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University of Maryland Archives,
1952 Terrapin

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 Studies program.

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.

  • Thomas B. Symons, Acting President, 1954

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