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Georgia College History: Dr. Marvin M. Parks

Dr. Parks

1905-1926

Biography

Dr. Parks began his career at Georgia Normal & Industrial College in 1903 as a professor of pedagogy and, in 1905, took the place of President J. Harris Chappell, who had stepped down due to illness. During the first decade of his presidency, Parks took every opportunity to promote the severance of ties with UGA in order to establish the identity of GN&IC. He wrote that GN&IC was “distinctly a women’s college. It does not seek to imitate the educational practices that have prevailed in colleges for men, merely for the sake of conforming to tradition.” Parks achieved his goal: the college received authority to grant four year degrees and established its clear independence from the University of Georgia. This act paved the way for the first of many name changes for the college in 1922, when Georgia Normal & Industrial College changed to Georgia State College for Women. The curriculum expanded to include courses in psychology, home economics, English, math, art, science, recreation and music.

Just as GSCW began to flourish, President Parks’ life came to a tragic end. While visiting Tampa, Florida in 1926, Parks was struck by a car as he tried to cross the street.  A train quickly returned his body to Milledgeville and GSCW hosted his funeral in the newly dedicated Richard B. Russell Auditorium on January 2, 1927. His death shocked the college to its core; nevertheless, his tenure also solidified the position of GSCW among higher educational institutions in Georgia.

President Parks, although tragically taken from the helm of Georgia State College for Women, is remembered by two building that remain on campus: Parks Hall and Parks Memorial Hall. 

Major Accomplishments

  • Parks orchestrated our independence from the University of Georgia.
  • Parks transitioned the institution from a two year vocational educational institution into a four year college that focused on liberal arts education.
  • The first Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees are conferred (1921).
  • Chappell Hall, Parks Hall and Lanier Hall are constructed.
  • Main Building burns (1924).