Dean of Women Frances Massey ’34 came to Maryville College in 1947 from high-school teaching positions in her native Alabama, but she was no newcomer to the campus. She had graduated from Maryville in 1934 – a biology major.
One might have surmised that she was a star pupil of diplomacy. In their book By Faith Endowed, Dr. Carolyn Blair and Dr. Arda Walker describe Dean Massey’s tenure as a “30-year tug-of-war.”
She assumed her role as post-war students began demanding more freedoms on campus. Then-president Dr. Ralph Lloyd relied on her patience and tact to find reasonable compromise between administrators and students. Considered the central authority of the women on campus, she oversaw the female residence halls, worked with the Women’s Student Government Association and coordinated social activities on campus. She also assisted in the planning of Copeland, Gamble and Davis Halls and was active on numerous student-faculty committees.
While working at Maryville, she earned a master’s degree in educational administration and completed coursework at Florida State, the University of Alabama and Jacksonville State Teachers College. In 1975, she was promoted to Associate Dean of Student Relations.
Everyone – female and male students, administrators, colleagues and parents – held her in high regard. She was open-minded, friendly, encouraging, practical and fair. Students frequently sought her out for advice. Her phone rang off the hook, and her office saw lots of foot traffic.
On the occasion of her retirement in 1977, a write-up in the Highland Echo includes this observation: “Massey’s system was one of experimentation; if a request or problem occurred, it was considered and tried, rather than discarded due to a lack of precedence. This willingness to employ new approaches to situations has been remembered by many.”
The write-up continues: “Perhaps the word in considering the atmosphere created by this woman is graciousness. Massey’s personality has shown through during her years at Maryville; she has handled the duties of her office with a poise and confidence which one rarely finds in an administrative position so susceptible to stagnation or antipathy.”
Miss Massey passed away in 2000. Art Bushing helped notify former students and friends of her death. From alumni, he received several messages that spoke to the former dean’s fairness, cordiality, graciousness and sincerity. They told Art that she would be sorely missed, but not forgotten.
Now recognized and celebrated as an Anderson Hall Legend, Maryville College hopes that Miss Massey and her contributions are honored for decades to come.