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Caldwell, Harmon White


Educator Harmon White Caldwell was born in Meriwether County, Georgia on January 29, 1899. Caldwell earned degrees from the University of Georgia and Harvard University before beginning his teaching career at Emory University. In 1933, after a brief stint practicing law, he was named dean of the Lumpkin Law School at the University of Georgia. Two years later, he was named president of the University—the youngest president up to that time.  Despite taking over during the Great Depression, Caldwell embarked on an era of expansion for the University. Seventeen new building were constructed, while a number of others were renovated and over one hundred new faculty members were added. In 1937 he convinced the Board of Regents to purchase the DeRenne collection, a wealth of information on the history of Georgia comprised of books, pamphlets, newspapers, and maps. In 1939, he oversaw the creation of the University of Georgia Press.

Caldwell also guided the university through one of its more difficult times—the lost of accreditation in 1942 because of political interference by Governor Eugene Talmadge. In 1948 Caldwell was unanimously chosen to be chancellor of the University System of Georgia, a position for which he was re-elected annually until his retirement in 1964. Caldwell remained active in several voluntary and academic organizations until his death in Atlanta on April 15, 1977. A classroom building on the University of Georgia campus is now named in his honor.

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Source: University of Georgia