Walter A. Groves
Centre College President (1947-1956)
Walter Alexander Groves was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania, on March 10, 1898. He enrolled in Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania, but left after three years to enlist in the Army. Returning to Lafayette after the armistace, Groves graduated magna cum laude in 1919. In 1922 he received a master's degree from Princeton Theological Seminary and in 1925 was awarded a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania. Groves soon left for Tehran, Iran, where he served as a missionary and professor of philosophy and religion at the Alborz American College. In 1931 he took on the additional duties of registrar and dean. By 1940 Groves had decided to return to the United States. Before leaving Iran, though, Groves had been offered, and accepted, a teaching position by Centre College president Robert McLeod.
From 1940 until 1942, Groves held the professorship of philosophy and religion at Centre, but left that year to teach at the Louisville Presbyterian Seminary. He remained there until 1946, when Centre invited him back, this time to assume the presidency. Groves took office in January 1947, and was inaugurated on November 15 of that year.
Groves quickly saw the need to increase the size and quality of the faculty to serve the influx of students to the campus following the war. In fact, the faculty increased from thirty-eight in 1946-47, to sixty-three in 1947-48. Along with this growth in numbers, was a growth in faculty salaries. During the decade that he was president, faculty salaries rose over 60%. Groves also encouraged the faculty to earn advanced degrees by offering additional funding and sabbaticals. By the time he left in 1956, nearly 50% of the college's faculty had earned their Ph.D.'s.
To accommodate the new students and the larger faculty, Groves undertook several renovation projects. Breckinridge Hall was remodeled in 1946-47 to become the main residence for men; Young Science Hall was refurbished during that same period, providing new science equipment and more office space; and the library was remodeled in 1949 to accommodate more students and increased holdings. In an effort to increase the quality of freshmen students, Centre began using the Standard Aptitude Test for entrance in 1957.
Other changes included creating the position of Dean of Students and the organization of the Student Congress. To finance these projects, Groves undertook several successful fund-raising efforts that included significant donations from the Franklin W. Olin Foundation, Mrs. Robert G. Evans, and the Ford Foundation. Groves also took the lead in organizing the Kentucky Independent College Foundation in an effort to coordinate fund-raising activities of the member colleges, and was named to its chair in 1951.
In 1956, Groves resigned this office to return to the Middle East, and become the president of the new engineering college at Abadan, Iran. He remained there until 1961, when he became dean of the engineering school at Shiraz. Groves died in 1984.
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