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February 6, 1941: Educator Morris Shawkey Dies

Morris Shawkey
WV Humanities Council

Educator Morris Shawkey died on February 6, 1941, at age 72. The Pennsylvania native came to West Virginia in 1895 to teach education at West Virginia Wesleyan.

In 1906, he became superintendent of Kanawha County schools and, in 1909, began three terms as state superintendent of free schools. During this time, he launched a program to build new high schools and junior highs, establish libraries in each school, consolidate schools, bus students, and upgrade teacher standards. Under his leadership, 125 new high schools were built in the state between 1909 and 1921.

After serving a stint as superintendent of Beaver Pond School District in Bluefield, Shawkey was named president of Marshall College (now University) in 1923.

During his 12 years at Marshall, the school was accredited, its College of Arts and Sciences became a member of the American Association of Colleges, and the Pre-Medical program met the standards of the American Medical Association. In addition, Marshall’s campus was expanded, the student body grew rapidly, and a new library and student union were built.

Today, Morris Shawkey is remembered as the father of secondary education in West Virginia.

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