Joseph Gayles Jr

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Joseph Gayles Jr

Joseph Nathan Gayles Jr (born August 7, 1937 in Birmingham; died October 2, 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia) was a physicist and former presented of Talladega College.

Gayles was the son of Joe and Ernestine Williams Gayles of Bessemer. He grew up working at his father's appliance shop and attended Birmingham City Schools. He spent his junior year on scholarship at the Andover Newtown Academy in Andover, Massachusetts before returning and graduating from Ullman High School in 1954.

Gayles was awarded a full academic scholarship to Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana. He completed his bachelor of scicne in chemisty in 1958 and entered Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island on a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship. He completed his Ph.D. in physical chemistry in 1963 and went to Oregon State University in Corvallis as an assistant professor and post-doctoral researcher. In 1965 he continued research in quantum chemistry, biophysics and solid state physics at Uppsala University in Sweden. The following year he was hired as a scientist at IBM Research Laboratories in San Jose, California.

Gayles joined the faculty of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia in 1969 and, at the request of president Hugh Gloster, headed the program that resulted in the founding of the Morehouse School of Medicine in 1975. He left in 1977 to accept the presidency at Talladega College where he is credited with a successful capital campaign. He returned to Morehouse in 1983 as vice president for institutional advancement until he retired in 1996. In retirement he operated a consultancy named "Jon-Mon" in honor of his children. Jonathan and Monica.

Gayles died of heart failure at his home in Atlanta in 2008 and is buried at New Grace Hill Cemetery. A scholarship fund was established in his memory at the Bank of America.


  • "Joseph Nathan Gayles Jr" obituary (October 8, 2008) The Birmingham News
  • "Morehouse School of Medicine Mourns Loss of a Founder." (October 15, 2008) Morehouse School of Medicine press release
  • Kovar, Susan (January 2009) "Healing His People." Brown Alumni Magazine