Chapter 24: Beyond the Curriculum
Astonished by a college enrollment of 677 in 1919-1920, the President exclaimed, "We are literally swamped." This registration, which may be compared with the 187 who welcomed Rhees in 1900, broke all previous records (except for the S. A. T. C. year) by 120. Former students released from the armed forces and Freshmen who had been in the national service brought the male contingent to 402. Next year numbers climbed to 786, intensifying the congestion in classroom and laboratory.
On the advice of the faculty, the trustees set a limit on the Freshman class at 125 men and 100 women, but the rule was not literally interpreted. With the result that in the last year before the men moved to the River Campus, 963 names stood on the books, 567 of them male. The proportion of students living outside of Rochester or its environs edged up consistently and was a source of peculiar satisfaction to University policymakers. And the Deans unanimously reported that the quality of academic performance had improved, with students from the Rochester schools better prepared, by and large, than nonresidents.
Throughout the 1920's a distressingly large percentage of the students admitted failed to complete work for the bachelor's degree; in some classes the attrition rate for men ran as high as sixty percent. Partly this disturbing statistic resulted from the accent placed on quality, not quantity; students who failed to measure up to high standards of strictly academic work were more freely eliminated than ever before. 1
For many a military veteran, readjustment to a civilian way of life, the changeover from bullets to books, was difficult. Men from the national services were several years older and more mature, on the whole, than ordinary undergraduates, but habits picked up in camps--or elsewhere-persisted. Although the revival of an honor system for academic work came under discussion several times and a new honor code for men was in fact drafted, student response was tepid. The faculty struck hard at cheaters and in a determined effort to reduce fraud created (1920) a Committee on Academic Honesty with unfettered authority to determine the guilt or innocence of an alleged offender and if guilty to impose punishment.
Rules for proctoring were tightened up, the English department undertook to define plagiarism, especially "the ethics of quotation," and stiffer penalties for dishonesty were handed out. On the recommendation of student leaders, the Academic Honesty Committee was presently broadened to embrace three elected undergraduates who would share responsibility for combating dishonesty with the faculty members, and a parallel committee was set up in the Women's College where an honor system persisted. In the interest of more efficient proctoring, most semester examinations were concentrated in the gymnasium. 2
Try as they would, the professors could not generate much student enthusiasm for prize competitions, and in certain years apathy was so complete that no contests were held. Instead of being awarded for the best original essay, the Hull Prize was now given (1927) to the ablest Senior man concentrating in English and the same revision was applied to the Williams Memorial Prize which went to an English major of the gentler sex. The list of prizes for academic excellence, however, was steadily enlarged. Through the generosity of Ezra M. Sparlin, 1885, awards were given to a man and a woman who wrote most effectively on some aspect of the American Constitution, a Tuttle Prize, remembering Russell M. Tuttle, 1862, was awarded for proficiency in the Greek language, and the John Dow Mairs Prize (a memorial to the father-in-law of John B. Calvert, 1876) was given to the junior standing highest in economics. The father of Rigby Wile, a student of the class of 1929 who took his own life, endowed (1927) biology prizes for underclassmen carrying the name of the son. Of a different sort was a prize set up (1928) by Seth S. Terry, 1883, a New York lawyer, which would go to the man in the Senior class "who by his industry, manliness and honorable conduct has done most for the life and character of the men of the college."
Back in 1916, Professor Victor J. Chambers set wheels in motion to secure a charter for Rochester from Sigma Xi, a society which symbolized superior achievement in science, the counterpart up to a point of Phi Beta Kappa. Conceived at Cornell in 1886, Sigma Xi installed chapters only at institutions which significantly fostered scientific research; associate membership was conferred upon undergraduates of exceptional promise and by their achievements they might be promoted to full status. "Spoudon Xynones," the motto of the fraternity is translated as "Companions in Zealous Research." Apart from bringing together workers in the diversified areas of scientific investigation, Sigma Xi was committed to the diffusion of the nature of scientific research and of the value of scientific method to the lay public.
Teachers at the U. of R. who had been admitted to the society elsewhere, such as Professor Herman L. Fairchild, a charter member of the mother chapter, united with Sigma Xi men at the Medical School and in the Rochester community--altogether over thirty--to form a local club (1925). The national organization approved its application for a charter, and on May 3, 1930, the Rochester chapter began its notable career. In the spring of 1930, Phi Beta Kappa started the practice of electing a few very high-standing Juniors to membership in the Society. Before that, the initiation ceremony had been shifted from the spring to the Commencement weekend, and annual meetings were conducted at the University Club or the Rochester Club, or at the Memorial Art Gallery with luncheon at the nearby Faculty Club. The Society contributed liberally to the Greater University fund of 1924. 3
Undergraduate clubs, some old, some new, some for men only, some with women participating, attained larger dimensions in the 'twenties. Except for athletics, music, stimulated by the presence of the Eastman School, made the broadest appeal among extracurricular doings. In the spring of 1920 the Glee Club emerged from wartime doldrums and, as would be true throughout the decade, presented a full roster of concerts and frequently sang at college chapel services. The quality of performances improved after Theodore F. Fitch, 1922, became (1925) director; an elected student leader served alongside of him. To foster musical interests in any and every way, the Troubadors, in which membership was reserved for star performers in musical clubs, was organized (1920). For a while, the Ragpickers appeared in concerts with the Glee Club and then turned into a jazz and dance band. In 1927 the Glee Club united with the Sinfonia orchestra of the Eastman School in entertaining audiences and an independent quartette, "The Vulgar Boatmen," made infrequent appearances in the city.
Attempts to promote college singing on the steps of Anderson Hall and at basketball games proved unsuccessful. For an interclass song contest Charles F. Cole, 1925 and Richard L. Greene, 1926 (originally, 1925), combined their talents to produce "The Dandelion Yellow" which promptly became and remained an undergraduate favorite. One verse and the chorus ran:
O, Azariah Boody's cows were sleek and noble kine
They wandered o'er the verdant fields where grew the dandelion.
And when they drove the cows away to build a home for knowledge
They took the color from the flow'r and gave it to the college.
O, the dandelion yellow 'Tis a color rich and mellow
Accorded love and loyalty by many a gallant fellow
O, let Harvard have her crimson and old Elis sons the blue
To the dandelion yellow we will e'er be true. 4
In 1925 an attractively produced and inexpensive new U. of R. song book was published by the Sophomore class. Included in its pages was the stirring prize marching song, "We are the loyal sons of Rochester," written by Jacob S. Roodney, a member of the class of 1927 killed in an auto accident later that year. A reorganized University band, composed mainly of Eastman students and clothed in striking uniforms, played (1926) at athletic games and even ventured a concert in Kilbourn Hall.
Spasmodically, the Dramatics Club, which adopted (1920) the name Mountebanks, presented plays, and in 1925 it daringly merged with the corresponding women's thespian society. Curricular clubs, a stimulating supplement to classroom learning, were formed in abundance and met periodically. Professor Perkins served as patron of a Political Discussion Club, which was presently followed by a Literary Club to talk about original poems and short stories, a Book Club to cultivate the pleasures of reading, a Watkeys Discussion Group meeting monthly with a speaker of distinction, a Geology Club, which published a short-lived sheet called "Geolog," a Psychology Club, an Engineers Club enrolling graduates as well as undergraduates, a Barristers Club for pre-law students, a Political Science Club, and a Morey Club, made up of the brightest Freshmen in history, which listened to and criticized papers composed by members. Interest in debating was at such a low ebb that no debate organization existed.
For undergraduates intending to become schoolteachers, a chapter of the national society of Kappa Phi Kappa was established (1929), and the national honor society of Phi Sigma Iota for faculty and able advanced students in Romance languages granted (1930) a charter to the U. of R. A national honor society in optometry, Omega Epsilon Phi, which admitted only schools of top rank, chartered (1929) a chapter at Rochester but it lasted only a few years. Under guidance of faculty men, a Cosmopolitan Club, initially for students of foreign origin, was founded (1925) and Avukah, the intercollegiate Zionist association, authorized a branch on the Prince Street Campus.
"To undertake and encourage projects of benefit to the college" and to foster cordial faculty-student relations, a society of Seniors, with three sponsoring teachers, called the Keideans, was founded (1924). Not more than fifteen Seniors, chosen on the basis of all-around superiority, might belong, and they were distinguished by gold lapel emblems; to be tapped for the Keideans ipso facto enhanced one's campus prestige. The society convened regularly to discuss undergraduate questions and to shape student sentiment on college issues. As Professor Packard, a sponsor, put it, "Without such honorary societies there is great danger that there will be no more spirit here than there is in some high schools." An attempt to revive the mysterious prewar Falcon Society of Seniors fizzled out.
But Juniors organized (1925) the Mendicants, to look after visiting athletic teams and other guests, and they arranged dances, whose earnings (if any) were invested in blankets for players who had won letters on the gridiron. In 1920 the pre-war Junior Whist and Sophomore Clubs woke up again and Pro Concordia brought together (1926) representative Freshmen to promote class and college loyalties and to counteract harmful discord between fraternities. 5
All of these groups contributed something to either the intellectual or the social life of the college and of their membership, but put together they never generated anything like the publicity caused by a tiny band of undergraduate free-thinkers in the Society of Damned Souls. Shortly before its advent, the U. of R. had attained a little notoriety because of a head-on clash between Professor George M. Forbes and Rush Rhees, Jr., non-graduate 1926, younger son of the President. "Radicalism of Rochester President's Son Causes Professor to Bar Youth from Class" read a startling headline splashed across the front-page of the New York Times. The accompanying story related that Rhees, a youth of "advanced ideas," had been dropped from a philosophy class because he presumed to refute everything Forbes taught and was guilty of shallow thinking and inordinate conceit. Professing allegiance to anarchism, Rhees was quoted as saying, "I am a radical. Dr. Forbes is not. That is why I am debarred...From a Puritan I have revolted into an atheist." Certain undergraduates reproached Forbes on the ground that the expulsion of Rhees violated the principle of independence of thought.
At the time of the explosion on the campus, President Rhees was abroad, and his biographer, oddly enough, is wholly silent on his reaction to this bizarre incident, which must have been extremely painful. Withdrawing from the U. of R., young Rhees completed his education at Edinburgh and Cambridge, married a Scottish girl, took out British citizenship, and settled down as a teacher of philosophy at the University of Swansea in Wales. 6
Two years after the Rush Rhees, Jr. flareup, the New York Times came out with "Rochester Students Form Atheist Society," which, reputedly, had been assured of support by the American Association for the Advancement of Atheism (A.A.A.A.). Earlier, a small notice about the group appeared in the Rochester Journal, a typically sensational Hearst paper on the hunt for larger circulation. A Journal reporter interviewed the leader of the band, Salvatore Russo, 1929, who facetiously, it seems, remarked that the group called itself "The Damned Souls"--a broadly comparable clique in Los Angeles chose to be known as "The Devil's Angels," and one in Philadelphia took the name of "God's Black Sheep." "There was absolutely no intention at the time of forming an atheists' organization," Russo later recalled.
The Journal kept harping on the atheistic convictions of the "Damned Souls" and published a picture of the members, taken under duress. "The paper Journal had a definite plan," Russo knew. "If the school expelled us it would argue that it was not a liberal college; if it kept us it would mean that the school was harboring atheists."
From Rochester the Associated Press spread the "Damned Souls" story across the nation--and even to the Paris edition of the New York Herald --and thus inspired (or helped to inspire) a spate of newspaper editorials and magazine articles. Understandably enough, the episode provoked as great a stir in the Flower City community as on the Campus; some subscribers to the Greater University fund of 1924 stridently demanded that the heterodox insurgents be expelled.
Under the caption "Irrepressible Youth," a New York Times editorial predicted that the society would soon disintegrate for its members would "quickly bore each other to distraction," and it praised the University authorities for their tact and wisdom in dealing with the delicate situation. In a sentence, the administration rather ignored the "Damned Souls," though letting it be known that the religious beliefs of students were their own personal responsibility. Rhees commented that "never before have young people, as a whole, been so overwhelmingly religious." Nonetheless, when inviting Shailer Mathews, dean of the University of Chicago Divinity School, to deliver the forthcoming Commencement address, the President requested that a topic other than "The Damned Souls" should be chosen, remarking, "Some processes of regeneration are most effectively carried on in solitude." The Campus, however, condemned the Society root and branch and heartily deplored the unsavory local and national publicity.
Russo, the son of Italian immigrants to Rochester, had been an "ardent religionist" as a boy, but reading of philosophical literature had led him to break away from his Roman Catholic heritage. On the line concerning church preference in the application for admission to the University he wrote, "That as of all poisons I would prefer arsenic, so of all churches I choose the Baptist..." While in high school, Russo organized a little circle that discussed psychological problems mainly, and that activity continued after he and several other members matriculated in the college. In all there were four men and two women in the society, mostly Freshmen, with a scattering of other students on the outer fringe. When the group came into public view, most of its adherents had been in college too short a time to have had their opinions influenced by their studies. Russo carried on correspondence with the A. A. A. A., wrote articles for the free-thinking Truth Seeker, and the "Damned Souls" loosely affiliated with the A. A. A. A. without actually joining it.
For his ideas and the attendant publicity, Russo experienced many unhappy hours. Children on the street yelled at him, "There ain't no God, there ain't no God." He was mobbed near his home, seized on the U. of R. Campus, hauled into the country, beaten, and turned loose; his father's business suffered. But "The Damned Souls" kept on holding meetings. A journalist who sat in on one session reported the presence of seventeen young people, seven of them women, and wrote a detailed account of what amounted to a debate on the theme that "marriage is an antiquated institution, and should be abolished;" a free-wheeling discussion, deadly earnest, ensued.
When three undergraduates, never attached to the "Damned Souls," took their own lives, the gruesome tragedies were straightway charged to them. Salvatore Russo, however, has commented, "Our gang loved life too much for suicide and not one of them has committed suicide to my knowledge in the forty years that have passed." Two couples, incidentally, found life partners in the circle.
After Clinton N. Howard, a militant Rochester reformer, publicly condemned the "Damned Souls," Russo's brother Carl, a U. of R. Sophomore, entered suit for slander. Newsmen likened a possible trial to the historic Scopes case in Tennessee, involving the right to teach the theory of organic evolution to schoolchildren. The American Civil Liberties Union offered help in waging a court battle, but the suit was dropped when the noted Chicago lawyer, Clarence Darrow, advised that a trial would surely absolve Howard since he had not named names. Profoundly disturbed by all that had happened, Carl Russo left college and for a couple of years his whereabouts were unknown to his family and friends.
Subsequently, Philosopher Alfred H. Jones; newly come to the faculty, acted as counselor and father-confessor of the Society--which modified its name to "The Souls"--and he was instrumental in securing an invitation to the Reverend Dr. Albert B. Cohoe, a tough-minded New Jersey Baptist clergyman, who had an unusual understanding of students, as visiting lecturer and adviser in religion. His influence led "The Souls" to rethink their philosophy.
Summing up the incident, Jones stressed that the youths had carried their opinions over from high school days and by the middle of the Sophomore year their outlook had greatly moderated. "Several members participated in study of the philosophy of religion," Jones remarked, "and, before graduating, became inclined to take a mystical, rather than a destructive rationalistic attitude." 7
Seldom a vital factor in the life of the college, the Students' Association plodded blissfully along its way. To be sure, the constitution underwent (1922) revision and the annual election of officers, important in the undergraduate scale of values, frequently generated excitement and tension. The Association approved in 1924 a reorganization of the Board of Control--formerly the University Council--following a faculty investigation of extracurricular affairs.
As reconstituted, voting members on the Board comprised the president of the Students' Association, two elected undergraduates, one elected professor, and two elected alumni; the University treasurer and the director of physical education had places on the Board by reason of the offices they filled. Its jurisdiction embraced the supervision and control of extracurricular activities, not excluding elections to the top positions on the staff of the Campus ; management of finances by business-like methods formed a major objective of the Board. For the sake of efficiency, work was carried on by two committees, one on athletics, the second on other activities. 8
Membership in the Greek fraternities rose as high in the 'twenties as sixty percent of all male students, but usually hovered around fifty percent. The local society of Phi Epsilon, founded in 1884 under another name, obtained a charter from Theta Chi national fraternity in 1920, and presently acquired a home on fraternity row along Prince Street. On its second try, the local society of Sigma Delta Epsilon gained (1920) recognition by the Students' Association with all the rights and privileges pertaining thereto. From lodge rooms in the city, Sigma Delt moved into a University-owned house directly south of Catharine Strong Hall. Desirous of a national affiliation, it petitioned in turn Delta Phi, Chi Psi (an attempt to reinstate the chapter that existed at the U. of R. from 1884 to 1889), and Phi Kappa Psi, each time with the backing of Rochesterians who belonged to these fraternities. When these overtures failed of success, a petition was addressed to Sigma Chi, which in 1932 responded affirmatively.
Meanwhile, several "neutrals" started (1920) a non-secret club which presently entered the American Association of Commons Clubs and was given formal recognition by the Students' Association. After serving as host to the national Commons Clubs in 1926, the Rochester chapter resigned and reorganized itself as the Beta Delta Gamma fraternity. A new society with the flowery name of Sodalitas Melioris Amicitiae fancied itself as the seed of a national organization, but soon languished and succumbed.
Undergraduates of Italian antecedents formed a club of their own, which in 1929 was installed as the Rochester chapter of the national Alpha Phi Delta fraternity; it maintained a house on the edge of the campus on College Avenue. Little is known about Sigma Rho, a non-sectarian group which admitted Eastman School students and survived only a short while; a like fate befell "Sword and Seal," composed of men who transferred to the U. of R. and who belonged to fraternities that had no chapters at Rochester.
Something new was added to the Hellenic Council when the office of impartial arbiter was created (1925). This officer, who was a member of the faculty, was responsible principally for the administration, interpretation, and enforcement of rules and regulations on pledging. The custom of "rushing" in the spring before students matriculated gave way in 1921 to pledging after instruction began and the time of "rushing" was for a while pushed deep into the autumn. The actual mechanics of pledging, always a bothersome matter, underwent repeated alterations. Fraternity initiation ceremonies were shifted to the second semester, but recommendations to postpone them to the Sophomore year died a-borning.
In the decade of national Prohibition, fraternity officers experienced endless trouble because of violations of the ban on bringing intoxicants into houses. Traditional concepts of fraternities as extracurricular vehicles for cultivating literary tastes and effectiveness in public speaking were largely neglected, with the notable exception of Alpha Delta Phi, which for a few years also published a four page pamphlet, "The Grad's Reverie," only a few of whose issues have been discovered. "The Old Lady," as the fraternity was known to the initiated, maintained a loan fund for worthy undergraduates. Aside from eating and sleeping quarters, the interests of the Greek brotherhoods were heavily focused upon dances--fees for one dinner dance soared to eleven dollars--card games, and athletics. Sanitary conditions in the houses often provoked the wrath of Professor Fauver, but better days loomed ahead as seven chapters prepared to migrate to new homes on the River Campus. At best, non-Greeks had only an extremely fluid organization. 9
Oscillations in University policy on formal religious exercises advertised the point that the authorities were groping for something worthy and worthwhile in a period of increasing secularism. Campus editorials more than once pilloried compulsory chapel as a meaningless gathering, and when meetings were renamed assemblies not much difference was detected by the students.
Faculty legislation of 1927 prescribed secular assemblies, some of them compulsory, and voluntary religious services each week with sermonettes and music, men and women attending. Meetings were held either in Catharine Strong Hall or the Art Gallery Theatre. In the opinion of President Rhees this revolutionary departure from the long-standing tradition of obligatory chapel attendance "Tended to advance the spiritual life of the college," and he very much hoped that a structure for religious devotions would be erected on the River Campus. Yet whatever the name, student response to non-obligatory corporate meetings was decidedly limited. Annually on Armistice Day, classes were suspended so that the college community might meet for commemorative rights.
Beginning in 1919 a full-time secretary was employed by the college Y. M. C. A., an office that was continued for several decades; quarters for "Y" uses were set aside on the first floor of Anderson Hall. In addition to devotional worship and promotion of interest in foreign missions, the "Y" looked after a variety of miscellaneous oddments: undergraduate employment, a lost and found department, a reference library, locating rooms for students from out of town, and management of the Freshman orientation camp. Briefly, there was lively interest in the welfare of Chinese Wuhan, and talk of exchanges of students with that faraway province. Since the "Y" was essentially a Protestant enterprise, a Roman Catholic priest was assigned to the Campus as a chaplain, and a branch of the national Newman Club was organized (1929); as another mark of changing attitudes, a priest preached at a chapel service. 10
Each year the Cutler Lectureship brought a distinguished speaker on American constitutional government to the campus. Former President William H. Taft initiated (1921) the series with an address entitled "Liberty Under Law," which was published by the Yale University Press. Other men prominent in public life or learned scholars held the lectureship subsequently, the latter presenting two or more lectures as a rule. Notable literary personalities who addressed college audiences included Hamlin Garland, novelist, the critic Carl Van Doren, and the poets Vachel Lindsay, Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, Amy Lowell, and Edna St. Vincent Millay.
Niels Bohr, renowned Danish physicist, spoke on "The Atom and the System of the Elements," while William Jennings Bryan vigorously attacked the concept of organic evolution, which provoked fiery rejoinders from professors who begged to differ with his interpretation. The well-known Norse explorer, Fridtjof Nansen, lectured on Soviet Russia and the president of Robert College in Istanbul, Caleb F. Gates, acquainted listeners with the post-1918 situation in the Near East. A Socialist candidate for governor, Louis Waldman, told (1926) the student body how he thought state affairs should be conducted.
Circulation of the Campus reached the 3,000 level at one point in the 1920's, over two-thirds of the copies going to alumni free of charge. Owing to financial difficulties, management of business affairs was entrusted to a graduate manager of extracurricular activities. Offices for student publications were moved from Anderson to pleasant quarters in Kendrick Hall; proposals to pay the editor-in-chief a salary got nowhere. The "Greater University" project prompted the Campus staff to envision a daily paper, with or without the collaboration of women students, and a printing plant of its own.
Articles from the pen of Editor Roger P. Butterfield, 1927, so annoyed the administration that there was talk of expelling him; actually, while he felt the breath of authority, it was a cool draught not a hot blast. To complaints from prominent Rochesterians about some of Butterfield's writings, Rhees replied that "repressive censorship would be unwise."
Although sports and social affairs crowded the columns of the Campus --and advertised an upsurge in the relative proportion of the non-intellectual concerns of undergraduates--space was assigned now and then to alumni notes, book reviews, or reports from abroad by faculty men on leave or little essays by them. When the Eastern Intercollegiate News Association was founded (1920), the Campus became a charter member and its staff helped in the work of a new Press Club, whose task was to circulate information about the U. of R. more widely than ever before. Editors complained incessantly that the administration handed out University news to the city press before passing it to the Campus.
Each year on or about April First, a burlesque issue, ostensibly humorous, was published under titles such as "The Scampus," "The Oister," or "The Reece Gazette." A characteristic number (1922) carried stories on "Prexy to Take Post as Adler Clothes Model" and "Professor Dexter Perkins Chosen King of Omigosh;" the writer had the young historian say, "I have accepted on condition that I shall be Absolute Monarch. My reign will be an enlightened one...." So spicy, so indecent was the fare prepared for the April Fool's issue of 1926 that the printer refused to publish it.
For the most part the Interpres adhered to established traditions in content and on the custom of dedication to a favorite professor--or paid tribute to George Eastman and his liberality (1925). Notwithstanding rising costs, each yearbook staff aspired to produce the most sumptuous publication ever--men in the class of 1923 met a deficit for their Interpres by an assessment of twenty-one dollars each. The 1927 issue saluted "The Greater University...made possible by the people of the community who have given generous support." Professor Slater contributed an historical essay on the Oak Hill project and the pages were embellished by fine engravings of buildings at Prince Street and planned for the River Campus. 11
As the attention paid to athletics in undergraduate publications amply testified, sports dominated the extracurricular sphere and distinction in intercollegiate athletics came to occupy a high place in undergraduate standards of values. The University Council (after 1923 the Board of Control) and its appointee to the post of graduate manager divided jurisdiction on intercollegiate athletics with the director of physical education, Professor Edwin Fauver. He and devotees of athletics, both actors and spectators, alumni notably, who were interested in collegiate glory, clashed, precisely because there were two contradictory sides to the conduct of sports, both vigorously defended. Anxious to enhance the reputation of the U. of R. in competitive games, certain influential alumni wanted seasonal professional coaches hired, while Fauver insisted that coaches should be full-time fixtures on his staff in physical education.
President Rhees faced a delicate dilemma for while he was strongly opposed to anything savoring of professionalism, he wished to avoid antagonizing sports-minded alumni. So embittered was Fauver at one point that he turned in his resignation, but reconsidered when assured that his ideals would ultimately be applied. He wished to emphasize sports that could be played after graduation and intramural competitions, always with an eye to improving the manners and the initiative of players. Under his leadership a rule was adopted that Freshmen (or transfers--"tramp athletes"--during their first year) might not play on varsity teams; those restrictions significantly reduced the number of good performers available for intercollegiate contests and permitted few substitutes.
Fauver also had a large part in the formation of the New York State Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (1925), serving as its first president. Eight institutions entered the Conference, which set uniform and strict eligibility rules and scheduled games between member colleges. Dissolution often threatened the Conference, but it somehow survived for a decade. 12
Nationwide, the 1920's came to be called "the golden age of sports," and at Rochester as at other colleges football remained king. Two story-book gridiron classics of the decade lingered long in the memory of players and spectators. The first was with a Colgate powerhouse in 1920. When the half ended, the Red Raiders from the Chenango Valley had a comfortable margin, 14-0, but at the outset of the second half, Captain Donald ("Bunny'') Harris (originally 1919), a halfback, wearing a specially-devised headgear because of a fractured jaw early in the season, lugged the ball across the goal line; then a spectacular double pass enabled Rochester to even up the score. With only a few minutes remaining, Harris, helped by superb blocking, raced sensationally for eighty-six yards across the Colgate barricade for what proved to be the winning tally, and thus he "wrote his name indelibly" in gridiron annals. Joy-crazed undergraduates celebrated the amazing triumph at a monster bonfire and the Campus brought out a "Football Souvenir" edition.
Eight years later the U. of R. scored a stunning victory over Hobart, with which rivalry was at a zenith. For five years in a row the eleven from Geneva had carried away the laurel, and a repeat performance was universally anticipated, not least because of two stellar players, Captain George Barna and Merle Gulick, who one day would be elected to the football Hall of Fame--and to the presidency of the board of trustees of his Alma Mater. With only five minutes left to play, the Purple held the lead, 18 to 13. Then the unexpected happened; Edward G. ("Red") Hoehn, Jr., 1930, tossed a long forward pass to his classmate, Bert A. Van Horn, who caught the ball on the run and scampered over the goal line. Not surprisingly, the Campus waxed eloquent about the thrilling "Frank Merriwell Comeback." 13
Mostly with an eye to reducing the chances of injury, important changes in football rules were effected in the 'twenties. On a shift play, for instance, players were required to come to a lull stop, "clipping" was severely penalized (1925), goal posts were moved ten yards back from the playing field, and the try for a point after a touchdown had to be attempted from the two-yard stripe. The "huddle" system of calling plays also came into vogue (1922).
The overall U. of R. football story in the 1920's resembled the gyrations on the stock market. Wisely, Cornell and Colgate were eliminated from the schedule after their overwhelming victories in 1921. Following a dismal season in 1925--one win and one tie against seven losses--an energetic alumni committee pleaded loudly for reformation, and the trustees unanimously agreed that whatever was necessary should be paid to secure a first-rate coach. 14
Pouring oil on the troubled football waters, "Prexy" reminded all and sundry that the sport required "expert coaching, that is expert teaching." A coach must first of all be an individual of fine character, he declared, and a devotee of clean sportsmanship. "Only second to these is genuine ability to teach the game. Without marked ability to teach, success can hardly be looked for, even from the most conscientious coaching." He emphasized the point, too, that a coach with the attributes he had cited was expensive and reiterated that the evil of "subsidized" players would not be tolerated. "We must loyally pursue all the time," he concluded, "the true ideals of college sport and of the relation of student activities to education..." 15
The choice of football coach ultimately fell on Thomas J. ("Tom") Davies an all-American luminary at the University of Pittsburgh and experienced in coaching college teams. Davies was singularly successful in communicating his enthusiasm for the game to Rochester players and therewith determination to perform at the peak of their ability. With him as pilot from 1926 into 1934, gridiron fortunes rose smartly, and the elevens staged many colorful contests befitting the new nickname of "Yellowjackets." Sweet indeed was the last game played on the Culver Road oval, the U. of R. handily taking Hobart into camp. Apart from Harris and Van Horn, the outstanding players of the 'twenties were David F. Hummell, Oscar E. Loeser, Jr., Julian D. Oliver, Gordon L. Wallace, all 1923, John T. Sullivan, non-graduate 1923, later a member of the coaching staff and honored by the U. of R. on the fiftieth anniversary (1968) of his first service as Freshman quarterback, Joseph M. McShea, non-graduate 1924, and John J. Wilson, Jr., 1929.
Under John Murphy, coach from 1921 to 1930, except for one year Yellowjacket basketball squads compiled highly creditable records. In terms of victories the 1923-24 season was the best in ten years, and in the person of Rufus ("Rufe") Hedges, 1926, the club had one of the most accomplished guards ever to wear the U. of R. colors; in a celebrated duel (1926) with the great "Vic" Hanson, Syracuse star, Hedges had a decided edge, though the Salt City five actually won the game. A significant revision of rules (1923-24) required the player who was the victim of a foul to attempt the free throw or throws, instead of the most proficient foulshooter on the team.
Baseball, which was unmistakably in the doldrums, vied with track as a springtime diversion. New varsity records were hung up nearly every year in running and field events. For a short time tennis was considered a letter sport, and cross-country running was also accorded recognition. It became customary to reward the best Senior in each major sport with a handsome gold insignia.
According to widely accepted interpretation, collegians of the decade of the Prohibition experiment, of the "jazz decade" were more involved in drink and revel than learning. It is almost a maxim that undergraduate patterns of behavior vary from generation to generation, more or less in tune with the ephemeral customs of the time. Yet flaming youth flamed less high at Rochester than on many another American campus. Fauver reported that indulgence in alcoholic beverages was in fact confined to a slim minority of Greeks, and compared with pre-war Princeton the U. of R. was "like Sahara." That appraisal is not to be construed, however, to mean that gay parties, boisterous pranks, and voices of protest against the status quo were unknown.
Dancing attained epidemic proportions in the fraternities, classes, and other groupings. Oldsters were inclined to decry the "Bunny Hug" and the "Charleston" as injurious to the manners and morals of collegians. Freshmen, incidentally, scored a coup in 1926 by staging their annual ball at the golf club house on Oak Hill.
Sometimes lawlessness and destruction of property in the city, as in the past, accompanied outbursts of underclass rowdyism. If and when citizen victims of hooliganism protested, "Prexy" rebuked the culprits sternly and obliged them to make retribution; deeds of vandalism at Geneva on the eve of a Hobart football match were handled in the same way. The yearly underclass "proc" battle reached such dangerous dimensions that the Rochester policy intervened and stopped the melee; in 1929 this particular manifestation of interclass rivalry ceased. The traditional and strenuous flag scrap, avowedly to determine underclass superiority, was replaced for one year and one year only by a tamer "canvas" rush, which afforded the Freshmen a better chance to win. Celebrating the last days of male instruction at Prince Street, exuberant men of the Class of 1933 penetrated into Stephen Foster Hall and then abjectly apologized for their misdeed. In reply to the apology the house mother said she understood that the malefactors "did not consider that the dormitories are the girls' homes," and she regretted "exceedingly that several of her girls were undignified and discourteous enough to throw water upon the invaders."
A "Bolshevik element" residing in Kendrick Hall indulged in unseemly hi-jinks, hoisting a red lantern to the top of a campus flagpole, and draping the statues of ladies in the enclaves of Sibley Hall; daubing the Sphinxes in front of the library with paint was a periodic occurrence. And, as usual, agitation for abandonment of yellow as the college color cropped up from time to time without, however, bringing off a change. An ardent female partisan of tradition burst out with:
Then up with the yellow, let it float full high,
And be neighbor to the great blue sky;
But let not its folds in the dust e'er trail
'Till the gold and yellow in the sun shall fail. 16
Rising operating costs compelled the trustees to increase tuition charges. Whereas tuition and general fees amounted to $130 at the beginning of the 'twenties--overall expenses ranged from $400 to $500--tuition was advanced in 1922 to $200, in 1928 to $250, and in 1930 to $300. These rates, which were substantially lower than at comparable colleges, left a yawning gap of around sixty percent between income from students and the cost to the college to educate them; an optional medical fee of five dollars covered hospital care, if necessary. Scholarship and loan funds increased steadily, thanks to the thoughtfulness of alumni--notably in metropolitan Chicago--and friends. The trustees voted two scholarships for students coming from Mexico and Russia, but they seem never to have been used.
A "Commons" lunchroom was opened in Kendrick Hall, using equipment bequeathed by the Students' Army Training Corps. Until the Faculty Club started serving meals, teachers ate in the lunchroom amidst unforgettable and unforgotten camaraderie. But many students shunned what was labeled "Magg's Subterranean Hash Emporium," much preferring the fare available on fraternity house tables.
Quite in tune with Rochester tradition, a large percentage of the under graduates worked for part of their expenses. An inconclusive investigation of 1921 disclosed that over half the men held paying jobs, and four out of five of them earned more than half the costs of attending college. It was disclosed (1929) in the Watkeys Survey that seventy percent of the men who answered the questionnaire partly supported themselves; one ambitious youth operated a barbershop on the outskirts of the college grounds. Nearly all of the students took jobs in the summer as pick-and-shovel laborers (including employment on River Campus construction), or selling books, delivering ice, driving trucks, working on city newspapers, and whatnot. Whether in term-time or in the summer, money-earning absorbed hours that might otherwise have been devoted to general intellectual browsing.
It would be interesting and useful to know more about the social and economic background of the students. How far had their parents gone in formal education? What proportion of them represented the "new immigration?" How did the number of undergraduates from urban homes compare with those from towns and farms?
"Rochester needs to know that we have a college for women, that it will be some day what it is not...a college with its own traditions, its own individuality...a distinct, self-contained part of the University." Thus Professor John R. Slater phrased his thoughts on the future of the women's branch of the U. of R. At the very time that he wrote, women undergraduates were in fact shaping a distinctive individuality of their own against the year when their sister successors would have a monopoly on the Prince Street campus. Impossible though this deepened feeling of corporate separateness is to define, it was evident enough to contemporary watchers of the times. 17
In especial, the Women's Students' Association to which all undergraduates belonged, worked to instill a deeper sense of community, and a sort of executive body, the Students Advisory Board, and a Traditions Committee endeavored to strengthen inherited customs and traditions. As means to the end, monthly suppers were arranged, noontime songfests were encouraged, and an honor system was in force, though often violated. In 1925 a Student-Faculty Advisory Committee was created to oversee extracurricular doings, discuss issues of general college concern, and to draw bonds between taught and teachers tighter.
Women undergraduates maintained their own Glee Club, which oscillated uncertainly between vigor and weakness, and at times a quartette or a songsters' set known as "The Talented Seven" joined the Glee Club in concerts. A distaff society interested in dramatics, the Cothurnos, united (1925) with the male Mountebanks to put on plays, and dramatic performances were exchanged with Keuka College. The Scribblers Club, heiress of the Literary Club, concentrated on writing short stories and poetry, the most meritorious of which were published, and the Sketch Club turned out decorative posters to advertise college events or illustrations for The Cloister, an undergraduate publication.
To promote interest in college affairs, a Junior class society, Sigma Kappa Epsilon, was established (1923), but seems to have lasted only a short while. Far more durable were the Marsiens, a Senior honorary society, similar in aims to the men's Keideans, and composed of a minimum of eight prominent Seniors. They wore distinguishing little buttons imprinted with a small sword, and grew into the most influential student organization at the women's college.
In many instances women met in extracurricular clubs with the men, but one group, "Les Novices;" was made up (1921) exclusively of women who convened weekly for French conversation; a fine of a penny was levied for each English word spoken. "Le Cercle Francaise," organized later, cherished identical objectives as did "Der Deutsche Verein for the German language. The best students in the introductory course in history were invited into the History Club which held frequent and provocative discussions. "To encourage intelligent citizenship" and to debate current public issues, a junior auxiliary of the League of Women Voters was founded (1925) with the name of Susan B. Anthony.
As previously, sororities provided a large part of the social life of many undergraduates in the form of meetings, dances, and parties. The sisterhood of Theta Gamma, however, passed out of existence in the early 1920's, the members feeling that sororities transgressed democratic principles. On the other hand, three new societies were organized alongside of the four existing ones. They were Sigma Kappa Upsilon (1923), Sigma Delta Phi (the name finally chosen) (1923), composed of Jewish undergraduates, and Theta Alpha Epsilon (1924). All had the same purposes as the older sororities and all boasted alumnae organizations, as indeed did Theta Gamma even after ceasing to be active on the campus. Rather curiously, new sisterhoods emerged when a good deal of talk was heard about discontinuing sororities entirely, the stock arguments being that they provoked friction and discords, were symptoms of provincialism, and, as the older colleges for women in New England testified, were quite unnecessary for a healthy extracurricular atmosphere.
Dissenting from that reasoning prominent sorority sisters applied pressure again upon the administration for permission to affiliate with national societies and to establish homes in one form or another. Some groups in fact accumulated modest house funds and architects actually prepared blueprints for a Pan-Hellenic Hall in which each of the sororities would have quarters of its own. However, in line with earlier policy, the administration disapproved both of nationalization and of sorority housing; admittedly, costs would have been heavy and the prospect of a superb students' union at Prince Street chilled enthusiasm for housing dreams. Non-sorority undergraduates organized about 1923 a social unit called the Phiddists, which welcomed Eastman School women into membership; no records of the club have been found and it seems never to have had much vitality. 18
Judging by editorials and letters in student publications, women took exception to formal and compulsory religious exercises almost as vigorously as the men. Yet the campus branch of the Y. W. C. A. conducted weekly devotional services, stimulated interest in foreign missions, and sent delegates to annual conferences at Silver Bay. It also collected money for student relief abroad, sponsored big sister clubs in the city and work among immigrants recently come from Europe like the Housekeeping Center for newcomers from Italy, who were taught the English language, American ways of cooking, and the like. The "Y" also undertook the publication of the Bluebook, a manual of basic information for Freshmen primarily, and operated a second-hand book exchange. When student interest in the "Y" languished, a volunteer adviser injected (1928) fresh strength into the organization.
New publications alongside of the firmly-rooted Croceus represented major milestones on the road toward a distinctive community for the women. First came the Cloister, a monthly periodical, which reported college doings and furnished an outlet for literary aspirants. Hitherto only announcements in chapel and notices festooning bulletin boards had informed students of day-to-day happenings at the college.
Six by ten inches in size, the Cloister, first published in February, 1921, contained sixteen pages normally, though special editions on smaller pages ran to double that number. As a rule, a few photographs or pen sketches were published along with as many advertisements as could be solicited--usually a couple pages; upwards of 500 copies were printed, most of them taken by student subscribers at a cost of $2.25 a year. It was essentially a literary magazine rather than a newspaper, but a section on college news and editorials were features, and an "Open Forum" enabled students to express opinions on anything and everything. An alumnae department was designed to appeal to graduates, who were invited to send in articles.
All alumnae have ideas,
Will they set them down?
And make the January Cloister
Known throughout the town.
A few graduates responded and so did many a faculty member, Professor Merrell, for instance, asking and answering, "Evolution, What of it?" and Professor Moore discoursing on "The Bull Ring of Seville." Most contributions, however, whether prose or poetry, came from undergraduate pens, Eastman School students among them. With the advent of The Cloister Window, an authentic college newspaper, in the autumn of 1925, the Cloister became exclusively a literary vehicle, issued three times annually, and two years later lack of interest spelled its doom. Unluckily, some numbers of the Cloister are missing from the University collection.
Under the talented and crusading editorship of Margaret M. Frawley, 1926, The Cloister Window quickly won respect and a wide readership among the students. Originally a fortnightly, it turned in 1926 into a weekly of four to six pages, depending on the volume of advertising obtained. While the content rested heavily on information about what was going on or planned at the college, commentary on new books and other literary pieces, columns on the alumnae and doings at other women's colleges were printed; each issue carried a solitary photograph.
Easily the liveliest, the most thought-provoking section of the paper was "The Reflector," carrying letters to the editor on all manner of subjects; when this column was discontinued in 1930, The Cloister Window lost a good deal of its lustre. Vigorous campaigns were waged for more illumination on the campus and for stop-and-go lights at the intersection of University Avenue and Prince Street--both successful--and for instruction in sociology, which failed, notwithstanding a reinforcing petition addressed to the administration signed by virtually every student. Altogether, the Cloister Window in and of itself witnessed to the heightened maturity and feeling of independence on the part of the women undergraduates.
Little altered in format or content, the Croceus came out year after year. Literary bits were allotted considerable space, once a cross-word puzzle was ventured, and humorous sallies were given prominence--"The Cloistered Widow," for example, or "Atmosphere Changes," which illustrates why undergraduates often infuriated the librarians.
You wouldn't know old Sibley Hall
When 'mid-years' come around.
The place is silent as a tomb,
You never hear a sound?
But after these mid-terms are done
Old Sib's a different hall,
The profs may frown their lives away
But no one cares at all.
The "sweet young thing" begins to rave;
The hero bold to brag.
Then Sibley Hall is filled with din,
And thoughts of lessons lag.
The Croceus staff was constantly harassed by financial shortages, even though various stratagems, like bridge parties and a candy counter, were resorted to by the Juniors to raise funds beyond income from subscriptions. Proposals to conquer monetary aches and pains by merging with the Interpres got nowhere, if for no other reason than that two geographically distinct colleges would soon be in existence.
All students belonged to the Athletic Association, founded in 1919, and paid a small fee to finance it. The annual gymnasium meet attracted only limited response, but class basketball games or contests with Eastman School women were quite popular, and the college regulation that every student had to demonstrate prowess in swimming by navigating the length of the pool in the city Y. W .C. A. lent stimulus to that sport.
Additions to the athletic opportunities included fortnightly hikes, volleyball, golf, hockey, archery, interpretive dancing, and clogging. At yearly Athletic Association banquets, awards for excellence in the various sports were distributed, and delegations were sent to a national conference on athletics for college women and to St. Lawrence University for a sports play day. In 1928 the Students' Association absorbed the Athletic Association, and thereafter team sports were managed by an elected undergraduate.
Like the men, the women undergraduates entertained incoming neophytes at an orientation week just before classes commenced, to clarify the purposes and the organization of the college; usually part of the program was held at a city Y. W. C. A. camp on Lake Ontario. Once instruction had begun, Freshmen were forced to acknowledge their insignificance in the collegiate spectrum by initiation frolics, the greenlings dressing as babes with bibs and bottles, and rattles in their hands--or some other foolish regalia.
Hallowe'en and Valentine day frolics were much in favor, toboggan or coasting parties less so. Extremely popular was Spring Day with all classes sharing in the colorful pageantry and the crowning of a Senior as May Queen the high point. For a time a lunchroom was operated in Anthony Hall, but after the Eastman School dormitory complex across University Avenue was available collegians might eat a noonday meal in the cafeteria there, and a small contingent from out-of-town lived in the residence halls. Staid administrators as well as stuffy women's societies in the city complained about the growing habit of cigarette smoking by women undergraduates, which was interpreted as bad taste and defiance of authority; but more likely it was simply a reflection of the more permissive social climate. To a protest from a gushing busybody, "Prexy" replied that since most of the women lived with their families, smoking was "a matter of home taste or principle rather than a college problem."
A nimble versifier pictured the student way of life of the early 'twenties in this form:
Bar-rooms were banned as haunts of sin,
Our sires and swains made bath-tub gin.
The country was headed for normalcy
And the world was safe for democracy.
The suffragettes won votes for women,
And girls won briefer garb to swim in.
When Annette Kellerman earned salutes
Subtracting bulk from bathing suits...
Our wardrobe consisted of skirts and sweaters,
Our hats were made by the maddest of hatters.
Coats had a belt surrounding the hips,
No lady wore lip-stick to brighten her lips...
We thought Doug Fairbanks quite superb,
Neck was a noun, and not a verb.
We made our dates in Sibley Hall,
We studied bridge in an up-stairs stall...
Under the gym they served a lunch
But 'twas more fun to get a bunch
To eat at Teall's, for just two bits,
Or guzzle Whittle's banana splits.
We made great holes in our father's salaries,
And never worried about our calories. 19
Throughout the 1920's spokesmen of the gentler sex remarked favorably, in the main, on the prospective departure of the men to Oak Hill. One writer rejoiced that in the future women would have "guardianship of our beautiful campus and its loved memories." A vision of to-morrow, called "U. of R. 1942. A College for Women," foresaw "chatterboxes in trousers" gone, the statue of President Anderson replaced by one of Dean Munro, the ladies playing football in darling suits of pink satin trimmed with princess lace, and partners for dances imported from Cornell and Yale. As for the River Campus, it would resemble an "Eveless paradise," a hermitage compared with which a tomb would be riotous and gay. At that "No-Woman's Land" up yonder, it would be impossible to secure ladies for parties, and onions would serve as the college flower.
Vestiges of anti-feminism still lingered it must be said, among some male undergraduates. An enlightened Campus editor castigated the rooted tradition that "the biggest man is he who can belittle the women at Rochester the most. All women are divided into two classes, co-eds and women," he explained. When Seniors invited (1920) their feminine counterparts to cooperate in a dramatic production, misogynists retorted by wearing white buttons with the inscription "Rochester, a college for men;" critics condemned the emblems as "an affront, an insult, and discourteous."
As the decade moved along, commingling of the two sexes at social gatherings, in dramatics, and in several extracurricular clubs, coupled with the impending transferal to Oak Hill, markedly diminished male hostility. An interesting statistical tabulation revealed (1930) that of the 1,141 women graduated from 1903 through 1929, 472 had married, 122 of them U. of R. men.
Dean Munro intended to retire in 1925 but decided to remain a little longer because of the exciting changes underway. She formally resigned in 1930, in the belief that the time had arrived to choose an administrator who could grow up with the independent college. Dedicating the Croceus to her, the editors expressed "sincere appreciation of her long term of friendly and sympathetic cooperation...her gentle but forceful personality..." Seniors gathered money for a portrait of the first Dean of Women.
As the new executive, the trustees called to Rochester from the University of Minnesota Helen D. Bragdon, a graduate of Mount Holyoke College, holder of a Harvard doctorate, and strongly recommended as a "rare combination of scholarship and personal attractiveness." 20
In 1923 the timetable for Commencement festivities was fixed at Friday through Monday, instead of the traditional Sunday through Wednesday. In point of fact, the celebration really started on Thursday with an Eastman School concert in Kilbourn Hall. Friday was given over to a Faculty-Senior baseball spectacle, Senior class day, men and women meeting separately, and fraternity reunions. Graduates held the center of the stage on Saturday with class reunions and gatherings around the Anderson statue. The so-called Dix pattern for reunions was introduced in 1926; that is, instead of home-coming at five-year intervals, three sets of four classes each which were in college together met for reunions. Frank L. Cubley, 1897, donated a silver cup to be presented to the reuning class having the largest percentage of its living alumni in attendance. (Trustee Cutler gave the same kind of trophy for the alumnae.)
Since University acquisition of Oak Hill was clearly in the cards in 1924, alumni frolics were switched there. Gayety reigned supreme, the campus-to-be was flooded with light, and the assembled company sang the "Genesee" on the edge of the storied River for the first time. For the diamond jubilee of 1925, returning alumni wore jockey caps of bright dandelion yellow with long navy blue visors on which "75" was stamped; costumes of reuning classes surpassed in gayety anything on record; balloons floated off into the heavens. Diversions turned more diversified, starting off with a sports matinee featuring baseball, cageball, quoits, horseshoes, and darts; then horse and rider equilibrium, and cigar races, baseball batting and throwing, a tug of war, a Captain Kidd treasure hunt, and a broom polo match.
The climax came with a Jubilee Dinner. After "Prexy" spoke, representatives of twenty-five classes each presented him with a cigar, and the toastmaster handed him a gold watch engraved, "To Rush Rhees, in Commemoration of Twenty-Five Years of Exceptional Service as President of the U. of R. From the Alumni, June, 1925." All united in singing favorite college songs. Completing the entertainment a cast from the Eastman School opera department sang snatches from "The Pirates of Penzance," accompanied by an orchestra from the Music Center, and ballet performers danced two selections. Taken together, the offerings on the day's program resembled an undergraduate textbook--a little bit of everything and not much of anything. On the River Campus in June of 1930 "old grads" congregated in the spanking new Gymnasium; the flood-lighted tower on the Rhees Library left imperishable memories.
On the distaff side, alumnae combined forces for Campus Day with the undergraduates, who saluted with song the older academic structures at Prince Street and then repaired to the women's complex--for - refreshments and a dramatic presentation. On one occasion, the imminent departure of male students from Prince Street was hilariously celebrated. Paraders bore a large papier-mache cow and chanted a parody on "The Dandelion Yellow."
First they 'took the cows away
To build a home for knowledge,
And now they take the boys away
For a better women's college.
Another year, the founding fathers of the University were commemorated, participants wearing exotic mid-nineteenth century costumes, and in 1930 a party in the garden of the Eastman School Dormitory bade a fond farewell to retiring Dean Munro.
Normally, President Rhees preached the baccalaureate sermon on Sunday morning in one of the city churches, and in the evening the Phi Beta Kappa Society held its annual meeting--at Kilbourn Hall starting in 1923. Equally that year, the place of graduation exercises was set in the Eastman Theatre. English replaced (1923) Latin, moreover, as the language in which diplomas were written; they were considerably shortened and signed by the President and the appropriate Dean. Diplomas to honorary degree winners, however, continued to be in Latin. Responsibility for the nomination of honorary degree recipients now rested with the President, two trustees, and two professors, and their recommendations required approval by the trustees as a whole. However vague the declared standards, a Rochester honorary degree continued to be a certificate of personal merit, suggestive of the Confucianist practice of rewarding virtue in order to encourage morality. Scanty shreds of evidence indicate that before 1925 citations used in presenting honorary candidates were hardly ever put down on paper, and even after that Rhees clung to the habit of making his responses only in verbal form. As an instructive sign of the times, graduation ceremonies were broadcast (1929) to the public by radio.
Once the pageantry of graduation was over, alumni, new and old, administrators, and faculty converged upon the Alumni Gymnasium for luncheon and words of wisdom (or otherwise) from recipients of honorary degrees, and a parallel gathering of the women assembled around a supper table. The customary President's reception in the Memorial Art Gallery completed the weekend, unless, that is, the Seniors, now graduates, planned a farewell ball. 21
Organizations of alumni and alumnae responded in the 'twenties to the huge wave of change that transformed the U. of R. almost beyond recognition. Shortly after the end of the war, they reasserted their vitality and their loyalty and gratitude mounted to crescendo during the 1924 Greater University fund- raising drive.
For years active alumni had badgered the authorities to appoint an officer to attend to graduate affairs. Traditionally, interested professors had handled alumni chores like editing the general catalogue. By way of meeting requests, in 1919 Raymond N. Ball, 1914, was named part-time alumni secretary. With characteristic gusto, Ball bent to the assignment, infusing fresh vigor into the Alumni Association, furnishing news of graduates to the Campus, and pushing successfully for a specialist to carry on sustained publicity for the University. He worked hard also to increase the body of dues-paying alumni, who numbered only around 300 on a roster nearly ten times that size. A card catalogue of alumni was put in order, records were kept up-to-date, and, beginning in 1921, a monthly Rochester Alumni News, a single page publication, was despatched to graduates.
Ball doubled, too, as a recruiter of students, speaking in schools, dispatching undergraduate publications to them, and assisting in the entertainment on the campus of potential candidates for admission. To the existing regional alumni clubs, a sixth was added--at Cleveland. And Ball kept his hand firmly on the intercollegiate athletic pulse.
Finding his burden too heavy, he recommended the appointment of a full-time alumni secretary, who should edit the alumni publication, and function also as manager of undergraduate extracurricular affairs. That proposal the trustees endorsed, and the choice for the office fell (1922) upon Hugh A. Smith, 1907, a journalist by profession, who carried on as alumni secretary until his death in 1936. Under his skillful direction the Rochester Alumni Review made (1922) its debut, a bimonthly of twenty-four pages, printed in 3,000 copies and circulated gratis to all alumni; this publication, by the way, is a rich quarry of information on all aspects of the U. of R.--past, current, and future. By the prevailing definition, an alumnus was any person who had spent at least a year on the campus and whose class had graduated. "Once a Rochester man always a Rochester man," the watchword ran. As of 1926, 3,114 names of living alumni stood on the books, or rather more than twice the number of alumnae.
Secretary Hugh Smith directing, alumni affairs were managed by an Alumni Council (as prescribed in a new 1925 version of the Association constitution) which comprised a delegate from each graduated class, an alumni representative from the administration, the faculty, and the trustees, respectively, and twenty graduates chosen at large, among them the officers of the Associated Alumni. The Council planned an Alumni Day during the Commencement season and a mid-year party for alumni living in metropolitan Rochester, maintained a close watch on athletics at the college, and made itself generally useful to Alma Mater.
Once a year or so, the Secretary, ordinarily flanked by a professor, met with alumni regional clubs and urged them to scout for outstanding candidates for admission and to set up scholarships in their home communities. Additionally, he managed the University publicity bureau, writing releases for the press, using the radio to keep the community abreast of what was happening at the college, and preparing brochures to acquaint secondary school seniors with the resources and advantages of the U. of R.
As early as 1921, the job of collecting data from graduates for a new edition of the general University catalogue was taken in hand. Twice suspended, the work was nonetheless carried to completion in 1928; it listed 6,880 names of graduates or twice as many as the 1911 version. Alas and alack, the 1928 catalogue, an invaluable source of information for the historian, was the last ever published. The U. of R. joined the American Alumni Council which evolved in 1927 out of the national Association of Alumni Secretaries. It maintained a central office and met annually for an exchange of ideas and experiences in conducting relationships with graduates. 22
In the meantime, the young Alumnae Association had been broadening the scope of its service and activity. The trustees, as has been noted, turned down (1922) a petition requesting elected alumnae representation in their body on the same conditions as the alumni, possibly because the latter had grown apathetic about exercising its elective privilege. Women graduates (approximately sixty percent of the 1,500, as of 1928, lived in metropolitan Rochester) displayed a high order of devotion to the welfare of their Alma Mater.
In accordance with the provisions of a revised constitution of 1926, the board of directors of the Association assumed a larger role in alumnae affairs, and in the same year an enterprising group brought forth an official organ, the Rochester Alumnae News. Financed by the University, it was a very creditable publication, running into twenty pages, and published three times a year "when an editor could be found." Incorporated with the May 1930 issue was a booklet, "Annette Gardner Munro, An Appreciation," it contained a moving tribute to the venerable Dean by Eleanor C. Slater, 1925, called "A Portrait from Life."
Employed alumnae visited the college from time to time to tell Seniors about the opportunities in their particular vocations. To pay off a pledge to the Greater University campaign, the graduates organized teas, dinners, theatre and card parties, and a series of lectures.
Responding to a plea from the Association, the trustees appropriated (1929) funds for a part-time secretary, the first incumbent being Frances Barber Starr, 1921. This devoted and capable lady set up headquarters in Anthony Gymnasium, put the records of the alumnae in order, and managed the alumnae publication. The roll of dues-paying members increased notably and regional clubs were founded in New York City and Buffalo. More than that, the Association established a scholarship covering full tuition, some of the money accruing from theatre parties. It is worth recalling some words used in recounting one such affair: "The distinctly younger set tripped up and down the aisles selling their boxes of sweets, and the stark tragedy of the play was alternated with light between-the-acts gossip, since in all parts of the house friends were seated with friends"--and an agreeable sum flowed into the Association treasury. Like her male opposite number, the alumnae secretary affiliated with the American Alumni Council. 23
An informative analysis of the vocations chosen by U. of R. graduates from 1851 to 1926 inclusive showed that the business community had attracted the largest number, education at all levels (an overwhelming proportion of women were classified as secondary school teachers) ranked a strong second, the ministry came third, and the law just behind, with almost no women in the latter professions. College and university teaching or administration over the decades had enlisted 272.
A second suggestive compilation, published in 1924, revealed that eighty-five living Rochester alumni were listed in Who's Who in America. On a comparative basis Rochester placed fourth among graduates of institutions of higher education, preceded by Amherst, Wesleyan, and Harvard in that order, all three of them older than the Flower City college. It is also of interest to note that when the Medical Center opened, sixteen alumnae belonged to the staff in one capacity or another. 24
The 1920's yielded a good harvest of graduates for institutions of higher learning. As has been mentioned, to Alma Mater herself the decade presented : in mathematics, T. Richard. Long, 1920; in chemistry, Ethel L. French, 1920; in economics, Donald W. Gilbert, 1921 (who also filled high administrative positions) and Eric C. Vance, 1925; in philosophy (and dean of the College), W. Edwin VandeWalle, 1921; in English, Richard L. Greene, 1926; in history, Glyndon G. VanDeusen, 1925; and in physical education and hygiene, Hazel J. Wilbraham, 1927. G. Richard Wendt, 1927, came back to the U. of R. in 1945 as professor of psychology.
Among academic executives furnished to other institutions were Nathaniel C. Kendrick, 1921, dean of Bowdoin College, Paul A. McGhee, 1921, dean of general education, New York University, Richard L. Greene, 1926, president of Wells College, Sherburne F. Barber, 1929, dean of liberal arts and sciences at City College in New York, and Frederick W. Connor, 1930, vice-president of the University of Florida.
At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, John C. Slater, 1920, gained international repute as a solid-state physicist, and the U. of R. conferred (1964) an honorary doctorate upon him at the same Commencement that his father, the venerable Professor John R. Slater, was similarly honored. A second physicist, Ronald W. P. King, 1927, achieved distinction at Harvard, while Clifford L. Prosser, 1929, eminent biologist at the University of Illinois, was elected president of the American Society of Zoologists. Dwight E. Lee, 1921, taught and wrote on European history at Clark University and Rolf E. P. King, 1926, on German literature at Murray State University. At the University, of Texas, Arthur H. Moehlman, 1928, combined a professorship in the history of education with the office of director of the Center for the History of Education. Ranking high in secondary school administration was Roy L. Butterfield, 1922.
Three justices of the New York Supreme Court received their undergraduate training at the U. of R. in the 'twenties: William G. Easton, 1921, Clarence J. Henry, 1925, and G. Robert Witmer, 1926. Francis J. D'Amanda, 1920, prominent attorney and Democratic leader in Rochester, was the luckless candidate for the office of Attorney-General of New York State (1952). Entering the foreign service of the United States, H. Merrell Benninghof, 1926, filled various consular posts, notably in the Far East. The foremost alumnus of the period in journalism, Jacob (Jack) R. Cominsky, 1920, became publisher and chairman of the board of The Saturday Review, probably the most influential literary publication in the United States, and a second journalist, who turned free-lance writer, Roger P. Butterfield, 1927, wrote The American Past (1947), and edited The Saturday Evening Post Treasury (1954). James Dexter Havens, non-graduate 1922, artist and print-maker, became beloved for his depiction of Rochester scenes. Cyril J. Staud, 1920, progressed to the directorship of research and then to vice-president in charge of research at the Eastman Kodak Company; writings on photographic and cellulose chemistry brought him high honors and membership in many scientific societies. Alan M. Glover, 1930, distinguished himself as a researcher and an executive in electronics for the Radio Corporation of America.
Outstanding in the world of business were C. John Kuhn, 1922, for a short time in the office of the U. of R. treasurer and much longer with the Commercial Investment Trust; his classmate, Charles L. Rumrill, advertising executive and a leader in civic and educational spheres; C. Grandison Hoyt, 1924, an investment executive in Canada and donor of Hoyt Hall (1962); Abram N. Spanel, non-graduate 1924, with International Latex Corporation, a writer of nationally circulated editorial advertisements and an ardent Francophile who was rewarded with a Legion of Honor medal; J. Mercer Brugler, 1925, of Ritter-Pfaudler Company (Sybron Corporation in 1968), a man enthusiastic for every generous community cause; J. Donald Fewster, 1928, treasurer of Eastman Kodak Company, also active in civic affairs; John J. Wilson, Jr., 1929, of the Prudential Insurance Company; and Richard R. Roblin, Jr., 1930, an American Cyanamid Company executive and co-discoverer of widely-used sulfa drugs and related chemotherapeutic agents. Helen Blackburn Power, 1927, active in the work of the Red Cross, the American Association of University Women and in politics, was appointed (1964) to the Board of Regents of the State of New York. At the centennial celebration in 1950, a University award as an outstanding alumna was bestowed upon Alice Morrissey McDiarmid, 1929, who, after receiving a Ph.D. at Radcliffe, entered the Division of Special Research in the Department of State; a member of important learned societies and government committees, she was the author of The American Defense of Neutral Rights (1939).
Matthew E. Fairbank, 1930, physician, served on the U. of R. board of trustees as did Brugler, elected Chairman in 1967, Cominsky, and Hoyt. 25
Footnotes for Chapter 24
- Campus, XLV, June 4, 1920--gives the enrollment statistics from 1852 to 1920. Another tabulation, possibly more accurate, lists 651 students in 1919-1920, 691 in the next year, and 777 in 1921-1922. Inclusion (or exclusion) of "drop-outs" may account for the disparity in the figures. "Financial History from Sept. 1899 to June 1923...." Rhees Library Archives. Executive Committee Minutes, VIII, January 27, 1921. Charles Hoeing to Rush Rhees, January 18,1928. Rhees Papers. Arthur S. Gale to Rhees, January 20, 1928. Ibid. Annette Munro to Rhees, January 19, 1928. Ibid.
- Campus, XLV, Dec. 12, 1919. Faculty Minutes, VII, Nov. 14, Dec. 11, 1919, Jan. 13, 1920. Ibid., IX, April 24, 1928. Ibid., X, March 7, 1929.
- Campus, XLI, April 6, 1916. Ibid., LIII, April 6, 1928. Sigma Xi Records, 1925-1930, passim. Rhees Library Archives. Morris, "...Iota of...Phi Beta Kappa," 21 ff.
- University of Rochester Songs, published by class of 1927 (1925), pp. 14-15, 26-27.
- J. Lawrence Hill, 1927, "The Engineers Club--Past and Present," Rochester Indicator, III (1936), no. 2, 6-7. On the Keideans, see, Campus, XLIX, April 11, 18, May 2, 23, 1924. RAR, III (1924-25), no. 2, 53. Mendicants: Campus, LI, Oct. 2, 1925.
- New York Times, Feb. 28, 1924. Slater, Rhees, p. 274. Rush Rhees, Jr., was considered for an appointment to the U. of R. faculty, but no invitation was extended. Alfred H. Jones to Alan Valentine, February 6, 1939. Valentine Papers. Valentine to Jones, February 7, 1939. Ibid.
- New York Times, March 4, 5,14, 23, April 3, 22, July 1, 1926. Campus, LI, March 12, 1926. Salvatore Russo to A. J. May, Jan. 15, 1967. Rhees Library Archives. Rush Rhees to Shailer Mathews, March 29, 1926. Rhees Papers. Homer Croy, "Atheism Beckons to Our Youth," World's Work, LIV (1927), 18-26. Croy, "Atheism Rampant in Our Schools," Ibid., 140-147. Charles W. Ferguson, Confusion of Tongues (New York, 1928), pp. 429-436. Alfred H. Jones to Carl Lauterbach, June 4, 1930. Rhees Papers. A. H. Jones interview with A. J. May, March 27, 1967.
- Campus, XLVII, March 10, 1922. Faculty Minutes, VIII, May 22, Dec. 4, 1924. The Soapbox, I (1933), no. 3, 8.
- Campus, L, Sept. 26, 1924. Arthur J. May, "Fraternity Pledging System at Rochester," RAR, V, (1926-27), no. 2, 39-40. Morris, "Alpha Delta Phi," pp. 49 ff.
- Campus, XLV, Oct. 3, 1919. Ibid., XLVIII, Feb. 16, 1923. Faculty Minutes, IX, June 1, 1927. R D&C, Nov. 8, 1929. Rush Rhees to Lester O. Wilder, Feb. 6, 1930. Rhees Papers.
- Campus, 1920-30 passim. Interpres, 1920-30, passim, especially Interpres, LXVIII (1927), pp. 14-20.
- Edwin Fauver to Rush Rhees, Oct. 6, 1919. Rhees Papers. Rhees to Fauver, Oct. 10, 1919. Ibid. Raymond N. Ball to Rhees, Feb. 27, 1926. Ibid. Campus, L, Feb. 6, March 27, 1925. Ibid., LXIX, May 18, 1934.
- Campus, XLVI, Nov. 12, 1920. Ibid., LIII, Dec. 7, 1928. Interpres, LXIII (1921), 136. Ibid., LXX (1929), 140.
- Rush Rhees to Farley J. Withington, 1900, November 11, 1925. Rhees Papers. Executive Committee Minutes, IX, December 28, 1925.
- Rush Rhees, "Faculty and Administration Attitude toward Athletics and other Student Activities," RAR, IV (1925-1926), no. 2, 47-48.
- For a portrayal of undergraduate mores through imaginative lenses, see, Percy Marks, The Plastic Age (New York, 1924). Campus, XLV, Oct. 31, 1919. Ibid., LVIII, March 24, 1933. Edwin Fauver to Rush Rhees, May 27, 1930. Rhees Papers. New York Times, Sept. 23, 1924. For a sample of the content of a "proc," see, Interpres, LXVIII (1926), 71-74. Miss Wheeler to the President ,of the Class of 1933 (Arden C. Howland), June 5, 1930. Rhees Library Archives. Cloister Window, I, January 29, 1926.
- The Cloister, I (1921), 1.
- Ruth Goodman Rapport, 1936, "The History of Sigma Delta Phi Sorority" (1965). Rhees Library Archives. Lillian Scott Miller, 1924, "Sigma Kappa Upsilon Sorority" (1965). Ibid. Mildred R. Burton, 1925, "Theta Alpha Epsilon," Ibid. Annette G. Munro to Rush Rhees, May 25, 1926. Rhees Papers. Cloister Window, 1V, Feb. 15, 1929.
- Information in this section has been drawn almost entirely from student publications. Rush Rhees to Mrs. H. M. Stone, Feb. 21, 1929. Rhees Papers. Roberta Peters McFarland, op. cit.
- Croceus (1922). Campus, XLV, Oct. 10, 1919, March 19, 1920. RAN, IV (1930), no. 3, 10. Annette G. Munro to Rush Rhees, Jan. 16, 1930. Rhees Papers. Croceus, XXII (1930). Raymond N. Ball to Rush Rhees, Oct. 18, 1929. Anon., "Hail and Farewell," RAN, IV (1930), no. 2, 3.
- Anon., "Unusual Celebration Marks Diamond Jubilee," RAR, III (1925), no. 5, 133. Campus, LI, Nov. 30, 1925. Faculty Minutes, VIII, Feb. 4, April 12, 1923. Memorabilia, Class of 1926. Rhees Library Archives. Rush Rhees to C. A. Richmond, March 10, 1920. Rhees Papers. Arthur S. Gale to Rhees, June 19, 1925. Ibid. R D&C, June 17, 1929.
- Trustee Records, V, June 17, 1919. Campus, XLV, June 14, 1920. Ibid., XLVII, Oct. 14, 1927. Raymond N. Ball to Rush Rhees, Sept. 19, 1921, Jan. 3,1922. Rhees Papers. Anon., "New Alumni Council," RAR, III (1925), no. 1, 77. Interpres, LXVIII (1927), 48.
- Alumnae Association to Board of Trustees, June 30, 1922, Rhees Papers. Cloister Window, II, Jan. 7, May 27, 1927. RAN, I (1926), no, 1, 4-5. Frances Barber Starr, 1921, "The Alumnae Association, 1929-1936." Rhees Library Archives.
- Hugh A. Smith, "How Rochester Alumni Earn Their Living," RAR, VI (1928), no. 3, 66-69. Campus, XLIX, March 28, 1924. Anon., "Alumnae and the School of Medicine," RAN, 1 (1926), no. 1, 14.
- R D&C, July 6, 1966. R T-U, March 31, 1967 (Slater). R D&C, August 5, 1934 (Benninghof). New York Herald-Tribune, June 9, 1956, New York Times, August 21, 1967, R D&C, October 8, 1967 (Cominsky). R T-U, November 26, 1955, R D&C, December 13, 1963 (Staud). New York Times, July 27, 1960 (Kuhn). R T-U, March 25, 1959 (Rumrill). R D&C, June 9, 10, 1962 (Hoyt). New York Times, March 3, 1957 (Spanel). R T-U, March 16, 1967 (Brugler). RAR, XVI (1955), no. 4, 16-17; Chemical Engineering News, January 30, 1961 (Roblin). R D&C, February 5, 1964 (Power).