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Dogan, Mathew W.(1863–1947) - College president, Chronology, Strengthens Wiley and Becomes Involved in Civic Affairs

university dogan’s national rust

Mathew W. Dogan was the president of Wiley College for forty six years. Wiley, a private, Methodist school, was the first black college west of the Mississippi River. Under his tenure, Wiley grew in size, enrollment, and stature with the addition of many new buildings and programs, including a library funded by the Carnegie Foundation. With Dogan’s great planning and care, Wiley became a respected institution of higher learning for African Americans.

Mathew Winifred Dogan was born on December 21, 1863 in Pontotoc, Mississippi, to William Dogan and Jennie Martin Dogan. Born and raised in poverty, Dogan took advantage of the few educational opportunities that were offered in his tiny town while working a variety of odd jobs to help out his family. Dogan saved the little money that he made shining shoes and boots in his father’s shop to attend a college preparatory program at Rust University in Holly Spring, Mississippi. After completing the program, he enrolled in the university’s undergraduate program, but due to financial hardship, Dogan left Rust for two years, making what turned out to be an ill-fated attempt at a career in the grocery business. Dogan also taught school, which enabled him to return to Rust and complete his studies. Dogan graduated with an A.B. degree at the top of his class in 1886. He was awarded an honorary Ph.D. from Rust College in 1904 and received a D.D. from New Orleans College in 1910. Dogan also received honorary doctorates from Walden College and Howard University. On July 21, 1888, Dogan married Fannie Forrest Falkner of Memphis, Tennessee. The couple had five children.



Born in Pontotoc, Mississippi on December 21


Receives A.B. from Rust University


Marries Fannie Forrest Falkner on July 21


Becomes president of Wiley College


Retires from Wiley College


Dies in Marshall, Texas on June 17

Sometime between 1889 and 1891, Dogan joined the faculty of Rust, leaving later to teach mathematics at Central Tennessee College (later Walden University) in Nashville. Dogan left Central Tennessee College in 1896 to become the seventh and longest seated president of Wiley University in Marshall, Texas. Wiley University, the oldest black college west of the Mississippi River, was founded by the Freedmen’s Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and in its first twenty years of existence was operated by white faculty and white administrators. Dogan was the school’s second black president. Wiley’s first black, Bishop Isaiah B. Scott, served as the school’s president from 1892 to 1896. Under both Scott’s and Dogan’s tenures, black faculty and administrators were recruited, and the school’s leadership and professors were soon predominately African American.

Strengthens Wiley and Becomes Involved in Civic Affairs

Between 1896 and 1906, six buildings were constructed on Wiley’s campus. The first under Dogan’s leadership was the central building, which was erected by the students. The students also made the bricks for the building on campus.

In 1929, Wiley University changed its name to Wiley College and dropped their high school and trade programs, focusing only on post-secondary education. Under Dogan’s guidance, Wiley expanded its campus and programs. It became one of the top black universities in the United States. Science, athletics, education, and music were some of the programs added to Wiley during Dogan’s tenure.

Dogan prospered financially. In 1915, he owned over $7,000 worth of property. Dogan shied away from politics, except for voting Republican, but he belonged to many civic and religious organizations. He served as president of the Standard Mutual Fire Insurance Company, the National Association of Teachers in Colored Schools at both state and national levels, as well as the Teachers State Association of Texas. He served as an executive board member of the National Association of Teachers in Colored Schools after his presidency of the organization. Dogan was a member of the following organizations: the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, the board of education of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the East Texas Colored Teachers Association, the local and national Negro Business League, the Inter-Racial Commission of Texas, Phi Beta Sigma, an advisory member of the State Charities Committee, and the Knights of Pythias. Dogan also served as a delegate to the Methodist Episcopal Church’s national conference in 1904, 1908, and 1912 and on four other occasions. He served several times as a delegate to meetings of the National Y.M.C.A. Council. Dogan also founded the Southern Athletic Conference, of which Wiley College was a member.

Dogan contributed to the 1927 book, The Negro and Methodism published by Eaton and Maines. Educator Warmoth T. Gibbs wrote Dogan’s life story, President Mathew W. Dogan of Wiley College: A Biography , which was published in 1930.

Dogan retired as president of Wiley University in 1942 and spent his remaining years in Marshall, Texas. On June 17, 1947, Mathew Winifred Dogan died in his home. Little was written on Dogan after his death, but most existing biographical accounts praise his work as Wiley president.

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