William Everett Derryberry papers
The collection documents William Everett Derryberry’s term as President of Tennessee Tech University and his personal and professional life outside of the university. Materials include correspondence, photographs, subject files, clippings, speeches, and notes. See also: RG 9 - Records of the President
- Creation: 1912 - 1987
- Creation: Majority of material found within 1940 - 1974
Permission to access architectural drawings or floor plans of existing Tennessee Tech University facilities and utilities will be determined by the Archivist.
Biographical / Historical
William Everett Derryberry (1906-1991) served as the President of Tennessee Technological University from 1940 to 1974. He managed the university through disruption during World War II, growth in enrollment after the war, physical expansion of the campus, integration and student movements during the 1960s and 1970s, and the university’s name change from Tennessee Polytechnic Institute in 1965.
Derryberry was born in Columbia, Tennessee, to Bonnie McDonald Derryberry (1883-1959) and Felix O. Derryberry (1881-1934). He graduated from Central High School in 1924. He attended the University of Tennessee from 1924 to 1928, where he played football and tennis and was a member of Sigma Chi. He completed his Bachelor’s degree in 1928. He attended St. John’s College of the University of Oxford from 1928-1932 as a Rhodes Scholar, with a one-year break during the 1929-1930 academic year to study voice at the Nashville Conservatory of Music. He was captain of the Oxford tennis team, played lacrosse, and performed with the Oxford University Opera. He earned a B.A. from the University of Oxford in Language and Literature in 1932 and completed the requirements for a M.A. in 1933. He worked as an English professor and football coach at Burritt College in Spencer, Tennessee, from 1932 to 1933. He married Gertrude Joan Pitt-Rew on August 5, 1933. He accepted the position of Head of the English Department at the University of Tennessee Junior College at Martin in 1933. He served as coach of the football team from 1934 to 1936. Derryberry accepted the position of Head of the Department of Language and Literature at Murray State Teachers College in Murray, Kentucky, and moved in September 1938.
The Tennessee State Board of Education elected Derryberry as President of Tennessee Polytechnic Institute in November 1940. He formally earned a M.A. in Oxon in English Language and Literature from the University of Oxford in December 1940. Derryberry and his family moved to Cookeville in late December and he began serving as President. During World War II, he served as the Regional Director of the United Service Organizations (USO) and National War Fund.
Beyond Tennessee Tech, Derryberry served as Chairman of the Tennessee College Association Legislative Committee from 1943 to 1945. He was President of the Tennessee College Association from 1945 to 1946 and President of the University of Tennessee Alumni Association from 1946 to 1947. He also served as Chairman of the Tennessee Water Safety Congress, Chairman of the Presidents’ Council of Tennessee State Colleges and Universities, on the Tennessee Rhodes Scholarship Selection Committee, and on the Board of Directors of the Citizens Bank of Cookeville. He served on visiting committees for the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Self-Studies in the 1960s and 1970s. He led the congregation of Collegeside Church of Christ in singing. He was active in the Tennessee Democratic Party.
Derryberry earned a honorary Doctorate of Literature from University of Chattanooga in 1965 and a honorary Doctor of Laws in English from Pepperdine College in 1967.
From 1973 to 1974, Derryberry oversaw the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools reaccreditation self-study for Tennessee Tech. Derryberry retired on September 1, 1974. He was inducted into the Ohio Valley Conference Hall of Fame in 1977. He served as an officer of Tennessee Technological University Dormitory Corporation in the late 1970s and 1980s and on the Board of Directors for the General Telephone Company of the Southeast in the 1970s.
Derryberry had two children: Walter Everett Derryberry (1935- ) and June Elisabeth Derryberry Walker (1937- ).
63.5 Cubic Feet (95 boxes)
Language of Materials
The collection documents William Everett Derryberry’s term as President of Tennessee Tech University (1940-1974) and his personal and professional life outside of the university. He managed the university through disruption during World War II, growth in enrollment after the war, physical expansion of the campus, integration and student movements during the 1960s and 1970s, and the university’s name change from Tennessee Polytechnic Institute in 1965.
The collection is arranged into six series: Personal Materials, Administrative Files, Campus and Buildings, Service, Photographs, and Audiovisual. Within each series, materials are arranged in alphabetical order and then chronological order by creation date.
The materials were transferred by Linda Keeton to the Archives, with accruals from Henry Shelby (1992), Walter Derryberry (1997), and interviewer Margot Emery (1992).
As of July 2020, the collection has been processed at least three different times. Unannotated handbooks, annual reports, prospectus, pamphlets, and clippings of other colleges were discarded. Reports on higher education published by the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare; reports and bulletins of higher education associations; and unannotated copies of non-rare serials and monographs were also removed. Unannotated publications by Tennessee Tech University and Tech student organizations were separated to be processed as a separate collection. SACS visiting committee member biographical sheets that contained social security numbers and other personally identifiable information were removed and shredded. Asbestos tile samples were removed from Chemistry Building Construction files due to health hazards.
- William Everett Derryberry papers
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