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GMC REMEMBERED – January 19th 1880: A Red Letter Day in GMC History


January 19th 1880:  A Red Letter Day in GMC History

On October 14th 2014, Georgia Military College observed its official 135th birthday.  On that day in 1879, the Georgia General Assembly voted to approve the establishment of Middle Georgia Military and Agricultural College in the Old Statehouse Building at Milledgeville.  Although called a college, the school was to educate students in the elementary grades through high school, tuition free, in an atmosphere that encouraged excellence in both academics and character development.

From the first meeting, on October 22nd, the local Board of Trustees began in earnest the process of organizing the school.  They selected Dr. Walter Stafford Dudley, a Citadel graduate and medical doctor who had given up his practice to follow a career in education, to lead the process.  Dudley would have the responsibility of recruiting faculty and students and laying the foundation for a quality educational institution.

On opening day, January 19, 1880, evidence of Dr. Dudley’s effort was apparent.  The day began with a prayer led by Reverend H.H. Parks of the Methodist Church.  There were 219 young male and female scholars in attendance. There was a called meeting of the Board of Trustees on January 27th, one week after opening day, to hire additional faculty.  By the 10th of February the student body had reached 280 and the local newspaper, the Union Recorder, reported that, numerically, Middle Georgia Military and Agricultural College, was the largest college in the state.

And so begins the history of an enduring institution that today still seeks to educate young men and women in an atmosphere that encourages both academic excellence and character development.