The University of Delaware: A History – Chapter 11
Chapter 11: Years of Growth, 1950-1967
John Perkins, at thirty-six, was the youngest president in the history of the university, at least since it became a land-grant college. A midwesterner like his predecessor, William Carlson (and like Acting President Colburn), Perkins also came here from the background of a midwestern state university. He had taken his undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Michigan and had never studied or taught in another institution except for a year and a half on the faculty of the University of Rochester. He had, however, left academic surroundings twice in his brief career, once to serve as secretary to Senator Arthur Vandenberg and once to serve as budget director of the State of Michigan. He had no direct experience in a land-grant college; in Michigan the land-grant college is Michigan State University at East Lansing, rather than the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.
Perkins’s field was political science, and at Michigan he had not only become a professor of that subject but he had served as secretary of the Institute of Public Administration and, just before he came to Delaware, as assistant provost of the university. To him university administration was not only a necessity but an intellectual challenge, and he willingly accepted the labors and the responsibilities it entailed. Perhaps he did this too readily for his own and his colleagues’ comfort; his approval was the sine qua non of all appointments, promotions, and programs at the university. He did not give it lightly, and he did not shirk refusing his approval when he thought this course was proper.
He was a vigorous, strong young man with tremendous willpower and with a temper he could not always restrain. Very ambitious for the university, he was determined to raise its standing in the academic world. His goals for it were almost limitless; he kept them in mind through a long working day that began early in the morning.
Something in his nature, perhaps the same force that kindled his fiery ambition and his powerful drive, produced also an autocratic bent, an apparent willfulness that did not easily tolerate opposition. He could be very reasonable, he could be persuaded in conversation to consider and perhaps adopt another’s view, but he could also become vexed and angry. Faculty meetings that had sometimes been contentious in the days of Hullihen and Carlson now were often turned into monologues by a dominating president.
Through his years at Delaware he had the assistance of an exceedingly able wife who was intelligent, calm, self-effacing, and as interested as he in the pursuit of excellence. Both devoted themselves to the university’s advancement, the one as hostess and intellectual collaborator, the other as president, promoter, and, to the best of his ability, as an instigator, a prod to greater effort and greater contributions by students, faculty, trustees, and other friends of the university.
Besides Margaret Perkins, another close collaborator with John Perkins was Hugh Morris, the elderly president of the board of trustees. Morris loved his alma mater with passion; at his retirement banquet he quoted Daniel Webster’s famous peroration on Dartmouth College with such fervor that his voice trembled. Elected chairman of the board when Hullihen (then sixty-four) was approaching the age of retirement, Morris’s hopes for Carlson, who was only forty-one when chosen president, were disappointed by the latter’s early resignation. In Perkins he saw a man with the vigor and spirit and devotion to raise Delaware to a greater respectability than ever before.
Possibly it was Judge Morris who infused John Perkins with the ambition to make Delaware excel. More likely such an ambition was part of Perkins’s nature and the wills of the two men, one, at seventy-two, twice the age of the other, fused into a single drive for improvement.
"Judge Morris and I soon struck up a very happy rapport," Perkins reminisced in an interview in 1981, a few months before his death. "He was a man who appeared to a lot of people to be very austere, and very cold and very dominating; and yet with me he was very warm–I think maybe he had something of a fatherly feeling towards me, having no son….We would sit by the hour, busy as he was [Morris was head of one of the two or three largest law firms in Delaware and had a very important corporate practice], and talk about the University….I would go in and have lunch with him…once every two weeks, at least. And many an evening after dinner Mrs. Perkins and I would…go out to the Morrises and sit by a great fireside that they had. He was very lonely at that period because Mrs. Morris [had just] died. [With his daughter Mary joining in] we’d talk about the University, we’d talk about politics, we’d talk about books,…and through him I got to know a lot about the people of the State….He was almost like a guide book….It was really an education in Delaware that he gave me, and always with the attitude of trying to be helpful. We used to ride horseback together, too….Toward the University of Delaware, he turned as if to something he loved. His feelings towards the University were very, very deep."1
John Perkins was, as befit Vandenberg’s onetime secretary, a Republican, like most of the wealthy friends of the university in northern Delaware, but Judge Morris was a Democrat of high standing in his party, which had once offered him nomination to the United States Senate. The university, as previously noted, had customarily been outside party politics, which were often rough in Delaware; perhaps it was more important that Morris came from rural Delaware, from Greenwood, in Sussex County, since at this time (and until 1964) the state legislature was dominated by the agrarian region below the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal.
With this legislature and with the two governors who served between 1949 and 1965, Elbert N. Carvel, a trustee, and J. Caleb Boggs, a graduate, the university generally enjoyed excellent relations. The eagerness to serve the state that the university exhibited after the Second World War, and its obvious need of help in meeting the great demands made upon it, both by the veterans and the new high school graduates who sought higher education in numbers more than twice as great as ever before, found a ready response on the part of these two governors, one Democrat and one Republican. Legislators of both parties were pressed by their constituents to enable the university to take care of what seemed, in Delaware terms, a flood of applicants, and the university responded by agreeing–as had indeed, been its policy before the war–that it must take care of qualified Delaware applicants before considering any but a token group of applicants (such as children of alumni or winners of scholarships) from out of state.
The university was also fortunate, as Perkins testified in his memoirs, in the two men who most frequently represented it before the legislature in the years of his presidency. The first was Carl J. Rees, who became provost of the university in 1955, after the untimely death of Allan Colburn. Shrewd as well as intelligent, soft-spoken, easily met, verbose but not revelatory, Rees had made many friends in Delaware through three decades of teaching and also as an active member and national official of the American Legion. It was Rees who, with Warren Newton, had first interviewed John Perkins on their tour through the Midwest in 1950, and Rees and Perkins thereafter worked compatibly to the time of the former’s retirement in 1962.
It was, of course, the president who would first present the university’s case to the Joint Finance Committee, and he would continue in touch with strategic legislators; when more aid was needed he could call on Judge Morris or other trustees. But for help in "face to face work with legislators," as Perkins put it, "in convincing them of the University’s needs…and explaining to them why we did things one way or another or couldn’t do them some way someone would petition us to," the university called on, first, Rees and then George M. Worrilow, who aided Rees and then succeeded him in working with the legislature.
Worrilow was another old hand at the university. A native of Cecil, the neighboring county in Maryland, he had taken a baccalaureate degree in agriculture at the University of Maryland. Hired by the agricultural extension service of the University of Delaware in 1927 as an assistant county agent, his affable and cheerful disposition (despite the effects of a crippling disease that left him permanently bent) and his folksy manner endeared him to the people of rural Delaware, rich and poor, with whom he worked. As a result he was steadily promoted through the ranks of the extension service until he became its director as well as director of the experiment station, in relief of Dean Schuster, in 1943; dean of the School of Agriculture, on Schuster’s retirement, in 1954; and vice-president in charge of university relations (with the public, with the legislature, and with alumni, but not with students or faculty) in 1961.
George Worrilow’s success as a lobbyist for the university derived from his manner and the friends he had made. He was no scholar (his only advanced degree was an honorary doctorate from Maryland), but he had a natural empathy with the Delaware farmer or villager or small-town merchant–and he proved to have a charm for the Colonial Dames, as well. Beginning as county agent, he helped people with problems of planting, gardening, and lawn care, for example, whenever he could, and people enjoyed helping him in turn.2
Just as George Worrilow had personally made friends in the state who became, through him, friends of the university, the same was true of the university agency with which he had been most closely associated, the agricultural extension service.
Established by state action in 1911 but largely supported by federal funds (under the Smith-Lever, the Capper-Ketcham, and the Bankhead-Jones acts), the agricultural extension service had a presence in each county. With Georgetown, Dover, and Newark as headquarters, each county had a basic staff of three persons–a county agent (always a man), a 4-H club agent (a woman), and a home demonstration agent, later called a home economics agent (also a woman). Sometimes the county agent had a resident assistant, and there were various specialists available for work anywhere in the state: plant pathologists, poultry and dairy specialists, entomologists, nutritionists, and so forth. So far as is known, the first black professional on the staff of the university was a woman hired by the agricultural extension service as a war food assistant in 1944. One of the women agents working out of the Georgetown office in 1950, Camilla Washington, was probably the first black professional staff member in peacetime; she was designated to work with "colored" families. (Delaware State College, incidentally, also developed an extension service, which, by choice, worked with families of limited resources.)
Although the service was customarily referred to as "agricultural extension," there was a home economics element added to it shortly after its origin, and therefore it was often referred to as the agricultural and home economics extension service. In the 1960s, the name "cooperative extension service" was adopted. The word cooperative had been frequently used in reference to the program from the beginning because it was designed to be supported by money from local sources as well as from the federal government. Eventually the federal government set its funding limit at fifty percent, with the other fifty percent coming, in Delaware, mainly from the state, but with some funding by county governments.
The extension staff had the duty of working in close conjunction with people and agencies in rural districts; the 1970 catalogue called it "the informal educational arm of the University’s College of Agricultural Sciences." They sponsored 4-H clubs for youth and home demonstration clubs for housewives as well as working with various organizations of farmers.
As agricultural interests changed, so did the work of this staff. For example, in the middle of the twentieth century, when the poultry industry became far and away the most profitable element in Delaware agriculture, the extension service developed a close working relationship with poultrymen. Extension agents like J. Frank Gordy, ’28, extension poultryman, and Willard McAllister, marketing specialist, played a part in the formation of the Delmarva Poultry Industry Association, which developed out of a chicken festival held for the first time in 1948.3 The DPI, as it is generally called, has an institutional link with the university. Two former directors of the university substation at Georgetown (first, Frank Gordy, and on his retirement, Edward H. Ralph, ’55) served as DPI executive secretary. The DPI executive offices also are located at the substation.
Through the years the DPI has regularly supported poultry research at the University of Delaware. Aided by these and other funds, the experiment station has helped develop many improvements in the production of broilers, young chickens raised and sold for their meat. The time needed from hatching to marketing a broiler has been reduced from sixteen to eight weeks, the weight at time of marketing has been increased, and the mortality rate has been cut drastically. One interesting statistic reveals that where it once took 4.7 pounds of feed to produce a pound of meat, two pounds of feed now suffices. In marketing, too, the university has made a distinct contribution to the poultry industry; for example, with the initial encouragement of university personnel a live broiler auction was conducted through the 1950s at Selbyville that was said to be the only such auction in the country that operated successfully for many years.
The Georgetown substation is another example of the way in which the university, through its agricultural interests, keeps in touch with the people of Delaware. For some years the university intermittently rented plots of land in Kent or Sussex to carry on experiments adapted to the climate and soil downstate, since experiments in Newark were sometimes not applicable to conditions in southern Delaware. It soon became evident that it would be desirable to have a permanent base of operations there, and in 1941 the legislature empowered the university to establish a permanent agricultural substation in lower Delaware, providing funds and setting up a commission to select a site. The site chosen was the John A. Tyndall farm of 310 acres outside Georgetown, which was bought at public auction for $7,555.
J. Frank Gordy was appointed director of this branch of the agricultural experiment station, which, like the main station at Newark, worked closely with the extension service. The first research projects were under way in May 1942, and since then thousands of experiments have been conducted on field and truck crops, weed and insect control, irrigation, and so forth. As in Newark, studies have tended to reflect trends in Delaware agriculture.
Although Professor Chester displayed some passing interest in soybeans at the experiment station in Newark in the late nineteenth century, more intensive study awaited the arrival of A. Alexis Horvath, a Russian refugee scholar, in the 1930s.4 Horvath vigorously urged appreciation of what was then a new crop in this area, even persuading Fader’s, a local bakery, to add to their wares a soybean bread. Having gained experience with soybean culture in Manchuria, Horvath was ahead of his time in the United States, but as soybeans became a major field crop in postwar Delaware, many experiments were conducted with them in Newark and in Georgetown. On the main farm at Newark, the Newton Poultry Building facilitated studies of Delaware’s leading rural industry, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture established its poultry research laboratory (as well as a soil and water conservation field office) in Georgetown.
The agricultural experiment station is decidedly the oldest center of organized, continuous research at the university, and it and the whole agricultural operation deserve a separate study of their own. Such a study would show early emphasis on orchard crops and truck crops, together with their diseases and insect enemies, giving way to interest in dairy cattle, corn, poultry, soybeans, and, eventually, a new interest in swine. Often, the interests of the professional staff had as much to do with the choice of subjects of study as the agricultural situation in Delaware. For example, a study by Professor L. A. Stearns reveals that though problems with insects had not disappeared, research in entomology at the experiment station practically ceased between 1908 and 1925, possibly because the director for much of that period, Harry Hayward, was chiefly interested in livestock.5 This interest in livestock, however, helped attract to the university such valuable friends as Henry Francis du Pont, Harry G. Haskell, and C. M. A. Stine, who had prize dairy herds. Much later, a generous gift from S. Hallock du Pont endowed a chair of animal husbandry.
In December 1964 the trustees ruled that all of the "schools," as they had been termed, should henceforth be known as "colleges." In making the change in July 1965, the university also changed the designation of the unit from "Agriculture" to "Agricultural Sciences," thus indicating that students in this college were not necessarily planning to farm. As of 1974, for example, only nine percent of its students came from farms and only seven percent expected to become farmers. The largest group of graduates in that year went into private business and industry, generally with an agricultural connection, and the second largest group went to graduate schools to prepare for jobs in research, teaching, and related occupations.
The number of students in agriculture grew over the years, though the rate of growth varied, as it did in most colleges. There were 102 men enrolled in the School of Agriculture in 1940, when the total of male undergraduates was 599. In 1950 this enrollment had risen to 169. It was not as great an increase as in the total enrollment, which had more than doubled, but this slow steady growth continued; by 1965, for example, there were 277 students. But then enrollments suddenly shot up to well over 900 in 1975-77; thereafter the number shrank somewhat to about 700 in the early years of the next decade. Incidentally, women had enrolled in this college once again. Alberta Hendrickson (Baron) and Barbara Jacobsen (Neal) were graduated in 1952, the first women to take degrees in agriculture since 1920.
Similar growth occurred in the faculty and staff. Agriculturists at the university had frequently worn at least two hats and some had three: that is, a professor in the college was also often a member of the station’s research staff or of the extension service staff or both. Early in the century when there were few agriculture students at Delaware, the station and extension service absorbed more staff time and classes were very small, but as time passed, the college required greater attention. Until 1943 the dean of the School of Agriculture (as it then was) also served as director of the experiment station and of the extension service, but in this year the latter two positions were assigned to George Worrilow, who, probably because his background was wholly in the extension service, acquired an associate director of the experiment station in the person of G. Fred Somers, a plant pathologist, in 1951.
When Schuster retired in 1954, Worrilow, as already related, moved into the deanship, too, recombining the three posts temporarily, but taking Somers with him as associate dean as well as chairman of agricultural chemistry. The extension service was given its own director once again in 1962, with the appointment of Samuel M. Gwinn. The college deanship and station directorship remained united. In 1965, William E. McDaniel, an agricultural economist, succeeded Worrilow in these posts, and on McDaniel’s retirement in 1977, he was succeeded by Donald F. Crossan, ’50, the first Delaware graduate ever to hold these positions.
The departments and curricula available in the college were gradually expanded through the years. Where there were five curricula offered to students in 1940, there were seven in 1970. Entomology and agricultural economics had been added to the original curricula, but there had also been much reorganization of departments and programs. A notable change was the combination of three departments, agronomy, horticulture, and plant pathology, into one department of plant science.
Ornamental horticulture is the feature of the Longwood Program, an unusual graduate program established in 1967 with the assistance of the Longwood Foundation. This foundation, established by Pierre du Pont, has, since his death in 1954, administered the gardens built around his home in Longwood, Pennsylvania, about sixteen miles from Newark. The foundation, which inherited the major part of du Pont’s estate, supports two-year fellowships that are highly competitive and train students for work in the management of botanical gardens, arboreta, and related activities. Richard Lighty, formerly of the Longwood staff, became coordinator of the program at its inception.
Occupation of Agricultural Hall in 1952 allowed the various agricultural programs of the university in Newark–instruction, research, and extension–to be concentrated at the experimental farm. Agricultural Hall has since been enlarged and renamed Townsend Hall, and a new building, called George M. Worrilow Hall, was constructed beside it in 1980.6
The Longwood Program is but one of a group of graduate programs developed in the 1950s and 1960s that involved cooperation between the university and nearby cultural institutions. The master’s degree in ornamental horticulture awarded graduates of the Longwood Program may seem far removed from the degrees in the other programs but they all proceeded from a similar desire, strongly supported by President Perkins, to link the instructional resources of the university and the highly specialized material resources in the museums and other showplaces, largely of du Pont origin, in the vicinity.
These developments bear a direct relationship to what had been accomplished in chemical engineering, where Allan Colburn had been able to capitalize on his reputation and his connection with engineers and scientists of this area (by no means limited to Delaware, though both Colburn and his successor as department chairman, Robert Pigford, came from the Du Pont Company) in building a department with not only a national but even an international reputation. The first museum-related program connected the university with Winterthur, the ancestral home (and estate) of Henry Francis du Pont, a life trustee of the university.
H.F. du Pont (often called "Harry" in distinction from other Henry du Ponts), the son of Senator Henry A. du Pont, a writer as well as a politician and manufacturer, was a Harvard graduate who, after an early business career, developed a reputation as a breeder of champion Holstein cattle, for which his estate gained its first national reputation. In the 1920s he became interested in early American furniture and other domestic crafts, which he began assembling in his home with the same vigor and intelligence with which he had acquired a record-making herd of milch cows. After two decades of collecting, his home had gained such fame as a museum of American domestic furnishings that he decided to open it to the public after constructing a "cottage" on the grounds as his new residence.
Joseph Downs, head of the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum, New York, came to Winterthur to be curator of the museum, but since Downs was a shy scholar, he was joined by Charles F. Montgomery, a man of broad experience in the antiques business and in public relations, as his assistant, with the title of museum secretary. In time, incidentally, Montgomery too gained a splendid scholarly reputation. He completed a volume on the furniture at Winterthur that was a sequel to the work of Downs, who died a few years after coming to Delaware; before his own death Montgomery’s reputation was recognized by his appointment to a professorship at Yale University.7
But it was as the chief influence in the foundation of the Winterthur Program, rather than as a scholar, that Montgomery made his major contribution to the history of the University of Delaware. He first arranged with Professor Harriet Baily to have a course in art history offered in Wilmington for the benefit of people associated with the museum. The course was taught by Frank H. Sommer III, who combined the perspectives of an archaeologist-anthropologist with those of an art historian. It is not certainly known who first conceived the idea of bringing a group of interested and able young college graduates to Winterthur to study the collections while working on a graduate degree, but it was probably Montgomery, who was quite pleased with Sommer’s course.
When the idea was presented to John Perkins, he received it with enthusiasm. Frank Sommer and Ernest Moyne (English) worked out a detailed curriculum, aided by Dean Francis H. Squire, Professor Baily, and Professor Henry Clay Reed (history), with Carl Rees (as dean of the graduate school) assisting in its establishment and in early relations with the museum staff.
To recognize the combination of studies needed in the training program, it was decided that two years of work should be required of all students and that the study of objects in the museum, along with problems of their care and of their presentation, plus courses in history, literature, and art should lead to a special degree, an M.A. in Early American Culture. To insure that the teaching faculty, drawn from disciplines hitherto isolated from each other, would be exposed to the best scholarly expertise in the fields to be studied, an extensive program of visitations was drawn up, with distinguished professors and museum authorities brought to Delaware for a week at a time to lend their counsel to those developing the new program and to the students, as well as to give public lectures to all who were interested, including, especially, a corps of volunteer guides that Montgomery enlisted to conduct visitors through the museum.
In securing funds from the Rockefeller and Old Dominion (Mellon) foundations to initiate this project John Perkins played a major role. Money for student fellowships was provided by individuals and businesses of the area. With sound backing, the first five fellows were selected in the spring of 1952, and the program was begun late in the summer of that year.
The early success of the Winterthur Program led to the development in 1954 of a similar program linking the Hagley Museum and the university. When it began, the Hagley Museum was only a project of the Eleutherian Mills-Hagley Foundation, endowed by the Du Pont Company to take care of the grounds and establish a museum on the site of the Du Pont powder mills on the Brandywine. Abandoned as an industrial site in 1921, the grounds had reverted to the ownership of members of the du Pont family.
The first project of the foundation was to establish a museum of industrial history in an old mill on the grounds of the Hagley yards, site of the second group of Du Pont powder mills, which were still standing. The original site, called Eleutherian Mills, was still in private hands, and here the old powder mills had been destroyed, though the original mansion and other structures survived. It was understood that at the death of the occupant, Louise du Pont Crowninshield (sister of Henry F. du Pont), this property, too, would come to the foundation.
Even while the new Hagley Museum was being constructed within the shell of the old mill a graduate program in industrial history was begun through the cooperation of the director of the museum project, Walter J. Heacock, a young historian who had been on the staff of Colonial Williamsburg. Modeled on the Winterthur Program, this was also a two-year program that combined training in museum problems with graduate study in American history and led to an M.A. degree.
After the foundation acquired the Eleutherian Mills property following the death of Mrs. Crowninshield, the historical library begun by Pierre du Pont at Longwood was moved to Eleutherian Mills, as his will permitted, and endowed by the Longwood Foundation. Developed into a major library of business and economic history, it furnished a basis for the expansion of the Hagley Program into these fields, as well as the history of technology. The fellowships, originally only two a year, were increased in number with the assistance of federal and university funds and came to include candidates for the Ph.D. as well as for the M.A.
The Winterthur and Hagley programs gave the University of Delaware a leading position, almost a unique position, in the preparation of personnel for museum work. As in the case of the Junior Year Abroad thirty years earlier, these programs were eventually complimented by being copied elsewhere, notably at Cooperstown, New York, by the New York State Historical Association in conjunction with the state college at Oneonta. At Delaware itself a "Program in Museum Studies" was instituted in 1970 under the direction of Edward P. Alexander, an historian who had a distinguished record in the museum field, most recently as vice-president in charge of interpretation at Colonial Williamsburg. (Much earlier he had been the first director of the New York State Historical Association museum complex at Cooperstown.)
Not only did this new program offer service courses in museum problems for students at Winterthur, Hagley, and Longwood, but it also admitted other graduate students, most frequently those in history, who could acquire a certificate in museum studies while taking a master’s degree in a more traditional field.
In 1974 still another museum-related program began, one in art conservation that was conducted in conjunction with the Winterthur Museum. This three-year program leads to an M.S. degree in art conservation and is quite unlike the Winterthur Program. Instead of being concerned with the history or the aesthetics of art objects, it is concerned with technical problems of their care and preservation. Graduates are qualified for conservator posts in museums.
Like Raymond Kirkbride and Allan Colburn in other fields, Charles Montgomery, through his enthusiasm to unite the work of the museum and the university, provided the University of Delaware with the incentive that gave it a leading position in an aspect of higher education.
Whether graduate students attracted to the Delaware campus for work in chemical engineering, in museum programs, or in other fields had as beneficent an effect on undergraduate students as Woodrow Wilson at Princeton and Walter Hullihen at Newark had thought they would have is difficult to say. Certainly they had some effect. Good undergraduates at Delaware in fields related to these graduate programs could not but be aware of them. Even without such programs at hand students in postwar universities were more aware of and had more opportunities for graduate study than the prewar college generation; having graduate programs at hand in Newark, however, brought these possibilities even closer to the Delaware undergraduates than they otherwise would have been.
Perhaps, as hoped, graduate students raised the intellectual level on campus. But boys did not cease to be boys, nor undergraduates to act like undergraduates. In 1951 the action of some undergraduates living in Harter Hall attracted national attention to the university. Beginning at least as far back as the fall of 1950 some student or students–possibly led by an anonymous "Louie the Blast"–began setting off fireworks in or around Harter Hall, sometimes to mark the passage of coeds past the building. As the season went by, the frequency of these explosions increased, and so did their force. J. Fenton Daugherty, the dean of men, whose home on Delaware Avenue was very close to Harter Hall, complained, and so did residents of Newark, who were often disturbed late at night by these explosions.
The complaints and the dean’s plea with the students did no good, and a thunderous bombardment on the night of May 3, 1951, featuring strings of firecrackers and one huge cannon cracker, brought an ultimatum. Either those responsible would confess by noon, the dean told a hastily assembled house meeting, or all the residents of Harter Hall would be evicted.
The noon hour came with no confessions, and the dean kept his word. All 104 residents, including foreign students from India, China, and Nicaragua, were turned out of the dormitory on Friday, May 4. Someone phoned Life magazine, which sent a photographer and reporter to Newark and ran a story in its May 14 issue entitled, "Who Threw the Torpedo Out of Harter Hall ?" Some students added color to the scene by pitching tents on the mall. Others packed their belongings in cars or carried them to fraternity houses.
Fred Hartman, ’51, was quoted in the Review as saying, "Old seniors never die; they just get kicked out." As the last student left the hall at 6:17 P.M. a final rattling fusillade of firecrackers was set off and a sign was displayed that read, "Fireworks Show Cancelled."
Three days later, on Monday morning, Dean Daugherty and the twelve-member Harter Hall house council reached an agreement. On a pledge that the student leaders would be responsible for maintaining order, all students whose conduct they would vouch for were allowed back in their rooms; all but one or two returned.8
Perhaps this episode was more discouraging to Dean Daugherty than anyone else. At any rate, a year later he resigned the worries of the deanship to return to the teaching of physics. Since Amy Rextrew had retired in 1952, President Perkins was free to recast the administration of student personnel services. To replace Daugherty, Perkins brought John E. Hocutt from the College of William and Mary, naming him dean of students, with authority over both men and women. To the newly subordinated position of dean of women, Perkins brought Bessie Collins from the University of Pennsylvania.
Gradually a number of student personnel programs, some of them new, were placed under Hocutt’s direction. One of the best steps taken was the acquisition of Dr. Gordon Keppel as university physician and director of student health. Keppel, like Hocutt, came to Delaware from William and Mary, and under his direction the health service quickly won the respect of students, faculty, and the medical community in Delaware. Students no longer thought of the infirmary as merely a place to get aspirin and a written excuse from class. Now it was open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, with a psychiatrist available as consultant, and the new administration assured students of personal attention. Faculty were amazed to find that Dr. Keppel would come to them personally on behalf of students, as, for example, to pick up and later return an examination for a student able to take the test but not allowed to leave the infirmary. A health problem of his own had led Dr. Keppel to a college practice, and he performed his role with real distinction.9 After 1956 Dr. Keppel and his staff had a new facility at their disposal–Laurel Hall–at the south end of the old Women’s College mall.
Besides health services, other agencies placed under Dean Hocutt’s responsibility included admissions, records, placement, counseling and testing, housing, financial aid, extracurricular activities, and discipline. Eventually the heavy load of responsibility that Hocutt bore was recognized by his promotion to vice-president. To the students he soon became, after the president alone, the best-known man on campus.
The reputation he gained was as a very strict disciplinarian, enforcing decrees that students felt unduly limited their freedom of action. The prevailing philosophy was that the university functioned in loco parentis, taking the place of parents in disciplining students. To what extent the strict enforcement of behavioral standards reflected Hocutt’s will or Perkins’s was not clear; apparently these two men were usually in agreement. One freshman woman who wrote and distributed copies of a two-page satire on freshman orientation called The Delaware Sneak felt so harassed by them that she transferred away from Delaware. An issue of the Review was censored and withheld from publication for criticizing a ruling forbidding resident students to keep automobiles in Newark–a rule adopted to help solve a local parking problem. A dress code, approved by the Student Government Association, was strictly enforced, and in the 1950s and early 1960s when students on many campuses were adopting an informal attire that seemed scruffy to their elders, Delaware students still went to class attired "properly."10
The number of fraternities on campus had been expanded after the war with the formation of chapters of Pi Kappa Alpha, Delta Tau Delta, and Alpha Tau Omega in 1948 and 1949, while Sigma Tau Phi was reorganized as Alpha Epsilon Pi. However, the ban on sororities remained in effect for almost two decades more with the support of a majority of women students and graduates, until finally, in December of 1966, the board of trustees ruled otherwise, feeling that it was unfair to refuse to women a privilege that was allowed to men.11
By this time a majority of students were campus residents: sixty-two percent in 1964-65 lived on campus as compared with only forty percent in 1950. Construction of many new dormitories had allowed abandonment of all the temporary dorms like Topsy, Turvy, Boletus, and King’s Row, acquired in the aftermath of the two world wars. For a time a number of houses, once private homes, had been pressed into service as dormitories. The Knoll saw use as a women’s dorm after the Carlsons moved out, as did the Johnston house on the corner of South College and Amstel, which eventually became the French House before it was torn down. Other houses similarly used were on Delaware and Amstel Avenues, as well as the Curtis house on West Main Street, which, in its turn, became the Maison Francaise.
Among the new dormitories, Sharp (1952) and Sypherd (1958) extended Harter Hall and Brown Hall, respectively, to Delaware Avenue. Cannon Hall (1952) and Squire Hall (1958) elongated the line of women’s dorms formed by New Castle and Sussex. Kent dormitory was added to Kent Dining Hall in 1956 in the center of this line, and a larger dormitory, Smyth Hall, was built to its rear, facing Academy Street.
Across Academy Street Lane Hall (originally called Colburn) and Thompson Hall were built in 1958, and the first of three large dormitory complexes, Harrington Hall, was built near Lane and Thompson in 1961. Harrington included five dormitory buildings plus lounges and a dining hall: with so much new construction it was deemed less confusing to call these buildings Harrington A, Harrington B, and so forth. An open plot in front of Harrington was christened Harrington Beach by the students and became the scene of many student events, from concerts to demonstrations, in the rebellious years ahead. Two more complexes, Russell and Gilbert, arose beside Harrington Beach in 1963 and 1965. When Russell was opened it was said to feature a coed atmosphere; what this meant was that men and women shared not only the dining hall but also the lounges, though there was no mingling in the latter after 11:00 P.M. The first coed dorm in the sense that women and men were housed in the same building was established (in Harrington) in 1971.
Meanwhile a dormitory for married students called Conover Hall had been erected on Amstel Avenue, near Elkton Road. Moving still farther west, the university, in 1966, opened the first of two large dormitory complexes (named for Caesar Rodney and John Dickinson) in a new location, on the west side of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad tracks, not without arousing some fears in the neighborhood regarding property values.
The long-delayed realization of Sypherd’s dream and of the object of an alumni fund campaign in the 1940s appeared in 1958, with the opening of the Student Center, on Academy Street. This building, funded by private gifts, soon became so useful that it was hard to imagine campus life without it. Managed first by Edward Ott, who became director of admissions, and then, after 1963, by Jack Sturgell, as well as by a volunteer student council, the building contained a dining hall and a coffee shop, a faculty room, a music listening room, a library and study room (furnished by the class of 1912), plus such amenities as private dining rooms, a bookstore, a bank, a barber shop, student offices, and a billiards room. Besides being the home for many student social events, the building became a center for faculty affairs and conferences.
From the beginning the center accepted the function of serving as a cultural as well as a social center. Among the events scheduled were lectures, concerts, art exhibitions, and trips by bus to nearby cities. The center’s popularity, along with increasing enrollment in the university, led to a large addition in 1963-64 and further remodeling in 1965. In 1982 a large addition on the north side provided space for an expanded bookstore. Many programs sponsored by the center are actually held in the Amy E. du Pont Music Building, Mitchell Hall, or elsewhere.12
The enrollment rose slowly, by fits and starts, to 1958, but thereafter growth was steady, as a generation of "war babies" came to college, a generation born in the troubled but prosperous period that followed the outbreak of war in Europe in 1939. This growth in response to an increased birth rate after the Depression was augmented by a startling increase in the population of Delaware, mainly through migration from other states. Between 1950 and 1960 the population of the state increased by over forty percent, a greater increase than in any state east of the Mississippi, except Florida.
From 1946 to 1957 the undergraduate enrollment hovered around 2,000, but then student numbers increased from 2,400 in 1957-58 to 3,600 in 1961-62 and 6,500 in 1967-68. The graduate enrollment also grew–from 340 full-time graduate students in 1961 to 700 in 1966. (The number of graduate students is difficult to estimate, as work on a dissertation may be occupying a person full-time even though he is not registered for a course.)
The pressure on campus facilities was so great through these years when the university, as was customary, gave Delaware students a preference over nonresidents in admission, that the percentage of non-Delawareans in the student body declined from over one-third in 1954 and earlier to about one-fourth in most years immediately following. Out-of-state students were required to submit College Board scores with their admission applications after 1956, but Delaware students were admitted on the basis of their high school records and a principal’s recommendation until 1964. Requirement of test scores from all applicants was especially useful after 1960 when the university began a policy of measuring growth by requiring that a national test (the Graduate Record Examination) be taken by all sophomores and seniors, a policy continued through 1971.13
To take care of the increasing number of students there was a need for new laboratory and classroom buildings, as well as dormitories, and for new programs. Besides those buildings already mentioned, Francis Alison Hall, which initially housed the education and home economics programs, opened in 1953; Pierre S. du Pont Hall in 1958 relieved overcrowding in Evans Hall by taking care of civil and electrical engineering; and Sharp Laboratory, built in 1962 and probably the last building to be constructed on the mall in the traditional architectural style, furnished the long-awaited new facilities for physics, as well as a temporary home for mathematics. Mitchell Hall, Hullihen Hall, and the Carpenter Sports Building were all enlarged in these years, as was Brown Lab for a second time, in 1960, and in back and adjoining Brown Lab a new building for chemical engineering, appropriately named Colburn Laboratory, was opened in 1968. Removal of physics from Recitation Hall allowed that building to be turned over to the art department. About $300,000 in renovation work, funded by the state, was needed to repair the ravages of time (a new heating system, fire exits, roofing, wiring, and so on) and to fit the building for its new uses. Additionally, President Perkins, with the approval of the grounds and building committee, but apparently without consulting the art department, decided to make cosmetic changes that cost about $75,000, taken from endowment income. A giant pediment, supported by large columns, was added to the central front extension, which was refaced with old bricks taken from the demolished Charles Evans house on North College Avenue. New windows, steps, and rooflines were also added: the symmetrical nature of the building made this change easy to effect.14
The first new classroom building constructed north of Main Street in this century was erected west of College Avenue in 1967-68. Appropriately named the Willard Hall Education Building for the founder of the Delaware public school system, it became the home of the College of Education, which vacated Alison Hall. Some of the crowding of the limited recreational area provided at the north end of campus by Joe Frazer Field and the Carpenter Sports Building was alleviated by construction of a new athletic complex that featured the Delaware Field House, surrounded by a number of playing fields, all close to the stadium on the edge of the farm along South College Avenue.
Funding for the new buildings came from a variety of sources. A few dormitories were built from state appropriations, and one, Cannon Hall, was built with money given by H. Fletcher Brown, but the federal government was the major source of outside funding, through, first, the Housing and Home Finance Agency and then the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which advanced money that the university had several decades to repay from room rents. (Allocation of federal funds to various institutions in Delaware was made after 1963 by a Higher Educational Aid Advisory Commission set up in each state by order of Congress.) Much of the later dormitory construction was financed by revenue bonds that the state legislature empowered the university to issue.
State appropriations were the most important source of financing for the more purely academic structures (such as classroom and laboratory buildings). One of these, Pierre S. du Pont Hall, was financed in large part by a godsend, an unexpected gift from the Good Samaritan Foundation, established by a legacy from Elias Ahuja, the Chilean representative of the Du Pont Company, supplemented by the Longwood Foundation, which also added to grants made for the enlargement of Wolf Hall by two federal agencies, the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.
The largest and most significant of the new buildings, in terms of the scholarly program of the whole university, was the Hugh M. Morris Library, opened in 1963 to replace the old Memorial Library. The building is a memorial to Judge Morris, who had by this time resigned as president of the board; though enfeebled by age, he was able to sneak quietly into the back of the room at its dedication on April 4, 1964. It is also, for those who know, a memorial to the sincere interest John Perkins took in the development of this strategic and necessary part of the university.
Perkins had not waited long after his assumption of the presidency before he made clear his advocacy of an improved library. Every state, he argued in 1952, should have one great, comprehensive library; in Delaware this should logically be the university’s library. He acted as he talked; in his first five years the library’s holdings were increased forty percent to over 210,000 volumes; in ten years the book budget was enlarged 160 percent. To assist in this growth Perkins encouraged the formation, in 1956, of the Library Associates, an organization that replaced the defunct Friends of the Library. Organized at the home of Elizabeth H. (Mrs. Caesar) Grasselli, the group attracted 224 members and raised $50,000 in one year. Mrs. Grasselli was the first secretary of the Associates, and Caleb R. Layton III was the first president. Especially generous contributions to the Associates were made by Octavia (Mrs. Bruce) Bredin, Mr. and Mrs. Henry B. du Pont, and Lammot du Pont Copeland. Over the years the Library Associates has greatly enriched the library collections with gifts of rare works and of expensive runs of valuable publications.
Years before the Morris Library was built President Perkins decided that the library needed a director with the imagination and spirit to make use of the financial resources that he felt were available or should be available to the library. Casting about for the proper person, he made an excellent choice. The Scottish-born John M. Dawson was assistant librarian at the University of Chicago in 1958 when Perkins, working with Provost Rees, persuaded him to take on what amounted to a challenge to convert a college library into a university library. William Lewis was moved to a position of limited responsibility as archivist; he spent much of the next three years organizing the records of the university and writing his valuable history, already cited, of the school and the town.
Over the next ten years Dawson, with Perkins’s loyal support, achieved his objective. From approximately 300,000 volumes in 1960 the holdings rose to about 400,000 in 1964 and almost 850,000 in 1970. Blanket orders were placed in 1966-67 with many scholarly publishers, including most of the university presses; in this fashion books could be secured at a discount while unwanted volumes could be turned back.
In a very short time additional space, both for books and for the increased number of students, was a necessity. The Memorial Library had already had one substantial addition; aesthetically the results of this addition were pleasing, but the exposed position of the building in the center of the campus made further additions impossible without destroying the symmetry of the building and of the campus. When a new site was chosen at the side of the mall, the question arose whether or not to build in the style established for the campus by Day and Klauder. The first plan submitted by a new firm of architects was turned down because the internal arrangements were unsatisfactory. These architects were dismissed and the contract given to Howell Lewis Shay and Associates, who worked closely with John Dawson and his staff in planning a functional library from the inside out; that is, they began by ascertaining what needs must be met within the building to make it function well. The architects prepared two plans for the facade, one in the traditional style and one that was not.
The traditional style, it was thought, was too ponderous for such a large building; a functional facade could be made to blend in with surrounding buildings. John Perkins flew to Florida to secure the approval of Rodney Sharp, as the veteran chairman of the grounds and buildings committee, to this departure from tradition. Sharp agreed, and construction began in 1962 on the basis of an appropriation of over $3,000,000 by the General Assembly. Occupied in September 1963, though not dedicated until the following spring, the new library provided ample work space for the staff behind the scenes, but gave most of its floor space over to open stacks, among which reading rooms, tables and chairs, student carrels, and faculty studies were scattered. Special rooms were provided for micromedia, reference collections, reserved books, music listening, and current periodicals, as well as a closed area for rare books and manuscripts. The feature that distinguished the Morris Library from the Memorial Library besides its greater size was the provision for open stacks with seating for students scattered throughout. Dawson had insisted on having the basement fully excavated, even though originally only a small part of it was used; before many years what might have seemed to be "Dawson’s folly" proved an invaluable asset since it provided space for expansion.
For the achievement of a library of stature befitting a university it could be said that Perkins raised the money and Dawson spent it. The credit belongs to them both.15
Increasing numbers of students encouraged the introduction of new programs, just as they made necessary the construction of new buildings. Some of these new programs developed within existing departments; some spawned new departments; some led to the organization of new colleges.
The biology department, which had already developed a program in medical technology, became the basis for two other new programs–nursing and physical therapy. The nursing program, instituted with the cooperation of the Wilmington hospitals and leading to both a degree and a nursing diploma, separated from biology and became, first, a department of its own (in 1963) and then a separate college (in 1966). Physical therapy, on the other hand, like medical technology, remained connected with biology except for a few years when it was part of a separate division–health sciences.
In the immediate postwar period economics and business administration was the name of a department in the School of Arts and Science. The prewar chairman, Joseph S. Gould, who had been away on government service, returned to the department briefly but resigned when President Carlson would not approve an extended leave allowing him to work for international agencies in Southeast Asia. Under his successor, Charles N. Lanier, Jr., the department grew rapidly in enrollment and included accounting and secretarial studies among its offerings, while also operating the Bureau of Economics and Business Research as a research arm. Ruben Austin succeeded Lanier as chairman in 1961 and became dean when the department was made an independent school in 1962. As in the case of the other existing schools, its title was changed to college in 1965.
Whereas the College of Nursing had its origins in the department of biological science and the College of Business and Economics also grew out of a department, the university’s program in urban affairs began with interdepartmental connections. In 1961 the Ford Foundation provided funds with which to begin an urban services program, soon organized as the Division of Urban Affairs, under the direction of Edward Overman. This division, which entered into contracts with the Greater Wilmington Development Council and with the City of Newark, drew its staff from several departments, especially political science, sociology, and economics. With continued grants from the Ford Foundation, it was able to provide fellowships in several social science fields, though eventually it accepted students of its own–graduate students only, however–as it advanced toward college status.
While the university moved to offer programs in nursing and in urban affairs and to expand its work in business and economics, it purposely avoided development of programs in two fields frequently found in state universities–medicine and law. The failure to establish a law school may well have been a missed opportunity, but with four law schools in the Philadelphia area (Penn, Temple, Villanova, and the Rutgers Law School in Camden), the need did not seem pressing in the early 1960s.
Law schools are not necessarily a heavy financial burden; medical schools are. Therein lay the problem when, in the late 1950s, a number of Delawareans, notably including Dr. James E. Marvil, ’26, of Laurel and Lewes, urged the establishment of a Delaware medical school, arguing that too few physicians were being trained in existing schools and that Delaware was not attracting its share of them. President Perkins responded that national studies did not report any particular need of medical training here, but expressed an interest in establishing a two-year medical school (from which students would go elsewhere to complete their training) if new funds from private sources became available to finance it.
Perkins felt strongly that the university’s resources should not be spread too thin, that endowment funds acquired through the generosity of such friends as Fletcher Brown and Rodney Sharp should be used to improve the existing university, which had suffered from inadequate resources far too long. It was, he felt, his mission to lift it from mediocrity to a position of distinction. In this way, as he saw it, the university could best serve the people of Delaware. There were five quite creditable or even distinguished medical schools in Philadelphia (the University of Pennsylvania, Temple, Jefferson, Women’s Medical College, and Hahnemann) and two more in Baltimore (Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland). To start another medical school would dangerously deplete this university’s newly acquired endowment.16
Stimulated particularly by a shortage of physicians in rural Delaware, the agitation continued. Finally, in 1964, the Delaware Academy of Medicine appointed a commission to study the problem, its cost underwritten by Walter S. Carpenter, Jr., by this time an ex-president of the university’s board of trustees. The chairman of the commission was Kenneth E. Penrod, vice-president for medical affairs at West Virginia University, and other members came from the medical schools at Cornell, Dartmouth, Alabama, and Yale, and from the Bryn Mawr Hospital. The conclusions of the committee, embodied in what was called the Penrod Report, calmed the controversy.
The committee did not recommend establishment of a medical school for at least a decade, but it recommended that both the state and the university should, in their long-range planning, consider the possibility of establishing such a school in ten to fifteen years. They preferred that this planning envision a full four-year school; a two-year school should be considered only as a possible phase in the development of a school that would provide complete training for a doctor. Since the problems of a shortage of physicians were indigenous to all rural areas, a citizens committee, including representatives from the university and from the medical profession, should study what might be done to provide adequate health care in rural Delaware. The Penrod committee also recommended the development of postdoctoral educational programs in the Wilmington hospitals, perhaps through close ties with one or more of the medical schools of Philadelphia; such a program might help attract young doctors to Delaware.17
Some assistance to young Delawareans desiring training in medicine or law–as well as in certain other subjects–had already been provided before the Penrod Report was released. This was by means of a Delaware statute establishing the Higher Education Advisory Commission in 1963. Certain funds were set up by the legislature–and this program was continued through subsequent years–to assist qualified Delawareans going outside of the state for training at the college or university level that was not available within Delaware at any accredited institution. Intended particularly to offer financial aid to Delawareans studying law or medicine, it could also be called on for assistance with veterinary, architectural, forestry, or even Chinese studies–with any reputable program not available in the state. Any student applying for help had to submit a full statement of his plans and his financial resources; the commission tried to help students to the extent necessary as far as its appropriation would permit.
For the time little more was done by the university regarding medical education, but the subject arose again before the ten-to-fifteen-year period mentioned in the Penrod Report expired.
Establishment of doctoral programs in chemical engineering and chemistry and of museum programs were examples of how the university took advantage of its location, as was its connection with the Delmarva Poultry Institute. Other programs also followed the emphasis placed by both Carlson and Perkins on development of the educational interests of individuals and institutions nearby.
For example, a revived program in astronomy appeared through the help of Mount Cuba Astronomical Observatory, Inc., an institution incorporated in 1958 by a group of Du Pont Company scientists with astronomy as a hobby. After they constructed a permanent observatory building in 1963 they turned to the university and (by helping find a suitable person and raising funds to pay his salary for several years) encouraged it to add an astronomer (Richard Herr) to the department of physics.
Astronomy had an ancient tradition at Delaware, running back to Daniel Kirkwood in the 1850s, and had usually been taught by a professor of mathematics, as, for instance, George Harter. But when revived in 1964, it was connected with physics, and after a few years the Mount Cuba Observatory raised funds for a second astronomer. They also established an Annie Jump Cannon Fund, named–like a dormitory on the campus–for a distinguished astronomer who was a native of Delaware. The fund was intended to endow a chair in astronomy eventually; meanwhile it helped with postdoctoral fellowships.
Similarly the Eleutherian Mills-Hagley Foundation in the 1950s helped the history department of the university enter the hitherto-neglected fields of the history of science and technology by providing funds that helped secure the services of L. Pearce Williams. He left in a few years to return to Cornell, his alma mater, but other appointments followed, often made as joint appointments with the foundation, that enabled the university to acquire a national reputation in this field.
Other new ventures of the period included the department of art history, separated from the department of art in 1966 and able to profit from its proximity to the Winterthur Museum. In a relatively few years, art history, under the leadership of William Homer, became one of the strongest departments in the College of Arts and Science. Existence of a cooperative graduate program with the Winterthur Museum helped inspire the development of an interdepartmental American studies program, started in 1953 under the direction of H. Clay Reed (history) and later of Charles Bohner (English); the departments represented by these two men were mainstays of this program, although many other departments in the humanities and social sciences shared in it. Another interdepartmental program, international relations, was centered in the political science department.
The Delaware Geological Survey was established by the legislature in 1951 and organized as a unit of the university, which appoints the staff that works under the state geologist. The survey is separate from the department of geology but has a close relationship with it. Both have been quartered since 1969 in Penny Hall, the former home of the Biomedical Research Foundation of the Franklin Institute, of Philadelphia. The university purchased the building from the foundation, which had it as a gift from the family of Irenee du Pont; appropriately, the building now houses the valuable Irenee du Pont mineral collection.
Many of the new agencies and bureaus on campus were primarily research-centered, like the Computing Center, the Water Resources Center, and the Fels Center for Group Dynamics. The last-named group, supported by the Fels Foundation, of Philadelphia, moved in 1955 from Temple University, where it had recently been organized, to the Delaware campus. Concerned with studying the hostilities that arise between groups in society, it received an appropriation of about $150,000 a year from the Fels Foundation, in addition to smaller grants from other sources. While the Fels staff had full-time support for research, they received adjunct appointments in the psychology department; their coming doubled the number of psychologists at Delaware and encouraged the introduction of a doctoral program in the behavioral sciences.
In 1959 a dispute between President Perkins and the Fels Foundation over the direction of the program led to the withdrawal of foundation support. No faculty member, Perkins declared in his 1961 report, should be wholly divorced from teaching, and care should be taken not to become so dependent on research funds that the university could not meet its full payroll if they were suddenly withdrawn. Perhaps it was the withdrawal of the Fels subvention in 1959 that led him to this conclusion. At any rate, though the research group continued its work for six more years, as the Center for Research in Social Behavior, it was gradually merged with the psychology department before being finally suspended in 1965.
Other agencies appeared on campus, like the Writing Center and the Instructional Resources Center (which prepared audio-visual materials for the classroom) that were student-centered and justified by the increasing enrollment. One unusual feature of the university’s cultural program for students was the establishment of a resident string quartet. This highly popular ensemble, which eventually adopted the name of Delos String Quartet, gives concerts at various places on campus and through the state. The quartet, as well as the Writing Center, owed its origin on campus to private funds. Private donors also added very significantly to the university’s art collection, particularly by the purchase of works by artists of this region.
Another new agency called for by the times was the Long-Range Planning Office, set up in February 1957. Its area of service was internal, to prepare for needed growth in campus facilities. An agency with a wholly outward perspective was the Division of Technical Services, established ten years later with the aid of a group called SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives, which, with the encouragement of the U.S. Department of Commerce, offered help to small industries of the area.
Meanwhile, doctoral programs had been growing steadily, as follows: biological sciences, 1953; physics, 1954; applied sciences, 1959; behavioral sciences, 1959; history, 1960; English, 1962; psychology, 1963; mathematics, 1965; art history, 1967; animal science, 1968; plant science, 1968; education, 1970; urban affairs, 1971; political science, 1973.
In the first ten years of the doctoral program, 1948-58, the university awarded 193 doctorates. After averaging 20 a year through 1963, the number increased suddenly to 50 in 1967.18
John Perkins was not discouraged in the least by this growth of the university per se. He not only thought that a bigger university would be a better university, he said so. "Bigger will mean better," he wrote in his 1958 report. Coming from the University of Michigan it was not strange that he found the pattern for Delaware’s future to be somewhat akin to what he had known. He realized, however, that the true key to distinction lay not in the programs, but in the personnel of the university. For many years he insisted on interviewing personally the candidates for all faculty positions, and though the university finally grew too large and faculty additions became too numerous to allow him to meet candidates for the lower ranks, his interest in the faculty as individuals was well known, if not always appreciated.
In interviews he tried to make candidates acquainted with his ambitions for the university. If a young candidate asked about retirement benefits, Perkins was taken aback. He would frankly, if inelegantly, tell candidates he wanted people with "fire in their belly," just as he would tell students, at campus ceremonies, that he wanted them to become "cornerpost citizens."
Perkins’s dislike of having a young candidate inquire about retirement benefits did not mean he gave little attention to benefits. On the contrary, he worked assiduously to increase salaries and benefits because of the importance he placed upon recruiting good scholars. Besides improving faculty salaries, he took measures to bring faculty under Social Security, improved life insurance benefits, and added major medical insurance to the protection afforded faculty. On the other hand, in 1953 he had the trustees reduce the mandatory retirement age from 70 to 65. This was dismaying to some of the faculty who had made plans, as, for example, by mortgages on their homes, on the basis of a later retirement. A few carried their protest to their national organization, the American Association of University Professors, but Perkins successfully avoided AAUP censure by demonstrating the extent to which he had improved salaries and benefits, including retirement benefits, in only a few years. Although the president scarcely disguised his opinion that many of the older members of the faculty would outlive their usefulness by the age of sixty-five, the faculty, which was generally a young group because of the university’s recent rapid growth, was, on the whole, not much disturbed by the change.
Perkins’s interest in individual members of the faculty was very great; he observed their progress so closely that it was difficult to persuade him in questions of promotions or leaves against his own judgment. He was generally accessible, and he was willing to change his mind if persuaded that his initial reaction was wrong. One faculty restriction that originated with him was an anti-nepotism rule: two members of the same family could not be employed by the university unless this employment predated a marriage. Since women who bore children very often entered the work force later than men, this rule seriously inhibited the employment opportunities of faculty wives.
The salary scale adopted by the board of trustees in 1944 had soon become a victim of the postwar inflation. Perkins made no attempt to establish another scale, for he preferred a free hand in fixing salaries so that he could reward merit where he found it. Probably it was from his friends in industry that he adopted the custom of sending occasional secret bonus payments, drawn from gift funds, to those he felt to be especially deserving. In 1962, he created a group of professorships named for H. Rodney Sharp to honor a few members of the faculty and also as a gesture of appreciation for the steady accretion of funds from the Sharp Trust. It was Perkins’s genuine intent to raise salaries at least to the point of supporting a faculty member and his family without forcing him to seek additional income. Indeed, he felt a faculty member owed full-time service to the institution; if he did not teach in the summer he should use the time for research and writing, not for a job unrelated to his profession.
Judge Morris, the president of the board, had been seventy-two when John Perkins became president, and as Morris’s increasing age led him to insist that he must relinquish his post it was difficult to think of someone of equal stature to replace him. Such a man was found, however, in Walter S. Carpenter, Jr., who was chairman of the board of directors of the Du Pont Company in 1959, when, after initial reluctance, he accepted election to the presidency of the university’s board of trustees. Born in Pennsylvania and educated at Cornell, Carpenter had not even been a member of the Delaware board of trustees previously. But he had spent most of his adult life in Delaware, he had married a Delawarean from Sussex County, and he had already (like his brother, R.R.M. Carpenter) demonstrated by his generosity an interest in the university. Both Morris and Perkins had to be very persuasive to win Carpenter’s acceptance of the board presidency; he did so, according to Perkins, only from a sense of duty.
When he accepted the position, Carpenter was already seventy-one years old, and it was, therefore, clear that his would be a short tenure at the head of the board. Though he resigned in 1962, when he also resigned as chairman of the Du Pont Company board, he had, as expected, added to at least the local stature of the university by his willingness to serve it in this manner.19
As Carpenter’s replacement the trustees turned to another man very much out of the same mold as Judge Morris, a member of the judge’s old law firm, which had become Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell. James M. Tunnell, Jr., was, like Morris, a native of Sussex County who had spent some time on the bench (in his case, of the Delaware Supreme Court) and had moved to Wilmington to practice law. Like Morris again, he was an influential Democrat; his father had been a U.S. senator. Unlike Morris, he had gone out of the state for his college education, first to Princeton and then, as a Rhodes Scholar, to Oxford. His excellent standing in Delaware, where he was one of the most esteemed lawyers, allowed him to be of considerable service to the university in difficult times.
In these years John Perkins’s boundless energy led him frequently to accept other posts. For instance, he was editor of a professional journal, the Public Administration Review, from 1961 to 1963. From 1953 to 1955 he served, by appointment of President Eisenhower, as United States representative to UNESCO. In 1956 he accepted appointment as U.S. undersecretary of health, education, and welfare, and Carl Rees, the provost, became chief executive officer of the university; no acting president was appointed, however, though Perkins was in Washington for thirteen months. (Such was Perkins’s energy that he was frequently home in Newark on weekends tending to university business; he was, after all, still only forty years old.)
An unusual link between the postwar university and old Delaware College was removed in 1962 with the retirement of Carl J. Rees, the only member of the faculty who had joined it before Delaware assumed university status in 1921. A veteran of forty-two years at Delaware, barring not only scholarly leaves but also leave for service in China with the army air force during the war, Rees was succeeded as provost by John W. Shirley, dean of the faculty at North Carolina State University, who was also given the title of vice-president for academic affairs. Rees’s second post, as dean of the graduate school, went to James C. Kakavas, who had been serving as associate dean.
Another notable change came with the retirement of Charles E. Grubb, ’14, as business administrator in 1958. Here, as in the case of the new provost, Grubb’s successor, Brice Partridge, received a grander title, vice-president for business and finance. When Partridge left for Johns Hopkins in 1966, his successor, Randolph Meade, received the same title, and two other vice-presidents had also been created: George Worrilow had become, as already mentioned, vice-president for university relations in 1961, and John Hocutt vice-president for student affairs in 1966.
There were too many new deans to mention all of them here unless to produce a catalogue; by 1965 the only academic dean whose tenure began before Perkins became president in 1950 was Irma Ayers, who had succeeded Amy Rextrew as dean of home economics in 1948. There were also far too many new professors to permit listing them all, even professors holding endowed chairs, of which the number was slowly growing. The most distinguished new appointment to the faculty in this period was that of Robert Hillyer, whose poetry had won him the Pulitzer Prize and other distinctions. He was appointed to the H. Fletcher Brown Professorship in Humanities, which position had been established by the trustees of the Brown estate after the death of Mrs. Brown. On Hillyer’s retirement this professorship was conferred on Marshall Knappen, formerly of Chicago, Michigan State, and Michigan (where Perkins had known him), distinguished for his knowledge of both Elizabethan Puritanism and international relations.
Through these years the reputation of the chemical engineering department, as developed by Allan Colburn, was retained and even improved under the leadership, successively, of Robert L. Pigford, Jack A. Gerster, and Arthur Metzner. Pigford left Delaware to go to the University of California (Berkeley) but returned after a time, and the department normally was considered as one of the best five or six in the country–a higher comparative rank than that of any other department at Delaware.
A mark of the quality of the university’s undergraduate programs and facilities was the establishment of a chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society in 1954. Of the twenty-seven members of this society on the faculty when this chapter was formed, it is noteworthy that nine of them were women, largely holdovers from the faculty of the Women’s College.20 Phi Beta Kappa admitted only students of the liberal arts. A number of other student honor societies recognizing students for leadership, service, or achievement in particular fields were established at Delaware; among them were Mortar Board and Sigma Xi, both established in 1960. Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honorary society, had been established on the campus in 1933.
Despite his unrelenting efforts to win academic distinction for the University of Delaware, John Perkins found the task very difficult. The years of his presidency, 1950-67, were years when there was a seller’s market for professors: that is, universities were expanding and jobs were plentiful. A scholar who established a reputation could easily move to another school if he chose to. Though they were being improved, salaries, benefits, teaching schedules, and scholarly associations were not sufficiently attractive at Delaware to hold all the good young scholars it attracted. To illustrate the mobility of scholars, at one time former members of the history faculty at Delaware were serving as chairmen of the history departments at Cornell, Wisconsin, and California-Davis.
"I never felt satisfied," President Perkins told an interviewer in 1981, "that we were able to take the great leap, so to speak, to make (with the resources that we had at hand) the quality of appointments that I aspired to make. For we entered, as our resources grew, a period when the competition for faculty was just outlandish, really. Universities and colleges were bidding for faculty people on the basis of how little they had to teach, particularly in fields like mathematics and physics. And where we didn’t have strong departments to start with, it was dreadfully hard to recruit strength from weakness….I tried to husband the money from private resources so that when the time came [when] more recruits [would be] available than…positions for them we would have the resources available to recruit [people of] unusual quality….I often used to say…it was easier to get the money than the good people."21
John Perkins had remarkable success in raising money. According to his reminiscences, the university had an endowment of about $13 million when he came and $150 million when he left. It is difficult to substantiate these figures, which he gave to an interviewer off-handedly, because assessing the value of endowment funds is a complicated matter. Are land or securities valued at their price at the time of acquisition, for instance, or at some later moment? Is money counted as part of endowment only after it is paid or when it is pledged?
It seems likely that Perkins undervalued his achievements as a fund-raiser by over–valuing the endowment in 1950. It then consisted of somewhat more than $5 million (up from $755,000 in 1944), being chiefly the legacy from H. Fletcher Brown. However, legal measures had been taken in 1950 for the transfer of future income of the Isabella du Pont Sharp Trust to the university, so the figure given may be based to some degree on the anticipated income from this source, which turned out to be far more profitable than expected. At any rate, it is clear that John Perkins saw in his administration a great increase in the value of the university’s endowment, and that though he was not responsible for all of this increase–Judge Morris, for example, played a major role in it, and the largest gift, from the Sharp Trust, had already been arranged for–he still was a remarkable fund-raiser. He saw, as he said, that when he arrived the university’s resources "were terribly extended trying to provide for agriculture, engineering, and education," plus many other programs, and he tried to build "a pride in the people of the State, generally, rich and poor alike, in the University." Fortunately, "it was a euphoric period in which everybody believed in education and wanted to see it develop and grow and improve and become available as it had through the GI Bill of Rights."22
Many of the gifts to the university had a specific purpose. The Carpenter family, for instance, continued the support to athletics–to facilities, salaries, and scholarships–that they had begun in the early 1940s. Mrs. E. Paul du Pont gave $400,000 to support study of crime, delinquency, and prevention, and added smaller grants at various times for projects in the general field of social welfare. Mary Raub (Mrs. Charles) Evans and her sister-in-law, Lena Evans, gave over $500,000, including Newark property, especially directed toward the maintenance and equipment of Evans Hall. S. Hallock du Pont, as mentioned, supported work in animal husbandry over a long period of years.
Pierre du Pont’s benefactions did not stop with his death in 1954, for the Longwood Foundation, which he endowed, made numerous gifts to the construction or enlargement of academic buildings. The Delaware School Auxiliary, which he had founded, continued its good work in assisting education through the generosity of his nephew William Winder Laird. Laird was also donor of valuable land between New London Road and the White Clay Creek on which a new north campus was built. Ellen du Pont (Mrs. Robert) Wheelwright arranged to give the university her historic home, Goodstay, on the edge of Wilmington, with its garden and other grounds (though it did not become university property until 1969). Wilbur S. Corkran, ’10, arranged to give his historic Rehoboth house, the Homestead, to the university. (In this case, by the time it came to the university, in 1974, it was in such poor condition that the university felt it could not afford to repair it and transferred it to the Rehoboth Art League.)
Henry Francis du Pont funded three faculty positions in fields strategic to the Winterthur Program–history, English, and art history. After a few years, Edmond du Pont, through the Averell Ross Foundation, assumed their support. J. Bruce Bredin and his wife provided substantial assistance to the work in metallurgy, funding a professorship. The Richards family established a professorship in American history in honor of Robert H. and Lydia Richards, one a trustee and the other a member of the advisory committee on the Women’s College.
Charles P. Messick, ’07, head of the New Jersey civil service commission, endowed a professorship in public administration. Lammot du Pont Copeland, among other gifts, assigned to the university part of the income of a trust fund that supported graduate fellowships in the humanities for twenty years, 1962-82. Many other graduate fellowships came to the university from government agencies, like the National Science Foundation and the National Air and Space Administration, and through the National Defense Education Act.
Thomas E. Brittingham and his family established and maintained for years a group of undergraduate fellowships called "Viking Fellowships" for students from the Scandinavian countries. (Brittingham’s gift and that of Harry Haskell to the University of Delaware Research Foundation have already been mentioned.) Edith du Pont (Mrs. G. Burton) Pearson made regular gifts to a fund in memory of her father, Lammot du Pont, for the benefit of the library. The Crystal Trust, of Irenee du Pont, Sr. and Jr., also made frequent donations, especially to marine studies. Between 1961 and 1973 over $600,000 was given by the family of Willis F. Harrington, ’02, in whose memory a professorship in chemistry was established. The Du Pont Company made contributions toward both fellowships and professorships in chemistry and chemical engineering. Victor C. Records in 1963 gave funds for undergraduate fellowships that favored students from lower Delaware.
An extraordinarily generous donor through the 1950s and 1960s was Henry Belin du Pont, a trustee of the university from 1944 to his death in 1970. Over that period he made gifts amounting in all to several million dollars, including $1.5 million at his death. His interests were very broad–ranging from science and technology on the one hand to the humanities, especially history, on the other. Some of his gifts came through foundations, and some directly. For several years he supported a professorship in maritime history. He assisted the university in publishing books. He was responsible for the gift to the university of a valuable tract of land near Stanton. His broad interests and devotion to education made him a person to whom Perkins could appeal when other sources failed, but he was a shy man and made most of his gifts anonymously, as far as the general public was concerned.
Another extraordinary friend of the university was Judge Hugh M. Morris, the long-term (twenty-year) president of the board. His residual estate was left to the university in 1967, including his home and farm on Polly Drummond Hill. Another large gift, including the family farm, Morris’s Pleasure, near Greenwood, came to the university on the death of his brother and sister, his last survivors.
But besides his own generous bequest Judge Morris is generally credited with interesting many other influential or wealthy people in the welfare of the university. The most notable among them was Amy du Pont, a distinguished Delaware horsewoman who moved to Santa Barbara, California, years before her death in February 1962. When her will was probated it was found that her multimillion dollar fortune was left to the Unidel Foundation, which had as its primary responsibility the assistance of the University of Delaware in establishing or enriching its programs or facilities. Many people read of the gift with surprise, but Amy du Pont’s interest in the university was not new. From 1939 to 1944 she served on the board of trustees’ advisory committee on the Women’s College; she had provided funds for the salary of an extra faculty member in home economics in the 1930s; and in 1939 through the Unidel Foundation, which she set up in that year, she purchased a home for the dean of the Women’s College.
In bequeathing her estate to the Unidel Foundation rather than directly to the university, Amy du Pont, possibly at Judge Morris’s suggestion but certainly with his concurrence, as her lawyer and the university’s devoted friend, was making sure that her gift would go to enhance the work of the University of Delaware, not merely to sustain it. For there was a danger, as the endowment grew, that the state legislature might gradually decrease its support. In that case the purpose of the gifts would be contravened. Donors, especially donors to the endowment, expected their gifts to improve and embellish the work of the state university, not to relieve the state of its responsibility. They hoped to help Delaware to a place of distinction among American universities, for the advantage of its students and the state as a whole. They expected to provide frosting for the cake, not the batter. And so the Unidel board of trustees did not underwrite the ordinary work of the university; instead this board of which Judge Morris was the first president and Judge G. Burton Pearson the second, considered special projects submitted by the university for funding for a finite number of years, as, for example, the appointment of Malcolm S. Robertson, who came in 1966 from Rutgers (where he had been on the faculty for twenty-nine years) as Unidel Professor of Mathematics.
To Rodney Sharp in 1961 John Perkins had written: "My hope is that your generosity will be an everlasting example to others in Delaware and beyond–whatever their resources. If we can only capture similar devotion from a few others, we will continue to hold our place and gain in stature as a university. In our civilization there is no greater tribute to intelligent people than their bringing into being a great university."23
The gifts of Henry Belin du Pont, of Hugh M. Morris, of Amy du Pont, and many other benefactors have helped Delaware in the direction that Rodney Sharp’s gifts, in the eyes of John Perkins at least, had pointed this university.
When he came to Newark in 1950 John Perkins found it hard to believe the smallness of the annual state appropriation–and this despite the fact that it had grown considerably in the previous four years since the end of the war. The tuition, on the other hand, seemed to him to be high for a state university. He began to work at raising the appropriation and lowering the tuition, with considerable success. "The legislature was magnificent," he remembered, "in responding to our request, which was very carefully prepared and presented, and they supported us very well in all the years that I was there."24
These happy relationships with the state legislature, aided, as has been explained, by the good reputation of the agricultural extension service and by the lobbying of Carl Rees and George Worrilow, allowed the fees charged students to be kept relatively low. In 1950 the general fees amounted to $240 a year, plus $450 for room and board; out-of-state students paid an extra $250 tuition. Small as this seems, Perkins declared it was high for a state university–the fourth highest charge in the country, he said. Though these figures all advanced, they did so at a slower rate than in other states; in 1961 Perkins reported that Delaware was only the fourteenth most expensive state university.25 By 1966 the general fee had risen to $315; room and board to $805; and out-of-state tuition to $750.
The good relations between the university and the state seemed threatened in 1963-64 when F. Earl McGinnis, Jr., ’48, state budget director, contended that by court ruling the university was a state agency and as such would have to use regular purchase orders and file a payroll with his office. Early in the Hullihen administration the state government had sought to have the university make use of a state system of central purchasing, but Hullihen had successfully resisted this pressure, which might have unnecessarily complicated university business.
The annual state appropriation to the university, as it evolved from its beginning in 1909, was mainly in a lump sum for expenses, though there were some specific items mentioned, like scholarships and, for many years, support of the "State of Delaware Chair of History." But there was no specific line-item appropriation for individual salaries–not even in the chair of history appropriation–nor for expenditures for particular details of maintenance. The trustees feared that a close scrutiny of individual salaries and particular expenditures might lead to interference with the operations of the university, which had traditionally been kept out of politics and in the hands of trustees.
The budget director, on the other hand, thought that a close scrutiny of university finances was his duty. The disagreement was settled in the General Assembly, where the university called on the persuasive efforts of its friends, including a number of its trustees, to plead its case. Judge Tunnell, president of the trustees, who was respected as one of the ablest courtroom advocates in Delaware, spoke with particular effectiveness before the legislature and as a result of the arguments that he and other friends of the university made, the charter was modified so as to clarify the responsibility of the trustees for direction of the university, even though almost all of the property had been deeded to the state between 1909 and 1919.
The alteration of the charter, signed by Governor Elbert N. Carvel on April 22, 1964, assured the university a very high degree of autonomy. It continued, of course, to function as both a land-grant college and a state university, and the state government retained the degree of control it had customarily exercised. The governor and the president of the State Board of Education (an appointee of the governor) are ex officio members of the board; the governor appoints eight more trustees; these eight trustees and twenty elected by the full board (all to six-year terms) must be approved by the state senate; and, finally, the General Assembly provides annual appropriations of a very substantial part (but less than a majority) of the university’s income, as well as extraordinary appropriations for such items as capital improvements.
In 1972 Earl McGinnis was elected to the office of state auditor and as such conducted an audit of the university’s use of state funds. He found, he testified, that the university had been careful not to commingle those funds that came from the state with those originating elsewhere.
Relations with other institutions in the state, though generally harmonious, were not always as smooth as those with the legislature. Although for a period late in the nineteenth century the president of Delaware College had been the ex officio president of the State Board of Education and the college had shown a desire for a close relationship with the public schools, very few of the public school teachers had attended Delaware College. Except for one two-year period the legislature had been unwilling to support any teacher-training program at the college until 1914, when the opening of the Women’s College made Newark a center for teacher training. With the assistance of Pierre du Pont and the Service Citizens a new connection with the public schools had flourished, augmented by the summer school, begun primarily for the benefit of teachers, and the two-year certificate course for elementary teachers, continued to the Great Depression. Normally, however, the university did not produce even nearly enough teachers to supply the needs of the Delaware schools, which drew a substantial number of their teachers, as well as their administrators, from the numerous Pennsylvania state colleges, like Millersville, West Chester, and Kutztown, that had originated as normal schools.
Creation of a School of Education at Delaware with its own dean was considered a step toward providing leadership for the public schools. Granting of the M.Ed. degree was authorized in 1950 and in the next year funds from the Kellogg Foundation (through Columbia University) and further assistance from the Delaware School Auxiliary allowed introduction of a program called the "Delaware Project in Educational Administration," with the object of training teachers for supervisory roles. A graduate program in guidance and counseling was set up by 1953, along with one in elementary education, where the number of undergraduate majors had risen to fifty-five in this year. Education was one of the fields covered by the Ph.D. program in the behavioral sciences, approved in 1956, though a doctorate in education per se was not approved until 1970.26
However, the rapid expansion of both the university and the public schools (both, but the latter especially, a reflection of the rapid increase of the population of Delaware) led to a condition destructive of the valuable personal contacts that had existed in the 1930s. The time had been, for instance, when most of the members of the English department and the history department at the university were known personally to the public school teachers of these subjects. This contact derived from formal classes, especially in summer school (teachers being then required to take additional courses periodically), and partly by attendance at meetings, including those of the Delaware State Education Association, to which many college professors belonged.
As time went on, the maintenance of the connection with the public schools was increasingly left to the faculty of the School of Education. Most professors dropped out of the DSEA as it raised its dues in order to increase its effectiveness. In various departments one person would be appointed to supervise practice teaching in his discipline; the tendency was for his association to become closer with the School (later College) of Education than to a subject-matter department.
Not until 1980, when William B. Keene, ’55, was appointed, was there a state superintendent of public instruction who was a graduate of the University of Delaware. Development, first, of the Women’s College and then of the School of Education, however, had caused the sentiment that had once existed in favor of the establishment of a separate normal school or teachers’ college to fade away completely.
The segregationist tradition in Delaware that had caused the foundation of a separate land-grant college for blacks at Dover near the end of the nineteenth century still was a factor in the midtwentieth century. After the complete opening of the university to black students in 1950 as a result of the Parker case, Governor Carvel appointed a commission to study what should be done with Delaware State College, and two years later Governor J. Caleb Boggs, ’31, set up two committees, one of educators (with university Provost Allan Colburn as chairman) and one of noneducators, for the same purpose. Each of these committees came to the same conclusion: there was no justification for keeping Delaware State College open, now that black students could be admitted to the university–especially since each student at the Dover college cost the state between four and five times as much (Delaware State having no resources of its own) as a student at the university.
Various forces, however, operated to keep Delaware State College in existence, and even to secure for it more generous appropriations, especially for capital construction, than it had received in the past. Its alumni opposed seeing their old school eliminated; some of the faculty sought continuance of the school to protect their jobs; and both groups and others made the plausible argument that black high school graduates would find life at Delaware State easier, in both an academic and a social sense, than at the university. But probably the most important factor in preserving Delaware State College was the hope that its continued existence would perpetuate segregation in higher education in Delaware–not complete segregation, but a segregation by choice that would be elected by most college-bound black Delawareans.27
The strength of these segregationist sympathies is demonstrated by the virulent dislike of university sociologists demonstrated by some people in Delaware. "Every dollar of appropriation to the University should be cut off until the Department of Sociology is thrown out" was reported as the conclusion of a diatribe on the subject by a prominent Sussex Countian. He may have been angered by the testimony of some members of the sociology department in Chancery Court as "expert witnesses" when it was hearing the Delaware school integration case. Another provocative event was publication of the results of a survey conducted by members of a research methods class who were examining the attitude of Delaware students toward the admission of blacks. The survey showed that their attitude was very favorable. A report of the survey was sent to the university’s public relations office, but the administration prohibited its release to the press. However, a member of the class sent a copy to a Wilmington News-Journal reporter, who published it in his column.
A state senator who was chairman of the budget committee attacked the chairman of the department of sociology, Frederick Parker, in the spring of 1957 when the university’s budget request was under consideration. The senator was disturbed by newspaper accounts of a speech that Parker had made in Washington on fallacious racial beliefs before the local chapter of the National Conference of Christians and Jews. The Wilmington Morning News vigorously defended Parker, but it can be seen that at least some elements in the legislature would have vehemently opposed any merger of the university and Delaware State.28
Agitation for a junior college, which had previously surfaced during the presidency of W. O. Sypherd, appeared again in the 1960s and disturbed John Perkins’s equanimity. This time the movement for a junior college was linked to a demand for technological training at a level below the college but beyond the high school. When the issue of preparing laboratory technicians had arisen at a board meeting in 1956, John Perkins had been opposed, arguing that the university had neither the money, the staff, nor the facilities for a vocational program. But in five years he apparently changed his mind, for in 1961 Academic Extension (by this time called University Extension) admitted 200 students to two-year technical programs in Newark and Georgetown. A year later Perkins reported that two-year programs in secretarial studies and agricultural technology were well-enrolled, but that the enrollment in chemical technology was disappointing.
Probably the reason he changed his mind or at least decided not to oppose the introduction of two-year vocational programs was fear of competition for legislative support. The establishment of a junior college or a technical institute, Perkins thought, would mean a rivalry with the university, particularly because such schools had a tendency to develop into four-year colleges. It was an advantage to the university–and, according to Perkins, an economy to the state–that the university was at once the agriculture college, the engineering college, the liberal arts college, the teachers’ college, and more, with only Delaware State, for archaic, racist reasons, as a rival. A state-supported junior college or technical institute might upset this situation.
In 1964, therefore, in his annual report to the board of trustees, Perkins announced his intention to start a junior college in Wilmington. A redevelopment agency, aided by Henry B. du Pont, called the Greater Wilmington Development Council, had called on the university for such an expansion of its work, and Perkins, in turn, asked the legislature for the money to begin this venture. At the same time he announced the popularity of the associate degree programs (including Associate in Arts programs, not just vocational-technological ones). In 1964, there were 53 associate degrees awarded; 181 students were registered in these courses on campus and 213 in extension. In his plans for further development Perkins went so far as to take an option on a building in downtown Wilmington and appoint Otis P. Jefferson, Jr., then assistant director of extension, to prepare to set up a junior college branch of the university.
However, a new governor who came into office in 1965, Charles L. Terry, Jr., the former chief justice, had his own ideas. He persuaded the legislature to establish and fund a new institution, originally called the Delaware Institute of Technology, with a charter placing no limit on its programs or degrees, although the title indicated where its main focus was intended to be. The next legislature changed the name to Delaware Technical and Community College, and under this name the institution eventually established branches in all three counties, with the first branch opening in the fall of 1967 in Georgetown, where a building built as a high school for blacks was made available as a result of the desegregation of the public schools.
The university was not completely closed out, however. The president of the new institution, Paul Weatherly, who came from South Carolina, made an arrangement with the university whereby a two-year academic course was instituted at Georgetown beginning in September 1967, under the auspices of the university and carrying full college credit. From its appropriation Delaware Technical and Community College paid the university to conduct what was called the College (later the word University was used) Parallel Program. The students admitted to it had to satisfy all the admission requirements of the university; indeed, they were admitted to the university, which recorded their grades and credit hours and kept their other records. If these students wished to transfer to the Newark campus after a year or two, they could do so with no trouble, for they were already university undergraduates. The university, through the appropriate academic departments, hired, paid, and promoted all the members of the faculty in the Parallel Program. Otis Jefferson, previously assigned to the aborted junior college in Wilmington, was now named dean of the Parallel Program, with his office in Georgetown.
On completion of the two-year program students received either an Associate in Arts or Associate in Science degree, to mark the halfway point to a baccalaureate. A second branch of the University Parallel Program was opened at Delaware Technical and Community College in Wilmington in 1971, but no step of this sort was taken at Dover, probably because of the presence there of Delaware State College. While the Parallel Program did not grow as rapidly as some initial projections suggested, it did prove reasonably popular, its enrollment growing from 33 in 1967 to about 300 in 1975, and a number of its graduates made outstanding records after they transferred to the university campus in Newark.
On campus both graduate and undergraduate enrollments were increasing rapidly, the former by 84 percent from 1958 to 1963, and the latter by 181 percent over the same period. The percentage of women in the undergraduate student body rose from 33 percent in 1956 to 40 percent in 1958 and then to 44 percent in 1960, where it remained for several years. Some acknowledgement of the role of women in campus life was made in 1957, when a coed, Jean Ashe, was elected president of the student government. This election, however, was the result of a quarrel among the fraternities, which normally dominated elections because a majority of the students showed little interest. No other woman was elected to the student presidency until 1968, when, in a period of student unrest, Delma (Dee) Lafferty was elected to this post.
As in prewar days, the average freshman was eighteen years old, but the number of commuters was drastically reduced–to twenty-five percent in 1958. Another change from the prewar situation was that a sizable minority of undergraduates, just under ten percent, were married. In the same year when these figures were compiled, 1958, a religious census of the undergraduates showed that sixty percent were Protestant (Methodists, Presbyterians, and Episcopalians being most numerous, in that order), twenty percent were Catholics, and five percent were Jewish.
The number of out-of-state students remained a minority. There were usually more out-of-state than in-state applicants for admission in the 1960s, but the number of the former was kept to about twenty-five percent of the entering class because of lack of housing. It was, therefore, hard for an out-of-state student to gain admission–in 1964 only one of every eight out-of-state applicants was admitted–though some advantage was given to students applying in fields where the facilities (such as laboratories) were not crowded. Although the number of undergraduates from foreign countries was small, they formed, in 1959, the Cosmopolitan Club, which was also joined by some American students. The university appointed a foreign student adviser in 1961, in recognition of the special problems of foreign students.
One aspect of student life that flourished in the 1950s and 1960s was athletics, under the direction of David M. Nelson, a Michigan graduate. He came to Delaware in 1951 to replace William D. Murray, director of health, physical education, and athletics, who resigned to return to his alma mater, Duke, as football coach. Like Murray, Nelson was brought to Delaware in a dual capacity, as both football coach and head of the physical education program.
Murray’s success might have seemed hard to follow, but Nelson quickly established himself in both his roles so well that John Perkins was freed of the worries over athletics and the complaints of alumni that had troubled Walter Hullihen intermittently for almost two decades. At Delaware the football teams under Nelson, who had previously coached at Hillsdale College, Harvard, and Maine, had a record of 84 wins, 42 losses, and 2 ties over a fifteen-year period, 1951-66. His 1963 football team was undefeated, and three of his teams had only one loss each. He became a national figure as developer of what was called the "Winged-T" offense, described in a book he wrote with Forest Evashevski, then coach at Iowa.29 In 1961 he began a long tenure as secretary of the rules committee of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and he served in important roles in many other national and regional bodies.
While Delaware football teams attracted the most attention, the golf team, coached by Raymond B. Duncan, ’48, who was also assistant director of athletics, actually had the best record of all Delaware teams in intercollegiate competition. Many winning records were set by swimming teams coached by Harry Rawstrom from 1946 to 1981, the longest coaching stint in Delaware history. C. Roy Rylander also came to Delaware in 1946 but did not start coaching tennis until 1953. Delaware basketball teams have, on the whole, not been as successful as those in most other sports, although there have been some good seasons, including an 18-5 record in 1961-62, when the team was coached by Irvin Wisniewski, who later made several trips to Poland under the auspices of the U.S. State Department and the Polish Olympic Committee to help in the development of basketball there.
In the newest and the oldest intercollegiate sports for men, Delaware teams made good records. The newest sport is lacrosse. A. Gordon Brewer, ’46, introduced the game on the Delaware campus several years before it became a varsity sport in 1948. Baseball, the oldest intercollegiate sport, has a good record at Delaware. Harold R. (Tubby) Raymond, a Michigan graduate, like Nelson and Wisniewski–and John Perkins–became baseball coach in 1955 and over the next ten seasons compiled a record of 141 victories and 56 losses. In 1965 Raymond gave up baseball in order to concentrate on football, where he was Nelson’s backfield coach and head assistant. In 1966 Nelson turned over the duties of head football coach to Raymond, to help dissuade him from accepting similar offers elsewhere.
Improvement of facilities allowed greater opportunity for physical exercise and intramural competition. The Delaware Field House was opened in 1956 beside the stadium, and several additions to the Carpenter Sports Building provided additional basketball courts, as well as squash and handball courts and an indoor pool. As time passed, these facilities were opened to women.
Student publications and student dramatic and musical organizations grew in popularity, like athletics, in these years of increasing enrollment. The E-52 Players, under Robert Kase’s indomitable leadership, sent groups abroad to tour military bases on three occasions, to the Far East in 1958 and to Europe in 1961 and 1965. One of the most notable productions on the Mitchell Hall stage was in 1951 when Professor Cyrus L. Day (English) played the part of Father, his relative in reality, in Life with Father, based on stories by Clarence Day. Cyrus Day also adapted Aeschylus’s Agamemnon for production on a program with O’Neill’s modern version, Mourning Becomes Electra, in 1956, the same actors playing parallel roles in the two plays.30 As successor to Pambo and the Humanist, the Cauldron was published until 1954, and was then succeeded by a new literary magazine, Venture, that ran to 1971 when it in turn was succeeded by Grover and then by Caesura. The Review increased its frequency of publication to twice a week and even more often during the hectic period of student protest that began in 1966.
For most of the first two decades after the Second World War college students seemed to be, on the whole, a quiet group. The veterans who came to college after the war were older and more serious than most other college students and were in a hurry to complete their education in order to make up for lost time in beginning their careers. The students who followed them to college in the fifties had been born during the Great Depression and seemed comparatively uninterested in social and political issues, particularly when contrasted with the generation that followed. In the sixties, the era of the "hippies," college students began to show more divergent types of behavior than in the past, though at Delaware only through such high jinks as panty raids was the solemn course of events much disturbed until the middle of the decade.
At many colleges, particularly at those private institutions called the Ivy League and at major midwestern schools like Wisconsin, sloppy and unusual dress had become an accepted part of the campus scene even by 1960. But not at Delaware, where a vigilantly paternalistic administration enforced a strict dress code as well as an auto ban until 1967; no women, for instance, could enter the library in pants except in examination periods. "Your students were the cleanest and most presentable I’ve encountered," a visitor to many campuses told John Perkins in 1966.
But times were changing, as Perkins noted in his annual report that fall. "More of our students are conforming to non-conformity," he wrote. "There has been a noticeable increase in the number of students unkempt or bizarre in dress."31 The change that was occurring was in more than appearances and was exemplified by a new group on the campus, a Delaware chapter of the Students for a Democratic Society, generally known as the SDS. Antiracist, antimilitarist, antiauthoritarian, the SDS was very critical of the status quo in American society and, locally, in the administration of the university.
The origins of the SDS pose a problem that cannot be dealt with here. The civil rights movement was probably one of its sources and another was the prolongation of the Vietnam War and the military draft, which meant that many college students might soon find themselves in the armed forces. It was a time of prosperity, but the affluence of American society allowed some students to attend college without much thought of how they wished to earn a living; in some cases college was a refuge from the draft board. The situation of students in relation to the draft was quite different from that in 1943. At the earlier date they understood why military service was required of them. This time they did not; the Vietnam War was unpopular, and a large proportion of young men rebelled at the thought of being sent to a Southeast Asian battlefield.
It is not clear how many of the activities of 1966-67 can be attributed to the SDS and to what extent other informal campus groups may have been responsible. Certainly the SDS led a movement against compulsory military training at Delaware and was in the forefront of antiwar rallies held on campus in the fall of 1966. Possibly they also were responsible for the picketing in October of the Newark Country Club, which was charged with racist bias in admission to membership. In the spring they were also active in arranging memorial services on campus for Vietnam War dead, as well as other antiwar demonstrations.
But the greatest success of the SDS on the Delaware campus was in electing one of their leaders, Ramon M. Ceci, ’68, a navy veteran, to the presidency of the Student Government Association in the spring of 1967. The SDS had only a small membership, but accumulated grievances and the spirit of the times allowed the "Student Power" slate, which they supported, to win not all, but some offices in this election.
Ceci’s election, supported by a wave of criticism of those in authority, was very distasteful to President Perkins. Whether it had anything to do with his next step is not known for sure; Perkins denied that it did, but surely the hostility expressed by Ceci and his supporters was discouraging. At any rate, on June 10, 1967, John Perkins astonished the campus and the state by announcing his resignation. After turning down several offers of positions elsewhere, he now accepted the presidency of Dun and Bradstreet, the New York business information company.
In the summer of 1967 John Perkins was, at fifty-three, still only a middle-aged man, but after almost seventeen years he had served the third longest term (surpassed only by Hullihen and Harter) of any Delaware president. He was, moreover, a forceful, energetic president who drove himself hard, as he sought to drive others, hoping for the maximum achievement possible. He welcomed responsibility, even seized it; there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that his was the final authority.
The enrollment, the physical facilities, the faculty, the endowment had all increased greatly in the Perkins years. The library, in particular, evidenced his support. With wealthy philanthropists and with the legislature alike, he had great success in raising money. It was said that he never lost a major budget request in the General Assembly.
It was his pride that he conducted an efficient operation; in 1963, for example, he reported that only thirteen percent of the budget went to operation of the physical plant, whereas the average in sixty institutions was sixteen percent. He raised faculty salaries and moneys allocated for student aid, while he tried manfully to hold down fees and other costs to students. He sought to measure the impact of the university on its students by having the Graduate Record Examination given yearly to sophomores and seniors. He created a planning department and initiated such published projects as A 15-Year Forecast of Students, Staff and Facilities for the University of Delaware (1957) and The University of Delaware Looks Ahead (1963). His strong personality and his insistence on personal responsibility marked his administration as a distinct era in the university’s history.32
Despite recent student disturbances, which were, after all, rather innocuous events, his standing with the trustees was very high; his leaving was entirely his own decision. Perhaps, however, he was gifted with some sense of premonition, an insight telling him that in the years just ahead it would be very difficult if not impossible to run a university in the only fashion that suited him.