Colgate Whitehead Darden, Jr. (February 11, 1897 – June 9, 1981) was a Democratic U.S. Representative from Virginia (1933–37, 1939–41), the 54th Governor of Virginia (1942–46), Chancellor of the College of William and Mary (1946–47) and the third President of the University of Virginia (1947–59). The Darden Graduate School of Business Administration of the University of Virginia was named for him.
Darden was born on a farm near Franklin, Virginia to Katherine Lawrence (Pretlow) Darden (1870–1936) and Colgate Whitehead Darden, Sr. (1867–1945). Darden served in the French Army and as a lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps Air Service during World War I. He later attended the University of Virginia, where he was a member of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, and graduated in 1922 before going on to Columbia Law School (graduated 1923) and then Oxford University. He was admitted to the bar and opened practice in Norfolk, Virginia. He was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from 1930 to 1933.
Darden was elected as a Democratic U.S. Representative in an At-large election to the 73rd Congress, and re-elected in the 2nd district to the 74th Congress, and served from March 4, 1933 – January 3, 1937. He was not re-elected to the 75th Congress in 1936, but was re-elected in 1938 and 1940 to the 76th and 77th Congresses and served from January 3, 1939 – March 1, 1941, when he resigned to run for Governor of Virginia.
- 1932; Darden was elected to Congress with the rest of the Democratic slate as an at-large member winning 8.24% of the vote in a 24-way race.
- 1934; Darden was re-elected defeating Republican Gerould M. Rumble, Socialist George Rohlsen, and Communist Herbert S. Carrington, winning 76.14% of the vote.
- 1938; Darden was re-elected defeating Independent Carl P. Spaeth, winning 87.7% of the vote.
- 1940; Daren was re-elected unopposed.
Governor of Virginia
Darden was elected Governor of Virginia with 80.72% of the vote, defeating Republican Benjamin Muse, Communist Alice Burke, and Socialist M. Hilliard Bernstein. Darden was inaugurated January 21, 1942, serving until January 16, 1946. As governor, he reorganized Virginia's civil defense, reformed the penal system, and created a pension plan for state employees and teachers.
President of the University of Virginia
Darden was elected president of the University of Virginia in 1947, despite public misgivings from some among the university faculty, who resented his lack of faculty experience, and a portion of the student body, who feared that he planned to abolish the fraternity system at the university. The latter concern had its origin in Darden's actions as Governor of Virginia, where he recommended barring students at the College of William and Mary from living in fraternity or sorority houses on the grounds that it was "undemocratic" and placed undue financial burden on parents. While Darden did not impose similar restrictions at Virginia, he did attempt to implement other measures, such as a ban on first year rushing.
At Virginia, Darden was responsible for the building of the student union building, named Newcomb Hall for his predecessor John Lloyd Newcomb; the establishment of the Judiciary Committee, which handled student misconduct that did not rise to the level of an honor offense; the creation of the graduate school of business administration, named in his memory; and significant improvements to faculty salaries. Upon his retirement, he was presented with the Thomas Jefferson Award and the Raven Award.
Other service and death
Darden was appointed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower as a U.S. delegate to the United Nations General Assembly in 1955. He died in 1981 at his home in Norfolk, Virginia. He was buried in the family plot with his parents. In addition to his wife, he was survived by his younger brother Joshua Pretlow Darden, who was a mayor of Norfolk, Virginia (1949–50).