John R. Conniff

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John Robinson Conniff, Sr.
7th President of Louisiana Tech University
In office
1926 – May 18, 1928
Preceded byJohn Keeny
Succeeded byGeorge W. Bond
Personal details
Born(1874-01-20)January 20, 1874
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
DiedJanuary 20, 1957(1957-01-20) (aged 83)
New Orleans, Louisiana
Resting placeGarden of Memories in Metairie, Louisiana
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Bertha Drott Conniff (married 1905-1957, his death)
ChildrenJohn Conniff, Jr.
ParentsJohn Harris and Mary Orleana Robinson Conniff
Residence(1) New Orleans, Louisiana

(2) Baton Rouge, Louisiana

(3) Ruston, Louisiana
Alma materTulane University

University of Virginia

Louisiana State University
OccupationEducator; College president

John Robinson Conniff, Sr. (January 20, 1874 – January 20, 1957)[1] was an educator from New Orleans, Louisiana, who served from 1926 to 1928 as the seventh president of Louisiana Tech University in Ruston in Lincoln Parish in North Louisiana.


Conniff was the oldest of five children born in New Orleans to the former Mary Orleana Robinson (1850-1917), whose family tree is traced to a family in colonial Delaware,[2] and John Harris Conniff (1850-1909),[3] the president of the Crescent News and Hotel Company with interests also in the New Orleans entertainment industry—the St. Charles Theatre, the Academy of Music, and the Grand Opera House. The senior Coniffs are interred at Greenwood Cemetery in New Orleans.[4]

Young Coniff graduated in 1890 from the high school of Roman Catholic-affiliated Tulane University. In 1894, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Tulane, where he became affiliated with Phi Delta Theta fraternity. Conniff then studied law for a year at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia.[2]

Academic career[edit]

From 1895 to 1900, Conniff taught English and Latin at Boys' High School in New Orleans; from 1900 to 1908, he was assistant superintendent of New Orleans public schools and from 1908 to 1910 the acting superintendent. In 1910, he moved to Baton Rouge to head the teacher certification division of the Louisiana Department of Education[2] under superintendent T. H. Harris.

Conniff was a devotee of physical education and was the president of the first Tulane Baseball League and the Southern Athletic Club of New Orleans. In 1905, he helped to establish the Public School Athletic League of New Orleans and served as its long-term secretary. Considering his father's ownership of entertainment enterprises, Conniff participated in theatrical performances in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, where he helped to create the Little Theatre Guild. In 1923, while working at the state education department, Conniff received his Master of Arts degree from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. His thesis entails a study of English drama and theatrical performances prior to 1642.[2]

Like his father, Conniff was an active Democrat and a member of the National Education Association and the former white-only Louisiana Teachers Association, since the bi-racial Louisiana Association of Educators. He was a member of the Baton Rouge Golf and Country Club.[2] Conniff relocated from Baton Rouge to Ruston in 1926 to become the president of Louisiana Tech, having succeeded John Ephraim Keeny, who stepped down after eighteen years at the helm.

On leaving Louisiana Tech after two years at the helm, Conniff returned to New Orleans, where he joined the faculty of the all-male Warren Easton High School, now a charter school.[5] At Warren Easton, Conniff resumed his teaching of English and Latin. During summers he taught the History of Louisiana at his alma mater, Tulane University.[6]


Conniff and his wife, the former Bertha Drott (1882-1971), had one son, John R. Conniff, Jr. (1906-1968).[2] Conniff died on his 83rd birthday, also the day of the second inauguration of U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The couple is interred at Garden of Memories in Metairie in Jefferson Parish in suburban New Orleans.[1] John Coniff, Jr., however, is interred at St. Louis Cemetery No. 3 in New Orleans.[7]


  1. ^ a b "John Robinson Conniff, with headstone picture". Retrieved August 6, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Henry E. Chambers, A History of Louisiana, Vol. 2 (Chicago and New York City: American Historical Society, 1925), pp. 53-54
  3. ^ "John Harris Conniff". Retrieved August 6, 2013.
  4. ^ "Mary Orleana Robinson Conniff". Retrieved August 6, 2013.
  5. ^ Lee Harvey Oswald attended Warren Easton for just over a month in October 1957, ten months after Conniff's death.
  6. ^ Ruston Daily Leader, June 17, 1936, p. 4
  7. ^ "John Robinson Conniff, Jr". Retrieved August 6, 2013.
Preceded by
John Keeny
7th President of Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, Louisiana

John Robinson Conniff, Sr.

Succeeded by
George W. Bond