Alfred Tyler Perry (1900-1912)

Henry Smith

A young man with a magnetic personality and clever speech describes Marietta College's sixth president, Dr. Alfred Tyler Perry, who was inaugurated at the turn of the 20th century.

The energetic new president prepared the College for its first major construction boom and the 75th anniversary celebration in 1910. He also addressed the stagnant enrollment figures during his first decade of leadership.

In his book, "History of Marietta," Thomas Jefferson Summers wrote of Dr. Perry: "He is yet a young man of wholesome enthusiasm for the cause of liberal education. Since his coming the College has received fresh impetus toward higher success, and the outlook for the future is bright with promise."

Significant investments were made during the Perry Administration to increase student housing, a new library and the campus' heating capabilities. In 1906, the College celebrated the opening of Fayerweather Hall, a new library (now the Irvine Administration Building) and a heating building (now the annex of the Edwy R. Brown Petroleum Building).

"When Dr. Perry became the College's President in 1900, the care and responsibility fell on one well fitted to meet the problems of the institution," said Laurence N. Dana 1895 during the 75th anniversary celebration. "Few realized the heroic work he has accomplished, but today, as we review those ten years and count up the great gain made, we feel that to him rightfully belongs the laurel leaf of victory. Under his leadership new buildings, new equipment, new energy, new spirit and interest have all come to the old College."

Many times during his administration, Marietta College was host to several national dignitaries. During the dedication of the new library and Fayerweather Hall, U.S. Vice President Charles W. Fairbanks (under President Theodore Roosevelt) and 1884 Marietta graduate, future Vice President Charles Gates Dawes (under President Calvin Coolidge) spoke during the two-day celebration. Also, during the 75th anniversary, Dr. Perry conferred an honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Laws to President William H. Taft.

The father of two young boys, Perry was a very popular and well-respected president. An ordained Congregationalist minister, Perry was educated at Williams College and Hartford Theological Seminary. Before coming to Marietta, he served the Hartford Theological Society as Professor of Bibliology and as librarian. At Marietta, Perry also was the Professor of Christian Evidence and Sociology.

"Not only has Dr. Perry given an advance to the physical equipment of the College, but his influence has been felt in the classroom, among the students, and with the friends and alumni of the institution to the satisfaction of us all," Dana said. "Associations of Alumni have been formed in New England, New York, Columbus, Chicago, and Cincinnati."

From 1875 to 1900, student enrollment had only grown by one student. Between 1900 and 1910, enrollment climbed from 94 to 137 students. The College was fully rebounding from the difficulties of the late 1800s under Perry's leadership. But in the fall of 1912, the campus was dealt an emotional blow with news that the sixth president had suddenly died. Upon learning the news of his death, the Board of Trustees reflected on the generous and true spirit that Perry dedicated to Marietta College during his 12-year tenure:

"For twelve years he has given the best that was in him to the service of this institution. His ideals for the College and its work were very high. Uplift among the students, both mental and moral, was his chief concern, and the success of his students in and out of College was his greatest glory. We mourn a true and loyal friend who really cared for us, as well as for the work in which we were jointly engaged."