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Chancellor Charles W. Flint Records

An inventory of his records at the Syracuse University Archives


Finding aid created by: Dane Flansburgh
Date: 2019



Biography

Charles Wesley Flint (1878-1964) was the fifth Chancellor of Syracuse University. He served as Chancellor for 14 years (1922-1936), and under his tenure the University weathered financial troubles and a Great Depression. Additionally, enrollments continued to grow, a School of Citizenship was established, and Hendricks Chapel was erected.

Portrait of Charles W. Flint

Flint was born in Stouffville, Ontario, Canada. He graduated from Victoria College, now University of Toronto, in 1900. After graduating, he served as a Methodist preacher and then bishop at churches in Iowa, Connecticut, Brooklyn, and Long Island, New York. While serving in these multiple capacities and locations, Flint earned a bachelor of divinity degree from Drew University in 1906 and a Master of Arts degree from Columbia University in 1908. In 1912 Flint earned a doctor of divinity degree from Wesleyan University. Three years later, Flint dove into higher education administration when he took the position of President of Cornell College. While there, he established himself as an administrator who demanded academic excellence and high moral standards. Considering this, in 1922 Syracuse University hired Flint as their fifth Chancellor.

When Flint took leadership of Syracuse University, it was facing somewhat of a dire situation. Under Flint's predecessor Chancellor James Day, the University had grown exponentially, but had taken in some considerable debt in the process. Flint argued that the debt was unsustainable, and at a Board of Trustees meeting in November of 1923, warned that the University was "hampered, handicapped, [and] cramped by debt." He proposed to raise endowments and find ways to be more efficient. Other than Hendricks Chapel, no new buildings were erected under his leadership. Flint took an active role in fundraising and was often away from the campus to raise money. His austere financial plan and fundraising ultimately worked, and in 1927 he reported to the Trustees that the University was out of debt. Despite his focus on cutting expenses, Flint was still able to raise faculty salaries and establish a retirement system (Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association, or TIAA) in order to attract and retain faculty members.

Most students were acutely aware of Flint's absence, and the Daily Orange once described him as "The Phantom Chancellor." Because Flint was rarely on campus, his Vice Chancellor, William P. Graham, handled most day-to-day operations. During Flint's tenure, Vice Chancellor Graham and other administrators worked to restrict enrollment of Black and Jewish students and to enforce segregated student housing.

Once finances were under control, Flint went about establishing a University with high academic standards. These more rigorous academic standards limited growing enrollments, but, according to Flint, improved the status of the University. Furthermore, students were expected to demonstrate good moral character. Flint was socially conservative, and disapproved of smoking, drinking, and students marrying. Students who were guilty of any of these offenses were often disciplined immediately and severely.

In 1936, Flint left Syracuse University to serve as the Methodist Bishop of Atlanta. In 1939, he returned to the city of Syracuse to serve as a bishop, and then left for Washington, D.C. in 1944 before he retired as a bishop in 1952.


Scope and Content Note

The Chancellor Charles W. Flint Records contain materials that document the activities of Flint and his administration. The collection is arranged into two series.

The Correspondence-subject files series comprises the bulk of the collection. Materials in this series include correspondence, newspaper clippings, telegrams, petitions, meeting minutes, invitations, and reports. The correspondence and subject files cover a wide variety of University-related issues and topics. These topics include admission policies, budgets, building and grounds, the founding of Maxwell School of Citizenship, the construction of Hendricks Chapel, the establishment of a faculty retirement account (TIAA), and student discipline issues. The majority of the correspondence was handled by Flint's Vice Chancellor, William P. Graham, since Flint was rarely in his office. The correspondence indicates that Flint was a hands-off administrator who delegated tasks and responsibilities to his staff to keep the University running. There is documentation in these records indicating that Vice Chancellor Graham and other administrators limited enrollment of Black and Jewish students and enforced segregated student housing.

One folder comprising of Flint's Baccalaureate addresses represents the Writings series.

Please note that colleges and schools are inverted in the inventory (for example: Fine Arts, College of).


Restrictions

Access Restrictions:

Please note that the collection is housed off-site, and advance notice is required to allow time to have the materials brought to the Reading Room on campus.

A file regarding blind and deaf students has been restricted in accordance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from the Syracuse University Archives and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.


Related Material

The University Archives originally held one collection for Chancellors Flint and Graham, his successor. In 2019, Graham's records were separated into Chancellor William P. Graham Records, and Graham's personal papers were separated into the William P. Graham Papers.

The Archives holds clipping files on Flint as well as portrait files. The Syracuse University Photograph Collection also features items related to Chancellor Flint.


Selected Search Terms

Names

Arents, George, 1875-1960.
Flint, Charles W., 1878-1964.
Graham, William P., 1871-1962.
Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945.
Hendricks Chapel (Syracuse University)
Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Center for the Study of Citizenship.
State University College of Forestry at Syracuse University.
Syracuse University -- History.
Syracuse University.

Subjects

College campuses.
College environment.
College sports.
College students.
College trustees.
Depressions -- 1929.
College administrators.
Higher education.

Types of Material

Academic addresses (documents)
Administrative reports.
Correspondence.
Minutes (administrative records)
Speeches (documents)

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Chancellor Charles W. Flint Records,
University Archives,
Special Collections Research Center
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

The materials included in the Chancellor Charles W. Flint Records were transferred and donated to the University Archives in a series of acquisitions up to 1992.

Processing Information

This collection was fully processed in 2019 by Dane Flansburgh. Materials were placed in acid-free folders and boxes. Photocopies were made of original newspaper clippings, which were then discarded. Oversize items were placed in oversize boxes.

Roughly eight linear feet of Chancellor Flint's records were previously stored with the William Galpin Papers. William Galpin was a History professor at Syracuse University who wrote on the history of the University. While writing Syracuse University, Volume III: The Critical Years, a history of Chancellor Flint and Graham's administration, Galpin was allowed to keep some of Flint's records. In 2019, these records were transferred back to Chancellor Flint's records.


Arrangement

The collection is arranged alphabetically. The Correspondence-subject series is arranged alphabetically by last name or subject, and further arranged chronologically within the folders.


Table of Contents

Correspondence-subject files

Writings


Inventory