The former President’s House, located at 2460 Rivermont Avenue, provided many memories for Dr. Quillian over the course of his 26-year presidency. Throughout his tenure, Dr. Quillian hosted guests such as Pearl S. Buck, Elizabeth Taylor, and even U.S. President Gerald Ford. Beyond the famous who would come to the house, one of the traditions Quillian fondly recalled was the annual ice cream parties he and his wife, Margaret, would host for the college’s sophomores.

Under his leadership, the college was able to attract more donors to the college and increase financial support through its affiliation with the Methodist Church. Dr. Quillian oversaw multiple additions to the college, including the Bell Residence Hall, the Maier Art Museum (affiliated with the National Gallery), the Houston Chapel, athletics facilities, and the Leggett Building. Dr. Quillian also oversaw the establishment of the University of Reading study abroad program.   He also started the Asian Studies program and introduced the teaching of Russian, Japanese, and Chinese languages during his tenure.

            Dr. Quillian’s presidency was not without any controversy. Under his direction, the Board of Trustees eliminated the existence of sororities on campus. This was viewed as a necessary change within the administration due to their questionable reputation in the small college community. More significantly, in the 1950s and 1960s, as the Civil Rights movement was spreading throughout the United States, R-MWC had to confront the challenges of a changing world.  As examples, both local Lynchburg newspapers were critical of Dr. Quillian after the college hosted an African-American official from the national YWCA on campus, referring to this event as a “disturbance.” His reputation, at least among some, was tarnished further when he bailed out two students from jail after they participated in a sit-in at the Main Street Patterson’s Drug Store lunch counter in December of 1960. He even took supplies and course materials to the students when they were jailed for a brief time. Many subsequently saw Dr. Quillian to be progressive on the issue of equal rights for students on the basis of race, but he certainly did not make friends among everyone at the time – some R-MWC alumnae and board members were quite openly opposed to integration.

            Dr. Quillian remained involved in community affairs even after the conclusion of his time as President of Randolph-Macon Woman’s College. He was philanthropically involved with the Greater Lynchburg Community Trust, United Way, and the Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce. Though Lynchburg is very different than when Dr. Quillian was President of R-MWC, the city is a better place because of his forward-looking leadership. 

Interviewed 6/16/2010







Friends of Rivermont Inc. is the sole owner of this website and reserves the right to decide matters of content.

Contact Us

Gerard Sherayko

Department of History

Randolph College
2500 Rivermont Avenue
Lynchburg, VA 24503