President Cavness Guides Smba Through Financial DifficultiesOnce again a citizen of San Marcos and a member of the faculty of Southwest Texas State Teachers College was enlisted by the Board of Trustees when they selected Dr. Raymond M. Cavness as president. The financial condition of the school was exceedingly poor; nevertheless, a renewed spirit of enthusiasm and optimism was created by the incoming administration.
An excerpt from an article in the San Marcos Record on the occasion of the Silver Anniversary in 1932 stated: “The Academy is endorsed fully in educational and boarding school circles everywhere, and is distinctly and outstandingly a school of applied Christian training.”
To meet a 25 percent reduction in enrollment due to the stress of the financial condition of the country, President Cavness made a number of adjustments in personnel, reducing the overhead expenses to correspond with the reduction in income. Neither the scope nor the standard of the curriculum was lessened, but fewer faculty members were needed. President Cavness and the Rev. R. L. Powell, former president of the Board of Trustees, toured Texas speaking to groups and raising money for the Academy.
President Cavness succeeded in operating the Academy within its income during his first year as administrator; however, the Academy could not continue to operate without assistance in carrying the weight of old obligations and its bonded indebtedness. During the next few years, help was received from the Baptist General Convention of Texas, from small endowments, and from the citizens and churches of San Marcos. In the heart of the Great Depression, the Academy operated in receivership with President Cavness serving as the receiver. Serious effort was made to work out the problems of the school and to remove the burden of indebtedness. Judge O. S. Lattimore, trustee president, made a loan of $10,000 of his personal money to help buy up the old obligations of the school. The school repaid Judge Lattimore as resources permitted with the final payment being made just two months before the Judge’s death. Meanwhile, the Executive Board of the Convention assumed the bonded indebtedness against the Academy. The receivership order was dissolved in the July, 1936 term of the District Court in Hays County.
Just when there was some relief from the financial strain, new trouble sprang up to plague the Academy in the form of a fire resulting in an 85 percent loss of the Administration Hall on October 23, 1936. This hall, erected in 1919, contained all the classrooms for the secondary school. Once again, Judge Lattimore came to the aid of the Academy by underwriting $25,000 of the expense of constructing a new building. This, coupled with the insurance and the credit extended by the Executive Board of the Convention, made possible the construction of a new recitation hall, the first fireproof structure. It was opened for use on September 14, 1937, and named Lattimore Hall in memory of the late president of the Board of Trustees.