54 The History of Wake Forest
In a November 14 front-page story, the Old Gold and Black quoted President
Hearn: “We’re moving forward with a feeling of friendship in a new relationship.” An
editorial on the split in the same issue noted that the Convention had been a mentor
more than a “financial partner.” For the first time in 152 years, the University was
without its identity as a Baptist institution of higher education.
During the process, Tom Hearn had kept Wayne Calloway, Chair of the Board
of Trustees, informed. In a September 9 letter, Hearn was filled with optimism: “The
leadership of the Baptist State Convention has now gone on record as supporting the
proposals which will result in our complete institutional autonomy.” On October
2, he wrote, “The General Board of the Baptist State Convention has endorsed our
proposals by 103 to 9. This is the last stop before the Convention. This is it for me.
No more negotiation—whatever the outcome.”
The break was the result of a negotiation that lasted nearly a year and was
conducted by covenant committees from the University and the Convention.
Robert Philpott of Lexington was chairman of the Trustee committee, and the Rev-
erend Jim Langford of Ahoskie headed the Convention group. Hearn praised the
efforts of Joseph Branch (’38, JD) of Raleigh, the current Chair of the Trustees,
and Weston P. Hatfield (’41) of Winston-Salem, the 1985 chair. He said Conven-
tion leaders, particularly President Bill Poe (’47), had been strong supporters of the
disaffiliation.
Hearn was not open with everyone about his determination to leave the Baptist
State Convention of North Carolina for a number of reasons. First, his vision was
not universally shared. For instance, in regard to conversations with his predeces-
sor, James Ralph Scales, Hearn told his close friend and ally Leon Corbett, “I became
guarded” about sharing this plan to become a private institution. “I talked to him
Messengers from the North Carolina Baptist State Convention voting
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