President Brown and the First Years of Mars Hill University
When the French Broad Baptist Institute, as the school was known then, opened its doors in the fall of 1856, the trustees choose William Albert Gallatin Brown as the first president. According to a biographical sketch written by his granddaughter, Drown was born in Blount County, Tennessee in 1830. Prior to accepting the position of president, Brown graduated from Mossy Creek Baptist College, Carson-Newman University today, in 1856.
Under Brown’s leadership, the institution opened in September 1856 with roughly 100 students enrolled from the surrounding counties. These students varied widely in age and educational background. Those first few years proved difficult as the institution lacked proper teaching materials including books. To better serve the schools beginner students, President Brown and his assistant, Professor P.W. Anderson, established a preparatory division with a curriculum that resembled most other academic institutions at the time.
Following a two-year period at the institution, President Brown resigned from office in winter of 1858 to become the editor of the Baptist Telescope, a Baptist newspaper printed in Hendersonville, North Carolina. His resignation forced the trustees to search for a new president to lead the young institution.