Clark, Randolph Lee (1871–1941)

By: Brian Hart

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: September 25, 2019

Randolph Lee Clark, teacher and school administrator, was born to Randolph and Ellen (Lee) Clark in Fort Worth, Texas, on June 3, 1871. His father, a Confederate veteran and minister in the Disciples of Christ, cofounded Add-Ran College, a forerunner of Texas Christian University, at Thorp Spring in 1873. Clark, who in his youth sometimes worked as a cowboy on the XIT Ranch, received the B.A. degree between 1890 and 1895 from Add-Ran. In 1895 he began his teaching career. He entered the University of Chicago in 1897 but apparently earned no degree. Clark married Leoti Sypert in Holland, Texas, on December 18, 1898. The couple eventually had nine children.

In 1899 Clark was ordained to the ministry of the Disciples of Christ, but he never took a pastorate, and soon after his ordination he became involved in various educational activities. By 1902 he had accepted a teaching position at Add-Ran Christian University, where he became secretary of the faculty. In 1906 he left the college and assumed the duties of superintendent of schools at Iowa Park in Wichita County. He later held similar positions at Anson, Plainview, and Gainesville. From 1911 to 1913 he served as general agent for the Conference for Education in Texas. In 1915 he became superintendent of schools in Wichita Falls. He held the position for eight years and became known as an educational innovator. During his tenure a junior high school was constructed and night courses were first offered for black students. Recognizing that the children of Hispanic migrant workers in the area received little real education in Wichita Falls schools because they spoke little English and their teachers spoke little Spanish, Clark established a bilingual education program in 1922. He set up a two-grade school specifically for the children of non-English-speaking migrant workers and employed bilingual teachers to provide the students with both regular instruction and intensive English instruction.

He also established Wichita Falls Junior College, which eventually grew into Midwestern University, in 1922. He planned and won adoption of the junior college as a part of the local public school system. Clark believed that the new institution would provide inexpensive basic education, thereby reducing expenses for the parents of college-bound students and preparing those students for more advanced college work or for entrance into a profession. His leadership secured approval of an $850,000 bond issue to finance the construction of a junior-college building in 1922. The first classes met in this structure on May 5, 1924.

After receiving the M.A. degree from the University of Texas in 1924, Clark held a number of appointive and elective positions in the state educational system. He served as chairman of the board of examiners of the State Department of Education (see TEXAS EDUCATION AGENCY) and as a member of the State Textbook Committee. In addition, he was president of the Northwest Texas Teachers Association, the Texas Association of Junior Colleges, and the Texas State Teachers Association. He also served as vice president of the National Education Association. Clark died in Cisco on February 19, 1941.

Louise Kelly, Wichita County Beginnings (Burnet, Texas: Eakin Press, 1982).

  • Education
  • Activism and Social Reform
  • Advocates
  • Educators
  • Bilingual Education
  • School Principals and Superintendents
  • Religion
  • Christian Church
Time Periods:
  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas
  • Great Depression
  • Texas in the 1920s
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Fort Worth
  • North Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Brian Hart, “Clark, Randolph Lee,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 19, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 25, 2019

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