John Sephus McGhee
Sixth President (1897 - 1899)
In just two short years, the Third District Normal School's sixth president, John Sephus McGhee, made a lasting impression.
McGhee's ideas of summer school, student teaching and dormitory life have outlasted his presidency by more than a century.
McGhee came to the university in 1880 as a professor of mathematics. Later, he kept this position, but added vice president to his title. Upon the resignation of President Vandiver in 1897, McGhee was promoted to president. He served as president until 1899.
McGhee was a supporter of summer school, which he began in 1897. A total of 26 students were in attendance that first summer.
McGhee also implemented a practice school during his short time as president. This practice school was administered similarly to a public school, with university students teaching under supervision. These "pupil teachers" were responsible for the control and general management of the classes. Sophomores, juniors, and seniors were allowed to teach first through eighth grade in the practice school.
McGhee was one of the first presidents to support dormitory life. Although he was not in office long enough to see dorms built, he did purchase land for the university with hopes that it would be used for student housing. Until the dorms were built, most students were boarders, residing with local families.
Photo from Lueders' Collection. This information is excerpted from the article "Past and Present Presidents" appearing in The Southeast Missourian on April 4, 1999.