Centre College President (1868-1888)
Ormond Beatty's association with Centre College spanned nearly 60 years, from his entrance as a freshman in 1832 until his death in 1890. It was a career unparalleled in the school's history. Beatty was born August 13, 1815, in Mason County, Kentucky, the fourth of five sons born to Judge Adam Beatty. Educated as a young man at the Franklin Academy in Washington, Kentucky, Beatty enrolled at Centre as a freshman in 1832. Having been advanced to the sophomore class during his freshman year, he graduated in 1835. Though President John C. Young immediately offered him a position as professor of chemistry and natural philosophy, Beatty decided to take additional studies at Yale under the direction of Benjamin Silliman.
Beatty returned to Centre in 1836 to become Professor of Chemistry and Natural Philosophy, a chair he held from 1836 until 1847. He was then appointed Professor of Mathematics, but five years later returned to his original position. Following the resignation of President William Breckinridge in 1868, Beatty was appointed president pro tem. In 1870 the Board of Trustees unanimously elected him Centre's seventh president, as well as Professor of Metaphysics and Political Science. Several times during his tenure as president, Beatty offered to resign and return to teaching, but since he was the only member of the faculty with a permanent appointment, and seen as quite valuable to the college, the trustees would not accept his resignation. He faithfully served as president for eighteen years until the Board finally accepted his resignation in 1888. Beatty returned to the classroom as the new Professor of Metaphysics. The Board was so anxious to retain Beatty that he was only required to serve an hour a day lecturing.
As president, Beatty saw many years of steady growth, with only a few incidents. One that did occur, however, nearly ruined the college. In 1873 Centre lost over $100,000 in bonds, almost its entire endowment fund, when the Falls City Bank of Louisville was robbed. Although able to recover nearly $40,000 of the stolen bonds, Beatty quickly solicited funds from the community, church, and other subscribers to replace the lost money, and to avoid a potential financial disaster. During Beatty's presidency the Old Main Building was constructed in 1871 at a cost of $60,000. Beatty also served on the Board of Trustees of the Danville Theological Seminary and Caldwell College, a school for women located in Danville.
Along with being a renowned scholar and administrator, Beatty was also known for his generosity, especially to needy students. Many students who needed financial help received it from Beatty's own pocket. By the time of his retirement, no one knew how much he had contributed, not even Beatty himself. In poor health for much of his later life, Beatty died on June 24, 1890, and is buried in Danville's Bellevue Cemetery.
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