University of Maryland Archives,
Harry Clifton "Curley" Byrd (1889-1970) was president of the University
from 1935 to 1954.
A 1908 graduate of the Maryland Agricultural College with a B.S. in
engineering, Byrd began his 43-year career at the University of Maryland
with a temporary two-week stint coaching football in 1911. He taught English
and history, was athletic director, and served as an assistant to
Raymond Pearson before becoming president.
Under his tenure as president, the University of Maryland became one of
the largest universities in the country as a result of New Deal
construction projects, war-time training programs, and the post-war enrollment boom. Byrd's major
accomplishments included the development of an educational extension
program that became University College
and included a full academic program, partially funded by the Army and Air Force, for overseas military
personnel. Byrd also took a personal interest in developing an American
An accomplished athlete and former Terrapin football star player, Byrd
never lost interest in the game of
football. As president, he found the football team's success an effective
means of lobbying for dollars from state legislators. The athletic program
thus grew significantly under Byrd's guidance. Byrd used university funds
to build a new football
stadium, which opened in 1950 with a win over Navy. Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium now
stands as a reminder of his impact on athletics and the university.
In 1954, Byrd retired to run, unsuccessfully, for governor against Theodore McKeldin. He was honored posthumously in 1995 as an inductee to the University of Maryland Alumni
Hall of Fame.