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Frank E. Vandiver

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Frank E. Vandiver
President of Texas A&M University
In office
September 1, 1981 – August 31, 1988
Preceded byCharles H. Samson Jr.
Succeeded byWilliam H. Mobley
President of North Texas State University
In office
Preceded byCalvin Cleave "Jitter" Nolen
Succeeded byHoward Wellington Smith Jr.
Acting President of Rice University
In office
Preceded byKenneth Pitzer
Succeeded byNorman Hackerman
Personal details
Born(1925-12-09)December 9, 1925
Austin, Texas, U.S.
DiedJanuary 7, 2005(2005-01-07) (aged 79)
College Station, Texas, U.S.
Carol Sue Smith
(m. 1952; died 1979)
Renee Aubry Carmody
(m. 1981)
EducationUniversity of Texas (MA)
Tulane University (PhD)
OccupationHistorian, educator
AwardsSeveral honorary degrees
Rockefeller Fellowship
Academic work
Sub-disciplineAmerican Civil War expert
InstitutionsWashington University
Louisiana State University
Rice University
North Texas State University
Texas A&M University

Frank Everson Vandiver (December 9, 1925 – January 7, 2005) was an American Civil War historian, the 19th president of Texas A&M University and the former president of the University of North Texas, as well as acting president of Rice University. Vandiver wrote, co-wrote, or edited 24 books, and published an additional 100 scholarly articles or reviews. One of his books was a runner-up for a National Book Award.

Early years


Vandiver was born on December 9, 1925, in Austin, Texas, to Harry Shultz and Maude Folmsbee (née Everson) Vandiver.[1] He attended the public schools but was eventually pulled out by his parents, in favor of private tutorship.[2] He joined the United States Army Air Forces during World War II and served as a historian.[3] Despite not having a high school diploma, following the war, Vandiver was admitted to a graduate program at the University of Texas in Austin to study humanities and American studies through passing examinations. He was awarded a Rockefeller Fellowship for his studies. Vandiver received his Master of Arts degree from the University of Texas in 1949 and was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Tulane University in 1951.[3] He would later receive a M.A. degree (by decree) from Oxford University in 1963.[1]



After graduation, Vandiver accepted a teaching position as Washington University in St. Louis, but left within a few years to teach at Rice University in Houston, becoming a full professor in 1958.[4] He taught during the summer sessions at Louisiana State University from 1953 to 1957.[1] Over the next two decades at Rice, Vandiver was promoted to department chair, master of Brown College, provost, and vice president,[3] serving as the acting president in 1969-1970.[4] In 1963-1964 he served as Harold Vyvyan Harmsworth Professor of American History at Oxford University. In 1969 during his tenure as acting president, Houston Independent School District awarded Vandiver his only missing degree - a high school diploma. In 1979 Vandiver left Rice to become the president of North Texas State University, now known as the University of North Texas.[3] He was the first chancellor of North Texas State University and the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine in addition to his duties as president.[5]

Texas A&M University


In 1981 Vandiver became president of Texas A&M University.[3] During his tenure, Vandiver was a driving force behind the adoption of a law creating space-grant colleges in the United States. Colleges given this designation would gain federal funds to research space-related technologies. Vandiver believed that Texas A&M was well-positioned to become one of the first of these institutions and remarked that such a designation would "elevate Texas A&M from being an excellent institution for space-related studies to being a great one".[6]

Vandiver resigned as president of A&M in 1988, citing a desire to spend more time on research and writing. Rather than leave the university, he established the Mosher Institute for Defense Studies, a national defense think tank,[4] in 1988.[7] The institute was closed in 1993.[8] He was also named a distinguished professor in the history department.[3]



Vandiver wrote, co-wrote or edited 24 books, most centered on the American Civil War. Almost half of his books were still in print at the time of his death, including his first book Ploughshares Into Swords: Josiah Gorgas and Confederate Ordnance (1952). His 1977 book Black Jack: The Life and Times of John J. Pershing, was a runner-up for a National Book Award.[3] He also published over 100 scholarly articles or reviews.[4]

Vandiver was awarded many honors for his work. Among these were honors from two Civil War Round Tables (Houston and Baton Rouge).[9][10] The Houston Civil War Round Table renamed their annual award of merit the Frank E. Vandiver Award in 1985.[10] Vandiver was also awarded a distinguished service award from the Houston chapter of the Texas Society, Sons of the American Revolution, and was named an honorary professor at the National University of Asunción in Paraguay.[11]

Personal life


The Houston Chronicle described Vandiver as "a colorful and articulate man with much personal charm".[4] He was married twice. His first wife Carol Sue Smith died in 1979.[3] Vandiver married Renee Aubry Carmody in 1981.[12] He had three children.

He received several honorary degrees during his life. He was awarded an HHD degree from Austin College in 1977. In 1989 and 1994 he was awarded an honorary DHL degree and BA degree from Lincoln College.

Vandiver died at his home in College Station, Texas, on January 7, 2005.[3]

Selected works

  • Ploughshares Into Swords: Josiah Gorgas and Confederate Ordnance (1952)
  • Rebel Brass: The Confederate Command System (1956)
  • Mighty Stonewall (1957)
  • Jubal's Raid: General Early's Famous Attack on Washington in 1864 (1960)
  • Their Tattered Flags: The Epic of the Confederacy (1970)
  • Black Jack: The Life and Times of John J. Pershing (1977) — runner up for National Book Award
  • Blood Brothers: A Short History of the Civil War (1992)
  • Shadows of Vietnam: Lyndon Johnson's Wars (1997)
  • 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About the Civil War (1999)
  • 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About World War II (2000)


  1. ^ a b c Vandiver, Frank E. (February 10, 2002). "Biographical Sketch: Dr. Frank E. Vandiver". Libraries I've Known (Carl Hertzog lecture series). 10. University of Texas at El Paso Library. pp. 13–14. Retrieved May 1, 2024.
  2. ^ Tate, Nicholas (April 10, 2012). "Vandiver, Frank Everson (1925–2005)". Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved May 1, 2024.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Saxon, Wolfgang (January 15, 2005). "Frank Vandiver, Historian Who Became University Chief, Dies at 79". The New York Times. Retrieved January 15, 2009.
  4. ^ a b c d e Stancill, Nancy (January 8, 1988). "Vandiver to stay at A&M, create think tank". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved January 15, 2009.
  5. ^ "UNT Presidents". University of North Texas. Retrieved May 1, 2024.
  6. ^ "Signing of law elates A&M leader", Houston Chronicle, November 4, 1987, retrieved January 15, 2009
  7. ^ Cox, Melinda (November 11, 1991). "Institute gives world-wide view". The Battalion. Retrieved May 1, 2024 – via Texas A&M University Libraries.
  8. ^ Bell, J. Maurice (August 2, 1993). "Closing Mosher Institute means Aggies lose opportunities" (PDF). The Battalion. Retrieved May 1, 2024 – via Texas A&M University Libraries.
  9. ^ "Personal mention". Houston Chronicle. February 24, 1985. Retrieved January 15, 2009.
  10. ^ a b "A&M Vandiver is honored by Civil War group". Houston Chronicle. May 5, 1985. Retrieved January 15, 2009.
  11. ^ "On campus". Houston Chronicle. February 28, 1988. Retrieved January 15, 2009.
  12. ^ "25 Years Ago; From the files of the Record-Chronicle, March 26-April 2, 1980". Denton Record-Chronicle. Archived from the original on July 17, 2011. Retrieved January 15, 2009.