1905 – 1993
Longtime teacher and administrator Girard T. Bryant was the first African American to serve as president of Penn Valley Community College in Kansas City, Missouri. Born in St. Louis, he earned a bachelor’s degree in English and history from the University of Chicago in 1922 and a doctorate in education from St. Louis’ Washington University in 1963.
Bryant began his teaching career in 1926 at Western Baptist Bible College in Kansas City, Missouri, joined the faculty of Lincoln High School in 1930, and served in the Kansas City School District for more than 30 years. He later served as vice principal of Lincoln High School and dean of Lincoln Junior College and held administrative positions at Manual High School and Central High School before being appointed president of Penn Valley Community College in 1970.
Bryant further served the public through professional and community service, editing the Journal of the State Association of Negro Teachers, helping to found Fellowship House in 1945, and serving on the boards of the Paseo YMCA, Queen of the World Hospital, and the Urban League. A colleague once noted that Bryant believed “students are the most important part of a school and that empathy between students, teachers and administrators is what makes a school either good or bad.”