University of Kentucky

Hall of Distinguished Alumni

John James Tigert

Born in Nashville, Tenn., on February 11, 1882. University President. Author. University of Kentucky, Ll.D., 1921. Died, January 21, 1965.

He was Professor of philosophy and psychology at the University of Kentucky, 1911-17, and Professor of psychology, 1917-21. He served both as head of the philosophy department and as head coach at the University. For seven years, from 1921 to 1928, he was U.S. Commissioner of Education, resigning to become President of the University of Florida, (1928-47). From 1909-11, he has been President of Kentucky Wesleyan College at Winchester, and for two years preceding that appointment he was professor of philosophy and psychology at Central College, Fayette, Mo.

He was with the YMCA, American Expeditionary Force, Europe, for a year during World War I, and in mid-1919 served for four months as a member of the Army Educational Corps. He was an extension lecturer at the University of Beaune, Florence, Italy.

He was a member of the Executive Committee, Land Grant Colleges and Universities, and from 1936 until 1942 was a member of the Executive Committee, National Association of State Universities, serving as President, 1939-40. He was Chairman of the Joint Committee on Accrediting. Other advisory committees included the Committee on Inter-American Intellectual Cooperation, U.S. Department of State; Institute of Industrial Progress; Army Specialized Training Program (War Department); board of visitors, U.S. Military Academy, 1944, and was Director of the National War Fund and Chairman of the Florida War Fund committee during World War II. He was Founder and first President of the Southeastern Conference.

He received the B.A. degree from Vanderbilt University in 1904, and as the first Rhodes Scholar from Tennessee, he was awarded the B.A. (honorary) by the School of Jurisprudence, Oxford University, England, in 1907. He also studied at the Graduate School, University of Minnesota in 1916. His Ed.D. degree was awarded by Rhode Island University, 1923.

He received the Washington Bicentenary Medal, and was awarded the King Christian (Denmark) Medal of Liberation.

In addition to the honorary Doctor of Laws degree awarded by UK, in 1921, he received honorary degrees from Bates College (1924); University of New Mexico (1924); Dickinson College (1928); Hillsdale College (1928); Muhlenberg College (1928); Florida Southern College, (1933); Rollins College (1935); Stetson University (1935); Louisiana State University (1943); Rhode Island University (1923), and University of Florida (1953).

He was author of the monograph, "Philosophy of the World War," and a book, "Bishop McTyeire," published in 1955. 

He also was the author of more than 200 other articles in various journals and publications. He co-authored "The Child--His Nature and His Needs," "The Book of Rural Life," "Achievement, How It Is Won," and "High School Anthology-American Literature, English Literature, and Types," for the Department of Higher Education, India.

John James Tigert was named to the Hall of Distinguished Alumni in February 1965.