Circle and Society Namesakes: Men and Women Who Made A Difference
General James Edward Oglethorpe, for whom the University was named, was the founder of the colony of Georgia. His military experience and philanthropic and humanitarian interests served him well as the first governor of the new colony.
William Randolph Hearst made a gift of $5,000 for the founding of Oglethorpe (Atlanta) during Thornwell Jacobs’s original campaign in 1913. A few years later, Jacobs met with Hearst in California to ask for help in securing the property next to campus. Hearst gave the funds to purchase the 600 acres surrounding and including Silver Lake. In 1948, Hearst gave the University an additional $100,000 and, subsequently, President Philip Weltner named the administration building in honor of Hearst’s mother, Phoebe Apperson Hearst.
Thornwell Jacobs, president of Oglethorpe University from 1915 to 1943, fulfilled a boyhood dream by restoring the old college to Atlanta. Trained as a pastor and holding an honorary doctorate degree from Princeton University, Jacobs brought national and international attention to the reestablished University through several of his projects and interests.
Philip Weltner served as president of Oglethorpe University from 1944 to 1953. A native of New York, he moved to Augusta with his parents, attended the University of Georgia and received a law degree from Columbia University. Weltner accepted the position at Oglethorpe with the conviction to return the University to operations after the strains of World War II. He also secured accreditation for the University and began the Core Curriculum idea, which has remained an enduring part of the University curriculum.
John Thomas Lupton, owner of the Southern franchise of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company, became one of the most munificent donors to the campus. He first met Thornwell Jacobs at the First Presbyterian Church of Chattanooga during a fund-raising campaign to re- found Oglethorpe University. Lupton was so impressed with Jacobs and his passion to start an institution of higher learning that he wrote a check for $10,000 for the cause. In 1919, he followed this with another gift of $50,000 to start a second building on campus. Lupton Hall was completed in three parts with each portion of the building named for a member of Lupton’s family. Lupton and Jacobs remained close friends until Lupton’s death in 1933.
Oglethorpe’s most distinguished alumnus of the antebellum era, Sidney Lanier enrolled at Oglethorpe in January 1857 at the age of fourteen and graduated in 1860. A famous poet (Georgia’s poet laureate), musician and critic, he remained at Oglethorpe as a tutor in 1861 until he and other Oglethorpe cadets marched away to war. Shortly before his death, Lanier remarked to a friend that his “greatest intellectual impulse” was during his college days at Oglethorpe University.