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Thomas Dyer Inspires Books on History

While fulfilling requirements for their doctoral degrees, Jan Wheeler and Lloyd Winstead sat in an IHE classroom and listened to Professor Thomas G. Dyer lecture on the history of higher education. Dyer’s history class had earned the reputation as being the most challenging class in the curriculum at the time, and they had no reason to believe otherwise. One requirement for the class was a 20-page research paper, and Jan was intimidated. “I had never written a paper longer than eight pages!” Student papers written throughout his course received thorough feedback from Dr. Dyer, so Wheeler and Winstead were delighted when he saw potential for their papers.

“I think this could be your dissertation,” was Tom’s comment to both students. Serving as their MP, he encouraged them to expand their papers and guided their research. “I found it exciting and challenging to work with Tom. He encourages you to look at things from a different perspective,” said Jan in a recent interview. She was working in the UGA Admissions Office at the time, so a paper on what was happening in admissions during the years of desegregation seemed appropriate. Lloyd Winstead’s background in music and interest in history influenced his topic of singing traditions in the early days of the American college. “Tom helped me broaden my scope for the dissertation by asking the question, ‘how can you explain what is going on in the larger world at the time?’”

The journey from research paper to dissertation to published book was an interesting experience for Wheeler and Winstead. Both dug up buried treasures while doing their research. Lloyd found an obscure piece of UGA musical history on eBay and bought it for $12.50. The song, titled “Red and Black March,” was composed in 1908 by R. E. Haughey, who directed the university’s first band from 1905 to 1909. The only known reference to the piece is in a history of the Redcoat Band written in 1962, which briefly mentions the march as “Georgia’s first original school song” and notes that “all copies of the work have been lost.” As a former Redcoat Band member, the piece held special significance for Lloyd who donated the music to the UGA Special Collections Libraries. Jan, on the other hand, uncovered a treasure trove of documents that had been stored in an underground facility in up-state New York for over 40 years. The documents were written by Ben Cameron and Ben Gibson, who were employed in the southern regional office of the New York-based College Board and administered the SAT across the South during the 1960s.

On their graduation from the IHE, Tom Dyer commented, “I hope you know that you are not finished.” J. Lloyd Winstead (EdD, 2005) and Jan Bates Wheeler (EdD, 2007) revised their dissertations and completed the assignment set by their professor and mentor with the recent publication of their books. Winstead’s When Colleges Sang (Univ. of Alabama Press) is an illustrated history of the rich culture of college singing from the earliest days of the American republic to the present. In the beginning, singing indoctrinated students into college life and still has a large impact on student life today. Wheeler’s A Campaign of Quiet Persuasion: How the College Board Desegregated SAT® Test Centers in the Deep South, 1960-1965 (Louisiana State University Press) tells how two men who worked for the College Board assisted desegregation efforts in the South, accepting the personal danger from racist school officials and also protecting the officials who cooperated with their efforts.

Finding a publisher was a daunting task, and again Tom Dyer interceded to help locate the right press. Jan summed up what Tom Dyer’s mentorship meant to them: “Tom really cares about the subject of history and commits years to his students and their research.” The journey from that first history class to publication spanned many years, but with the guidance and encouragement of Professor Thomas Dyer, it is now complete.

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