Francis Pendleton Gaines
President, Washington and Lee University, 1930–1959
Francis Pendleton Gaines was born in Due West, S.C., in 1892. He grew up in Lebanon, Va., and in Wytheville, Va. He received his A.B. from Richmond College, his A.M. from the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. from Columbia University. He taught at Richmond College, the University of Virginia and Columbia. He also served as the literary editor of the Greenville, S.C., Piedmont. Known as one of the South's most respected orators, he served as president of Wake Forest University from 1927 to 1930.
As president of Washington and Lee, Gaines remained committed to the concept of a small university with high standards. Under his leadership, for example, W&L was the first university or college for men in the South to require specific College Entrance Examination Board scores for admission. During his administration, the financial assets of the institution increased fivefold, and many improvements were made in educational programs as well as in the physical plant. Gaines was engaged with numerous foundations and organizations, and he wrote three books: The Southern Plantation (1924), Lee-The Final Achievement (1933) and Southern Oratory (1947). He received numerous honorary degrees as well as the Virginia State Chamber of Commerce's Distinguished Service Scroll for "cumulative services to Virginia and the nation." Upon his retirement, the trustees appointed him chancellor.