John Brown Jr - Historical Resources - Archives Office
The Founding Family
John Brown Jr.
"It's a Boy!" screamed the headline of the Siloam Springs paper in August 1921. Indeed it was. John E. Brown Jr., the only son among six children, had been born and would one day run the operations of the university his father had founded.
Growing up as a lad, Brown was immersed in the activities of John Brown University and its sister institutions. He attended the Brown Military Academy near San Diego for high school and returned to study business at JBU. In 1941, his sophomore year, he married Caroline Trahin.
A year later, Brown was sent to the battle fields of World War II as a Naval Officer were he served in the Asian-Pacific Theater until 1946. Returning to JBU, he assumed the University's vice presidential position while continuing to remain active in the Naval Reserve.
At 26, Brown became the youngest college president in the United States and was featured in several major magazines. But Brown did not let his fame inhibit his goals for JBU to have a solid backdrop of sound financial management and academic excellence.
"I always say my dad started the college, I came along and sort of held it together, and my son John took it to new heights," said Brown.
Brown did far more than simply hold the school together. In the late 1940s, the University needed a great deal of work. During Brown's presidency, JBU improved greatly through a large amount of growth and building expansion. The astute businessman brought the University from a deficit of millions of dollars to an endowment that paid for almost half of the educational costs of each student.
Brown's presidential term also saw the Cathedral group's completion as the library (now engineering) building was completed in 1956, the Cathedral dedicated in 1957 and the science building opened in 1958. By the 1960s, the faculty had almost doubled in number, and their salaries had increased by almost 100 percent. In the same decade, J. Alvin Brown dormitory was rebuilt and enlarged; the first house in the Broadhurst Village married student housing was constructed; Mayfield Hall opened; and the Murray Sells physical education building was completed. Additionally, one of Brown's major objectives toward academic excellence was accomplished when JBU received accreditation from the North Central Association (now the Higher Learning Commission) in 1962.
Brown's accomplishments as president were not limited to improving campus buildings and academics. He had new athletic facilities built, including tennis courts and a soccer field, and in the late 1950s, introduced varsity sports. He also built a stronger relationship between the campus and the community by encouraging students to get involved in Siloam Springs and by holding several local offices himself, including Rotary Club president and Chamber of Commerce president.
Brown's scholarship earned him honorary doctorates of law degrees from Biola Bible College (1952) and from Texas Wesleyan College (1954). After he passed on the presidency to his son, John Brown III, in 1979, and officially retired from being the Chancellor in 1987, he received an honorary doctorate of higher education from JBU in 1993.