In Memoriam: Dr. Robert “Bob” Trammell

The following memorial was written by Dr. Kevin Cantwell.

On Tuesday, July 26, many of us heard that Bob Trammell passed away in Luthersville, Georgia, where he retired to the farm country of West Georgia. There are only a handful of us left who knew Bob. From my class of new faculty in 1991, he also hired Jim Decker and Jeff Burne, and the year before, Debra Matthews and Bob Burnham, with Eric Sun  several years before that. When he retired in the summer of 1998, Dean Trammell was the longest serving dean and chief academic officer in the University System of Georgia.

In reviewing Bob’s file from the University archives, I note a young faculty member who came to Macon Junior College with his Ed.D. just completed from Auburn in August 1969. On the day he interviewed, he drove over from Alabama to meet with the Dean, the faculty, and the President in the morning. That was April 22, 1969. On that day there were significant student demonstrations at Cornell, Harvard, Princeton, and Columbia. There were IRA bombings in Northern Ireland, and President Nixon had ordered four aircraft carriers to the coast of North Korea to protect spy flights. Rev. Ralph David Abernathy announced another protest in Charleston, South Carolina, and Governor Lester Maddox of Georgia signed a Bill of Rights for the mentally ill.

Just as today’s world is fraught with violence and uncertainty, so too was Bob’s when he came to MJC. What he would say to faculty is to remember that our students have difficult lives but to put great effort into our teaching. What he would say to students is to study hard and to enjoy the chance at an education. He would say that it’s a good life.

When the next VPAA came on to replace Bob in the fall of 1998, he noted that we would not have been elevated to a four-year institution without the faculty that Trammell had hired. Many of us were hired ABD, and we had to finish our doctorates if we wanted to stay. One of my earliest memories of him was when candidate Bill Clinton spoke to a massive crowd at Tattnall Square park, in heat just like today’s. It gave me real comfort to see Bob and the then Vice President for Student Affairs Charlie Cloaninger, both interested enough in the world to take an hour of their day and to stand in the sun and witness a moment in history.

When it came to important academic initiatives, he was out front, including serving as one of the founders of the Georgia Collegiate Honors Council, which was a statewide organization for public and private schools.

Here is information from Dr. Trammell’s career:

Dr. Robert T. Trammell

 He was hired in April 1969 as associate professor of English and head of the Faculty of English, and he officially joined the Macon Junior College family in September 1969.

In 1971 he was promoted to chair of the Humanities Division.

In 1977 he was appointed dean of the faculty. In 1990 his titled was expanded to include vice president for Academic Affairs.

He retired as dean and VP for Academic Affairs in June 1998. At that time, he had served as a dean longer than any other chief academic officer in the University System of Georgia, which then was comprised of 34 colleges and universities.

He was the speaker at the Spring 1998 Commencement Ceremony. His speech focused on the importance of liberal arts in higher education.

The Georgia chapters of Phi Theta Kappa, the international student honor society, named him Distinguished College Administrator for 1997-98. He was nominated for the by Chi Phi, Macon State College’s PTK chapter. In their nomination, Chi Phi members wrote:

As a young professor of English, he inspired love and respect for language and literature in his students … Dr. Trammell has dedicated himself to serving the needs of students with compassion and insight. It is most notable that Dr. Trammell founded the Honors Program here … Whether in the classroom or in an administrator’s chair, Dr. Trammell has always put the welfare of students first, and he has always demonstrated his great respect for the teaching profession.

During his time at this institution, he . . .

  • served with five presidents, including one Interim President
  • witnessed the institution’s name change three times: Macon Junior College, Macon College, Macon State College
  • saw more than 8,000 students receive their degrees and/or certificates

He was an educator for 38 years, teaching at the University of Florida (grad assistant), Truett-McConnell College, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and Macon State College.

He earned his A.B. in English at Mercer University (graduated magna cum laude in 1960), M.A. in English at University of Florida and Ed.D. in English Education at Auburn University.

In 2000, he was elected mayor of Luthersville (in Coweta County, Ga., current population 874) and has been re-elected every term since.

He was born in Coweta County in February 1939.