Bennette Eugene Geer
Geer was born June 9, 1873, in Anderson County, South Carolina, and was the son of Solomon Mattison Geer and Mary Malvenia Elizabeth Holmes. While attending Furman University he was initiated into Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity on November 18, 1892. He graduated in 1896 with a Bachelor of Arts degree.
He was a professor of English at Furman University by 1904, and was married to Rena McGee Rice Geer, with residence in Greenville, South Carolina. (Nash, Howard P., Virgin, Edward H., Levere, William Collin, "The Sixth General Catalogue of Sigma Alpha Epsilon", 1904, Evanston, Illinois, page 350.) They had seven children, six of whom lived to adulthood. (http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=AHN&db=geer_family_tree&id=I394013)
From the Furman University Special Collections and Archives biography by Charlie Murphy
Charles Manly. With some financial aid from his brother John M. Geer, and housing provided by Manly, Geer worked his way through Furman. He earned a Bachelor of Arts from Furman in 1896. Shortly after his graduation, Geer became a Furman faculty member. While on the faculty he was an assistant professor of Latin as well as the head of the English Department. Throughout this time he was mentored by Charles Judson1911. (Glenn, Laurence. Bennette Eugene Geer : A Biographical Sketch. Greenville: Privately Printed, 1956, 15-16. Special Collections and University Archives, James B. Duke Library, Furman University.)
Although heavily involved with the textile industry, Geer never forgot about his alma mater and former employer. Since 1914, Geer had served as treasurer on the Furman University board. During this time he helped expand the downtown Greenville campus, and was successful in securing a $175,000 grant from the General Education Board of the South Carolina Baptist Convention. (Daniel, Robert. Furman University, A History. Greenville: Furman University, 1951, 146-147.) While William J. McGlothlin was president of Furman, the University began to receive Duke Endowment funds. This was during the Great Depression, and the funds helped Furman survive. In the midst of relative economic turmoil in May of 1933, the University was stunned when President McGlothlin died in a car accident.
It was then up to the Board of Directors to find a suitable replacement for William McGlothlin. Many board members thought that Geer would be a good replacement due to his experience in business and the fact that he brought the Duke Endowment to Furman. However, some thought Geer had never truly been tested in business, and were opposed to the fact that Geer did not support coordination attempts being undertaken between the [] and Furman University. (Reid, Alfred. Furman University : Toward a New Identity, 1925-1975. Durham: Duke University Press, 1976, 63.) Despite the critics, Geer became the new president in July of 1933. His inauguration took place on homecoming and marked the first time that women and men from the []
Upon entering office, Geer was immediately forced by the board to cut salaries and raise tuition. To make matters more complicated, the [][]-1975. Durham: Duke University Press, 1976, 66-1938. (Bainbridge, Judith. Academy and College : The History of The Woman's College of Furman University . Macon: Mercer University Press, 2001, 216-218.)
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