F. Jay Taylor

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Foster Jay Taylor
F. Jay Taylor photo 02-06-2010 12;26;11PM.JPG
Former Louisiana Tech University President F. Jay Taylor (1969)
Born (1923-08-09)August 9, 1923
Gibsland, Bienville Parish
Louisiana, USA
Died May 15, 2011(2011-05-15) (aged 87)
Ruston, Lincoln Parish
Resting place Greenwood Cemetery in Ruston
Alma mater

Louisiana Tech University
University of California at Berkeley
Claremont Graduate School

Tulane University
Occupation College president; Historian
Title President of Louisiana Tech University
Term 1962 - June 30, 1987
Predecessor R.L. Ropp
Successor Daniel D. Reneau

(1) Evelyn Marie Bast Taylor

(2) Linda Lou Kavanaugh Taylor

From first marriage:
Terry Jay Taylor
Andrew Taylor

Jennifer Taylor Williams
Parent(s) Lawrence Foster and Marcia Aline Jay Taylor

Foster Jay Taylor, known as F. Jay Taylor (August 9, 1923 – May 15, 2011),[1][2] was a historian who served from 1962 to 1987 as the president of Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, Lincoln Parish in north Louisiana. Taylor wrote books on the American and the Spanish civil wars.

Early years[edit]

Taylor was born in Gibsland in Bienville Parish to Lawrence Foster Taylor (1892–1977)[3] and the former Marcia Aline Jay (1898–1993).[3][4] He graduated from Gibsland High School in 1940.[5] He then attended Louisiana Tech as a student for four semesters from 1940 to 1942. In May 1942, he enlisted in the United States Navy.[6] He completed aviation training in 1943 and was commissioned as an ensign. As a Navy pilot, he logged two thousand hours of flight time during World War II. He was sent to the Pacific theatre for two tours of duty and rose to the rank of lieutenant commander. He was honorably discharged from military service in 1946.[7][8]

Taylor received his Bachelor of Arts degree in social science in 1948 from the University of California at Berkeley.[9] In 1949, he obtained a Master of Arts from Claremont Graduate University, also in California. He was later named to the Claremont Alumni Hall of Fame.[10] He earned his Ph.D. in history and government in 1952 from Tulane University in New Orleans.[9]

Taylor started his academic career at the Baptist-affiliated Louisiana College in Pineville in Rapides Parish. There he served as an associate professor of history, dean of men (1952–1956), and dean of [9]

Louisiana Tech presidency[edit]

In 1962, Taylor at age thirty-nine was selected as president of Louisiana Tech. He led the transformation and expanded enrollment of the institution, founded in 1894 and known prior to 1970 as Louisiana Polytechnic Institute. Many modern buildings were constructed under his administration. These include the Wyly Tower, a library and administrative office complex; Caruthers Hall, the Thomas Assembly Center, the Lambright Intramural Sports Complex, the Aillet Stadium, and the J.C. Love Field. Some, such as Neilson Hall men's dormitory, have since been replaced. He also developed academic programs, developed it as a research institution, and greatly expanded its opportunities.[6]

F. Jay Taylor was no relation to W. E. Taylor, a biology professor and partial namesake of the Carson-Taylor Science Building, who was the president of the college from 1904 to 1906.[11]

F. Jay Taylor was an active, highly visible president who spoke before educational and civic groups across the state. His vice president until 1980 was Virgil Orr, a former chemical engineering professor and dean. Orr was later elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives from Lincoln and Union parishes, serving from 1988 to 1992.[12]

In 1968, Taylor hired Wiley W. Hilburn from Shreveport Times to revamp the Louisiana Tech Journalism Department and make the college newspaper, The Tech Talk, more representative of student viewpoints.[13] Taylor told Hilburn to "liberate" the college newspaper, which had previously been a non-controversial journal of mostly honor rolls and academic listings. It had failed to address issues of student concerns, such as the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, and the sexual revolution. Hilburn led the journalism department for thirty-one years and continued to write editorials, columns, and books.[14]

In 1974, Taylor hired Sonja Hogg, then a 28-year-old physical education instructor at Ruston High School, to develop the women's basketball team, which became nationally successful. The program began with a $5,000 appropriation,[13] reached the Final Four in 1979, and won the national championship in 1981. Hogg was succeeded as coach of the Lady Techsters by Leon Barmore, whom she had hired from Ruston High School.[15]

In 1981, Taylor told a civic club in Minden that Louisiana Tech was "no longer a college in the piney woods" and cited a list of accomplishments, including the enrollment at the time of a thousand graduate students.[16] In a 2003 interview with the Monroe News-Star, Taylor described his goal as having helped "to bring Louisiana Tech onto the national and international scene."[6]

Taylor announced on January 6, 1987 that he would step down from the Tech presidency effective June 30 of that year. He indicated that his decision to retire at the age of sixty-three was unrelated to any differences that he may have had with the Tech regents.[17] Taylor was succeeded as the president by his vice-president, Daniel Reneau.

Legacy and honors[edit]

  • In 1979, Tech established an annual award in Taylor's name for a successful faculty member engaged in undergraduate teaching duties.[18]
  • The F. Jay Taylor Eminent Scholar Chair of Journalism was named for him.[19]
  • The F. Jay Taylor Sports Forum was also named for him.[20]
  • In 1992 Taylor was inducted into the Louisiana Tech University Athletic Hall of Fame.


Taylor's edited and annotated Reluctant Rebel: The Secret Diary of Robert Patrick, 1861–1865 (1959) is based on a diary written in Pitman shorthand by Patrick, a private in the Confederate . Patrick was from Clinton, near Baton Rouge. A clerk in the commissary and quartermaster departments of the Fourth Louisiana Infantry, Patrick began his diary in April 1861 and wrote until the last days of the conflict.[21] Though the diary was intended only for Patrick's personal reflections, it was handed down in the family and Taylor was offered the manuscript by Patrick’s niece.

Taylor soon determined Patrick to have been a keen observer of events, both military and off-duty. Patrick was present at the 1862 Battle of Shiloh in southwestern Tennessee. He was at the sieges in 1863 of Vicksburg, Mississippi, and Port Hudson, north of Baton Rouge.[5] He participated in the retreat from the Battle of Atlanta in Georgia. There, Patrick's regiment suffered one of the highest records for casualties in the entire Confederate Army. Patrick was particularly knowledgeable about logistics and supply, and assessed the competence of his superior officers. Patrick’s integrity and writing skill made his diary valuable for its portrayal of a soldier's life. Though anecdotal, the work is considered a revealing portrait of a soldier in the lower echelons of the Confederate military.[21] Taylor said that Patrick was "very loyal to the South, but he never really understood his role as a Confederate soldier."[13] In 2007, Taylor donated his Civil War artifacts, including the Robert Patrick materials, to the Tech Department of Special Collections, Manuscripts and Archives, an action which he described as "saying goodbye to an old friend."[13]

Taylor's other work is The United States and the Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939 (1952), with an introduction by diplomatic historian Claude G. Bowers.[22]

Taylor also read the initial manuscript for Professor John D. Winters' The Civil War in Louisiana (1963), a professor at Louisiana Tech; it was published for the state's Civil War centennial observances.[23]

Other activities[edit]

The Ropp Center on the Louisiana Tech University campus served as the president's home during the tenure of F. Jay Taylor.

Taylor served on numerous state and national boards and commissions. A nationally recognized expert in the field of labor arbitration, he was chairman of the Labor-Management Commission of Inquiry, National Academy of Arbitrators, labor panels of the American Arbitration Association, and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.[7]

He was a member of the Ruston Rotary International and served on the boards of the Ruston Chamber of Commerce and Ruston Civic Club.[7]

In 1971, the University of California Alumni Association cited Taylor for "Outstanding Achievement" and honored him at the school's homecoming. In 1985, he was similarly recognized by his alma mater Tulane as an outstanding alumnus of the graduate school.[7]

In 1996, Taylor donated to the campaign of Francis C. Thompson, a Democrat from Delhi, who was running for the United States House of Representatives. Thompson has since been elected as a State Senator.[24]

Taylor was a board member of First Guaranty Bancshares, Inc., a company previously headed by Louisiana Tech alumnus Loy F. Weaver.[25] He is a Democrat and former member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from Homer in Claiborne Parish.

Taylor served on numerous publicly traded corporate boards, including Pizza Inn, Bonanza Steakhouses, Michael's Stores, and the Illinois-Central railroad. Taylor and fellow Illinois-Central directors successfully merged the Illinois-Central with the Canadian National Railroad, thereby creating the largest railroad in the world.

Prior to the building of the current president's home near the Tech stadium, Taylor resided in a plantation-style house. This has been adapted as the Ropp Center, named for Ralph L. Ropp, Taylor's predecessor as president, who served from 1949 to 1962.

Marriage and family[edit]

Dr. F. Jay and Mrs. Evelyn Taylor with son Terry Jay Taylor and the family dogs (1967)

On April 18, 1946, Taylor married the former Evelyn Marie Bast of Milford, Michigan.[8] The couple had one son, Terry J. Taylor (born 1947).[26] At some point prior to 1982, the Taylors were divorced.[27] By 1988, Taylor had wed the former Linda Lou Kavanaugh.[28]

Terry Taylor is a veteran of the United States Air Force and a retired Delta Air Lines pilot. In 2007, he was a flight and ground instructor with Sporty's Academy at the Clermont County Airport in Batavia, Ohio.[29] He and his wife, the former Bernardine Hartley, reside in Batavia, Ohio, near Cincinnati. They have two children, Andrew Taylor of Gainesville, Florida, and Jennifer Taylor Williams of West Palm Beach, Florida.[7]

Death and legacy[edit]

When Taylor died in Ruston at the age of eighty-seven, Daniel Reneau, current president of the university, described his predecessor as "a great leader and a great president. I was privileged to serve seven years under him as vice president. A senior statesman and point guard in the Tech family has fallen, and we will miss him greatly."[6]

Taylor's services were held on May 18, 2011 at the First Baptist Church in downtown Ruston. Interment followed at Greenwood Cemetery.[7]

Taylor was eulogized by Sidney "Sid" Moreland, IV, former Louisiana Tech Student Body President, speaking "for all the students who were fortunate enough to pursue their education under the leadership of Jay Taylor…He epitomized the grace, humility, vision, and the intellectual depth that only a great university deserves. He made us all believe in that greatness and the gift of his tireless work lives on in all of us who were served by him, and blessed that he was ours…"


  1. ^ Cook, R.C. (1963). Who's who in American Education: A Biographical Dictionary of Eminent Living Educators of the United States. 21. Who's Who in American Education. ISSN 0083-9418. Retrieved August 24, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Local News | The News Star | thenewsstar.com". thenewsstar.com. Retrieved August 24, 2015. [permanent dead link]
  3. ^ a b "Social Security Death Index". ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved June 9, 2011. 
  4. ^ Who's Who in America, 43rd edition, Vol. 2, (Chicago, Illinois: Marquis Who's Who, 1984–1985, p. 3225)
  5. ^ a b "Gibsland High Grad Edits Civil War Diary", Minden Press, May 4, 1959, p. 13
  6. ^ a b c d Greg Hilburn, "Former Tech President F. Jay Taylor dies at 87", Alexandria Daily Town Talk and Monroe News-Star, May 16, 2011
  7. ^ a b c d e f "Dr. F. Jay Taylor". Shreveport Times, May 17, 2011. Retrieved May 17, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b La. Tech president to address Lions", Minden Press-Herald, Minden, Louisiana, January 21, 1981, p. 1
  9. ^ a b c "President of Tech Set as Speaker Here", Minden Press, July 9, 1962, p. 1
  10. ^ "CGU Alumni Hall of Fame". alumnicommunity.cgu.edu. Retrieved December 17, 2009. 
  11. ^ Ruston Daily Leader, October 11, 1933, p. 20
  12. ^ "Membership in the Louisiana House of Representatives, 1812-2012" (PDF). legis.state.la.us. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 29, 2009. Retrieved July 19, 2010. 
  13. ^ a b c d "Dr. F. Jay Taylor". zoominfo.com. Retrieved December 17, 2009. 
  14. ^ "Bill Campbell, "Region's dean of journalism leaves editor's mark on generations"". Monroe News-Star. August 2, 2009. Retrieved August 27, 2009. [dead link]
  15. ^ "Jim Rapier, "Sonja Hogg built the Louisiana Tech women's basketball program into a powerhouse"". New Orleans Times-Picayune. June 24, 2009. Retrieved December 17, 2009. 
  16. ^ Minden Press-Herald, January 23, 1981, p. 1
  17. ^ "Taylor retiring from La. Tech", Minden Press-Herald, June 7, 1987, p. 1
  18. ^ "F. Jay Taylor – Past Recipients". latech.edu. Retrieved December 17, 2009. 
  19. ^ "Endowed Eminent Scholar Chairs and Endowed Professorships". latechalumni.org. Retrieved December 17, 2009. 
  20. ^ "F. Jay Taylor Sports Forum". latechbbb.com. Retrieved December 17, 2009. 
  21. ^ a b "Reluctant Rebel". lsu.edu. Retrieved December 17, 2009. 
  22. ^ "The United States and the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939". books.google.co.uk. Tulane University. 1952. Retrieved July 10, 2016. 
  23. ^ John D. Winters, The Civil War in Louisiana, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1963, ISBN 0-8071-0834-0, p. xi
  24. ^ "Ruston, Louisiana Political Contributions by Individuals". city-data.com. Retrieved December 17, 2009. 
  25. ^ "First Guaranty Bank Board of Directors". bnet.com. Retrieved December 17, 2009. 
  26. ^ Who's Who in America, 1972–1973, p. 3131
  27. ^ Who's Who in America, 1982–1983, p. 3266
  28. ^ Who's Who in America, 1988–1989, Vol. 2, p. 3056
  29. ^ "June 2007 Master Instructors: Terry Jay Taylor". nafinet.org. Retrieved June 9, 2011. 
Preceded by
Ralph L. Ropp
President of Louisiana Tech University

Foster Jay Taylor

Succeeded by
Daniel Reneau