Landon C. Garland 1875-1893
The first Chancellor, Landon C. Garland, was a Virginian and hugely proud of it. He earned a B.A. from Hampden-Sydney in 1829, taught at Washington College, then at Randolph-Macon. One of Garland's pupils in those days was Holland McTyeire. By the time young McTyeire graduated in 1847, Garland was president of Randolph-Macon, and it was he who handed McTyeire his diploma. Their paths would cross many more times.
Following the Civil War and after several years as president of the University of Alabama, Garland took a position at the University of Mississippi. It was here that McTyeire, now a Methodist bishop, sought out his former teacher and enlisted him in the campaign to build a Methodist university in Nashville. Garland, the most highly respected academic in Southern Methodism, wrote essay after essay in church publications on the need for an "educated ministry." With Garland onboard, the bishop now needed the money for that, he turned to Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt.
Garland, named early on as the first chancellor of Vanderbilt University, had some definite ideas about the rules that would govern the university's place in this world. Under Garland's plan, Vanderbilt would have four departments: Biblical; Literature, Science and Philosophy; Law; and Medical.
Though Bishop McTyeire usually was there looking over his shoulder, Chancellor Garland clearly set the mood of the campus. Steeped in Scottish moral philosophy, Garland believed that the development of character was the central purpose of a true university. He did his part to mold character each Wednesday when he preached sermons to the student body in chapel, and he was staunch in his opposition to dormitories, claiming they were "injurious to both morals and manners."
In the early days, the closest thing to campus radicals were the law students. In fact, the law students provided the first challenge to a chancellor over the concept of an open forum. Garland had invited John Sherman, brother of Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, to address the students in chapel. For the law students, it was more than they could bear to sit through a speech by the brother of the Yankee general who had burned a wide swath from Atlanta to the sea. The law students held a protest meeting, then marched single file out of the building, some playing Dixie on their harmonicas.
In 1889 Bishop McTyeire died. Two years later Garland tendered his resignation to the board of trustees, but they kept it in abeyance until 1893, when the board named as Chancellor James H. Kirkland.
In the end and to this day, McTyeire's and Garland's bones lie side by side in a grave on the Vanderbilt campus.