President Robert Page Sims has been identified with the institution since 1906, and it would not be far wrong to say that for fifteen years he has been the dominant figure in the life of the school. He is native of Myerstown, Jefferson County, W. Va. His parents were Charles and Lucy (Page) Sims. He lost his mother at an early age, and was reared by an aunt. Growing up on the Jefferson County farm, young Sims attended the local public schools, from which he passed to Storer College at Harpers Ferry for his preparatory work. When ready for college, he matriculated at Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, Ohio, where he won his A.B. degree in 1887. He experienced no unusual difficulties in working out his education. While in school, his favorite form of athletics was foot ball. As a student he early developed a liking for science, which has grown with the years. He has found it on of the most attractive branches he has had to teach. Now it sometimes happens that the student or teacher of an exact science like chemistry, for instance, becomes narrow in his thinking and fettered in his action. Not so with Prof. Sims. He goes beyond that, and is bigger than his science. He uses it rather than serves it. In his thinking and in his work he follows the `scientific method but keeps his feet on the ground-is practical. He is never evasive, but faces the facts whether they are about oxygen, education, or the race problems, and anyone acquainted with Negro leadership in West Virginia will tell you that he is one of the clearest thinkers in the State.
He began his teaching at the Virginia Seminary and College, Lynchburg, and was with that institution for five months. He went from there to the city schools of Huntington, W. Va., for three years. In 1906 he was made principal, later president, of the Bluefield Colored Institute. Here his work has been constructive and the school has gone steadily forward under his administration. The curriculum has been revised and the standard of the school raised. Then there was a faculty of four, now the faculty numbers sixteen. The enrollment has gone up from 65 to 288, which is the limit of the capacity of the present facilities. Prof. Sims has done post graduate work at the University of Pennsylvania and has been in demand for summer school and institute work.
On June 24, 1901, Prof. Sims married Miss Stella James, of West Virginia. Mrs. Sims was educated at Storer College, and at Bates College, and is an accomplished teacher. They have six children. Their names are Nathaniel G., Robt. P., Jr., Mabel E., Rosalie A., Charles R., and Francis H. Sims. Prof. Sims is independent in politics and is a member of the Episcopal church. In 1921 he attended the Pan African Congress, sitting at London, Brussells and Paris.
He believes that the progress of the race may be best promoted by absolute candor and square dealing on the part of the white race in the South, where the Negro population is densest.
History of the American Negro Index
West Virginia History Center