Robert Abram Venable
Robert Abram Venable made school history in 1891 as the first Mississippi College graduate to serve as the institution’s president. Born in Georgia in 1849, his family moved to Arkansas about 20 years later. Venable’s path to Mississippi College was literally quite a bumpy ride. In 1871, with only 75 cents in his pocket, the Baptist gentleman rode a mule from Camden, Arkansas to Clinton, Mississippi to enroll at Mississippi College. Five years later, R.A. Venable graduated No. 1 in his class on the Clinton campus in 1876. The following year, he married Fannie Webb, daughter of President Webb. After two years of teaching in Arkansas and Mississippi, Rev. Venable pastored Baptist churches in Helena, Arkansas and Memphis, Tennessee until his election as MC president in 1891. Dominating the early years of his administration was a proposal to move the college from its home in Clinton to a 30-acre site 90 miles away in Meridian. After initially winning Mississippi Baptist Convention approval in 1892, the plan was rejected one year later. Dr. Venable also taught Greek and made a year of Bible study an MC degree requirement in 1893. In 1895, Venable resigned to become pastor of First Baptist Church Meridian and later serve as president of Mississippi’s Clarke Memorial College. A two-year school, Clarke was part of MC until closing its doors in the early 1990s.