From the early years of Reinhardt to today, the institution’s female leaders deserve as much credit for its successes as the men. Elizabeth Moss Bailey (1910-2008) was one of those women.
Bailey’s love for the school began while attending the Reinhardt Academy primary school program in the original administration building. By the time she attended the second grade, Fredonia Blanton, niece of founder Captain Augustus Reinhardt, served as the principal of the primary school. She often visited Captain Reinhardt and answered his questions about school.
In a 2001 interview, Bailey recalled other fond memories of her time as a student, including participating in the creation of the alma mater in 1922, a song still sung at every commencement. Her history teacher, Miss Dora Lee Wilkerson wrote the words and Bailey stayed after class to hear the lyrics and make suggestions.
Bailey says she was chosen in 1926 as a key speaker in the dedication of the Dobbs building. Because rain made the unpaved mud roads to Waleska treacherous, the celebration was held in Canton. She delivered her speech using the back of a Mack truck as a platform. Her fondness for the building was strong, as her father hauled all the stones for construction in a mule-drawn wagon from a quarry to the campus.
By the time she graduated from Reinhardt’s junior college as the 1928 valedictorian and chosen as “Miss Reinhardt,” Bailey developed an inspiration to educate a wide community of learners. She pursued a master’s degree in education. After making her mark on the Cherokee County School system and the Georgia State Department of Education, she returned to teach English at Reinhardt, launched the work-study program, and served as registrar, dean of women, and academic dean.
She made such a positive impact on the students, that the 1965 annual yearbook was dedicated to her with the words, “A wise counselor and teacher, inspiring through trust, faith, compassion, and nobility of spirit.” In 1973, she received Reinhardt’s Alumni Loyalty Award for her devotion spanning over 50 years, which included serving as President of the Alumni Association and a member of the Board of Governors. She also joined President Burgess in winning the fight to suppress the Methodist church from closing the school in the 1950s.
Bailey retired in 1975 and earned the distinction of dean emeritus. In 2000, she became the first woman to receive the John Wesley Laity Award. The honor recognizes a layperson for their significant contribution to United Methodist institutions of higher education and ministries.
Reinhardt’s Elizabeth Moss Bailey Faculty Mentor Award was established in 2003. It annually honors a faculty member for outstanding mentorship to students. Bailey’s devotion to service, education, and inspiration to others has left a lasting legacy.