectedly: a turn here, a
twist there, a glimmer, a teasing insight, words curiously crafted
and often enigmatic. One could not always be sure exactly what
he meant, but one knew that an original mind was at work with
the instruments of language. There was content, of course, but
there was also style, and there was playfulness. Dr. Scales liked
to speak and to write—and he also liked just to talk.
He was, in fact, something of an actor. He enjoyed being “on
stage”—in the center of things. So it is appropriate that the cam-
pus building which bears his name be the Fine Arts Center. Look
closely at that building, with its public spaces inside and outside,
its lobbies and studios, its the-
atres and recital hall, and
notice all around you features
and graces that delight the
eye. That building may well
be Dr. Scales’s most important
material gift to Wake Forest:
he made it the first priority
of his presidency and, with
the faithful and brilliant guid-
ance of Charles Allen, saw it
to completion. Look again at
Anne Shields’ inviting full-
length portrait of Dr. Scales—
startlingly alive, friendly but
commanding—which pre-
sides over the lobby of the
music building. He is at home
in that place, and there he will
be looked up to by students
President and Mrs. Scales at Fancy Gap
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