Blanford Barnard Dougherty (B. B.) and his brother Dauphin Disco (D. D.) Dougherty were the founders of what is today Appalachian State University. They were the sons of Daniel Boone Dougherty, a former Confederate soldier and leading citizen of Boone, and his wife Ellen Bartlett.
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Daniel Boone Dougherty stressed the importance of education to his sons; both attended Globe Academy in neighboring Caldwell County. The eldest brother, D. D., born March 11, 1869, entered Wake Forest College in 1888. After graduation he joined the faculty of Holly Springs College in Butler, Tennessee, as a mathematics and natural science professor. While there he married and had four children. B. B., born October 21, 1870, entered Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tennessee, in 1894. After graduation he enrolled at the University of North Carolina receiving a bachelor of philosophy degree in 1899.
On September 5, 1899, shortly after Blanford’s graduation from UNC, the two brothers established Watauga Academy, intended as a training school for teachers. Within three years the brothers had secured a grant from the state legislature for the academy, and the school was officially chartered on March 9, 1903 as Appalachian Training School for Teachers. B. B. Dougherty acted as head, with D. D. as “principal.” In 1925 the legislature changed the name to Appalachian State Normal School, and again in 1929 to Appalachian State Teacher’s College upon the addition of a four-year degree to the curriculum.
D. D. Dougherty, serving as business manager and head trustee, died of a heart attack on June 10, 1929, the first day of registration for the new college. The original library on the campus is named in his honor. B. B. remained president of the college until retirement in 1955, with 56 years of service to the school. He died two years later at age 87. Under his tenure, the school had grown to include a four-year program, a graduate school, and had an annual enrollment of over 1,000 students. Twelve years after B. B.’s retirement, the state legislature changed the school’s name to Appalachian State University.
Appalachian State University today boasts an enrollment of nearly 16,000 students enrolled in over 170 programs in five colleges and schools and one graduate school. There currently are 99 undergraduate and 68 graduate courses of study for students to pursue. The school has been ranked among the top fifteen Southern masters degree schools by U.S. News and World Report since 1986 and in 2001 the school was recognized by Time as the “College of the Year.” After wins in 2005, 2006, and 2007, Appalachian State University’s football team became the first Division I squad to win three consecutive national championships since Army accomplished the feat in 1944, 1945, and 1946.
O. Lester Brown, Blanford Barnard Dougherty: A Man to Match His Mountains (1963)
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, II, 96-97—sketches of Dougherty brothers by O. Lester Brown and Richard L. Zuber
Ruby J. Lanier, Blanford Barnard Dougherty: Mountain Educator (1974)
Jack Mellot, Mike Rominger, Charles Shoffner, and Ruth D. Currie, Appalachian State University: The First Hundred Years (1998)
Appalachian State University website: http://www.appstate.edu/