Irvine Sullivan Ingram was born 11 November 1892 in Whitfield County, Georgia, the oldest child of George Conley and Annie Lee Irvine Ingram. His father died when Ingram was a teenager, leaving him to help support his younger sisters. He became a school teacher and took college courses as time allowed. In 1919, he became school superintendent for Chipley, Georgia. In 1920, when J. H. Melson resigned as principal of the Fourth District Agricultural and Mechanical School in western Georgia, Ingram was selected to succeed him even though he had not yet earned a bachelor's degree.
It was at the Fourth District Agricultural and Mechanical School that he met his future wife, Martha Munro, a teacher and daughter of attorney George Munro, the chairman of the school's board of trustees. They married in 1921 and had one child, Anne, in 1924. Ingram earned an A.B. degree from the University of Georgia in 1928, and an A.M. degree from Emory in 1933. In 1952, he was awarded an honorary Ed.D. from Oglethorpe University. In 1955, Ingram's wife died of cancer. He never remarried, and spent much of his remaining life with his daughter. Ingram was instrumental in developing the concept of "extension" education and adult-education offerings along with a summer school program for local teachers to develop their skills. In 1933, the Board of Regents abolished the Fourth District Agricultural and Mechanical School and established a junior college in Carrollton, West Georgia College, appointing Ingram as its first president.
Among his achievements was obtaining a substantial grant of $250,000 from the Rosenwald Foundation used to expand the college's facilities and programs, including the Sanford building, originally used as a library. In the mid-1940s, West Georgia College began the College in the Country program, initially an adult or continuing education program that eventually involved student teachers from the college, and foreign exchange programs that brought national recognition to the college. In 1957, the Board of Regents granted four-year status to West Georgia College. Ingram was president of West Georgia College until his retirement on 1 July 1960. His successor, William H. Row, died unexpectedly during his first year in service so Ingram came out of retirement for six months in 1961 until a successor, James E. Boyd, came .
Ingram was active in the community for the next twenty years, writing a column for the Carrollton newspaper and serving in local civic groups. He also traveled around the world with his daughter, and wrote about his impressions and experiences for the newspaper and in other venues. Ingram died 27 December 1981 and is buried in the Carrollton City Cemetery.
James Emory Boyd was born on July 18, 1906 in Tignall, Georgia to Emory Fortson and Rosa Lee Wright Boyd. He graduated from the University of Georgia in 1927 with a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics, and the next year he received his masters' degree from Duke University. After two years as a physics instructor at the University of Georgia, Boyd was accepted into Yale University's physics program. In 1933, he completed his dissertation, entitled Scattering of X-Rays by Cold-Worked and by Annealed Beryllium, and graduated with his PhD in physics.
From 1933 to 1935, Boyd taught at West Georgia College and was appointed head of the Mathematics and Science Department. During his brief time in Carrollton, he married Elizabeth Reynolds Cobb (January 23, 1913 - January 10, 2000) on June 2, 1934. They had two children, Betty Cobb Boyd (b. August 26, 1939) and James Fortson Boyd (b. October 9, 1942). In 1935, Boyd accepted a teaching position at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, and he remained there until he joined the U. S. Naval Reserve in 1942. He earned the ranks of lieutenant and lieutenant commander for his service in the Radar Section of the Research and Development Division of the Bureau of Ordnance. He returned to Georgia Tech in 1946 and remained there until he was appointed president of West Georgia College in 1961. At Georgia Tech, Boyd was instrumental in the development of the school's nuclear program during the 1950s. He served as assistant, associate, and full director of the Engineering Experiment Station, as well as serving on assorted nuclear commissions and committees.
In 1961, Boyd was appointed President of West Georgia College, and his nine-year term was one of unprecedented growth for the school. From 1961 to 1970, fall enrollment increased from 1,100 to 5,500 students, and the number of possible programs of study grew as well. At the beginning of the decade, students could earn two degrees in five programs, and by 1970, the college offered seven degrees in forty-five programs. The rapid growth necessitated a building boom as well, with nine residence halls and five academic centers opened. As president, Boyd successfully led the college through several controversial issues that plagued universities of the 1960s, including integration and Vietnam protests. In 1970, Boyd was named the University System of Georgia's first vice chancellor for academic development. He held the post for only a few months before he was appointed interim president of Georgia Tech for the 1971-1972 school year. Boyd then retired to Carrollton, Georgia, and he died there on February 18, 1998. At the University of West Georgia, Boyd is remembered through an academic scholarship, the James Emory Boyd Award (given annually to the top geology student), and with the James E. Boyd Building that houses the mathematics and physics programs.
Dr. Maurice K. Townsend was inaugurated as the fifth president of West Georgia College in 1975. Prior to his presidency, he held the position of political science professor at Indiana State University. Throughout his tenure, Townsend was known for his rapport with faculty, students, and staff. He frequently attended student and faculty gatherings and invited students to his office to discuss their concerns. In 1980, he authorized the expansion of Ingram Library and donated 6,905 books from his personal collection to the library stacks. In addition, he instated the university’s football team in 1981, and he lobbied for and oversaw the opening of the performing arts center in 1989. Dr. Townsend served as president for 18 years until his death from cancer in 1993.