Wiley College
Historically Black College



Mathew W. Dogan, President of Wiley University

For the last quarter of a century Mathew W. Dogan, President of Wiley University, has been a conspicuous figure in Negro education, and in the work of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He has kept up a close relationship with all educational movements, both in the church and in the secular world, has been instrumental in bringing men and women together from many various organizations, and has, to keep himself fresh in school matters, slipped away to attend summer schools whenever he could spare the time.

Dr. Dogan was born in Pontotoc, Mississippi, December 21st., 1863 His early years were spent in want, so much so that any sort of education seemed for a long time absolutely beyond his reach. Such meagre educational advantages as his home town offered he embraced, when he could spare the time from the task of earning his bread. During those days of hardship he worked at whatever task he could find. For a time he was a boot-black in his father's shop. The few pennies he gathered here were put to a very practical use, not squandered as spending change. He had heard of Rust University ,at Holly Springs, and was determined to complete a course there. Thus the boot black money was used to pay his way in this school.

He was not of those to be satisfied with a little education, however. He wanted a college, as well as preparatory course. Thus the finishing of the one only gave thirst for the other. To stem the tide of want he at one time engaged in the grocery business. But the gods of merchandise would not yield him the coveted crown of wealth and prosperity, may be they knew he was marked for another career. When all seemed fair to succeed the flames came and swept all away, his dreams of wealth as well as his world's goods. With all his struggling and economy he was not able to stem the tide of circumstances in college. And so for two years he bade his alma mater adieu. In the interim he turned his undertakings to school teaching, at which he so well succeeded that he was able to return to college and complete his course with out further interruption.

Clearly the President of Wiley was no mean pupil ; for in spite of money worry, in spite of interruptions, he was graduated in the class of 1886, from the full college course and what is more to the point, at the head of his class. Was he better or worse for the hardships, for the interruptions, for the concern over the money to defray his expenses?

It is one thing to win distinction as a scholar; it is quite another thing to win a place as a man worthy to conduct classes and to take a hand in the management of a college. Dr. Dogan had won both of these distinctions in graduating from Rust University. In the fall term following his graduation from Rust he was elected to a place on the Rust University faculty, a place which he held for the next five years. In 1891, he was elected as a teacher of mathematics in the Central Tennessee College, at Nashville. This institution is now Walden. Five years later he was chosen President of Wiley University, the position which he still holds.

Under Dr. Dogan's Administration many changes for the better have taken place in Wiley University. While this is, of course a church school, and while it is true that church leaders and classical scholars are expected to come out of this and other schools of a like character, yet Wiley, like many other institutions, has so shaped its courses under Dr. Dogan's presidency that it can meet the demands of modern times, as well as supply courses for those who wish to pursue the more formal stu dies for church and school. It has added science, and those industrial phases which fit students for a practical and immediately useful life. It has put new life into its whole student body by lending all possible encouragement to the various kinds of athletics and sports ; teaching that these features are also very essential elements in modern life. For all these more modern phases of adaption, Wiley is very largely indebted to her President, Dr. Dogan.

As -a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Dr. Dogan is almost as active as he is in the school. He belongs to the General and is a member of the Board of Education of his church. This post he has held for twelve years. In secret orders he is a member of the Knights of Pythias. He has been President of the Texas State Teachers' Association, and President of the National Association for Teachers in Colored Schools. He is still active in both of these bodies, being on the Executive committee of the latter and a frequent attendant at the meetings of the former. He has traveled very extensively, having been into most of the States of the Union, on pleasure and on educational tours.

Dr. Dogan was married to Miss Fannie F. Falkner, of Memphis, Tenn.. in 1888. Dr. and Mrs. Dogan have five children four girls and one boy. The oldest daughter attended Oberlin. but had to drop out in her Junior year because of poor health. The second daughter finished college at Wiley this year. The other children are in the preparatory course, at Wiley.

With all his handicaps at the outset, Dr. Dogan has managed to accumulate a goodly share of the world's goods. He now pays taxes on $7,000 worth of property.

Of all the States of the South and Southwest, Texas has the fairest record in good schools and high educational standards for the Negro. Galveston. Houston, Dallas, Beaumont, and many other of the big cities of the State boast of the High Schools ; schools with the best equipment and the ablest teachers that can be found. Flanking these all about the State are the colleges and normal schools. The colleges are for the most part fostered by denominational boards. The oldest of these, oldest not only of Texas, but west of the Mississippi, is Wiley University.

Wiley was founded by the Freedmen's Aid Society, of the Methodist Church, in the year 1872. It received its charter nine years later, in 1882. As has been stated it is the oldest institution of college grade open to Negroes west of the Mississippi River. From its beginning it has carried a good record for scholarship, sound business prin ciples and clean religious teachings. During its history of nearly fifty years it has graduated more than five hundred students and has taught and influenced and directed the lives of thousands of undergraduates. Some years ago the question as to the standing and the rating of various Negro colleges was widely discussed. Many of the so-called colleges received the black eye. Not so with Wiley University. Many experts from the North gave it a high rating, and four state boards of education, among which is Texas, placed her on the roll of first class colleges.

While the institution was begun as a University, yet it lias so adjusted its courses to the needs of the people and the times that a student may receive a complete course for almost any career he wishes to follow. Due to the early needs of the people, Wiley opened, and continues to maintain, a grammar school department and a college prep aratory department. Thus one can enter at the bottom of the intellectual ladder, and ascend all the way through his college course.

In the college department are a classical course, a course in Education, in Music and in Commerce. Along with these Wiley maintains an industrial course for girls. This course covers the various forms of housekeeping, needle work, and many of the handicrafts. These are all furnished by the King Industrial Home, which is just across the street from the University, and is under the direction of the Woman's Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

As her course has grown to meet the demands of the times so have her buildings. Wiley University Plant consists of a Main Building, of the President's Home, a Carnegie Library, two Recitation Malls, a Science Hall, a Laundry, Coe Hall, which is a dormitory, and four cottages, which are frame structures. It carries a full nine months session, has recitation periods of fifty minutes, and maintains all the clubs, athletic teams, and debating activities common to the college of the first rank. Three new buildings are to grace her campus next year.

Having a faculty of moderate size, Wiley numbers among her teachers men and women from many of the leading institutions of the country. Its staff numbers twenty-four teachers. It has an income of $56,932 dollars. This sum comes largely from the Freedmen's Aid Society, which, in addition to paying salaries and providing money for current expenses, keeps a field Secretary on the road looking after the interest of Wiley, and other institutions under its charge. Deserving young men and women, who demonstrate that they are really in earnest, and who are willing to work seldom, if ever, have to leave school on account of lack of funds. Employment about the campus, in the dormitories, in the dining room, and in the office of the school, as well as work in the town provide ways for industrious students to earn a good deal of their expenses through school.

The President of Wiley University is Dr. M. W. Dogan. D. D., who is a graduate of Walden University in Nashville, Tenn., and a former Professor in that institution. Dr. Dogan is responsible for many of the changes in the University during the twenty-two years he has been at the head. Of these the adjustment of courses and the increase of buildings and courses have been the most important Some time ago several experts in school matters visited Wiley and examined her work. Here is their verdict : "W'iley is an example of the best work done by the Methodist Episcopal Church for the Negro." Mr. W. T. B. Williams. Agent for the Jeanes and Slater Funds, said : "Wiley is one of the three schools of the Freedmen's Aid Society that should do full college work." Of like character was the testimony of President Holgate, of North Western University, and of President Plantz, of Lawrence College.

Sketch from The National cyclopedia of the colored race; (1919-)
Author: Richardson, Clement, b. 1878