This is Living Stories, featuring voices from the collections of the Baylor University Institute for Oral History. I'm Kim Patterson.
Dr. Stanley E. Rutland served as president of Paul Quinn College from 1969 through 1976. Under his leadership the college enjoyed many improvements, among them accreditation for the first time with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1972.
Dr. Norman G. Ashford describes the climate of Paul Quinn in 1971, when he came on board as a biology professor:
"I remember well one time where we had a meeting in the evening where we were going over the accreditation procedures and the required reports, et cetera. Well, we started meeting, I believe it was at seven o'clock in the evening, and that meeting lasted till two o'clock in the morning. So it gives you an idea of the events taking place."
Dr. Rowena Keatts explains she was working as a cataloger in the Paul Quinn library when Rutland enlisted her help in getting the college accredited:
"He walked down there and walked in that back door and says, ‘Mrs. Keatts, I am making you head librarian. I've checked your transcript, and what I want you to do is go back'—I didn't have my master's degree then. I think I lacked nine hours of having it. He said, ‘I'm making you head librarian here.' And I said, ‘No, you didn't either.' I got my things and went home.
"When I got home my husband said to me, said, ‘What are you doing? What have you been doing all day?' And I said, ‘Shoot. I've had twenty-five years of teaching. That man come telling me he's making me head librarian, and I'm not going to do it.' He didn't say a word. But he looked at me, and he continued—we were having dinner—and he said, ‘Well, can you do it?' I said, ‘Yes, I can do it, but I'm not going to. I'm going to sit down and draw my teacher's retirement when I get older.' He said, ‘I believe if I were you, and those old people paid ten cents a brick to build some of those buildings there when they were built, and you can do just that little bitty thing, and you don't want to do it? I believe if I were you, I believe I'd go do it.' I didn't do a thing but get all my things, put them back in my car and brought them—come back over to Paul Quinn and sit down."
Although reluctant at first, Keatts took over the task at hand with gusto:
"When the team came in they had no problem whatever with the library. That library was in tip-top shape. "
Interviewer: "I see."
"But I tell you, Dr. Rutland was a man that if you would work with him—he was a learned man. I dare say he is one of the best presidents I've ever seen because he went to each department to find out what was needed, what was lacking. And if they had to have money, he went somewhere and got it. The people here in Waco didn't like him too much because—at first, because they said he stayed on the plane too much going places. But when he went someplace, went those places, he brought something back with him."
Interviewer: "I see."
"And he was able to see and he knew how to meet the needs of Paul Quinn College. And he did it."
Paul Quinn College left Waco in 1990 and moved into the former Bishop College campus in Dallas. In 2009, SACS revoked Paul Quinn's accreditation, but two years later the college attained membership with another accrediting agency, Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools.
Living Stories is heard every Tuesday on 103 point 3 FM, Waco's NPR. For program transcripts or more information about the Institute for Oral History, visit baylor.edu/livingstories.
Search our collection of full transcripts available online.