F. Jay Taylor
|Foster Jay Taylor|
12th President of Louisiana Tech University
1962 – June 30, 1987
|Preceded by||R. L. Ropp|
|Succeeded by||Daniel D. Reneau|
|Born|| August 9, 1923|
Gibsland, Bienville Parish
|Died|| May 15, 2011 (aged 87)|
Ruston, Lincoln Parish
|Resting place||Greenwood Cemetery in Ruston|
|Spouse(s)|| (1) Evelyn Marie Bast Taylor (divorced)
(2) Linda Lou Kavanaugh Taylor
|Children|| From first marriage:
Terry Jay Taylor
|Alma mater||Louisiana Tech University|
|Occupation||College president; Historian|
Foster Jay Taylor, known as F. Jay Taylor (August 9, 1923 – May 15, 2011), was a historian who served from 1962 to 1987 as the president of Louisiana Tech University in Ruston in Lincoln Parish in north Louisiana. Taylor wrote books on the American and the Spanish civil wars.
Taylor was born in Gibsland in Bienville Parish to Lawrence Foster Taylor (1892–1977) and the former Marcia Aline Jay (1898–1993). He graduated from Gibsland High School in 1940. He then attended Louisiana Tech as a student for four semesters from 1940 to 1942. In May 1942, he enlisted in the United States Navy. He completed aviation training in 1943 and was commissioned as an ensign. As a Navy pilot, he logged two thousand hours of flight time during World War II. He was sent to the Pacific Theater of Operations for two tours of duty and rose to the rank of lieutenant commander. He was honorably discharged from military service in 1946.
Taylor received his Bachelor of Arts degree in social science in 1948 from the University of California at Berkeley. In 1949, he obtained a Master of Arts from Claremont Graduate University, also in California. He was later named to the Claremont Alumni Hall of Fame. He procured his Ph.D. in history and government in 1952 from Tulane University in New Orleans.
Louisiana Tech presidency
Taylor was thirty-nine when he was named as the Louisiana Tech president. He presided over the transformation and expanded enrollment of the institution, founded in 1894 and known prior to 1970 as Louisiana Polytechnic Institute. Many modern buildings were constructed under his watch, some of which, such as Neilson Hall men's dormitory, have since been razed. Under his watch came the Wyly Tower, a library and administrative office complex, Caruthers Hall, the Thomas Assembly Center, the Lambright Intramural Sports Complex, the Aillet Stadium, and the J. C. Love Field.
F. Jay Taylor was not the first "Taylor" to have been president of the institution. W. E. Taylor (no relation), a biology professor and partial namesake of the Carson-Taylor Science Building, was the president from 1904 to 1906. Taylor was an active, highly visible president who spoke before educational and civic groups across the state. Prior to 1980, his vice president was Virgil Orr, a former chemical engineering professor and dean, who served from 1988 to 1992 as a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from Lincoln and Union parishes.
In 1968, Taylor hired Wiley Hilburn from The Shreveport Times to revamp the Louisiana Tech Journalism Department and make the college newspaper, The Tech Talk, more indicative of student viewpoints. Taylor told Hilburn to "liberate" the college newspaper, which had previously been a non-controversial journal of mostly honor rolls and academic listings and failed to address student issues, such as the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, and the sexual revolution. Hilburn went on to head the journalism department for thirty-one years and to continue to write editorials, columns, and books.
In 1974, Taylor hired Sonja Hogg, then a 28-year-old physical education instructor at Ruston High School, to develop what turned into a nationally successfully women's basketball team. The program began with a $5,000 appropriation, reached the Final Four in 1979, and won the national championship in 1981. Hogg was succeeded as coach of the Lady Techsters by Leon Barmore, whom she had hired from Ruston High School.
Since 1979, Tech has given an annual award in Taylor's name to a successful faculty member engaged in undergraduate teaching duties. There is also an F. Jay Taylor Eminent Scholar Chair of Journalism and an F. Jay Taylor Sports Forum. Taylor's tenure at Louisiana Tech corresponded in part with that of George T. Walker, who from 1958 to 1976 was the president of the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Under Walker's tenure ULM expanded fourfold in enrollment. Meanwhile, Arnold Kilpatrick from 1966 to 1978 was the president of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana, a regional Tech sports rival at the time. Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones (1902-1982)
was president of the historically black Grambling State University in Grambling, located five miles from the Tech campus during this same period.
Taylor was inducted into the Louisiana Tech University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1992.
Taylor's Reluctant Rebel: The Secret Diary of Robert Patrick, 1861–1865 stemmed from the translation of a diary written in Pitman shorthand by Patrick, a private in the Confederate Army from Clinton, near Baton Rouge. A clerk in the commissary and quartermaster departments of the Fourth Louisiana Infantry, Patrick began his diary in April 1861 and wrote until the last days of the conflict.
Though the diary was intended only for Patrick's reflections, Taylor was offered the manuscript by Patrick’s niece. He determined Patrick to have been a keen observer of events, both military and off-], Mississippi, and Port Hudson, Louisiana. He participated in the retreat from the Battle of Atlanta in Georgia. There, Patrick's regiment experienced one of the highest records for casualties in the entire Confederate Army. Patrick was particularly knowledgeable about logistics, supply, and the evaluation of the competence of his superior officers. Patrick’s integrity and writing skill give his diary realism. Though anecdotal, the work is considered a revealing portrait of a soldier in the lower echelons of the Confederate military.
Taylor said that Patrick was "very loyal to the South, but he never really understood his role as a Confederate soldier." In 2007, Taylor donated his Civil War artifacts, including the Robert Patrick materials, to the Tech Department of Special Collections, Manuscripts and Archives, a move that Taylor described as "saying goodbye to an old friend." Taylor's other work is The United States and the Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939, with the introduction by the diplomatic historian Claude G. Bowers.
Taylor read the initial manuscript for Louisiana Tech Professor John D. Winters' The Civil War in Louisiana (1963).
Taylor served on numerous state and national boards and commissions. A nationally recognized expert in the field of labor arbitration, he was chairman of the Labor-Management Commission of Inquiry, National Academy of Arbitrators, labor panels of the American Arbitration Association, and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.He was a member of the Ruston Rotary International and served on the boards of the Ruston Chamber of Commerce and Ruston Civic Club.
In 1971, the University of California Alumni Association cited Taylor for "Outstanding Achievement" and honored him at the school's homecoming. In 1985, he was similarly recognized by Tulane as an outstanding alumnus of the graduate school.
In 1996, Taylor donated $900 to the unsuccessful campaign for the United States House of Representatives waged by Francis C. Thompson, a Democrat from Delhi, who has served in both houses of the state legislature but who lost to Republican John Cooksey of Monroe.
Taylor was a board member of First Guaranty Bancshares, Inc., a company previously headed by the Louisiana Tech alumnus Loy Weaver, a Democrat former state representative from Homer in Claiborne Parish.
Taylor served on numerous publicly traded corporate boards, including Pizza Inn, Bonanza Steakhouses, Michael's Stores, and the Illinois-Central railroad. Taylor and fellow Illinois-Central directors successfully merged the Illinois-Central with the Canadian National Railroad, thereby creating the largest railroad in the world.
Prior to the building of the current president's home near the Tech stadium, Taylor resided in a plantation-style house in what is now the Ropp Center, which is named for R. L. Ropp, Taylor's predecessor as president, who served from 1949 to 1962.
Death and legacy
On April 18, 1946, Taylor married the former Evelyn Marie Bast of Oakland County, Michigan. The couple had one son, Terry Jay Taylor (born 1947). Terry Taylor is a veteran of the United States Air Force and a retired Delta Air Lines pilot. In 2007, he was a flight and ground instructor with Sporty's Academy at the Clermont County Airport in Batavia, Ohio. He and his wife, the former Bernardine Hartley, reside in Batavia, near Cincinnati. They have two children living in Florida, Andrew Taylor of Gainesville and Jennifer Taylor Williams of West Palm Beach.  At some point prior to 1982, the marriage to Evelyn ended. Thereafter by 1988 or earlier, Taylor had wed the former Linda Lou Kavanaugh.
Claybrook Cottingham, R. L. Ropp's predecessor as the Louisiana Tech president, also had previous ties to Louisiana College, where he was the second president of the institution from 1910 to 1941, before he came to Louisiana Tech. Taylor was a Louisiana Tech student during Cottingham's first year as president there. Cottingham's tenure at Louisiana College hence preceded Taylor's academic career. In 1981, Taylor told a civic club in Minden that Louisiana Tech was "no longer a college in the piney woods" and cited a list of accomplishments, including the enrollment at the time of a thousand graduate students. In a 2003 interview with The Monroe News-Star, Taylor described his goal as having helped "to bring Louisiana Tech onto the national and international scene."
Taylor announced on January 6, 1987 that he would step down from the Tech presidency effective June 30 of that year. He indicated that his decision to retire at the age of sixty-three was unrelated to any differences that he may have had with the Tech regents. Taylor was succeeded as the president by his vice-president, Daniel Reneau. On Taylor's death in Ruston at the age of eighty-seven, Reneau described his predecessor as "a great leader and a great president. I was privileged to serve seven years under him as vice president. A senior statesman and point guard in the Tech family has fallen, and we will miss him greatly."
Taylor died at the age of eighty-seven. His services were held on May 18, 2011 at the First Baptist Church in downtown Ruston. Interment followed at Greenwood Cemetery in Ruston.
Taylor's eulogy, delivered by Sidney "Sid" Moreland, IV, recalled that Louisiana Tech students "were fortunate enough to pursue their education under the leadership of Jay Taylor ... He epitomized the grace, humility, vision, and the intellectual depth that only a great university deserves. He made us all believe in that greatness and the gift of his tireless work lives on in all of us who were served by him, and blessed that he was ours ..."
Further analysis of Taylor's tenure
Attorney Sidney Moreland, IV, a former Louisiana Tech student body president (Class of 1983), said more about Taylor's tenure at the institution:
For twenty-five years, Dr. Taylor led Louisiana Tech on what is broadly known as the most crucially transformational years in Tech's history. It would be impossible to recall almost any aspect of Tech's history without the presence of Dr. Taylor progressively spearheading efforts large and small, from a simple name change to a skyscraper. His efforts made Louisiana Tech a household name throughout the nation and in many parts of the world. He cleverly grew the athletic programs into national prominence to blaze an early path for women in sports, long before it was widely accepted, and for numerous other All-American athletes who became his anointed ambassadors for Tech, and like a great branching tree that he painstakingly cultivated, they helped him put Louisiana Tech on the map.
Dr. Taylor's polished skill and eloquent persuasion charmed five governors and hundreds of Legislators into funding Louisiana Tech's progressive vision, at times when funding was cut at other state institutions. Dr. Taylor, as you all know, always found a way to politely, yet insistently, never accept "no" for an answer when it came to Louisiana Tech's needs. Aillet Stadium, Love Field, Wyly Tower, Thomas Assembly Center, Neilsen and Caruthers, and a dozen more structures incremental to Tech's growth and accreditation were either constructed or renovated under Dr. Taylor's agenda. Our world class Intramural Complex built for the student body's quality of life, was among the very first of its kind.Meanwhile, his focus on the excellence of academics was never lost. He understood that in order to attract world class scholars and bring the singular honor and academic respect he believed Tech could hold in the world, the institution must have the facilities that reflect that greatness. He made the difference that made the difference for Louisiana Tech and caused our enrollment to break five figures. And from those numbers sprang countless CEO's, scientists, public servants, medical professionals, entrepreneurs, inventors, world class athletes, and a diverse network of respected achievers around the globe that proudly constitute what Dr. Taylor referred to as 'The Tech Family.'
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- Who's Who in America, 43rd edition, Vol. 2, (Chicago, Illinois: Marquis Who's Who, 1984–1985), p. 3225.
- "Gibsland High Grad Edits Civil War Diary," Minden Press, May 4, 1959, p. 13.
- Greg Hilburn, "Former Tech President F. Jay Taylor dies at 87", The Alexandria Town Talk and The Monroe News-Star, May 16, 2011.
- Dr. F. Jay Taylor. The Shreveport Times, May 17, 2011. Retrieved on May 17, 2011.
- La. Tech president to address Lions," Minden Press-Herald, January 21, 1981, p. 1.
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- The Ruston Daily Leader, October 11, 1933, p. 20.
- Membership of the Louisiana House of Representatives, 1812-2020 (Lincoln Parish). Louisiana House of Representatives (May 21, 2019). Retrieved on October 8, 2019.
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- Bill Campbell (August 2, 2009). Region's dean of journalism leaves editor's mark on generations. The Monroe News-Star. Retrieved on August 27, 2009; no longer on-line.
- Jim Rapier (June 24, 2009). Sonja Hogg built the Louisiana Tech women's basketball program into a powerhouse. The New Orleans Times-Picayune. Retrieved on December 17, 2009.
- F. Jay Taylor – Past Recipients. latech.edu. Retrieved on December 17, 2009; no longer on-line.
- Endowed Eminent Scholar Chairs and Endowed Professorships. latechalumni.org. Retrieved on December 17, 2009.
- F. Jay Taylor Sports Forum. latechbbb.com. Retrieved on December 17, 2009.
- George T. Walker. The Monroe News Star. Retrieved on December 31, 2019.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones. Findagrave.com. Retrieved on December 31, 2019.
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- John D. Winters, The Civil War in Louisiana, (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press 1963), ISBN 0-8071-0834-0, p. xi.
- Ruston, Louisiana Political Contributions by Individuals. city-data.com. Retrieved on December31, 2019.
- First Guaranty Bank Board of Directors. bnet.com. Retrieved on December 17, 2009; no longer on-line.
- Who's Who in America, 1972–1973, p. 3131.
- June 2007 Master Instructors: Terry Jay Taylor. nafinet.org. Retrieved on June 9, 2011; no longer on-line.
- Who's Who in America, 1982–1983, p. 3266.
- Who's Who in America, 1988–1989, Vol. 2, p. 3056.
- Cottingham, Claybrook C.. A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography by Louisiana Historical Association. Retrieved on October 9, 2019.
- Minden Press-Herald, January 23, 1981, p. 1.
- "Taylor retiring from La. Tech," Minden Press-Herald, June 7, 1987, p. 1.