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
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
In 1935, Maryland became the first southern state university in the
twentieth centry to accept African-Americans and, in 1951, the first to
accept African-American undergraduates.
Byrd was very interested in constructing new buildings. According to
the Washingtonian, "his office was
always filled with blueprints, and students frequently saw him in the
middle of the night poking around construction sites" wearing a hard
"Just as important, the often-autocratic Byrd was deft at working both the
recalcitrant state legislature and the federal government for funds. For
several years, Maryland trailed only Massachusetts in total federal
funding for higher education."
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 Byrd Stadium now
stands as a reminder of his impact on athletics and the university.
Byrd retired to run, unsuccessfully, for governor. He was honored posthumously in 1995 as an inductee to the prestigious Alumni
Hall of Fame. Below is the bio from the induction.Thomas B. Symons, Acting President, 1954
HARRY CLIFTON "CURLEY" BYRD*
INDUCTED APRIL 22, 1995
"Curley" Byrd entered Maryland in 1905 as an engineering student. His 43-year professional career at the university began as a two-week coaching stint in 1911 and concluded with an 18-year presidency, ending in 1954. Byrd was Maryland's athletic director until becoming its president in 1935. Under his leadership, the university became one of the largest in the country, both in size and student population. Among Byrd's many legacies: the campus' handsome red brick Georgian structures, an innovative American studies program and the world-wide educational extension program, University College. Byrd Stadium is a reminder of his impact on athletics and the university.