Dr. Charles E. Scott



Dr. Charles E. Scott

Biographical Text

Born in the Missouri area of the Ozarks, Charles Edgar Scott was a descendant of Scottish immigrants who had migrated to New York in the nineteenth century, and from there moved to Elmo, Missouri, where Scott was born on January 15, 1889. He attended rural schools, and was faced with arbitrary and capricious teachers as well as pupils who were above the norm in age, but below the norm in "comportment." His philosophy of education began to take shape at an early age as he observed this less-than-satisfactory learning situation, and he quickly learned that students respected a teacher who tried to understand them and treated them with kindness.

Scott attended high school in the small town of Humansville, Missouri, and then taught at rural schools in the area. A desire for increased education and greater opportunities took him to Greeley, Colorado, where he received both the B.A. and M.A. degrees at the College of Education in that city. Scott then served as Superintendent of Schools in both Pueblo and Tinmath, Colorado.

Charles Scott and Hazel Morcom were married in 1912 and raised four children: two boys and two girls. President May offered Scott a position at Dickinson Normal School in 1922. Scott accepted the offer, and held the position for five years. He then went to Minot State Teachers College as Director of Teacher Training.

While in Minot, he attended summer schools at George Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville, Tennessee. It was during his tenure at Minot that he served as Acting President at that college after the death of President McFarland and before the appointment of President Swain. In 1939, Scott was offered the position of president at Dickinson State Normal School. President Pippin had resigned under fire in September,1938, and Erwin S. Hatch had served as acting president for ensuing year. The new Board of Higher Education had been formed, and its first action was the appointment of Scott. Dr. Scott received $3,000 for his first year as president, and remained in that position for 20 years, the longest tenure of any president at Dickinson State to date. The University of North Dakota, in 1959, when Scott retired at the age of 70, bestowed upon Scott the honorary degree of Doctor of Humanities.

Scott's arrival on campus inaugurated a period of peace making and morale building. He had kept in touch with friends he had made during his first period of employment on the campus. His early philosophy of kindness and efforts at understanding began the healing so necessary on the severely sundered campus. Scott dealt with severely constrained budgets, a lack of staff support, World War II, and the Korean conflict, all with the attendant problems of each. Each problem received his attention, and each problem was dealt with in a timely and effective manner—not always to everyone's satisfaction, but always with the best interests of the institution in mind. His even-handed treatment of students, faculty, and other state administrators, based on the beliefs he had developed in early life, and on his common sense, earned him affection and respect throughout the state.

Dr. Scott felt that the highlight of his administration was the gaining of accreditation by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary schools in 1947. The concern of this particular accrediting agency is the entire program of the institution, rather than only a part of its curriculum, such as the National Council of Accreditation of Teacher Education. North Central is the finest accreditation that can be had, as it means that credits from a college with this accreditation are acceptable at other colleges. Dr. Scott's pride in this endeavor was typical of his thoughtfulness for and about the college he served.

The organization of Dickinson State Teachers College Foundation in 1952 marked another significant aspect of Scott's administration. Since its inception, the Foundation has grown to a multi-million dollar establishment, and plays an important part in university planning and action.

After his retirement in 1959, Dr. Scott was employed on a part-time basis by the North Dakota Board of Higher Education. He, Ruby McKenzie (registrar at the University of North Dakota), and Dr. "Cam" Gillund (who was later to be president of Dickinson State), were the innovators of how to use the ACT (American College Testing) scores of North Dakota students as admission information when young people prepared for their sojourns in the state's colleges and universities. He also taught at Dickinson State whenever the need arose in the Education Department.

He died suddenly in 1968, only two days before the Homecoming ceremonies which were to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the college to which he had devoted such a large part of his life. Members of his family still reside in the area, and a granddaughter, Pat Riddle teaches in the Dickinson Public School system and lives in the former Scott home. A daughter, Virginia Benzie, lives in Taylor.

Charles Scott was a leader who led by example as well as by authority. He befriended faculty and students alike, and fostered an atmosphere of in formality which seemed ideal for the small college. He was the respected friend of Dickinson townspeople, the college faculty and staff, and the students at his beloved "College on the Hill." He never lost sight of those lessons learned so early—that respect for others is returned many times over.



“Dr. Charles E. Scott,” Dickinson State University Archive, accessed May 26, 2024, https://www.dsuarchive.com/items/show/31.