The very first in a long and proud line of Proffitts to attend Maryville College, Fred Proffitt ’07 enrolled at the Preparatory Department in 1898, probably never dreaming that he would devote most of his life to Maryville College’s growth and success.
He majored in Latin and graduated in 1907. A year later, he was hired as Professor of Education and taught math and physics, in addition to proctoring Carnegie Hall. In 1911, he was named Principal of the Preparatory Department, a position he kept until 1914, when he was named Treasurer.
Like his brother. D.W., who would go on to build a successful department store, Fred was an astute businessman, directing investment programs for the College, assisting with fundraising campaigns and specializing in annuity gifts.
From his office on the first floor of Anderson, he guided the College through the fiscal crises brought on by World War I and the Great Depression. Because the College operated the Bank of Maryville during Fred’s tenure, he was very much a public face of the College. He was a great appraiser of property, and worked closely with members of the community on loans for farms and land, and he was known to offer good advice for business enterprises.
Although not a lawyer, he represented the College in litigation, executed wills and spoke on the College’s behalf to governmental bodies.
He helped the College operate in the black, which, in lean times, was nothing short of miraculous. Fifth president Dr. Ralph W. Lloyd once said that Fred “carried sufficient work to tax the strength and capacity of two men.”
His loyalty to Maryville College was evident in more than documents and figures. In their book, By Faith Endowed, Dr. Carolyn Blair and Dr. Arda Walker wrote that Fred Proffitt often was called out at night when problems arose. While assisting firemen trying to put out a fire in the Pearsons Hall kitchen in 1927, he permanently injured his arm when he fell and chipped a bone in his elbow.
Fred Proffitt died prematurely in 1943 at the age of 61. Among his legacies were three daughters – Grace Proffitt McArthur ‘35, Ruth Proffitt MacCalmont ‘37 and Louise Proffitt Haviland ’40 – who, as students and alumnae, embodied the Maryville spirit as much as did their father.