John David Alexander


John David Alexander, B.A., Ph.D.


Only twelve years after receiving his B. A. from Southwestern At Memphis, John David Alexander, Jr. returned July 1, 1965 to his alma mater as president. He was the first alum of the College to be elected president. Born in Springfield, Tennessee on October 18, 1932, he graduated in 1953 from Southwestern At Memphis and was elected to membership in Phi Beta Kappa. He attended Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in 1953. In 1954, he entered Christ Church, Oxford University in England on a Rhodes scholarship and received the Doctor of Philosophy degree in theology from Oxford in 1957. He did additional studies at Oxford in 1960-61. He was ordained by the Muhlenberg Presbytery and served on the faculty of the San Francisco Theological seminary from 1957 until 1964. He became president of Southwestern At Memphis in 1965.

Alexander left the College in 1969 when he was named the seventh president of Pomona College in Claremont, California. “Dr. David Alexander’s tenure has been brief, but he has left his mark. He has in three short years caused a ferment of ideas. ┬áHe has helped raise the level of conscience of the entire Memphis community. He had created new areas of understanding between different age groups. He has been a major contributor to better race relations. In short, he has performed in the tradition of the liberal arts scholar.” The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN.

Alexander served as the American Secretary of the Rhodes Scholarship Trust and accepted a Doctor of Letters honorary degree from Rhodes College in 1991. His 2004 portrait by Tom Donahue is the nineteenth person to be honored in the Rhodes Portrait Series.