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The Dr. Ralph Arthur Collection: Home

One of our special collections, this one comes from the life works, sermons, and mementos of Dr. Ralph Arthur.
Profile Photo
Rachel Walton
She / Her / They / Them
150 Wiley Dr,
Ferrum, VA 24088


He was a graduate of the University of Richmond and Duke University Divinity School. He was later awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from the University of Richmond. His ministry with the United Methodist Church began in with the Mount Pleasant Charge in the Charlottesville District. He also served Benns Methodist Church in the Portsmouth District and the Virginia Conference’s Town & Country Commission. He organized the Virginia Conference Credit Union, its Association of Educational Institutions, and its Methodist Rural Fellowship.

In 1954, Ferrum Junior College and many traditional colleges faced uncertain times. Dr. Arthur was assigned to make a study of Ferrum and evaluate the role of the College in the region. After convincing the Conference of Ferrum’s value, his top priorities were property improvements and bringing stature to the academic program. Dr. Arthur’s 16 years as president led Ferrum College through an unprecedented period of growth and recognition.

With federal loans and private donations, the physical plant tripled with the addition of Franklin Hall, Stanley Library, Vaughn Memorial Chapel, Swartz Gymnasium, Garber Hall, Riddick Hall, Susannah Wesley Hall, Chapman Hall, Bassett Hall, Adams Stadium and fieldhouse, faculty and staff housing, and Adams Lake. He added water and sewer to campus, renovated John Wesley Hall and Roberts Hall, and remodeled the President’s Home. He instituted faculty tenure and the Iron Blade student newspaper. The changes at the school led to unprecedented growth in the student population; from only 238 students in 1958 to 646 in 1962. By the 50th Anniversary celebrated in the 1963-1964 academic year, the school had 799 students and fifty full-time faculty. Another shift was the rise in collegiate athletics, exemplified by the long career of Hank Norton, who began coaching in 1960 and continued his association with the college for over three decades.

Dr. Arthur died in office on October 13, 1970, and was buried at the base of the Bell Tower of the college’s new chapel. By the end of his presidency, the college was the largest junior college in Virginia, and the largest United Methodist-related junior college in the nation.