John Brown Sr

The Founding Family

JBU factoid

John Brown Sr.

John Brown Sr. or John Brown of Arkansas

A 17-year-old young man stooped over a rock with a sledge hammer, the pounding reverberating in his ears. From the time he was 11 years old, family circumstances had forced him to work, leaving his education behind.John Brown Sr.

One rainy spring evening, the youth stopped to eat at a Rogers, Ark. cafe with a group of his buddies known as the "Lime Kiln Gang." The persistent thumping of a drumbeat aroused the curiosity of the gang, who came out to jest at the lone, wet musician. But the young man was mesmerized by the sound and followed the drummer to a Salvation Army service.

It was there that John E. Brown Sr. committed his life to Christ. Soon, Brown was not only attending the services, but also preaching at them. The Salvation Army group moved on, but Brown continued to spread the gospel. He became nationally known as "Brother Brown" and fully devoted his time to evangelism as an eloquent and convincing preacher.

Amidst all of his successes, Brown never forgot his earlier years, and he desired to provide youth educational opportunities that he had been denied. He began to build on his dream of a school where financially disadvantaged young people could attend tuition free.

"I call them rich boys and girls, for while they haven't the money to educate themselves, they have what young people of ample means sometimes lack — the will and ambition to work and strive and look forward and climb," Brown once said.

John Brown Sr.

With that in mind, the evangelist, his wife Juanita and their family settled in Siloam Springs, Ark. in 1919 where Brown established the Southwestern Collegiate Institute on their property. A year later the name was changed to John E. Brown College and then later to John Brown University.

Years have passed since the day that those first 70 students and 10 professors walked through the doors of the college, laying a firm foundation for future students. Yet the founder's words still serve to inspire.

"The future has for each of us greater privilege, greater opportunity, greater responsibility and greater challenge," Brown said.

What Brown could not have known that rainy day in 1876 when he followed the beat of a drum is irrefutable now. He was destined to lay a foundation of education and faith for the brighter futures of thousands.



JBU factoid

John Brown Jr.

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.John Brown JR.

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.

John Brown JR.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.

JBU factoid

John Brown III

John Brown III

The third in a founding generation of great men, John Brown III was a natural choice for the third president of John Brown University. Growing up in Siloam Springs as the son of the then-president and the grandson of the founder, Brown was surrounded by JBU. John Brown III

In 1971, Brown graduated from JBU with a degree in business administration, and in 1974 received his J.D. from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

The same year, Brown began to work with development, administration and legal affairs for JBU. Two years later, he was elected vice president of the University and secretary for the Board of Trustees.

Brown assumed the presidency at John Brown University in 1979, also teaching criminology and business classes.

Like his father's term at the University, Brown's presidency was characterized by a period of growth, in which the enrollment grew more than 30 percent and $14 million of construction was completed. In 1979, a new wing was added to the Mayfield women's residence hall, and by 1980, the Learning Resource Center Complex was completed for student and faculty use. The $6 million Walton Lifetime Health Complex opened in 1988.

John Brown IIIUnder Brown's leadership, an entrance plaza was erected in 1982, a monument that prominently featured the Christian and American flags representing "the founder's dream of building a college where Christian truth and the ideals of responsible citizenship would serve as the foundation for educating the 'head, heart and hand.'"

The founder's grandson was also concerned about the community. His involvement in Siloam Springs and the surrounding areas included writing a column for the local newspaper, serving as of the Kiwanis Service Club and being president of the United Way board. Additionally, Brown was a member of the Arkansas Bar Association, the National Association of College and University Attorneys and the Christian Legal Society.

In 1993, Brown decided to go deeper into public affairs. He left the presidency at JBU and accepted a position as executive administrator for the newly-formed Windgate Foundation, which donated to marriage and family enrichment projects. By 1995, he began the first of two terms serving as state senator from the 34th district of Arkansas.

Brown continues to be actively connected to the institution that his grandfather founded, serving on the board of trustees and occasionally teaching political thought courses. He was awarded a doctorate of higher education by John Brown University in 1993.