TALLAHASSEE, Florida -- William H. Gray Jr. was born in 1911 to Reverend William H. and Mary Smith Gray. In 1933 he received a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Bluefield State College and in 1934 a Master’s Degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He worked seven years as Professor of Education, Principal of the Demonstration Schools, and Field Director of Extension Services at Southern University. In 1942 he received a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. Education and experience in hand, Gray was later appointed President of the Florida Normal and Industrial College, a private Baptist college in St. Augustine (now Florida Memorial).
It did not take the Board of Control long after J.R.E. Lee’s death to select Gray as FAMC’s next president. Beside impressing the Board during his interview, Gray received support from the prominent Doak S. Campbell, President of Florida State University and D. E. Williams, Supervisor of Negro Education. At 33 years of age there was concern over whether Gray would be mature enough to maintain the role. After a brief background check Gray was appointed at a salary of $4,600.00 a year. Gray was successful in expanding the fiscal boundaries of the college and laying ground for important physical plant expansion. He resigned amid a financial scandal that he was cleared of to take a position he considered to be a higher calling.