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Carl McClellan Hill (July 27, 1907, Norfolk, Virginia – April 4, 1995, Hampton, Virginia) was an African American educator and academic administrator who served as president of Kentucky State University from 1962 to 1975,[1][3] and as the 11th president of Hampton University from 1976 to 1978.[4]

Carl McClellan Hill
Born(1907-07-27)July 27, 1907
DiedApril 4, 1995(1995-04-04) (aged 87)
NationalityUnited States
Alma materHampton University, Cornell University
Spouse(s)Mary Elliott Hill 1927-1969;[1] Helen Collins Hill 1970-1995[2]
Scientific career
FieldsOrganic chemistry
InstitutionsTennessee State University, Kentucky State University, Hampton University


Early lifeEdit

Carl McClellan Hill was born July 27, 1907 in Norfolk, Virginia, to William Franklin and Sarah Rowe Hill.[4]


Hill attended Norfolk public schools.[5] He earned a B.Sc. degree in organic chemistry from Hampton Institute in 1931.[6]

During the 1930s, Hill taught science at the George P. Phenix Laboratory School, a high school associated with the Hampton Institute.[4] After working briefly as an assistant professor of chemistry at Hampton Institute (1939-1940), Hill returned to the high school as principal (1940-1941).[7]

Hill received his M.Sc. degree in organic chemistry from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York in 1935.[6] His master's thesis was on The action of Grignard reagents on [alpha], [beta]-unsaturated ethers (1935).[8] Denied admission at the University of Virginia, Hill applied successfully for a Rosenwald Fellowship to complete his doctorate at Cornell. He received $1,500 and was awarded his Ph.D. in organic chemistry by Cornell in 1941.[6] His Ph.D. thesis topic was Studies of ketenes and their derivatives (1941).[9]


Carl McClellan Hill worked as an assistant professor of chemistry at North Carolina A&T University beginning in 1941.[7] In 1944, he joined Tennessee State University, where he served as dean of the school of chemistry from 1944 to 1951, and later dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, as well as maintaining an active research career. By 1962 he was considered one of the top six chemists in the country.[10]

On December 4, 1962, Hill became president of Kentucky State College, succeeding Rufus B. Atwood.[11] Under his direction, the college was formally raised to university status, and renamed Kentucky State University in 1972. Hill also pushed for increased integration, increasing white enrollment at the historically black school. Hill would remain at KSU until retiring in 1975, the second-longest presidential term at KSU at that time.[10]

A year after his retirement he returned to Hampton Institute, serving as its interim president from 1976 to 1977 and president from 1977 to 1978.[10]

As an organic chemist, Hill was a chief investigator, often collaborating with his first wife, chemist Mary Elliott Hill on joint research projects, which continued to focus on Grignard reagents and ketenes. He published more than fifty research papers.[3][10] The Hills collaborated on textbooks such as General College Chemistry (1944) with Myron B. Towns and Experiments in Organic Chemistry (1954).[12]

Awards and honorsEdit

Hill received an honorary doctor of laws degree from the University of Kentucky in 1966,[13] an honorary doctorate of science from Eastern Kentucky University in 1975,[14] and an honorary doctorate of science from the University of Louisville in 1975.[15] He was named Outstanding Alumnus at Large of Hampton University in 1969.[5][3]

Personal lifeEdit

Hill was an Elder of the First Presbyterian Church of Hampton, and served on the General Executive Board and Executive Committee of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church. He was also active as a member of its Board of World Missions.[4] Likely between 1925[16] and 1927,[12] he married Mary Elliott (1907–1969), with whom he worked for much of his career.[17] In 1970, he married Helen Ware Collins (1922-2011). Among other activities, Carl and Helen were active members of the Virginia Peninsula Rose Society.[18]


  1. ^ a b "Notable Kentucky African Americans Database from University of Kentucky Library".
  2. ^ "Carl McClellan Hill". Find-A-Grave. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  3. ^ a b c "Office of the President Records ca. 1896-1986".
  4. ^ a b c d Williams-Valqui, Jennifer (April 7, 1995). "Carl McClellan Hill, Former Hu President". Daily Press. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Hill, Carl McClellan". Hampton University Archives. Retrieved 5 April 2017.
  6. ^ a b c Beilke, Jayne R. (1997). "The Changing Emphasis of the Rosenwald Fellowship Program, 1928-1948". The Journal of Negro Education. 66 (1): 11. doi:10.2307/2967247. JSTOR 2967247.
  7. ^ a b Warren, Wini (1999). Black women scientists in the United States. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press. ISBN 9780253336033.
  8. ^ Hill, Carl McClellan (1935). "The action of Grignard reagents on [alpha], [beta]-unsaturated ethers". Cornell University. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  9. ^ Hill, Carl McClellan (1941). Studies of ketenes and their derivatives. Cornell University. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  10. ^ a b c d Smith, Gerald L.; McDaniel, Karen Cotton; Hardin, John A. (July 16, 2015). The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia. University Press of Kentucky. p. 246. ISBN 978-0813160658. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  11. ^ Smith, Gerald L. (1994). A Black educator in the segregated South : Kentucky's Rufus B. Atwood. Lexington, Ky.: University Press of Kentucky. pp. 176–177. ISBN 9780813118567.
  12. ^ a b Gates, Henry Louis (2004). "Hill, Mary Elliott". African American lives. Oxford [u.a.]: Oxford Univ. Press. pp. 402–403. ISBN 978-0195160246. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  13. ^ "UK to Honor 5 Dignitaries With Degrees". The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky). April 6, 1966. p. 14. Retrieved 15 February 2017.
  14. ^ "Honorary Degree Recipients". Eastern Kentucky University. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  15. ^ "Degrees were awarded..." Seymour Daily Tribune. May 13, 1975. p. 5. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  16. ^ "Mrs. Carl M. Hill, Educator's Wife, Dies at 62". The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky). 13 February 1969. Retrieved 15 February 2017.
  17. ^ "Mrs. Mary Hill Burial in Virginia". The Tennessean. Nashville, Tennessee. February 15, 1969. p. 19. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  18. ^ "Mrs Helen Ware Collins Hill". Find-a-Grave. Retrieved 4 April 2017.