F. Jay Taylor
|Foster Jay Taylor|
Former Louisiana Tech University President F. Jay Taylor (1969)
August 9, 1923|
Gibsland, Bienville Parish
|Died||May 15, 2011
Ruston, Lincoln Parish
|Resting place||Greenwood Cemetery in Ruston|
|Alma mater||Tulane University|
|Occupation||College president; Historian|
|Title||President of Louisiana Tech University|
|Term||1962 - June 30, 1987|
|Successor||Daniel D. Reneau|
(1) Evelyn Marie Bast Taylor
From first marriage:
|Parent(s)||Lawrence Foster and Marcia Aline Jay Taylor|
Foster Jay Taylor, known as F. Jay Taylor (August 9, 1923 – May 15, 2011), was a historian who served from 1962 to 1987 as the president of Louisiana Tech University in Ruston in Lincoln Parish in north Louisiana. Taylor wrote books on the American and the Spanish civil wars.
Taylor was born in Gibsland in Bienville Parish to Lawrence Foster Taylor (1892–1977) and the former Marcia Aline Jay (1898–1993). He graduated from Gibsland High School in 1940. 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. 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.
Taylor received his Bachelor of Arts degree in social science in 1948 from the University of California at Berkeley. 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. He procured his Ph.D. in history and government in 1952 from Tulane University in New Orleans.
Louisiana Tech presidency
Taylor was thirty-nine when he was named as the Louisiana Tech president. He presided over 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 watch, some of which, such as Neilson Hall men's dormitory, have since been discarded. Under his watch came 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.
F. Jay Taylor was not the first "Taylor" to have been president of the institution. W. E. Taylor (no relation), a biology professor and partial namesake of the Carson-Taylor Science Building, was the president from 1904 to 1906. Taylor was an active, highly visible president who spoke before educational and civic groups across the state. Prior to 1980, his vice president was Virgil Orr, a former chemical engineering professor and dean, who served from 1988 to 1992 as a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from Lincoln and Union parishes.
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 indicative of student viewpoints. Taylor told Hilburn to "liberate" the college newspaper, which had previously been a non-controversial journal of mostly honor rolls and academic listings and failed to address student issues, such as the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, and the sexual revolution. Hilburn went on to head the journalism department for thirty-one years and to continue to write editorials, columns, and books.
In 1974, Taylor hired Sonja Hogg, then a 28-year-old physical education instructor at Ruston High School, to develop what turned into a nationally successfully women's basketball team. The program began with a $5,000 appropriation, 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.
Since 1979, Tech has given an annual award in Taylor's name to a successful faculty member engaged in undergraduate teaching duties. There is also an F. Jay Taylor Eminent Scholar Chair of Journalism and an F. Jay Taylor Sports Forum.
Taylor's tenure at Louisiana Tech corresponded in part with that of George T. Walker, a former Northwestern State University dean and the president of the University of Louisiana at Monroe from 1958 to 1976. Under Walker's tenure ULM expanded fourfold in enrollment. Meanwhile, Arnold R. Kilpatrick from 1966 to 1978 was the president of NSU, a Louisiana Tech sports rival. Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones was president of historically black Grambling State University in Grambling, some five miles from the Tech campus during this same period.
Taylor was inducted into the Louisiana Tech University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1992.
Taylor was eulogized by attorney and fellow arbitrator Sidney "Sid" Moreland, IV, a former Louisiana Tech Student Body President under Dr. Taylor's tenure at Tech. Moreland (Class of 1983) said of Taylor's Tech Presidency: "…For 25 years, Dr. Taylor led Louisiana Tech on what is broadly known as the most crucially transformational years in Tech's history. It would be impossible to recall almost any aspect of Tech's history without the presence of Dr. Taylor progressively spearheading efforts large and small, from a simple name change to a skyscraper. His efforts made Louisiana Tech a household name throughout the nation and in many parts of the world. He cleverly grew the athletic programs into national prominence to blaze an early path for women in sports, long before it was widely accepted, and for numerous other All-American athletes who became his anointed ambassadors for Tech, and like a great branching tree that he painstakingly cultivated, they helped him put Louisiana Tech on the map.
Dr. Taylor's polished skill and eloquent persuasion charmed 5 Governors and hundreds of Legislators into funding Louisiana Tech's progressive vision, at times when funding was cut at other state institutions. Dr. Taylor, as you all know, always found a way to politely, yet insistently, never accept "no" for an answer when it came to Louisiana Tech's needs. Aillet Stadium, Love Field, Wyly Tower, Thomas Assembly Center, Neilsen and Caruthers, and a dozen more structures incremental to Tech's growth and accreditation were either constructed or renovated under Dr. Taylor's agenda. Our world class Intramural Complex built for the student body's quality of life, was among the very first of its kind.
Meanwhile, his focus on the excellence of academics was never lost. He simply understood that in order to attract world class scholars and bring the singular honor and academic respect he believed Tech could hold in the world, you must have the facilities that reflect that greatness. He made the difference that made the difference for Louisiana Tech and caused our enrollment to break 5 figures. And from those numbers sprang countless CEO's, scientists, public servants, medical professionals, entrepreneurs, inventors, world class athletes, and a diverse network of respected achievers around the globe that proudly constitute what Dr. Taylor referred to as "The Tech Family."…"
Taylor's Reluctant Rebel: The Secret Diary of Robert Patrick, 1861–1865 stemmed from the translation of a diary written in Pitman shorthand by Patrick, a private in the Confederate Army from Clinton, near Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 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. Though the diary was intended only for Patrick's reflections, 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, named for a community church in southwestern Tennessee. He was at the sieges in 1863 of Vicksburg, Mississippi, and Port Hudson, north of Baton Rouge. He participated in the retreat from the Battle of Atlanta in Georgia. There, Patrick's regiment experienced one of the highest records for casualties in the entire Confederate Army. Patrick was particularly knowledgeable about logistics, supply, and the evaluation of the competence of his superior officers. Patrick’s integrity and writing skill give his diary realism. Though anecdotal, the work is considered a revealing portrait of a soldier in the lower echelons of the Confederate military. Taylor said that Patrick was "very loyal to the South, but he never really understood his role as a Confederate soldier." In 2007, Taylor donated his Civil War artifacts, including the Robert Patrick materials, to the Tech Department of Special Collections, Manuscripts and Archives, a move that Taylor described as "saying goodbye to an old friend."
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.
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.
In 1996, Taylor donated $900 to the unsuccessful campaign for the United States House of Representatives waged by now-State Senator Francis C. Thompson, a Democrat from Delhi, who lost to Republican John Cooksey of Monroe.
Taylor was a board member of First Guaranty Bancshares, Inc., a company previously headed by the Louisiana Tech alumnus Loy F. Weaver, a Democrat 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 in what is now the Ropp Center, which is named for Ralph L. Ropp, Taylor's predecessor as president, who served from 1949 to 1962.
Death and legacy
On April 18, 1946, Taylor married the former Evelyn Marie Bast of Milford in Oakland County, Michigan. The couple had one son, Terry J. Taylor (born 1947). 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. He and his wife, the former Bernardine Hartley, reside in Batavia, near Cincinnati. They have two children, Andrew Taylor of Gainesville, Florida, and Jennifer Taylor Williams of West Palm Beach, Florida. At some point prior to 1982, the marriage to Evelyn ended. Thereafter by 1988 or earlier, Taylor had wed the former Linda Lou Kavanaugh.
Claybrook Cottingham, R. L. Ropp's predecessor as the Louisiana Tech president, also had previous ties to Louisiana College, where he was the second president of the institution, having served from 1910 to 1941, before he came to Louisiana Tech. Taylor was a Louisiana Tech student during Cottingham's first year as president there. Cottingham's tenure at Louisiana College hence preceded Taylor's academic career.
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. 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."
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. Taylor was succeeded as the president by his vice-president, Daniel Reneau. On Taylor's death in Ruston at the age of eighty-seven, Reneau 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."
Taylor's services were held on May 18, 2011 at the First Baptist Church in downtown Ruston. Interment followed at Greenwood Cemetery.
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…"
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Ralph L. Ropp
|President of Louisiana Tech University
Foster Jay Taylor