Lewis Carnegie Dowdy was born in 1917 in Eastover, South Carolina, the fifteenth of sixteen children. He was a cum laude graduate of Allen University in Columbia, South Carolina. He also earned a master’s degree from Indiana State College in 1949 and was awarded a doctorate of education from Indiana University.
Dowdy worked as a teacher and principal in South Carolina before joining the North Carolina A&T faculty as an instructor of education and director of student teaching in 1951. He also served as an assistant professor of education, dean of the School of Education and General Studies, dean of Instruction, and acting president in 1962. In 1964, he was appointed as the college’s sixth president.
Under Dowdy’s leadership, many of A&T’s schools received accreditation and construction of four academic buildings, a new gymnasium, new football stadium and other service buildings was completed. He reorganized instruction, creating the Schools of Education, Business and Economics and the College of Arts and Sciences.
Dowdy is also noted for his role in handling the participation of many A&T students in civil rights demonstrations during the 1960s, including the 1969 riot in which National Guardsmen were called to campus. After serving the university for over twenty-one years, Dowdy resigned his position as chancellor on October 31, 1980. Lewis Dowdy died on Sunday, December 17, 2000.