Just a year after being hired to teach history at West Georgia College, an ambitious Newt Gingrich applied to be president of the public institution, the Wall Street Journal reports in an article that examines the paper trail that the political candidate left behind at what is now called the University of West Georgia. The newspaper's review finds that the chairman of the history department at Tulane, where Gingrich got his doctorate, described him to West Georgia as having a "single-minded purpose in life: to become a fine teacher-scholar." The college hired him at an annual salary of $9,700.
After his unsuccessful bid for the presidency, which drew "a chuckle" from administrators, according to one observer quoted by the Journal, he and a colleague created an "Institute for Directed Change and Renewal," which sought to help public schools modernize their operations. He undertook three unsuccessful campaigns for Congress while at West Georgia, before leaving the college in 1977 after being denied tenure. He was elected to Congress the next year.
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