The University of Delaware: A History – Chapter 6
Chapter 6: A College For Men Only
The trustees did not wait long after accepting Purnell’s resignation before electing his successor. Meeting in Dover on June 13, 1885, they chose the Reverend John Hollis Caldwell, a Methodist minister, as the new president. Their haste was unwise, and so was their choice of Caldwell.
The alumni felt snubbed, and with some reason. They had called a meeting for the next day at the Clayton House, in Wilmington, intending to raise money to supplement the president’s salary, but since Caldwell accepted the position on the terms the board offered, the alumni, who had apparently not been consulted, dropped their plans.1
Most of the candidates the board considered were clergymen, and one reason for the choice of Caldwell was that as a Methodist he represented the largest denomination in Delaware, especially in downstate Delaware. A Methodist, some trustees thought, would bring new support to the college. There was some sense in this, particularly since one Methodist institution, the Wesleyan Female College, in Wilmington, had just closed. On the other hand some Methodists were attached to the conference academy in Dover and eager to see it elevated to the collegiate rank, even if at the expense of Delaware College.
But the chief error the trustees made was not in the speed of their action, but in the choice they made. John H. Caldwell was, in the words of young George A. Harter, who also joined the Delaware faculty in 1885, "cranky and queer, though learned."2
By no means was he an inconsequential figure; to the contrary, he had lived an exceptionally interesting life under varied circumstances. Born in South Carolina in 1820, he had been taken to Georgia as an infant. Though apparently without an earned B.A., he received an honorary M.A. from Emory in 1854 and much later a D.D. from Dickinson, and he was one of the two founders of the Andrew Female College (now Andrew College) at Cuthbert, Georgia. After practicing law for a time, he turned to the ministry; the story of this change of career may resemble that of the protagonist of a novel he wrote, The Thurstons of the Old Palmetto State, or Varieties of Southern Life, published in New York in 1861.
Through the Civil War he was, as a colleague wrote, "a warm Southern man," but after the war he had a change of heart. After spending a night in prayer and reflection on the misery of the war, "I received new light and life from above," he explained in his reminiscences, "and…formed a resolution…to speak plainly to the consciences of the people on a long forbidden topic–the evils of slavery." He withdrew from the southern Methodist church and became an agent of the Freedmen’s Aid Society of the northern Methodist Episcopal Church, playing a prominent role in organizing schools for blacks. He proudly claimed to have been "the first white citizen of Georgia to take a public stand in favor of the Congressional Plan of Reconstruction"; one of the founders of the Georgia Equal Rights Association, he took an active part in what was called the Radical Republican party, serving in both the Reconstruction legislature and in the Georgia constitutional convention of 1867-68. He insisted blacks should learn to read and write so they could "detect the numberless methods by which they are defrauded out of the fruits of their industry."3
His activities in the Reconstruction period made him very unpopular with many of his white neighbors, so it is not surprising that he left the state when federal troops were withdrawn from Georgia and the Republican state government was overthrown in 1871. Settling in Delaware, he resumed his career in the Methodist ministry.
At sixty-five when chosen president, he was decidedly the oldest executive the college had known. He was also, as perhaps his age gave him a right to be, decidedly set in his ways. In the ordinary affairs of life he was said to be quite dependent on his unmarried daughter, Mollie, who lived with him and watched over him. It is said that before he went out one day he asked his daughter whether he should take an umbrella. "Is it raining?" she asked. "Yes," he said, and Mollie replied, "Then I would."4
Besides whatever impracticality this anecdote reveals, Caldwell lacked any recent college experience that might have accustomed him to the ways of students and professors. Although he had resided in Delaware or on the Eastern Shore for more than ten years it seems unlikely that he had acquired any deep understanding of the people of this area.
Caldwell’s administration was marked, at the beginning and at the end, by government assistance for expansion of the college, but in between, steady deterioration occurred. Caldwell himself had nothing to do with the aid that came at the beginning of his administration, the $8,000 granted by the legislature for repairs and improvements to Old College, but he had the satisfaction of presiding in the enlarged Oratory, now able to seat 600 people. The whole central section of Old College had been extended to the rear, adding new student rooms above the Oratory and allowing the laboratories on the first floor to be improved.5
At the end of Caldwell’s administration there was the promise of $15,000 a year from the federal government for an agricultural experiment station. Caldwell did help secure this money, testifying in Washington on behalf of the Hatch Act of March 2, 1887, which provided it. A director was hired and the new station set up in the spring of 1888, shortly after Caldwell’s departure.6
When college opened in the fall of 1885, William Du Hamel, editor of the Review, praised the improved discipline under Caldwell, but the euphoria of the honeymoon period did not last long. Before the year was out, the Review criticized the administration for an order forbidding students from giving plays in the Oratory. Caldwell’s answer to the criticism was to require prepublication censorship of the Review and to threaten to expel Du Hamel unless he consented to it. He did, but the board of trustees came to his rescue, declaring that the censorship would apply only to advertisements.7
The improved behavior that was observed on Caldwell’s arrival soon gave way to rowdiness. Unknown persons, probably students, destroyed the wooden stile at the end of the linden avenue; it was replaced by an iron fence. Drunkenness was noticeably increasing in the spring. By 1887 the walls were defaced by profanity and graffiti of many types. Then students remembered how it was reported in Purnell’s time that a prominent visitor had said, after walking through the halls, that gentlemen must go here, the walls were so clean.8 (Yet the state of Old College had been one of the complaints raised against Purnell’s administration.)
Through these years, including those before and after Caldwell’s administration, the Grangers frequently criticized Delaware College for not doing more to make agriculture a leading subject, as the Morrill Act said it should be. Caldwell, whose fellow-religionists in Delaware were mainly a rural people, sympathized with the criticism. At his urging, the faculty agreed "to increase the scope of the Agricultural course" and set it up once again as a third curriculum beside the popular classical and scientific programs. They requested the legislators to appoint to state scholarships young men willing to take this course. Several times Professor Frederick Chester offered an agriculture short course in the winter, when young men from farm families were free to come, but hardly any students enrolled. Caldwell proposed making agriculture a compulsory study for all scholarship students, but the trustees rejected the idea. Despite his efforts to emphasize agriculture, only one student was enrolled in the course in October 1886. By the spring of 1888 it was still true that no one had ever graduated from Delaware College in agriculture.9
To increase enrollment, Caldwell also proposed readmitting women. The sentiment that had once existed among the male students against coeducation seems to have faded quickly, and in 1886 a woman was elected valedictorian. The Review in June mourned the end of coeducation, though admitting that a year earlier they had led an attack on it. Eight women were in the college in Caldwell’s first year, and since the board had allowed them to finish courses begun before June 1885, some could have continued in college to 1888, but apparently none did; the deteriorating condition of the college may have driven them away. When Caldwell proposed their readmission in 1887 the trustees rejected his proposal by a vote of 16 to 10. With Caldwell in the minority were Purnell (now president of a female seminary, later Hood College, in Frederick, Maryland, but still a trustee), Benjamin Biggs (now governor), and George G. Evans.10
The faculty may have supported Caldwell’s views on coeducation, but on many other issues they locked horns with him. At a faculty meeting in June 1886 all but Caldwell approved a student petition to hold the commencement hop in the newly enlarged Oratory. Caldwell insisted on overruling the majority decision; the dance had to be held off campus, as it was, though with two faculty wives, Mrs. Harter and Mrs. Wolf, among the chaperones.11
Caldwell felt that both Harter and Wolf, if not all the faculty, were conspiring against him. He accused Wolf of being an infidel and sought, unsuccessfully, to reduce his salary to a level with the other professors, despite Wolf’s special responsibility as state chemist. Caldwell overruled the faculty once again in 1887 when they declared it their "immemorial right" to name the baccalaureate speaker from the ministers of the three religious denominations in Newark–Methodists, Presbyterians, and Episcopalians–and asserted their intention of asking the Presbyterian minister. Caldwell, presiding at the faculty meeting, refused to countenance the motion and insisted on making the baccalaureate speech himself.12
There were other smaller issues haggled over in what became a war between President Caldwell and his four professors. They voted to require all students to participate in military drill, which Professor Chester was now conducting; Caldwell opposed, arguing that the Morrill Act required the study of military tactics but not drill. The faculty similarly voted that it was improper for "a secular college" like Delaware to grant the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity, though the names of several clergymen were proposed to them for this degree; Caldwell dissented.13
In the spring of 1887 the intracollegiate feud was brought before the trustees by Caldwell in a report that has not survived but was evidently very critical of the faculty. The board appointed a committee to hear the other side of the argument. At a special meeting on April 6 they narrowly adopted a palliative measure that Caldwell himself supported, declaring that there was no intentional wrong on either side and that with strict attention to the rules and by-laws harmony could be preserved.
But harmony proved unobtainable. When the quarrel broke out again at the board meeting preceding commencement, the trustees lost patience. They had called in the faculty for a hearing, but when Caldwell began reading a paper about the lack of harmony, the trustees stopped him and called on everyone to resign. The board appointed a committee under Governor Biggs to plan a reorganization and then adjourned.
When they met again, Biggs reported his committee had been unable to agree on what to do though they had more applications for the presidency than there were students in college. Consequently, the trustees postponed the resignations, asking the president and professors to try to secure students for the fall term.14 If they did try, they were unsuccessful. The enrollment, a mere forty-one when Caldwell came, plummeted to sixteen in 1888. The Review and most other extracurricular activities were suspended, and the college seemed once again at death’s door.
Caldwell was not without his supporters. The issue of dances in Old College had arisen again in 1887 and again Caldwell had overruled a permissive faculty. "I have no intention of turning this college into a dance house," he said. "I either have to veto this measure or open the college for practices which would blast its reputation and insult the moral sense of the people of the state." The Methodist ministers of the Dover District sent "hearty congratulations to…Caldwell on his stand taken in favor of the highest morality at the college."15
But they sent no students to the college to support Caldwell. When the trustees met on March 22, 1888, they had in hand the resignations they had requested from president and professors alike. Caldwell read his report, a lengthy but weak defense of his policies, and then announced he had accepted appointment to the Methodist church in Frederica. The trustees, greatly relieved, passed a pro forma commendatory resolution and postponed action on the other resignations, except for that of Professor Angelo Benton, who wanted to leave to resume his career as an Episcopal minister. They then named their president, Dr. Bush, to be acting president of the college until a permanent successor to Caldwell could be selected.16
Despite the circumstances, selecting a new president did not prove difficult. The alumni had pointed the way in 1887, shortly after the trustees, at their June meeting, had called on the entire faculty to resign. The Alumni Association had immediately appointed a committee to look into the problems at the college, and this committee, just one week later, recommended replacing Caldwell with Dr. Albert Newton Raub, principal of the Academy of Newark.17
The recommendation was premature, because the board deferred the request for resignations to the next spring. When Caldwell announced in March 1888 that he was definitely leaving, the board started looking about seriously. There was strong support for Professor Charles W. Reid, of St. John’s College, Annapolis, who had taught in Milford and had been married there, but stronger support still for Raub, who was on the scene. (Reid became president of Washington College, Chestertown, the next year.18)
The attractiveness of Raub to the alumni and trustees is easy to see. He was an experienced school administrator and a proven go-getter. Nobody had questioned Caldwell’s learning but he had very little academic experience and had failed utterly as an administrator. His strict denominationalism left such a bad taste that there was now no temptation to look to the ministry for a new president; indeed, no minister has been appointed to the presidency since Caldwell.
Raub was more in the mold of that short-term president of 1850-51, Matthew Meigs, though Meigs’s experience, before and after Delaware, was in private academies, whereas much of Raub’s experience was in public education. Therein lay a difference between the educational scene in 1850 and in 1890.
Albert N. Raub was 48 years old in 1888, the year of his election to the presidency of Delaware College. Born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, he was a member of the first class to graduate from the normal school at Millersville, near his birthplace. He taught and served as an administrator in the public schools of several Pennsylvania communities, including Lock Haven, where he founded another normal school. He also had experience in a third Pennsylvania normal school, at Kutztown, where he taught English.
He apparently did well in these posts, but he gained a national distinction and a supplementary income as a lecturer, writer, editor, and publisher in the field of education. Spellers, readers, arithmetics, grammars, and books on school management flew from his busy fingers and went through numerous editions. One of two periodicals that he edited, the weekly Educational News, won a wide circulation. His own firm, Raub and Company, of Philadelphia, handled his publications. Honorary degrees were showered upon him–an M.S. from Millersville, an M.A. from Princeton, a Ph.D. from Lafayette, an LL.D. from Ursinus.19
It would seem that besides his writing and publishing, Raub’s new responsibilities at the college would have absorbed his time, but at the request of the Newark Academy trustees, he agreed to retain responsibility for that institution as well, with his son E.L. Raub serving "as the principal teacher, with charge of the main room," at the academy. The two institutions remained separate, though obviously friendly.20
Probably it was the low enrollment at Delaware College in 1888 that allowed Raub to assume this extra responsibility. The enrollment did immediately improve over its shriveled state in Caldwell’s last year. There were twenty-nine students in Delaware College in the 1888-89 school year; in 1889-90 the number rose suddenly to eighty-two, almost all of them (all but six) from Delaware. With college enrollment at such a level, Raub finally gave up his principalship of the academy in 1890–after five years in that position.21
From the beginning Raub’s responsibilities at the college were eased by greater financial assistance than Purnell or Caldwell had ever enjoyed. By the Hatch Act of 1887 Delaware College received $15,000 a year for establishment of an agricultural experiment station. This entailed some new expenditures, of course, but most of them were covered by federal funds, which also absorbed many of the standing expenses of the college. A sum of $3,000 was appropriated at once for construction of a new building for the experiment station, a building that still stands just north of Recitation Hall. (It is currently known as Recitation Annex.) Another $3,000 was appropriated for the salary of the station director; Raub was hired for only $1,592.44 a year (raised very shortly to $1,800), but he had a second salary as academy principal, plus his private income, and, besides, this inequity was not allowed to remain for long.
In the first year the remainder of the new federal grant was appropriated for supplies of all kinds for the station, but for 1888-89 it was agreed that part of the salaries of the professor of mathematics and botany and all of the salary of a professor of horticulture and an assistant chemist would be paid from Hatch Act funds. Only Dr. Raub and the professor of ancient languages were to be wholly dependent on what were called "College funds," meaning chiefly the income from the endowment created by the sale of land scrip.22
The next problem after hiring a station director and beginning erection of a building was to acquire an experimental farm. At first the John E. Lewis farm was rented, but in 1890 the trustees borrowed $3,000 to buy nine acres next to the campus, just north of the station building, from Mrs. Margaret A. Evans. Its location made it convenient for an athletic field as well as for experimental planting by the station staff. In the same year the trustees leased land at Dover for another experimental farm. This first downstate "substation" was operated on land leased at $360 a year for six years before it was given up.23
The first director of the agricultural experiment station was Dr. George D. Purinton, a West Virginian who stayed only a few months, resigning in August 1888, to return to Missouri, where he had become professor of biology after a varied career elsewhere. His successor was Arthur T. Neale, a graduate of Wesleyan University who had spent three years of postgraduate study in Germany and then served as chemist at the New Jersey agricultural experiment station. Neale began his work as station director in Newark on January 1, 1889, and remained in this post until 1906.24
Hardly had Delaware College begun to assimilate the experiment station when it was the recipient of another federal grant, provided by the New Morrill Act of 1890. Recognizing that many of the land-grant colleges were in such weak condition financially that they had trouble living up to the aims of the Morrill Act, Congress, where Justin Morrill was now a senator, voted to give them further assistance, not in land or a lump sum but in annual appropriations. Under the New Morrill Act the State of Delaware received $15,000 in the first year and a sum that increased by $1,000 in every succeeding year until it reached $25,000.
Not all of this money could be passed on to Delaware College. States where blacks were denied admission to the land-grant college were eligible for this new grant only if they assigned an equitable part of the sum to the education of the excluded class of students. This restriction applied to Delaware. A slave state until 1865 (although it had few slaves in the later years), Delaware had practiced segregation in its public schools from their origin. Delaware College had never admitted blacks, though it did not insist its students be white; for instance, it welcomed Choctaw Indian students in 1848 and later accepted Oriental students, with, so far as is known, no reluctance whatever.
It is interesting that Congress, while noting the exclusion of blacks from many land-grant colleges and insisting on some provisions for them, took no notice of the exclusion of women.
Eager to claim for Delaware its share of the New Morrill Act funds, the General Assembly incorporated a State College for Colored Students in 1891, but since there were no high schools for black students outside of Wilmington, the new institution remained for years more of a preparatory school than a college. Located on the Loockerman farm, north of Dover, Delaware State College, as it came to be known, opened in 1892, with the support of one-fifth of the money appropriated to Delaware by the New Morrill Act. It offered instruction in agriculture and mechanic arts, like other land-grant schools–though mechanic arts did not here mean an engineering curriculum–and from the very beginning it admitted women.25
The New Morrill Act made specific reference not only to agriculture and the mechanic arts but also to "the English language and the various branches of mathematical, physical, natural and economic science, with special reference to their applications in the industries of life." The funds granted were to be used for instruction in these fields and for equipment needed for instruction, including books and laboratory apparatus, but specifically excluding buildings. Professor Frederic Robinson, who was hired with funds provided by the new law, reminisced later that it brought "a wonderful sense of invigoration" to the college, which had struggled along with so little money for so long.26
Even before the New Morrill Act brought additional funds to Delaware College, a statute that Congress approved on September 26, 1888, brought assistance by providing for the assignment of a regular army officer as professor of military science and tactics. Not only did this assignment free Professor Frederick Chester to concentrate on biology and geology, but the officer assigned here, Lieutenant George LeRoy Brown, a West Point graduate, soon did double duty as professor of civil engineering. More than that, he became an enthusiastic advocate for the college and set out, successfully, to raise enough money to construct a two-story frame building that served as a combination gymnasium-drill hall on the second floor and as a storehouse for the experiment station on the first floor. Because he had been very active in raising funds for it, the building was sometimes unofficially called "Brown Hall" by the students.27
Hatch Act funds supplemented money Brown raised for this building, and the same funds allowed the college to hire its first stenographer-bookkeeper in 1889 to work at the experiment station. Water and gas were introduced in the laboratories in 1890, and a central steam heating plant was built soon after.28 When the gymnasium was completed the student athletic association hired a man named Whitelock for one month as an instructor in physical education, petitioning the college to establish a chair in this subject. The trustees, so far as is known, gave no help whatever, and despite assurances voiced in the Review that before long "every college will have a paid coacher," the students were left on their own.29
Not so with the mechanic arts. In 1891 a department of mechanical and electrical engineering was established under Frederick Weihe and Frederic Robinson came to take over the work in civil engineering to which Lieutenant Brown had previously given part of his time. The salary for a full professor was now $1,750, while President Raub’s was raised to $3,000 to match the salary paid to the director of the station. The long-neglected library received $3,500 of the new federal funds in 1891, and for acting as librarian the faculty secretary (George Harter) received $250.30
Since none of the New Morrill Act money could be used for buildings, President Raub and Chief Justice Lore, representing the trustees, went to the legislature in March 1891 and appealed for help. The General Assembly accepted their invitation to visit the college, explaining that it was "a State institution, largely owned and controlled by the state." The legislators were convinced when they came to the campus on March 24, 1891, that, as they phrased it, "the present buildings are entirely inadequate to meet the needs of the institution" and felt it "incumbent upon the State to meet the generous gifts of the General Government for the promotion of practical education." Suiting deeds to words, they made the largest direct appropriation–coming from tax funds, not a lottery–they had ever given Delaware College, $25,000 for buildings. Two years later, noting that the previous grant was inadequate, the state added $6,000 to this appropriation.31
The college authorities immediately turned to the Furness, Evans Company of Philadelphia, headed by Frank Furness, the leading architect of the day, for plans for a new classroom building. Erected in 1891-92 on the east side of the campus, the new building, Recitation Hall, was three stories high, with an electrical laboratory in the basement and a large auditorium, left unfinished at first, on the third floor. Offices, as well as classrooms, were set up in Recitation Hall, and in a few years the library was moved here–first in 1896, to a room on the second floor, and then to larger quarters on the third floor. Commencement exercises (with frock coats or cutaways, but no caps and gowns yet) and student dances were also held on the third floor of Recitation Hall, which soon rivaled Old College as a center of activities.32
The builder of Recitation Hall was Joseph T. Willis, who had won the contract with his low bid of $21,786. He also agreed to build a frame woodworking shop near it for $1,425, and to make extensive alterations to the chemical laboratory in Old College. A greenhouse had already been erected for use of the staff of the experiment station, and one more building, a machine shop, was soon built to house facilities necessary in the teaching of mechanical engineering. Altogether six buildings, all clustered east and northeast of Old College, were constructed during the presidency of Albert Raub.33
New buildings, improved facilities, and additional professors all helped Delaware College attract students in the eight years of President Raub’s administration, 1888-96, but Raub took other measures to increase enrollment. Free scholarships were provided for all Delawareans who asked for them in 1890, and the faculty was permitted to award five other scholarships at their discretion. Entrance requirements were lowered. Francis A. Cooch, who entered the college in 1889, recalled later that no entrance examinations at all were given then; the aim of Dr. Raub was to build up attendance as fast as possible. Perhaps this is why only thirteen out of the fifty-two men who entered in 1889 were graduated on time in 1893.
In his first report to the board of trustees Raub explained that "one of the serious difficulties the Faculty have to contend with is the fact that most of the students who present themselves for admission have not the necessary training in the ancient languages…Some who desired to enter have gone elsewhere because they could not meet the established requirements." He recommended dropping the requirement of "Latin Prose and Cicero," and he encouraged establishing a new program called the general scientific course, which had no Latin prerequisite. Another change was to grant the B.A. degree instead of the B.S. to graduates of the Latin-scientific course, thus permitting the B.A. to be awarded for the first time to students who had not studied Greek. The problem, Raub explained, was that "few of the public schools to which we must look for students give any attention to Latin, and fewer still to Greek."34
By such measures as these, in addition to the physical improvements under way, Raub raised the enrollment to ninety-seven, its high point to date, in 1891-92. By the latter year free tuition was offered to all Delaware residents; this did not mean a great change, because scholarships, including those dispensed by legislators, had been easy to acquire. Hoping to develop close relations with Wilmington High School as a "valuable feeder," Raub secured the permission of the trustees in 1894 to admit its graduates without examination, but his proposal to extend this privilege to the other accredited Delaware high schools was rejected. However, to ease the process of admission (and the shock of refusal) the faculty agreed to give entrance examinations at various places throughout the state. In 1894, for example, Professor Wolf went to Middletown to give entrance examinations, Harter to Smyrna, and other professors to Dover, Milford, Georgetown, Seaford, Wilmington, and Lewes.35
The new student body revived activities that had become dormant in Caldwell’s time, such as the literary societies and the Review, as well as athletics. Football was not only revived as a game but in this period surpassed baseball as the most popular sport. The first football game played by a team representing the college took place in 1889 against the Delaware Field Club of Wilmington at the Homewood Driving Park, just east of Newark, with the college team losing, 74-0, but later the college team won one game and tied one to conclude its first season with an even record. A scrub (junior varsity) team played two games, both ties, with the Wilmington Friends School and an Elkton club.36
Excitement over football mounted, and in 1891 the Delaware College team won the state championship. The sport was at the beginning wholly student-run; at least it was not in any official way administered or controlled by college authorities, except to the extent that all student life was controlled by disciplinary laws. The first military commandant, Lieutenant Brown, is said to have got so excited over games that he had to be restrained. Not all of the players were students, by any means, perhaps not half of them in these early years, and the games, if in Newark, were not played on the campus but on what was called the Pie field, probably close to the property at Park Place and South College Avenue that later students knew as Red Men’s Grove.37
Faculty control over football began to be exercised through oversight of the schedule. In 1891 the faculty requested that the football team arrange no games away from Newark "except with school teams." Three years later the faculty extended their control over scheduling to demand that all games, home or away, be with college or school teams. In the spring of 1896 the same rule was applied to the baseball schedule.38
Gradually these organized team sports evolved from being activities wholly organized and controlled by students to a status where they had an institutional or public nature. In the fall of 1895, according to the Review, the football team had no "trainer," but had a coach who was himself a student. A "liberal gentleman," unnamed, assisted the team financially, probably helping pay for necessary equipment. In the following year, alumni secured the use of Riverview Park, Wilmington, for all home games. Playing in Wilmington (then a city of 70,000 people) was not merely a convenience to alumni who wanted to see the team in action, it also allowed the team to collect more money from spectators, traveling to the games by trolley car, than could be hoped for in Newark, which was little more than a village.39
Faculty adoption of blue and gold as college colors in September 1889 may have come in connection with the development of team sports, for this same fall was the first football season. (The colors adopted were those of the State of Delaware, and also of Sweden, from which Delaware’s first permanent colonists came.) Gradually other sports attracted students. A lacrosse team was organized in 1891. In 1895 students complained that the two tennis courts they had were not enough. Wrestling, field sports, and golf were mentioned in 1896. Of the last-named sport the Review said in March 1896, "golf has at last made its appearance among us," and it explained that a course had been laid out at the edge of town. The same publication boasted of new gym apparatus: parallel bars, trapeze, flying rings, punching bag, jumping and vaulting outfit.40
President Raub gave the board of trustees what they wanted, increased enrollment, but one senses some reserve in their ranks in accepting his success. He was a different sort from the presidents they had known. After two lawyers–Caldwell, who was also a minister and had dabbled in politics, and Purnell, who was also a politician and was to become a minister–both southern by birth, it was a change to have as president an efficient school administrator, a normal school graduate, a get-up-and-go modern Pennsylvanian.
Right at the outset of Raub’s presidency the trustees rejected one of his ideas, the suggestion that Delaware College (which had enrolled only sixteen students in the pre-Raub term just concluded) grant the Ph.D. degree for completion of a prescribed three-year course of readings, plus an approved thesis showing evidence of original research. The man who had added "Delaware Normal School" to the title of the Academy of Newark was too ambitious for his board when he proposed to make struggling Delaware College into a graduate school overnight.41
Raub wished to persuade the high schools to shape their work to fit Delaware College entrance requirements so as to make the college "practically the head of the school system," as the state universities were in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota, according to his 1890 report to the board. His own standing was weakened, however, by a controversy that broke out in 1891 over the use of his books in the public schools. Ex officio, Raub was president of the State Board of Education, which adopted the textbooks used in the schools. The Morning News of February 18, 1891, declared there was a conflict of interest whenever the board was considering any of Raub’s numerous texts. To inquiries by the editor of the Review Raub responded that he always refrained from voting on texts and never tried to influence the votes of his colleagues on the state board; when at the request of teachers the board unanimously voted to give up one mathematics text in favor of a book by Raub, which his publisher offered at the lowest bid, the vote was 4-0, with Raub abstaining. Only a few of his twenty-three texts were used in Delaware, but some of those had been adopted before he came to this state. The popularity of his books was without question: 150,000 of his texts had been sold in the last year alone, including 60,000 of his readers; some had gone into the fortieth edition; his Rhetoric, written after he came to Newark, reached its seventeenth edition in less than four years.42
One fruit of this controversy was a statute approved May 31, 1891, making the governor rather than the president of Delaware College the ex officio president of the State Board of Education. Apparently the trustees did not enter into this conflict, but in March 1892 they were obliquely critical of Raub when they noted that there were a large number of professors for the number of students–twelve of the former and ninety-five of the latter. In June they approved a faculty by-law that permitted a two-thirds vote of the faculty to overrule the president. In March 1893 a committee headed by ex-president Purnell was carpingly critical of President Raub’s report, expressing disappointment at a slight decline (to eighty-eight) in the enrollment. In June 1893 a trustee committee called for a strict adherence to admission requirements. Perhaps this accounted for a continued decline in the enrollment–to seventy-five in 1893-94, to seventy-two in 1894-95, and to seventy in 1895-96.
Perhaps Purnell, journeying back to Delaware from his women’s seminary at Frederick, Maryland, was shocked by Raub’s zeal to attract students, even though ill-prepared in terms of the old classical standards. Or possibly a change in the presidency of the board left it more skeptical of Raub’s methods than previously: Dr. Bush had died in 1892 and Chief Justice Charles B. Lore was chosen to succeed him.43
At any rate, a wide-ranging investigation of conditions in the college was mounted in 1894, in response to criticism that came to the attention of the trustees. There were five main allegations: (1) that discipline was poor; (2) that admission requirements were not upheld; (3) that President Raub gave too much time to private business; (4) that he allowed his classes to wander off the subject; and (5) that there was a lack of harmony among the faculty. A committee of five trustees, chaired by Lewis C. Vandegrift, ’76, U.S. district attorney, inquired into these charges, interviewing four local trustees, thirteen faculty members or former faculty members, six other residents of Newark, six students, and five former students. Their report refuted the charges and defended Raub and his administration. The evidence they found contradicted the first and fifth charges completely; they confessed admission requirements had been dropped for a short time, but no longer; they found that Raub gave very little time to private affairs; and as to his classes, the evidence was insufficient for judgment.44
One issue that would not die through these years was coeducation. At commencement in 1889 ex-governor Benjamin Biggs called its abandonment "a burning shame" and declared that it "must again be adopted." At a board meeting in March 1893 Biggs announced his intention to move, at the next meeting, that the college be opened once again to women. When he did, he had many supporters, including Purnell, George Evans, and ex-Congressman John Penington, but another former governor, Charles Stockley, moved that Biggs’s proposal be tabled–that is, effectively killed–and it was, by the narrow vote of 11-10. Raub’s vote, with the majority, made the difference, but this is not proof that Raub was strongly opposed to coeducation; he may have felt, as Harter did later, that the college facilities were already strained to the utmost, and that college education for women should wait until the legislature would support it with grants, especially for a dormitory. Before another year passed, Biggs died.45
In other respects genuine progress was made in the Raub years. New regulations were adopted, such as a requirement that at least a full year’s attendance be required for any degree other than an honorary one, as well as the first known regulations regarding faculty tenure. The latter called for an original one-year contract to be followed by a three-year contract, after which a professor was eligible for appointment to an indefinite term.46
The engineering program, divided between two departments in 1891, advanced rapidly in popularity until in 1895 half of the undergraduate degrees were in engineering. Civil engineering was the most popular field, perhaps because it had been taught longer (and therefore may have sooner acquired needed equipment) and because Professor Frederic Robinson was a well-liked and stabilizing influence for two-and-a-half decades after his arrival in 1891. Mechanical and electrical engineering, one department, though offering two degrees, had a succession of professors. The first undergraduate degree specifically in civil engineering was awarded in 1892, though it will be remembered that a number of students taking degrees in the science course in the Purnell era, like John Greiner and Andrew Wiley, immediately entered the civil engineering profession. In 1892, there were thirty-two students majoring in civil engineering. (Probably this concentration was because Professor Robinson was popular and the first professor of mechanical and electrical engineering was not.) The first degrees in the two latter fields were awarded in 1895.
Agriculture was never so popular as engineering. The first undergraduate degree in agriculture was awarded in 1893; there was not another for several years–not another, in fact, in the nineteenth century, although a few students would take occasional courses, such as winter short courses. The agricultural experiment station, however, was keeping busy. In 1891, in his last message to the legislature, Governor Biggs drew special attention to its work "in the destruction of diseases and insects that infest our fruit," complimenting Neale, its "energetic director," and observing that though its work was just begun "its great usefulness" had already been demonstrated.47
In a sense, it was that way with Delaware College in the Raub administration. When President Raub resigned in 1896–worn down by adverse criticism and failing health–Delaware College had just begun its new life under the stimulation of federal money derived from the Hatch Act of 1887 and the New Morrill Act of 1890.48 It was now more fully staffed than ever before; it had improved facilities in a cluster of new buildings, and though its enrollment had dropped from Raub’s early years, the new students were comparatively well-prepared. The usefulness of Delaware College was apparent if it could grow on what now seemed a more substantial base than ever before.
Raub had found it impossible to satisfy his critics. When he increased enrollments he was criticized for lowering admission requirements, for placing numbers above fitness; when admission standards were raised, he was criticized because of declining enrollments. And as to his writing and publishing, he was simply too successful in this work to give it up. Two trustees, sympathizing with Raub, voted against accepting his resignation–the elderly George G. Evans and his lawyer son, Charles Black Evans, ’86, who had recently married one of President Raub’s daughters and who this year succeeded his father as secretary-treasurer of the board.49
In choosing a successor to Raub, the trustees took a step they had not taken since 1854, when they chose Kirkwood–they turned to their own faculty. But they did this only after their first choice, a man at Swarthmore College, turned them down, and after their second choice apparently demanded more money than they were prepared to pay. In these circumstances they settled on their own professor of mathematics, George Abram Harter, so suddenly that he found his appointment "almost bewildering," and they hedged their decision by naming him to the post for only one year.50
Forty-two years old when elected president in June 1896, Harter was a native of western Maryland who had taken all his degrees at St. John’s College, Annapolis, including a Ph.D. that he received in 1892, after additional study and examination, seven years after he joined the Delaware College faculty.51 He was the first president of the college to have an earned doctorate, but all of the presidents since Harter have had this degree.
The Harter presidency was on the whole a quiet but happy time in the history of Delaware College. The year in which it began, 1896, is notable for the students who were then graduating from the college, continuing in the college, and just entering the college. Among the thirteen graduates were three future Delaware College professors of some distinction–Wilbur Owen Sypherd, E. Laurence Smith, and Clarence A. Short. Among those continuing in college were Hugh Martin Morris, ’98, and Everett C. Johnson, ’99, both of whom made remarkable contributions to the future welfare of the college. And among the new students who entered college that year was a sixteen-year-old freshman from Lewes, admitted on probation, named Hugh Rodney Sharp, who became, in the course of time, the greatest benefactor the college has ever known.52
Presumably they were kept busy, if the schedule of a junior in the Latin-scientific course is a fair sample. He had twenty-one classes every week, each class lasting forty-five minutes, and in addition he spent one and three-quarters hours in the chemistry laboratory and three hours at military drill. Each class period was supposed to require one and a half hours of preparation. Six more hours were taken up each week for the work of a literary society. What time remained after allowing for sleep and meals was devoted, according to the Review, to football, dances, newspapers, letters, class meetings, dates, pandemonium in the dormitory, hazing freshmen, raiding grape arbors, singing, skipping off to Philadelphia, and listening to political speeches–in the fall of a presidential election year.53
One advantage of appointing a faculty member president was that abrupt change was avoided, particularly in this case when Harter, as he acknowledged, had the advantage of conferring on occasion with his predecessor, who remained in Newark. According to the Review, Harter had "always been admired and respected" by the students, and he soon won the confidence of the trustees, who elected him as the permanent president in June 1897. They had been particularly well pleased both "in form and substance" with the report Harter made in March, in which he called for close relations with the public schools and emphasis on the value of broad and liberal training, not just the vocational courses. He urged, as Raub had done, the admission of more high school graduates on certification, without examination, and in the college he proposed more attention to English composition. In the latter connection, he suggested changing the title of the professor of moral, mental and political science to professor of English language and literature and political science, because it did not look well to have English, "the most important study in the College course," not mentioned in the faculty list. Among changes that he announced were a new emphasis on the library and a revision of the curriculum, allowing some electives in the senior year. He also urged the establishment of a museum to illustrate natural history and material resources, possibly something like the "cabinet" of which the college had boasted in the 1850s, but this project remained unrealized.54
An innovation of the early years of the Harter administration was the publication in 1898 of a junior yearbook. The first such yearbook, called The Aurora, was the work of the class of 1899, and the editor was Everett C. Johnson, later founder of the Newark Post. Besides accounts of the college and of student activities, it included notes on alumni, poetry, and a series of articles on coeducation, which together constituted a very powerful, though, as it turned out, ineffective, argument for its reinstitution. A valuable feature of The Aurora was the many photographs of college scenes and groups that it contained.
Probably because the initial yearbook had run into debt, several years passed before another appeared, and when it did, in 1903, the name was changed to The Derelict. Edited by Bassett Ferguson, it followed the general pattern set by The Aurora of photographs, class histories, and news of college activities, though it lacked the didactic zeal that the essays on coeducation had given the first yearbook. A third yearbook, The 1907 Derelict, appeared in 1906 (the number in the title was chosen for the class preparing it) and is interesting for the individual portraits it carries of faculty and seniors. Two years later, The Junior Annual, 1908, was published by the class of 1909. Besides income from sales and advertising, the editors may have often received contributions of money from alumni or friends, as the Junior Annual did from Manlove Hayes, the oldest trustee, who was ninety-three when he died in 1910. With the 1911 yearbook, called The Blue Hen of the Class of 1912, a title was adopted that was continued in subsequent issues. Thereafter the junior yearbook was published every two years, carrying photographs and brief notes on every member of the two upper classes.55
The first of these yearbooks, The Aurora, had been dedicated to the memory of the sailors who lost their lives when the Maine was sunk in Havana harbor, February 15, 1898. Fifteen students had left their studies at the end of April, the month the war began, to enlist in the Delaware Volunteer Regiment, and one professor (William Pratt), besides the assigned military officer, also had left the college before the term ended. The faculty voted to recommend the seven seniors in the volunteer group for their degrees just as though they had not withdrawn, on the premise that the loss of one month’s study would be compensated for by the discipline and experience of camp life. Other members of the faculty took over the work of Professor Pratt–most of whose students had enlisted anyway–and at first, according to President Harter, the excitement interfered with orderly work, but in time the students settled down. The Delaware regiment went into camp outside Middletown, but since it never had to go to the scene of the war, which ended in August, most of the enlisted students were able to return to college in the fall.56
More disturbing to the work of the college was a fire on April 26, 1898, which destroyed the wooden shops that had been built in Raub’s administration. Fortunately, they were insured, and with the insurance money the trustees hired Frank A. Carswell to design and superintend construction of a new building. Temporarily workbenches were placed in the basement of Recitation Hall, but the new two-story brick Mechanical Hall was completed by fall, roughly on the site of the old shops. The machine shop and a boiler room were on the first floor; a drafting room and an electrical laboratory were on the second floor; and the building also contained two recitation rooms and an office. New machinery had to be purchased, as all the old machinery was destroyed in the fire. The cost of the building, about $6,140, was not much more than the $5,500 received for insurance.57
Though the ravages of the fire had been quickly repaired, the engineering curriculum grew so fast in popularity that before long the new shops were overcrowded. The legislature came to the rescue in 1903 by appropriating $6,500 for an extension to Mechanical Hall, an east wing that was called Electrical Hall. Mechanical and Electrical Hall (to which another small addition was made in 1911) encouraged the growth of the mechanical and electrical engineering programs, although it took them years to catch up with civil engineering in popularity.58
"Our institution receives no aid regularly from the State," President Harter responded to an inquiry from another land-grant college, "but we receive appropriations occasionally for buildings." "We expect," he added, "to get some additional appropriations at every biennial session of our Legislature. Delaware has given nothing directly to the cause of education as yet, but we hope that she will very soon change her policy."59
There had been some state gifts "directly to the cause of education"–the endowment fund set up for Newark College early in the nineteenth century and the contribution to a normal school in 1873–but they were before Harter’s time. For many years there had been no help whatever from the state, but as federal funds came increasingly to the college, the state saw the necessity of repairing and enlarging the physical plant. Thus in 1903, in addition to $6,500 for Electrical Hall, $2,000 had been appropriated for a greenhouse needed by the agriculture program, and $6,500 was to pay off a debt incurred previously in repairs to Old College Hall.60
Two years earlier, in 1901, the legislature appropriated $25,000 for the repair and enlargement of Old College, usually referred to at this time–since the construction of Recitation Hall–as "the dormitory." The building had become very shabby and the laboratories in it lacked proper light, heat, and ventilation. Once rebuilding began, it was found that there were serious structural problems that ran up the bill past the total of the appropriation, particularly since the plans adopted included a considerable addition.
The 1902 reconstruction followed plans submitted by R. A. Whittingham, Newark resident and architect for the Pennsylvania Railroad, and produced the handsome exterior of Old College Hall known by generations of students in the twentieth century. The two wings were extended rearward to parallel the central section of the building, and Doric columns were placed on the second floor front of each wing to correspond with the portico at the main entrance. The Oratory was remodeled, the sleeping rooms made more comfortable, the floors strengthened, the walls replastered, and laboratories and classrooms enlarged and improved. Whittingham, who was paid three percent of the expense (roughly $30,000), left the 1853 cupola in place. It was removed in 1916, but otherwise his exterior suited the college community so well that it was untouched despite two later extensive internal rearrangements of the building.61
Extension of Mechanical Hall eastward in 1903 had necessitated razing the old frame gymnasium and drill hall erected through the enthusiasm of Lieutenant Brown in 1891. Temporarily a gymnasium was set up on the third floor of Recitation Hall, but this was only a makeshift; the state appropriated $15,000 in 1905 for buildings and repairs, including $12,000 for a new gymnasium. Robeson Lea Perot, of Philadelphia, was hired as architect for the new building, a brick structure northwest of Mechanical Hall that had a running track suspended from roof trusses and forming a balcony above the main floor, which was occupied by the drill hall and gym; in the basement were lockers, showers, and space for a small swimming pool, the first at Delaware College, which was completed in 1913. The gym was opened in the winter of 1906 and was used not only for basketball games and indoor drills but also for dances and for special receptions, like the biennial visits of the legislature.62
The opening of the new gym early in 1906 coincided, not by accident, with the first varsity basketball season. A basketball team had been organized by the freshman class in 1902-03 but there was no team representing the college as a whole until the winter of 1906, when Carlton B. Shaffer, ’06, as manager, arranged the first schedule. Mark A. Robin, ’09, was captain, and Stephen Saunders, a former professional player, was part-time coach.
The year 1909 was important in the development of athletics at Delaware because it marked the hiring of the first full-time physical director who was a member of the faculty. William J. (Brick) McAvoy, a graduate of Lafayette College in civil engineering, came to Delaware first in the fall of 1908, serving as a number of men had before him, as coach of the football team, with no faculty status; in the following spring he played professional baseball. But in the fall he returned to Newark with new status, serving also as a teacher of mathematics, gaining the rank of assistant professor and participating in the life of the college–for instance, as a violinist in the college orchestra. McAvoy served as coach of the major sports–football, basketball, and baseball–and gave such help as he could with minor sports until he left the college during the first World War.63
From the first football season, in 1889, it had been the job of the student athletic association to provide a coach. Alumni frequently helped on a voluntary basis, as did some members of the faculty, notably Professor Clarence A. Short, in 1902 and 1906. In 1895 the coach was a student. Gradually college control over the sport increased. In his first year as president, Harter suggested that the faculty needed "fuller knowledge of the athletics of the institution" and the resultant investigation led to restrictions on weekday games away from Newark that might interfere with college studies.
Apparently the only football coaches hired for several successive years before McAvoy were Herbert L. Rice (1898-1901), later a Delaware judge, and Nathan H. Mannakee (1903-05), of whom little is known except that he was listed as a graduate student in 1904-05. "There were some students," wrote Edward Vallandigham, probably referring to the years 1896-1902, when he was on the faculty, "who took the unconsciously humorous attitude of regarding athletics as the chief object of academic life, and general education its casual ornament," but he agreed with Captain Edward McCaskey (a professor of military science in 1904-07) that young men needed an outlet for their surplus energy and that athletics could "take the place, to some extent, of hazing, fighting and foolish student pranks and excesses, and help eradicate vices."64
For a time, before McAvoy’s appointment, coaching and instruction in physical exercise were separate responsibilities, a part-time instructor being hired to commute from Philadelphia for the latter duties, though student response was very discouraging.65 To support athletics students were charged a fee, originally at their request, that varied from two dollars to six dollars, but the major advances occurred with the opening of the gym, the hiring of McAvoy, and the acquisition of Joe Frazer Field.
Joseph Heckart Frazer, for whom this athletic field was named, graduated from Delaware as a civil engineer in 1903. After working for a time on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad he accompanied his boss and a group of engineers to Bolivia, where trans-Andean railroads were needed to move ore from mines to the coast. Most of the American engineers soon became discouraged and left South America, but Frazer stayed on to become a principal partner in a firm that built a fifty-five-mile railroad over heights of 15,000-16,000 feet above sea level between Cochabamba and Oruro. Shortly after completing this line, he spent four days duck hunting near Lake Titicaca, contracted influenza, and died on August 16, 1911, at the age of twenty-nine.
By this time the young man had acquired a considerable fortune, and his heirs, who were his parents, Eben and Helen Frazer, and his brother, Stanley Frazer, joined in giving the college a new athletic field as a memorial to their son and brother. Eben Frazer was well known to all of the college community of his day as proprietor of what was unofficially the college drugstore, taken over from him by his clerk, George W. (Doc) Rhodes in 1911, and the new athletic field lay next to the B & 0 Railroad, not far from his drugstore. Under the direction of Wilbur T. Wilson a football gridiron, a baseball diamond, and a cinder track were laid out on an eight-and-one-half acre lot that the college already owned as a result of its purchase in 1890 for use in part as an experimental farm. A wall was built around the field, a memorial gateway was erected, and trees were planted on the circumference. After the field was leveled, a ridge that ran around two sides of it provided parking space–too little, it soon proved–for automobiles.66
Dedicated on June 18, 1913, the field was the site of its first football game on the following October 4, when Delaware lost to Haverford, 7-0. One hundred automobiles are said to have ringed the field on the occasion. The baseball diamond, which seemed "a dream" to the students, was first used in the spring of 1914, as was the track. Frazer Field was home to the first Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Meet in May, and enthusiasts felt it made an excellent impression on high school students. The editors of the Review declared that good athletic teams drew more students than star professors, but, on second thought, argued that it was better to put money into intramural than interscholastic athletics, inasmuch as Delaware teams were not winning in competition.67
Except for football, baseball, and basketball, most sports competition was intramural. Intramural track meets were run in most years, beginning in 1901. Teams were usually sent to the Penn Relays, but there were no interscholastic dual meets until one held with Muhlenberg in 1910. Tennis competition also became intercollegiate in 1910; intramural tournaments had been held annually for many years, and the sport was particularly in vogue from 1903 to 1906, when Professor Edgar Dawson served as coach. Boxing and wrestling were other intramural sports of the Harter era.68
Faculty supervision of athletics, which had begun with restrictions on scheduling, was gradually extended. The old voluntary athletic association (similar to the press association) gave way to an Athletic Council. By 1912 this council had seven members, three students, two faculty, and two alumni. The council hired a manager, who arranged contests and took care of equipment, relieving the coach-instructor of these chores. With competitive athletics an accepted college function, there was no place on teams for anyone who was not a student in good standing. President Harter approved the new status of athletics, declaring that they were "in every way good for the development of the mind."69
Harter was not so sanguine, however, about the treatment of professors. In 1908 instructors were paid $1,000 a year, assistant professors $1,200 to $1,500, and full professors started at $1,750. When Frederic Robinson, the successful but overburdened professor of civil engineering, considered giving up his post as secretary of the faculty in September 1909, Harter warned him it might mean the board would reduce his salary, "inasmuch as I had to work the secretary game" to get it raised. "I sometimes despair," he continued, "of getting our Board to do anything for our professors who have borne the heat and burden of the day. When I know of the treatment that professors have received in the past and of the coldness and indifference with which they have regarded the loss of Doctor Wolf, it makes me feel that such a thing as gratitude is entirely unknown to the members of our Board of trustees. However I trust I am mistaken and possibly my breakfast was rather indigestible."70
The death of Professor Wolf, in June 1909, had moved both faculty and students because it was unexpected (he was only 59) and because he had come to seem a fixture of the college, where he had taught since 1871, one year after the reopening. Wolf’s tenure of thirty-eight years was the longest to date, though Harter himself was to exceed it by a decade. It was probably of little consequence that it was Wolf who had served as acting president in 1901 when Harter, who was ill, was granted leave for a convalescence that included a trip abroad. It was instead, as Frederic Robinson wrote, that he was one of those "teachers who seem to be a very part of an institution" and who "made his impress on the student body as few of our teachers have done." The editor of the Review declared Wolf was "big hearted, broad minded, strong souled," and Edward Vallandigham, once his student and later his colleague, wrote of his "simplicity, candor, directness and loyalty," which "gave us an example of stability."71
The trustees were not so neglectful of these loyal faculty members as Harter feared. One of the next two buildings to be erected on the Delaware College (as distinct from the Women’s College) campus was named for Wolf; the other was named for Harter. They were the first two buildings named for any individuals and they owed these names to the influence of H. Rodney Sharp, who had not been a trustee when Harter felt so downcast, but was a loyal former student of both the men memorialized by these buildings.
By this time there had been considerable change in the leadership of the board. Preston Lea, who had himself never gone to college but was a former governor and member of a family of flour manufacturers, succeeded Judge Lore as board president in 1911, after the latter’s death, and in 1915 Henry B. Thompson, a textile manufacturer who was a graduate of Princeton and a member of its board of trustees, succeeded Lea. Possibly the manufacturers better understood the need to improve salaries than the elderly judge whom they had succeeded.
Through the years of the Harter presidency (1896-1914) the student enrollment doubled, growing by erratic steps from 77 in 1896-97 to a high of 184 in 1908-09. Thereafter the number of students declined a little because the college raised its entrance requirements, seeking to reach standards set by the Carnegie Foundation.72 Only eight undergraduates received degrees in 1897, at the Harter administration’s first commencement (slightly fewer, however, than in preceding or succeeding years), whereas twenty-one baccalaureates were awarded in 1914–and a high of thirty-eight had been reached in 1911. The vast majority of these students came from Delaware. As a random sample, of thirty-one freshmen signing the matriculation book in 1899, twenty-six were Delawareans; the other five lived in Maryland, but close to Newark.
A major scheduling change took place in 1905, when the three-term academic year, in effect since 1844, was abandoned for what had become the more common two-term year, running from September to January and from February to June. Saturday morning classes, which had become unpopular, were reinstituted, even though a large number of the students–a majority in some years–were now commuters. The use of letters instead of numbers in recording grades was adopted in 1907. Caps and gowns were first worn at commencement at the request of the seniors in 1899.73
Though there were few graduate students, those who did come to Delaware were prized by Harter as adding a serious, scholarly note to the campus. In 1898 a faculty committee recommended requiring a program of postgraduate studies as well as a thesis "giving evidence of scholarly and original work" for the master’s degree, instead of merely requiring a thesis, which, in Harter’s words, was "a survival of the moribund practice of conferring degrees in course" (that is, conferring the degree almost automatically three years after the B.A. or B.S.). The recommendation was adopted in March 1903, and thereafter candidates for the M.A. or M.S. had to satisfy a department by pursuing a course of study, in residency or not, as required, probably leading to an examination as well as a thesis. "Select a line of work," Harter advised a would-be candidate for the master’s degree in 1902, "and submit it to the Faculty, and then the man who has charge of that work could impose whatever terms he would deem right." There was, in other words, no specific number of courses or credit hours to be taken.74
The wide latitude allowed graduate students appealed to many, including A. Lee Ellis, ’93, principal of the Newark public school, who prepared himself for admission to medical school, and Hugh M. Morris, ’98, of Greenwood, who stayed at college an extra year to study languages before going to law school. Ellis, in Baltimore, and Morris, in Wilmington, both later had distinguished careers, one in medicine, the other in law. Less leeway was allowed undergraduates. Revision of the curriculum in 1900 required fairly rigid programs in the first two years, with opportunity for electives by juniors and seniors as long as their program included nineteen hours of class each week. A further revision in 1902 restricted electives to the senior year except in unusual circumstances.75
All students were required to take military science for at least three years–four years after 1905–unless excused as conscientious objectors or on the grounds of physical disability. There were few who asked to be excused on the grounds of conscience, but there was "an annual epidemic of physical disability" every spring, according to one of the military officers. Some of the army officers who were detailed at the college to teach this course, usually for about three years, became extraordinarily popular, both with students and faculty, perhaps because they entered into the life of the college with enthusiasm and, until 1903, often served as adjunct professors of mathematics or civil engineering for a modest stipend. In one case, however, President Harter requested that the War Department transfer an unpopular officer elsewhere before his third year, as it did.76
President Harter defended military training as "a valuable feature of college work" and a good influence on "the mental, moral and physical sides of student life" and averred that military drills helped produce "physical manhood…mental alertness, promptness in decision, respect for authority, intelligent patriotism, and moral restraint." At the same time he resisted War Department regulations asking for more hours a week than he thought reasonable. A demand for five hours a week for four years would be equivalent, he argued, to twenty hours a week for one year. If this order were carried out the character of the land-grant colleges would be changed: they would become military colleges, with a leaning towards agriculture and the mechanic arts, something Congress never meant them to be. He insisted, however, again and again, that military training "in no sense encourages a warlike spirit but on the contrary makes for peace and good will."77
Two old relics of pre-land-grant-college times, the two literary societies, struggled for survival through the years of the Harter administration. Their Saturday morning meetings became unpopular once a majority of the students were commuters. Edward Vallandigham, who knew them as a student in their flourishing years of the 1870s and then as a professor at the turn of the century, wrote of them in 1920, "Harder work in college, more amusements, perhaps a more practical spirit, finally brought about the fading out of the societies after years of languishing." In 1908 the Athenaean Society was ousted from its ancient hall on the second floor of Old College and moved to the third floor, a measure of how its influence had declined. James G. Lewis, ’12, remembered that he attended one meeting of this society and was assigned an extemporaneous speech on the value of Dr. Sypherd’s course; there were only four people present at the meeting, and he never attended again. The two societies were united in 1916 but they expired shortly thereafter, and their books, once so valuable to students, were stored in the barn of Land Evans (daughter of George G. Evans) until they were moved to the university library in 1924.78
As the old societies died, a new kind of society came to the campus, the Greek letter fraternity. Delta Phi, of course, used Greek letters in its title, as did the later honorary societies, but Delta Phi was a literary association, and Kappa Alpha Southern, the first of the fraternities to appear on the Delaware campus, had goals that were primarily social. The Beta Epsilon chapter of Kappa Alpha was installed in 1904 and permitted to rent the recently purchased John Watson Evans house (now Alumni Hall) on Main Street, southeast of Recitation Hall. In 1907 a chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon was chartered, in 1910 a chapter of Sigma Nu, and in 1911 a local fraternity was founded (this was the normal first step to joining a national fraternity) that became a chapter of Theta Chi in 1923. Each of these fraternities rented a house in town; some served meals for a time in the house.79
Answering an inquiry from another college, President Harter declared that fraternities "have been very useful to our boys and of great advantage to the college itself….By bringing our students in contact with the activities of other institutions [they] tend to quicken their grasp of the true objects of College life."80
If Harter encouraged the growth of social fraternities, he seems directly responsible for bringing the first honorary fraternity to campus. Phi Kappa Phi was founded at the University of Maine in 1897 as an honor society especially suitable for land-grant colleges, since it admitted students from all curricula, including agriculture and engineering, whereas Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest honorary fraternity, required its new chapters to admit only students in the liberal arts. Chartered in 1904, the local chapter of Phi Kappa Phi, the fifth in the nation, held its first installation in 1905.81
It was only natural for President Harter to seek out an honorary society that would recognize superior performance in engineering, for this was the field that was increasingly drawing a large share of the students at Delaware College. In 1896 only five of thirteen undergraduate degrees awarded were in engineering, but the percentage of engineers in the student body mounted very rapidly, until in 1902 Harter could truthfully assert, "The College is now becoming an Engineering School largely," in a letter in which he sought to explain the prevailing disinterest in the old literary societies.82
In that year (1902) eight seniors out of fifteen were engineers and twenty-three out of thirty-nine freshmen. Civil engineering was especially thriving, due to the availability of jobs, building railroads, bridges, and dams, as well as to the popularity of Professor Frederic Robinson, affectionately known to his students as "Robbie." Thirty-one percent of all students were in civil engineering in the spring of 1903, and more jobs were available than the graduates could fill. "Our boys all have work," President Harter had reported to Joe Frazer in September 1905, and it was not just engineers who had jobs; Harter at the same time found himself unable to recommend anyone for a teaching position in Frederica.83
But it was engineering that continued to draw the students. A publicity release in September 1906 declared that the engineering courses at Delaware College were so well known that they tended to obscure the classical course, which provided a background for careers in business and the learned professions. Nineteen of twenty-six undergraduate degrees granted in 1907 were in engineering; fourteen of eighteen in 1908. "The Engineering Department overshadows all others," explained Harter in the latter year, "for…our boys…desire upon leaving the college to be equipped thoroughly for some kind of work." "We draw largely from the Agricultural and Mechanical classes," he wrote in another letter; "these boys have a hard-headed, common-sense notion about life work."84
The concentration on engineering continued, as the following list demonstrates:
|Year||Engineering Degrees||Total Undergraduate Degrees|
Little wonder that the Review could assert in October 1912 that "Delaware College is essentially an engineering college."85
Civil engineering long maintained its lead over other fields. In 1909, for example, 88 out of a total of 184 undergraduates were majoring in civil engineering, and in 1911 the total of 38 graduating seniors included 23 civil engineers. But the other fields gradually caught up until in 1915 there were more graduates in electrical engineering than in civil engineering. This year is also notable for the graduation of the first majors in chemical engineering.
Establishment of chemical engineering as a fourth engineering program was recommended by the faculty through President Harter in early 1914. Students were requesting such a program because of opportunities in industry, according to Harter, who referred specifically to "concerns engaged in preparing leather, in weaving and dyeing textiles, in making explosives and fertilizers." It would be an easy program to introduce, he argued, because it merely meant combining laboratory work in industrial chemistry with the basic program in mechanical engineering.86
While engineering flourished at Delaware, the liberal arts remained impoverished. The New Morrill Act of 1896 had provided no support for the humanities or social sciences except English and economics. In 1907 the Nelson Act raised the federal assistance to instruction in the land-grant colleges by a steadily augmented sum that was to double the New Morrill Act support in five years. In the case of Delaware College, this amounted to an additional $20,000, but the 1907 law repeated the old restrictions of the 1890 statute on the fields in which the appropriated money could be used.
The professors of ancient and modern languages in these years, ill-paid though they were, became beloved figures in the annals of the college. The former, Elisha Conover, was known for his kind heart, his easy grading, and his devotion to the school. The latter, E. Laurence Smith, a graduate of the famous class of ’96, had studied at Columbia and abroad. Though more demanding than Conover, he could be diverted from the classwork of the day by artful questions concerning the prospects of, for example, the football team.
The grand old man of the Delaware faculty at the beginning of the century was William Henry Purnell, who had returned to Delaware College in 1896 after presiding over the fortunes of two struggling Maryland institutions, the Female Seminary at Frederick and New Windsor College. A septuagenarian, he was employed only as a part-time lecturer, but his responsibilities came to include psychology, ethics, logic, elocution, and business law. His death on Easter Sunday in 1902 severed one of the last links with the old antebellum college from which he had graduated in 1846.87
Laurence Smith’s predecessor in teaching modern languages at Delaware was Dr. Eugene W. Manning, who had received a Ph.D. at Syracuse in 1886. He came to Delaware in 1896 and soon gained an excellent reputation as a teacher. Unfortunately he became a prominent figure in a movement, resented by the board of trustees, to move Delaware College to Wilmington.
Some time early in 1901, or possibly late in 1900, Daniel W. Taylor, secretary of the Wilmington Board of Trade, invited the trustees of Delaware College to a meeting to consider a proposal to move the college. At this time Wilmington, which was growing rapidly, had a population of 76,508, which was over two-fifths of the entire population of the State of Delaware, and many Wilmingtonians were convinced that their city was a far more suitable site for a college than the tiny village of Newark.88
The proposal was not popular with the board of trustees. Seven members of this board were from Newark in 1900, as against only four from Wilmington, and the latter group included three attorneys who were in Wilmington because it was the county seat and may have retained an allegiance to the rural villages of their rearing. (The total membership of the board was supposed to be thirty, besides the college president and the governor, but there were a few vacancies in 1900.) The bloc of Newarkers were all representatives of the old self-perpetuating board of trustees that ran the institution before it became the state land-grant college. By virtue of their residence in Newark and the interest in college affairs that their close proximity engendered, they were on hand for meetings more often than trustees who came from a distance. If not quite a controlling element on the board, they at least were a very powerful influence. While it is impossible to say that they would allow themselves to be influenced by extraneous factors, it is clear that removal of the college from Newark would have been damaging to the economic as well as to the intellectual interests of the town.
Besides the recalcitrance that could be expected of Newarkers faced with a proposal to remove their college, another stumbling block to the Wilmington proposal was the jealousy of this growing city that was felt throughout the state. Similar to feelings of jealousy toward the growth of Baltimore that were felt in rural Maryland, or toward Chicago and Detroit in Illinois and Michigan, rural and small-town Delawareans were suspicious of the size, wealth, ethnic composition, and industry and ambition of the only really urban community in the state. The depth of this feeling had recently been exhibited in the writing of the 1897 state constitution, by the terms of which Wilmington was allowed far less than proportionate representation in the new General Assembly–two seats out of seventeen in the state Senate, five seats out of thirty-five in the House of Representatives. The prevailing mood in Delaware did not make it likely that a proposal to move the college to Wilmington would win much favor outside of that city.
In 1901 when the college trustees were seeking assistance from the state for the repair and enlargement of Old College, they were seriously disturbed to find that a member of the faculty had written one of the legislators in opposition to the $25,000 appropriation that was eventually made to the college.89 The letter has not survived and its author remains a mystery, but there is a good possibility that it was Manning and that the subject was the desirability of moving the college to Wilmington.
Eugene W. Manning was a native of the Eastern Shore of Maryland, but he had come to Wilmington to attend a private school conducted there by William A. Reynolds, and so close did his connection with Reynolds become that he enrolled as an undergraduate at the college Reynolds had attended (Wesleyan, in Middletown, Connecticut) and later married Reynolds’s daughter Margaret (a graduate of Delaware College). Probably it was through his connection with the Reynolds family that Manning came to believe Wilmington was the proper site for Delaware College.
In the spring of 1901 the college trustees, happy that they had succeeded in getting a $25,000 appropriation for work on Old College, contented themselves with passing a resolution forbidding members of the faculty from publicly expressing opinions as those of the trustees, the faculty, or any department of the college unless specifically instructed to do so. Whether or not Manning wrote the letter to the legislators that precipitated this ruling and whatever the subject of the mysterious letter, it was Manning who fell afoul of the trustees’ ruling.
In 1901 or 1902 a letter Manning had written a friend in favor of moving the college to Wilmington was published in a newspaper, and though he had not intended the letter to be published, Manning admitted his authorship of it and sought to convince others that removal of the college would be a wise step. He had, of course, little success with the trustees and apparently little success with the faculty, though Edward Vallandigham acknowledged that Manning’s "eager urgence for a time impressed some of his fellows."90
In Wilmington, of course, there was enthusiasm. William P. Bancroft, Quaker textile manufacturer and philanthropist, agreed that if the college "could be moved to Wilmington and put in a strong position…it would be able to do very much more work than at Newark." A good location would be needed, he thought, and there must be a farm within two or three miles on a trolley line; if such a removal took place he offered to contribute $25,000 toward the $300,000 he thought would be needed, but his offer was made with one proviso–that no one be denied admission to the college because of conscientious scruples against military training.91
An unidentified writer supported Bancroft’s proposal with assurance that the college’s enrollment would be doubled or tripled in Wilmington. Recognizing "that our Newark friends are not willing to lose the college," he offered them a consolation prize: the old college property could be sold or transferred to the State College for Colored Students. Granting existing racial prejudices, it is not likely that this suggestion met with much favor among the Newark trustees. But in favor of the proposal to move Delaware College was a report that a well-known Wilmingtonian had offered to provide a site for a new campus and that several persons besides Bancroft had offered to donate money. Estimates of the enrollment that could be expected swelled to 800.92
The trustees were adamant, however, and the movement–which never found as much financial support as was needed–soon collapsed. Manlove Hayes, of Dover, the oldest trustee, published a letter opposing removal of the college from Newark for reasons he himself described as "partly sentimental, partly real." Besides arguing for the purity of the air in Newark, the "beautiful location, and the charming landscape beyond it," Hayes noted that it was as easy for Wilmington students to commute to Newark as for students from some parts of Philadelphia to attend the University of Pennsylvania. Philanthropic Wilmingtonians ought to put aside selfish notions and support the college "in its admirable location."93
It was inevitable, Edward Vallandigham wrote, that in the end Manning’s vigorous advocacy of a move to Wilmington led to the severance of his relations with the college. Despite a petition signed by most of the students in favor of keeping Manning, the board of trustees in June 1902 voted to replace him with an instructor. Perhaps Manning had confederates on the faculty (though Vallandigham mentions none), because sentiment was expressed at the same meeting in favor of dropping other men, and one of them, Harold W. Brown, associate professor of mechanical and electrical engineering, was dropped at the March 1903 board meeting. Vallandigham himself resigned in 1902, but apparently he did so to rejoin his family in New York, since he was growing tired of commuting there every weekend.94
A strong appointment was made to Vallandigham’s place when the college secured Edgar Dawson, a Virginian with a recent Ph.D. from Leipzig, in Germany, as professor of English and political science. Dawson left in 1906 for Princeton and then Hunter College, where he made a national reputation for leadership in the teaching of social studies.95 This position then fell to a Delaware graduate, W. Owen Sypherd, ’96, who proved to be the strongest in this series of good appointments. Sypherd, who had taken a second B.A. at Pennsylvania, and then, after teaching at Wisconsin, a Ph.D. at Harvard with a dissertation on Chaucer’s House of Fame, turned down a position at Northwestern to return to his alma mater.96
The chair that Vallandigham, Dawson, and Sypherd successively held was supposed to cover history and the social sciences, as well as English. Dawson referred to his department as that of history and English but Sypherd had no interest in history and government. As enrollment grew, there was indeed enough to occupy more than one person in English alone. To make sure that the other fields were not neglected, a Delaware graduate, Everett C. Johnson, ’99, came to the rescue. Johnson, a native of Sussex County, had gone to Johns Hopkins after graduation from Delaware for further study in history and government. When his health failed, he returned to Newark and began a career that brought him distinction in publishing and in public service. Elected to the legislature in 1910, he sponsored a bill enacted into law on April 6, 1911, that established a chair of history at Delaware College and appropriated $2,500 a year for its support.
To be known as "the State of Delaware Chair of History, "the new department was to teach "history, political and economical sciences and other allied subjects." A special justification for state support was provision for a course on "Delaware History and Government," to be required of every student. The law provided not only for a professor’s salary but for the purchase of needed books, maps, and other materials and for at least four guest lecturers each year. Ernest V. Vaughn, of the University of Missouri, who was completing his doctorate in history at Pennsylvania, was appointed to the new chair to begin in September 1911.97
Another addition to the faculty in 1911 was the appointment of George E. Dutton, a graduate of Delaware in the class of 1904, who returned as an instructor in English. Two other men who had begun long careers at Delaware earlier in the century were Clinton O. Houghton, who came from Cornell in 1902 as entomologist at the experiment station but later became professor of biology, and Merrill Van Giessen Smith, who was appointed professor of mechanical and electrical engineering in 1904. Because of the growth of the college from its nadir of 16 students in 1888 to 121 in 1905, the faculty was very young; the three oldest professors, Harter declared in May 1905, were only about fifty years old. (Actually Wolf was then 54, and Harter was 51.)98
The faculty members were not only young but, at least to some degree, competitive. Harter found it hard to arrange a schedule, even as early as 1898, because, as he explained it, "Each department is pressing its claims–and a most healthy thing it is that such is the case," adding, wisely, "We like each man to feel that his work is the most important in the institution, for then we shall have vigorous action along the whole line."99
Probably Harter agreed with the feeling of the trustees, embodied in a resolution adopted in March 1898, that faculty members should live in Newark. Since the by-laws vested in the faculty "the general government of the College," he explained, "it is felt that the duties of a professor are not confined to the work of the classrooms, but that by his constant presence and interest in all the varied activities of the college he shall assist in developing its widest usefulness."100 Frederic Robinson commuted for many years from Wilmington but apparently spent so much time on campus with his civil engineering students that everyone was entirely satisfied about his availability.
President Harter tried to make books as well as professors available to students. John Barkley, a young trustee from Clayton, Delaware, led a campaign in 1904 to secure gifts of books or money, and among the responses was a pledge from William Bancroft to contribute two dollars for every hundred dollars received. With Barkley’s early death this campaign apparently came to a halt; it is not known that Bancroft was ever required to make good on his pledge.101
But the library grew steadily, and in 1909, under the direction of the faculty librarian, Professor Sypherd (who served in this role until 1921), it was moved from the third floor of Recitation Hall to a building of its own, the John Watson Evans house, from which it ousted the Kappa Alpha Fraternity."We have a library building and a library of which we may feel proud," declared the Review in January 1912, but the improvement was only by comparison with what the library had been. State appropriations were improving the holdings in history, government, and economics, but newspapers arrived a day late.102
The college was proud of Charles W. Bush, ’03, who was appointed to go to Oxford University as the first Rhodes Scholar from Delaware in 1904. It was easier to become a Rhodes Scholar from Delaware in the first quarter of the century than later because the scholarships were then allocated to specific states, but still Bush had to satisfy the exacting standards established by a board consisting of the chief executives of Princeton (Woodrow Wilson), Pennsylvania, and Johns Hopkins, as he, alone of four candidates, did.103
For many students, however, the major events of the year were not scholarly competitions but banquets and dances. Probably this was so for H. Rodney Sharp, ’00, who was very active in social affairs. President of his class in his sophomore year, he served as exchange editor of the Review, where, in his monthly column, he once congratulated Swarthmore College upon its acquisition of the house in which Benjamin West was born–a foreshadowing of an interest he later displayed in preserving the old houses of Odessa. In February 1899 Sharp was chairman of arrangements for the Junior Prom, which was held in the third floor of Recitation Hall in below-zero weather, with six oil stoves set up to help heat the drafty room.104
In June 1907, according to the Junior Annual, a senior banquet was held in Atlantic City, and in January 1908 the freshmen had a banquet at the Clayton House in Wilmington. The major dances at this time were the freshman dance in December, the midwinter dance in January, the Junior Prom in February, and a farewell dance in June, all held in the gym; fraternity dances in the same year were held in the Newark Opera House, formerly called Caskey Hall.
Musical organizations on campus in 1907-08 were the glee club, the banjo, mandolin, and guitar club, and the band. The student orchestra was apparently defunct, but the students were twice entertained at chamber music concerts given by members of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Notable speakers at commencements included Howard Pyle (in 1897) and John Bassett Moore (in 1900).105
In the early twentieth century when the direction of Delaware College lay with men like President Harter and his successors, who were of a classical background, and when the students were chiefly attracted to the engineering curricula, a great part of the money that came to the college and most of the research carried on were in the field of agriculture. By 1899 the agricultural experiment station, directed by Arthur T. Neale, had issued 7,000 copies of forty-four bulletins describing the research of a staff that in this year consisted of five men besides the director–a mycologist, a chemist, an entomologist, a horticulturist, and a meteorologist.106
Other research that was not part of the experiment station work but related to it, was carried on by Professor Wolf in his capacity as State Chemist (chiefly occupied in the analysis of fertilizers) and by the State Pathological and Bacteriological Laboratory, established by the legislature in 1899 and set up in Mechanical Hall. The work of this laboratory, which belonged to the State Board of Health, was conducted by Dr. A. Robin, but was under the supervision of Frederick Chester, of the experiment station staff.107
Attempts to attract students to study agriculture, however, were for the most part failures. A thirteen-week short course in agriculture, offered in the winter of 1898-99 and open to anyone, did well to attract six students; the following year, despite extensive advertising, only three students enrolled. If agricultural courses would not attract farmers, Harter hoped to arouse the interest of rural youth by promotion of nature study in the schools. Nature study, it was thought, would encourage an interest in the rural environment, and if bright farm youth were awakened to the wonders that surrounded them, they might be encouraged not only to remain on the farm (instead of rushing to the city) but even to help improve agricultural conditions by taking advantage of programs offered through the College.108
But the number of students enrolling in agriculture courses remained small. In most years around the turn of the century there were no degrees awarded in agriculture at all. Finally, in 1901, there was one student who took a B.S. in agriculture, the first degree in agriculture since 1893. In 1903 there was another, in 1905 there were two, and in 1906 and 1907, one each year. But no substantial growth occurred in enrollment in agriculture until new leadership was secured.109
It is difficult to assess the work of A.T. Neale, director of the experiment station since 1889. An active research program is evidenced by the many reports and bulletins issued during his administration. In his very first year a contract was made between Neale as station director and one Ezekiel W. Dawson for the manufacture of butter by a new process. Apparently nothing came of it, but the contract is interesting as an early example of a possible commercial usefulness of research on the Newark campus.110
Neale was an active member of the Delaware State Grange, which came to his defense on several occasions. He was legislative agent for the Grange in 1895-96, a member of its executive committee in 1896-98 and 1903-04, and State Lecturer from 1892 to 1908. Grangers were particularly pleased with his work in eradicating cattle diseases, including anthrax. Neale discovered that anthrax came from goat hides imported from Africa and elsewhere for treatment in the morocco plants of Wilmington. Vat waters draining into the city sewers spread germs through the low tidal lands along the Christina and the Delaware rivers, where cattle were pastured; recognition of its source made control of the disease easy.111
Unfortunately Neale’s relations with President Harter, and possibly with the college faculty in general, were poor. Perhaps the station had been allowed too much independence in its early years. Neale had originally been paid more than the college president, and when he came in 1889 the station seemed rich in comparison with the college, which was just recovering from the debacle under Caldwell. Possibly Raub was, as charged, somewhat distracted by his editing and publishing work and therefore willing to let the station go its own way. Near the end of Raub’s presidency, Neale reported directly to the trustees, at their request, rather than through the president.112
Though the Hatch Act had provided that the experiment station was to be a part of the college, the policy of the station, under Neale’s direction, had been–as the agricultural committee of the board viewed it–to favor separation in every way possible. Neale denied the charge, claiming he had sought union between college and station but had been unsuccessful. "Today," the agricultural committee concluded its report of July 6, 1899, "they have no more connection than would separate institutions" and added that someone had spread a rumor about the state that funds meant for the station were being misappropriated for the use of the college.
In an attempt to rectify the situation a "Governing Council" was set up consisting of the agriculture committee of the board, the staff of the station, and the president of the college, with the latter presiding and the station director acting as vice-president. But the schism was not healed and for several years the board of trustees was divided between supporters of Neale and those who wished to oust him. In 1903 another reorganization took place, but it did not solve the problem.113
The trouble was, Harter declared, "we began wrong" and now "no organization with the present staff will bring them into sympathy with the College work….Dr. Neale has his mind filled with prejudices, and as long as he is director I think it useless to try to bring the college and the station into harmony. The rest of the station people are likewise prejudiced….They have been going on too long independently."114
In the spring of 1906 J.A. Foord, the professor of agriculture, resigned, and the trustees determined to end once and for all the problem of the separation of the station staff from the instructional functions of the college by combining Foord’s job and Neale’s–that is, by hiring a professor of agriculture who would also be station director. This idea upset the State Grange, whose officers thought that too little of the federal land-grant funds were used for agriculture. At their annual meeting in December 1903 their head (the master of the State Grange) declared that of federal grants received by Delaware College for instruction less than ten percent went to agriculture, thirty-three percent to the mechanic arts, and over fifty percent to other departments. This division seemed unjust to the Grangers, who were further piqued by their understanding that Foord left during the school year because of discouragement about the prospects at Delaware and was not immediately replaced, though he suggested adequate substitutes, in order to save $800 from his salary for the use of other departments. The Grangers wanted Foord replaced and Neale, whom they credited with excellent work in reducing the danger of anthrax and tuberculosis to their livestock, retained as station director.115
Despite the Grangers and despite some dissent in their own ranks, the college trustees persisted with their plan to unite the professorship of agriculture with the station directorship, voting also that any member of the station staff might be asked to teach in the college. The Adams Act of March 16, 1906, bolstered their resolve by adding $5,000 at once to the federal grant for the experiment station, a sum that was to grow annually by $2,000 steps until it reached $16,000. One trustee, Daniel W. Corbit, proposed that the newly combined post be offered to Neale, but he was voted down, 21-5. Instead, the position was offered to Dr. Joseph L. Hills, dean of agriculture and station director at the University of Vermont. When Hills turned it down, the position was offered to Harry Hayward, director of the agricultural program at the Mount Hermon School, in Massachusetts, who accepted.116
Hayward proved to be a very dynamic leader. A thirty-seven-year old graduate of Cornell University, he had wide experience in private farm management and in the dairy department at Penn State College. Aware of the Grangers’ opposition to his appointment and of the awkwardness of having Neale, dismissed as director, remain on the staff, Hayward at first hesitated to accept appointment but once at Delaware he threw himself into his new work with enthusiasm.117
Some of the Grange leaders made Hayward’s position difficult at first, which probably inspired a legislator to propose an investigation of the college’s use of government appropriations. But a visit to the campus on March 29, 1907, pleased the assemblymen, who appropriated $20,000 to buy and equip an experimental farm, a measure the Grangers vigorously supported. Neale, according to Harter, had "opposed…buying a farm and thus he handicapped the College." Hayward, on the other hand, was "an ardent advocate of a farm and…full of enthusiasm." If given the chance, he would allow agriculture to be developed as a field of study, not just as a research field, in full equality with the other departments.118
Hayward was given the opportunity, and he did what Harter predicted he would. After considering the Pie farm on South College Avenue, the state used the entire appropriation for a 212-acre tract further down this road, a mile south of Main Street and immediately south of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Gradually, as funds were available, needed farm buildings were supplied or repaired. To give trustees a clear view of what was possible, Hayward led a committee of them on a tour of experimental farms at Ithaca and Geneva, New York; Guelph, Ontario; Lansing, Michigan; and Columbus, Ohio.119
Enlargement of the station staff allowed the appointment in 1907 of Charles McCue, who eventually became Hayward’s successor, and also of the first woman appointed to a professional position at Delaware College, Dr. Margaret B. McDonald, who came as assistant chemist but resigned, for reasons unknown, after only a short time. Several members of the station staff left to take better jobs elsewhere, but at least one resignation was by order of the board of trustees for reasons that were stated clearly. Arthur Neale, who lived in pain for many years as the result of an accident that happened while treating cattle, had not taken kindly to demotion from the directorship; on March 20, 1907, he was notified of the termination of his employment for not being in accord with the policy of the board and for "insubordination and discourtesy to the present Director of the Station."120
Probably it was after Neale’s dismissal that Hayward was given a new title, "Dean of the Agricultural Department." There is no specific reference to his promotion in the minutes of the board of trustees; the change of title may have been recommended in a report of the agricultural committee that was simply approved by the board and thereby put into effect. (Except for a very few meetings the minutes of this committee are lost.) Perhaps it was intended to centralize authority in one man, as dean, instead of in the governing council, which was abolished in January 1907.121 At any rate, although the 1907 catalogue referred to Hayward only as professor of agriculture and director of the agricultural experiment station, the 1908 catalogue lists him as dean of the agricultural department, the first dean in the history of Delaware College. The title suitably noted his responsibility in what was clearly the second most important post in the institution.
Meanwhile, as mentioned earlier, the college had profited in 1907 by congressional passage of the Nelson Act, which provided for the gradual doubling of the funds given land-grant colleges under the New Morrill Act. With this and other encouragement, Hayward instituted a new two-year program in agriculture. It was dropped eventually because, according to McCue, it became a refuge for athletes. But through this program and other devices Hayward succeeded rapidly in increasing interest in agriculture on the campus.122
Thirty-two students, far more than ever before, enrolled in the winter short course in 1907-08. Twelve students, again the most ever, were registered in the full-year agriculture program in 1909-10. By January 1913, thirty-six out of a total of 164 students were taking courses in agriculture, and in the fall of the same year 18 of 61 freshmen were enrolled in agriculture, in comparison with 33 in engineering and only 10 in arts and science.123 At last Delaware seemed to have become a true A and M college.
Hayward’s innovations of these years included, both in 1909, a "Farmers’ Week" held on campus in January, and a "Farmers’ Day" in June. After visiting the campus, the 1909 legislature appropriated $10,000 for barns and other buildings needed on the experimental farm and another $10,000 for the upkeep of other buildings on the campus. These appropriations, repeated in 1911, marked a new chapter in the relations between Delaware College and the legislature, for with these grants in 1909 the legislature began the practice of making regular appropriations–general, not specific–for the maintenance of Delaware College. This assistance was vitally necessary inasmuch as the college could not use funds from the New Morrill Act or the Nelson Act for the upkeep of what was now coming to be a considerable physical plant.124
Another new departure in legislative giving in 1911 was the appropriation of $4,500 a year for two years for establishment of an agricultural extension service, to be organized and conducted under the direction of the agricultural department at Delaware College. Made necessary by the requirement of the Adams Act that the experiment station limit its work to "pure" research, the purpose of the state appropriation was to see that Delaware farmers received the latest information available to help them in their everyday work. Specifically, the agricultural extension division was to conduct cooperative experiments throughout the state with fertilizers, various crops, and promising methods of tillage. It was also to be available to do soil surveys for individual farmers, and it was especially charged with running a boys’ corn-growing contest and seeking by other means to interest Delaware youth in agriculture. For the next few years agricultural extension operated by state support (raised to $5,000 a year in 1913), but in 1914 it was expanded greatly by federal funds made available by the Smith-Lever Act of May 8, 1914, which permitted employment of a resident agricultural agent in each county, as well as one home economics extension agent for the entire state.125
By this time the increased number of agriculture students on campus had encouraged publication of a new student monthly, The Delaware Farmer.126 More importantly, Hayward’s foresight had led him into the vanguard of two interrelated movements that were gaining momentum at this time–first, the movement for a professorship of pedagogy as part of a program of teacher training at Delaware College and second, the movement to rectify a long-standing abuse and offer a college education to the women of Delaware.
Though the old plans of President Newlin and President Purnell for a normal school at Delaware College were in abeyance by the turn of the century, neither the college nor its presidents had given up their interest in the grade schools and in teacher training. President Raub had a special interest in the schools, as demonstrated by the textbooks he wrote, the educational journals he edited, and "the Delaware Normal School" that he instituted as a part of the Academy of Newark when he was its principal. The academy closed in 1898, but the academy property continued in use for educational purposes, being rented by the Newark public schools from 1898 until 1925. Many of the local school principals maintained close connections with the college, such as A. Lee Ellis and also George S. Messersmith, who took courses at the college and made friendships there that he remembered years later when he gave his papers, including diaries and correspondence accumulated in a distinguished diplomatic career, to the library of what was by then the University of Delaware.
"The College," President Harter wrote in 1899, "can accomplish her widest usefulness by effecting a close articulation with the educational agencies of the State." He hoped to stimulate the schools to better work by gradually raising the college requirements for admission, as well as by encouraging members of his faculty to visit the schools. His encouragement of nature study in the schools has already been discussed. When a summer school was held for teachers at Rehoboth in the 1890s, Professors Manning and Bishop lectured there, one on the study of modern languages and the other on nature study. In 1899 the faculty submitted a model high school curriculum to the State Board of Education, on which the president of the college continued to sit until 1911, though he had ceased to be ex officio president of this board in 1891. Often some of the professors, or President Harter himself, were called on to lecture at county teachers’ meetings.127
"Our whole time," wrote Harter in 1909, "is now taken up with providing the teachers of our schools with instruction, so far as we can get them to take it, looking towards sending us a better prepared class," and he mentioned a book of instruction in English composition that Professor Sypherd and George Messersmith, the Newark school principal, had just prepared. Later that year he assured a New York State official that "we usually…are in very close touch with all the schools of the State. We frequently visit them and examine into their methods of instruction, organization, administration, and standing in scholarship."128
Appearances at county teachers’ meetings and visits to schools were part of what would later be called "in service" education for teachers. Another service was projected in 1906 when the trustees approved holding a summer school for teachers as well as for anyone needing help in meeting the requirements to enter college.129 Despite the action of the trustees it is not at all clear that a summer school was conducted at Delaware College in 1906. It appears that a summer school for teachers was held at various places in the state until 1913, when on March 14 the legislature provided for its permanent establishment at Delaware College. All Delaware public school teachers (and all giving satisfactory assurance of their intention to teach in these schools) were to have free tuition, and the courses offered were to be arranged jointly by the trustees of Delaware College and the State Board of Education. In 1913 President Harter served as director of the summer school and in 1914 State School Superintendent Charles A. Wagner had the title of dean of the Summer School for Teachers.
The 1913 session, which lasted five weeks, enrolled 153 teachers (121 women and 32 men), a number that pleased both Harter and Wagner, though the $1,200 that the legislature had appropriated for the summer school had to be supplemented from college funds. Harter felt that the session should be extended to six weeks and that its success in attracting students demonstrated the need for a school of education, at the same time marking "a beginning of the greater Delaware College."130
The law creating the summer school had directed that instruction should be offered to prepare men to teach agriculture in the public schools. As early as 1909 Harter mentioned plans for the instruction of agriculture teachers but the college for several years went no farther than to offer lectures and demonstrations at teachers’ meetings. In January 1911 the trustees considered the need for a professor of pedagogy; a year later they approved creation of a chair when funds permitted–which meant a delay of two more years.131
The need for teachers of agriculture helped Delaware College become the center for the training of teachers in general, for once the General Assembly provided for the teaching of agriculture in the public schools, as it did in 1911, Delaware College, with its laboratories, farm, faculty, and equipment, was the logical place to train these teachers. Hayward saw the need of going further into teacher training. Not only had he urged the teaching of agriculture, but he proposed that a normal school be established on or near the college farm in which young women could be taught to become teachers of the domestic sciences that were especially necessary for rural housewives. Still earlier, in 1907, when Hayward led a committee of the trustees on a visit to several agricultural colleges, they had noted the success of coeducation on these campuses and were especially impressed by the training of young women in home economics. Even President Harter, who had some fears that the college would be pushed into coeducation once again without any additional financial support, had little objection to Hayward’s idea of a normal school for girls on the farm, though he doubted that those supporting this plan–obviously including Hayward–had the knowledge and experience needed to establish a worthwhile school for women.132
Delawareans had, or should have had, a sense of shame about their neglect of women’s education. There were periodic efforts to reopen Delaware College to women, but the wonder is, not that the subject was raised intermittently, but that these efforts were not more vigorous and more continuous than they were. Only the torpor of Delawareans in regard to education in general can explain their long neglect to make any provision for the higher education of women. Wealthy parents could, of course, send their daughters out of state, but the common man had no such opportunity. Young women in Wilmington could attend the training school for teachers run by the city school system; in Wilmington private business schools and nursing schools attached to the two major hospitals also offered advanced vocational training. Beginning in 1903 the state set up a fund (originally $1,000 per county, but raised to $1,500 per county in 1911) to send a small number of students (mostly women) to normal schools in Pennsylvania or other neighboring states with the understanding that they would return to teach in Delaware for at least a short time.133
Even at Delaware College the legislature’s interest could be most easily aroused by what was done for vocational training in agriculture or, to a lesser extent, in engineering. Not until 1909-11 did the General Assembly begin making regular appropriations for the upkeep of the college and for a program (the chair of history) that was not primarily vocational. Yet there was at Delaware College a four-year program available to men, with important, if insufficient and intermittent, support from the state. For young women, there was nothing comparable.