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Richard M. Dudley

     Richard M. Dudley was the first of three alumni who served as president of Georgetown College. When he came as president, the college was at a low point. The post-Civil War era in Kentucky and the depression of 1873-1879 caused the college to struggle, with an inadequate endowment, low faculty salaries, and declining enrollment.

     Born in Madison County, Kentucky, on September 1, 1838, Dudley descended from Ambrose Dudley, a well-known Baptist preacher in pioneer Kentucky. He entered Georgetown College in 1856, with the intent of preparing to study law. During his second year at Georgetown, he was converted and joined the Georgetown Baptist Church. This experience changed his mind about pursuing a career in law, and he decided instead to enter the ministry. After graduating from Georgetown in 1860, Dudley accepted the pastorate of the East Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, where he remained throughout the Civil War. In 1862, he married Betty Thompson of Shelby County; together they had four children. With his voice failing, he resigned to assume editorial control of the Western Recorder, a weekly Baptist paper published in Louisville. He bought the newspaper, but sold it in 1871, when he became pastor of the David's Fork Baptist Church in Fayette County, Kentucky. The next year, while still pastor, Dudley began teaching history and political economy at his alma mater. Betty died in 1873, and he then married Mary Henton of Woodford County. Five children were born to this union. In 1877, Dudley decided to concentrate on being a pastor only, and resigned his professorship. He was called to be pastor of the Georgetown Baptist Church the next year.

     Dudley's foray from teaching lasted for a short time. The faculty at the college selected him as its chairman the year before he was chosen as president of Georgetown College in 1880. Dudley worked to enlarge the endowment, improve the quality of the faculty, and increase the enrollment. Only two students graduated during his third commencement ceremonies. By the time of his death, there were nineteen. He organized and campaigned to raise $250,000 to endow chairs in mathematics, natural science, and history and political science. This endowed four of the six faculty positions. Dudley's successful tenure ended suddenly on January 5, 1893, when he died, at the age of fifty-four, from an attack of appendicitis.


[This document provided by D. L. Brewer; much of this information came from the Georgetown College website.]

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