Prexy pt.1

Prexy by definition is a slang form of president, usually referring to the head of a college.  In HSU history though, Prexy is not a reference to the current president, but to a specific president: Jefferson Davis Sandefer.  Most people on campus have at least heard the Sandefer name because of the admin building that carries it, but other than that, most people know nothing of the man known as Prexy.

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Sandefer was born in Arkansas in 1868, and soon after moved with his family to Texas.  He earned his A.B. degree from the Parker Institute at Whitt in Parker County, and then became President of Strawn College.  From 1901-1906 he was a professor of Latin and history at John Tarleton College, of which he became President in 1908.

When President O.H. Cooper resigned in 1909, a presidential search committee gathered to come up with a list of candidates to replace him.  Dr. Cooper had some guidance over this process, and removed each name from the list and instead wrote the name of Sandefer, and returned it with the comment, “He is your man.”  The following day, several members of the committee rode the train to Stephenville to make the invitation to Sandefer.

Sandefer chose to accept the invitation to come look at the college and speak to some of the leaders, but what happened would change the course of Simmons College.  After many, many hours of meetings that lasted until after midnight, Sandefer agreed to consider the job if they would only adjourn the meeting.  When the committee members heard this they all shook hands and congratulated and thanked him for accepting the position.  In his biography years later, Sandefer himself says “after thirty years, I am confessing that they misunderstood me that night.”  Whether this was a negotiating tactic, or a simple misunderstanding, the decision would shape many lives for the next 31 years.

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William Jennings Bryan and Sandefer

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