Charles C. McCracken, president of Connecticut Agricultural College when it became Connecticut State College, was instrumental in launching the career of operatic soprano Ruby Elzy in the 1920s.

Charles C. McCracken, president of the University from 1930 to 1935, was born on June 27, 1882. In what during his tenure that the-then Connecticut Agricultural College became Connecticut State College; the Husky became the college mascot; and college received its first national accreditation. After years of disputes with trustees and faculty over his management of the college, McCracken resigned in 1935 after the Trustees had enacted what became known as “The Gag Rule”,  the aim of which was to stop campus discussion of whether military training should be mandatory for college men.

A little known episode in McCracken’s life is that he “discovered” Ruby Elzy, an African American college student who became a nationally known operatic soprano and who created the role of “Serena” in George Gershwin’s folk opera Porgy and Bess.

On a fact-finding trip with a committee studying Negro schools and colleges in the South, Charles McCracken, of The Ohio State University, visited Rust College in Mississippi. As the committee met, Elzy was rehearsing for a concert nearby, and her voice carried into the windows of the meeting room. Committee members left the room to hear her sing and McCracken was so taken by her talent that he decided to bring Elzy to Ohio State. She graduated from OSU in 1930, the year McCracken left to become president of CAC.