Paul Dwight Moody

Filed in Presidents

Paul_Moody_Middlebury_College_PresidentPaul Dwight Moody (1879-1947) was tenth president of Middlebury. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, he was the son of Emma Revell Moody and the well known evangelist Reverend Dwight Lyman Moody. He graduated from Yale College in 1901. He studied in Scotland at New College, Edinburgh, and Glasgow College, and in Connecticut at Hartford Theological Seminary. Moody taught school for six years in Northfield, Vermont, worked at the publishing firm of George H. Doran in New York, and was ordained as a congregational minister in 1912.

As pastor of the South Congregational Church, he was in St . Johnsbury, Vermont, until 1917, when he enlisted in the army as a chaplain and served in France, attached initially with the Ist Vermont Infantry until his promotion to senior chaplain. After the war, he was called to the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City; he stayed two years, until 1921. Then he was chosen by Middlebury trustees as president. Moody joined Middlebury, when its 464 students was the largest student body in the College’s history, and when the faculty had just been enlarged by ten new members. But undergraduates were struggling with the social forces of the 1920s, as well as the demands of a war-veteran population eager to resume their lives; student housing and classroom space were stretched beyond limit; and his predecessor’s million-dollar endowment drive faced a one-year deadline. Moody convinced the donor to postpone its date, and in late spring of 1922, after a frenetic and high-spirited campaign, the president met the challenge. Moody was not a gifted fundraiser, however, compared to John M. Thomas, and this early success would not be followed by many others, though the campus did see some expansion. The Chateau and a music hall were the first buildings constructed during the Moody administration. Forest Hall would follow in 1936, with Gifford Hall and Munroe Hall being constructed in 1940 and 1941.

Moody moved Middlebury toward a solidly grounded liberal-arts tradition, but he was a firm believer in gender-segregated education, announcing that the freshman class in 1922 would follow a separate-but-equal doctrine, a move many trustees applauded. Though a women’s college at Middlebury was formally established between 1930 and 1931,the Depression and the onset of the second World War hampered efforts to solidify the institution.


Paul Dwight Moody had planned to retire in 1944, when he reached sixty-five, but the board decided it needed a stronger executive should the country be drawn into war. After secret trustee meetings in December and January of 1942 called for the president’s dismissal, Moody conveyed a special faculty meeting and emotionally announced he was resigning as of July 1, 1942. The College and town community was shocked, saddened, and angered.

Paul Dwight Moody became an assistant pastor at the First Presbyterian Church in New York City, but health and age urged him toward retirement, and in 1946 he and his wife, Charlotte Hull Moody, whom he had married in 1904 and with whom he had two daughters, moved to Shrewsbury, Vermont, where he died just over a year later, in August 1947.