Wagner, Paul Alexander
- Existence: 1917 -
After the 25-year tenure of the Hamilton Holt administration, Paul Wagner was named the ninth Rollins president in 1949. A young, dynamic individual, described by Collier’s magazine as a “Boy Wonder,” Wagner was a former executive at Bell & Howell Corporation and an innovator in audio-visual education. With a strong belief that the emerging instructional technologies would enable more efficient learning, Wagner determined to make Rollins a national model in audio-visual education. However, his approach was resisted by many faculty and students, who saw it as impersonal and as a departure from Holt’s legacy of individualized education at Rollins. More significantly, with his background in business, Wagner tended to view the College as an enterprise rather than a community of learners. After he became president, Wagner eliminated the costly football program, a very unpopular move on campus. When Rollins was projected to run into a serious deficit, Wagner, with the support of the Board of Trustees, terminated a group of nineteen professors and nine adjunct instructors in March 1951. The massive dismissals threw the campus into turmoil, with students and faculty holding various meetings, marches and demonstrations demanding the resignation of President Wagner. The affair was widely reported in both local and national media and in May 1951, Wagner’s presidency came to a stormy conclusion when the Board of Trustees dismissed him and named Hugh F. McKean the tenth president of Rollins College.