KEMPER HALL OF FAME

Dr. Joseph B. Black

Dr. J.B. Black was one of Kemper's most colorful and memorable administrators.  He was a most knowledgeable man and one who did not shy away from decision making.  One may not have always agreed with his decisions, but at least he would make one, whether popular or not. He was not what one would call indecisive.  His door was always open to any differing opinions and he would listen, and sometimes even change his decision.  He would readily acknowledge his mistakes, seek solutions, and move on.  He carried no grudges.  In like manner, if one was wrong, he let him know in short order and told him why he was wrong.  There was never any doubt where one stood with him, like it or not.

In June of 1969, J.B. Black returned to Kemper as her ninth president.  It was not the best of times as the enrollment had already begun its decline.  Military schools were losing their popularity brought on by the social unrest of the day.  In order to stem the tide of decreasing enrollment, Dr. Black, in 1971, reinstituted the seventh and eight grade programs; the following year, day students were admitted.  Tough decisions criticized by many, but decisions had to be made, and options were few. There were times when salaries were deferred so that the bills could be paid, but Dr. Black made it very clear for those who were in a financial crisis to see him personally, and he would work things out.  He was good to his word, and though the deferred salaries were unpopular, every single penny was paid back within the time frame he had allocated.

I came to appreciate Dr. Black.  I appreciated his straightforward attitude; I appreciated his honesty; I appreciated being able to express an opposing viewpoint without recrimination;  I appreciated the fact that if he had made a mistake, he rectified it.  He was a man of integrity who sincerely loved and earnestly tried to keep our school up and running without lowering her standards and without sacrificing the quality of education and the principles upon which she was built.  It was a tough assignment, trying to resuscitate a dying school.  Whatever one's opinion of the man, one thing about Dr. J.B. Black which can not be denied, and that was his love for the school.  He was a true son of Kemper Military School and College who adhered to the principles for which she stood.  His life and his accomplishments  are a testament to those principles. One could say that Dr. J.B. Black was Kemper Proud and that he did Kemper, proud.