The University of Delaware: A History – Chapter 7
Chapter 7: The Women’s College and the Renascence of Delaware College
Interest in coeducation at Delaware College never quite died. Near the end of the nineteenth century, early in George Harter’s long presidential term, the issue of admitting women was raised by three groups: by Newark parents, who wanted their daughters to be able to take classes at Delaware College; by the General Assembly, which may have been moved to raise the subject by these same parents; and by the student body.
Newark residents were not disturbed by the absence of facilities, such as dormitories, for their daughters. In a petition they pointed out that the chief objection raised against coeducation in 1885, that women had to attend classes in a building that was a men’s dormitory, no longer was such a serious matter, because few classes met in the old dormitory since Recitation Hall had been built. Only Professors Wolf and Bishop taught in Old College, and their classrooms were on the ground floor, entirely separate from the student rooms on the upper floors of that building. The petitioners noted that coeducation was successfully conducted throughout the country and claimed that Delaware College, supported by public funds, should be open to both sexes on equal terms. Among the forty-nine petitioners (who included two women) were representatives of many of the leading families of Newark, such as Wright, Singles, Pilling, Steele, Cooch, Curtis, Dawson, Fader, Mote, Medill, Jaquette, Dean, Armstrong, MacSorley, and O’Daniel, as well as A. Lee Ellis, the school principal.1
Mrs. Everett Johnson (who was then Louise Staton) still remembered, when she was ninety years old and preparing her memoirs, how disappointed she was. "There were eight girls and four boys in the 1897 graduating class" at Newark High School, she reminisced. "I wanted to go to college very, very much. I realized that the education I had so far was only a foundation and I hoped to broaden it. I was bitter against the Board of trustees of Delaware College for refusing admission to women–both on my account and for the other girls in my class."2
Despite pressure from many quarters the board adhered to the position it had taken ever since 1885. Some trustees were indeed sympathetic to the deprivation suffered by the young women of Delaware, among them probably S. Minot Curtis, who presented the petition favoring coeducation to the board in June 1897, and Dr. David L. Mustard, who later proposed that a committee of trustees be appointed to look into the operation of coeducation at other colleges and the possibility of instituting it at Delaware College. The trustees reacted negatively in both cases, postponing indefinitely any action on the petition Curtis presented and voting down Mustard’s proposal.3
It is a strange coincidence that at the very time Louise Staton was being refused admission to the college, her future husband, Everett Johnson, as editor of The Aurora, the first college yearbook, was publishing a group of four anonymous essays in support of coeducation. One argued that coeducation had been a success at Delaware and should be revived at once, particularly since closing the college to women meant excluding the great majority of high school graduates, the total for Wilmington, Newark, Middletown, Smyrna, Dover, Georgetown, and Lewes being 110 females and 41 males.
"A burning injustice" is the way the second essayist regarded the exclusion of women. A third essayist was probably a member of the faculty or of the experiment station staff, for he referred to his nine years’ experience in three coeducational colleges. "We need women at our college," he concluded, and "they need what our college can offer them." The fourth essayist asked whether Delaware was "on the outskirts of the forest of barbarism" in denying a college education to seventy percent of its high school graduates–"the most shameful of all the shameful deeds that are being perpetrated by the men of Delaware today."
The Review in 1898-99 joined the chorus of voices supporting coeducation. Why, it asked, should Delaware be "the only state in the union that does not give a single penny for the higher education of her young women"? Why could not the college be made coeducational?4
Again, in approximately 1901, a group of Newark parents asked the same question. Eleven men and two women (both widows) petitioned, "as citizens, taxpayers and loyal Supporters of the public educational institutions of our state," that their daughters, all recent graduates of Newark High School, be admitted to Delaware College. "The injustice of the discrimination against girls is very generally recognized," they wrote to the trustees, "and we, as parents, feel that we are deprived of the privileges open to others because their children are boys, though they bear no more of the public burden than we do. We do not ask any change in the curriculum to accommodate our daughters. Nor do we ask you to go to any expense to admit our daughters."5
But such petitions did not sway the board. It was similarly unresponsive to the expressed desires of Governor John Hunn, who in his 1903 message to the legislature noted "a growing sentiment…among the people favoring equal opportunity for advanced education to the young of both sexes." In some quarters, he said, it was proposed that a state normal school be established for young women, but he thought it unwise for so small a state to strain its limited resources to support two colleges. "The better solution," he thought, "would be to open the doors of Delaware College to both sexes and give each of them equal advantages for mental training, or at least to establish therein, in addition to the other courses, a Normal School Course." In the long run, in his opinion, the participation of women "in all our civil affairs" would be voluntarily sought, and then coeducation would be the best means of providing for it.6
The only positive action Hunn’s recommendation evoked from the legislature was the act adopted March 26, 1903 (referred to in the last chapter) that allowed each county school commission to support a limited number of prospective Delaware teachers who would attend a normal school–necessarily outside Delaware–and pledge themselves to return and teach in Delaware schools. Governor Hunn, obviously not satisfied, reverted to the same theme in his final message, concluding, "We have no more right to exclude daughters of this State from Delaware College than we have to exclude them from our public schools."7
Those trustees who remained unmoved by gubernatorial messages, by petitions to the board, and by student publications favoring coeducation were not necessarily opposed to coeducation per se, and still less so to the provision of higher education for women. Some probably felt like President Harter, who conceded the injustice young white women were suffering by being denied an equal opportunity to attend college. He even agreed with Governor Hunn that establishing a second college for women was not good economy for Delaware. But Harter felt his primary responsibility was not to right the ills of the state but to safeguard the financial resources and the academic standards of Delaware College as it was. "I have serious doubts," he wrote, "as to the wisdom of establishing coeducation before provision is made for the proper care of young ladies." This would mean, he felt, the provision of another building, not necessarily a dormitory, to which women could repair between recitations. At present his aim was to bring the college to the highest degree of efficiency possible, and he did not want to see the scanty resources at his disposal diverted from this end: "I do not care to be considered as taking the initiative before the college has been put into thorough condition upon the lines in which it is now working."8
The recalcitrance of the board of trustees cost a generation of Delaware women a chance for a college education. In the long run, the problem was solved happily, to the satisfaction of almost everyone concerned, and probably the provisions finally made for women’s education in Delaware were far better than they would have been if Delaware College had been opened to women on equal terms at the turn of the century, as it had been in 1872. Whether the delay was worth it–whether it was better to wait for optimum conditions than to open Delaware College at once–is another matter.
It was of incalculable assistance to the cause of higher education for Delaware women that the college charter had to be renewed in 1909 and that the legislature, listening to complaints raised by the Grangers, assented only to a temporary renewal of the charter, for two years and two months. The complaints of the Grangers primarily concerned the treatment of agriculture in the total program of the college, but an inquiry was also made as to whether the half-ownership promised the state in 1867 had ever been confirmed by a deed.
These two issues were worked out: Dean Hayward’s bustling activity increased the enrollment in agricultural classes and the attention of Delaware citizens to the activities of his department, and the college trustees were agreeable to deeding a half-interest in the property to the state, as they did in 1909. Yet in 1911 the legislature was still not ready to renew the Delaware College charter except on a short-term basis, for two years. This was a friendly legislature, the one that had provided the first annual grants to support a professorship (the chair of history), had established the division of agricultural extension, and had renewed grants for buildings on the farm and for general maintenance. Its very interest in the college, however, made it concerned with provisions–regarding composition of the board of trustees, for instance–that should be placed in the charter. And another of its concerns is revealed by a resolution it passed directing the State Board of Education to consider and make recommendations regarding the higher education of women. This resolution, like many of the Delaware College bills, originated with Everett Johnson.9
As it turned out, the position taken by President Harter and the trustees of Delaware College was pivotal to the decision eventually made by the State Board. In 1909 Harter was still fearful of having coeducation forced upon Delaware College without special funding. "The College," he wrote in 1909 to the secretary-treasurer of the board of trustees, "is by no means ready to adopt the coeducation of the sexes, and I trust the members of the legislature can be made to see how disastrous it would be to Delaware College to pass an ill-conceived law forcing upon it the condition of admitting girls into our buildings which are inadequate for the boys now in attendance."10
But he was also opposed to the idea of a wholly separate and new state college for women, like the normal school advocated by Dr. A.R. Spaid, New Castle County school superintendent. Such an institution would detract from the support Delaware College could expect from the legislature, and it would also mean duplication of many facilities, such as library and laboratories. But Harter, whose only child was a daughter, was by no means opposed to provisions for the higher education for women.11
"One feels more and more strongly, as one comes to know the inner workings of the institution," wrote Professor Sypherd in a publicity release of February 1908, "the influence of the far-sighted, conservative policy of its President…a man who says little, but thinks much."12 What Harter thought was that the state should establish facilities for women close to Delaware College so as to take advantage not only of facilities but also of faculty and administration.
And as he thought more and more on the subject he became increasingly friendly to coeducation, under proper circumstances. In November 1910, addressing the monthly meeting of the Wilmington New Century Club, he declared that if discrimination were practiced in education it should be in favor of women since they, as mothers, had the greatest influence on future generations. If extra dormitories, a gymnasium, and athletic field ("playground" was Harter’s word) were placed sufficiently near the laboratories and recitation halls, men and women could share the laboratories and "unite in recitation." Teacher training was as useful to men as to women, and should be offered to both–so much for the idea of a separate normal school for girls.
Among the club women who were very pleased to hear this testimony of Harter’s support for their cause were members of a new "committee of fifty college women," organized by Mary H. Askew Mather, a graduate of Smith. This group worked closely with the education committee of the State Federation of Women’s Clubs, chaired by Emalea Pusey Warner, who, more than anyone else, deserves credit as the founder of the Women’s College.13
Emalea Warner had never gone to college. Daughter of a manufacturer, she was married at nineteen to Alfred D. Warner, who became a prominent Wilmington businessman. By the time the agitation for a women’s college grew heated, she had long demonstrated a talent for leadership in civic affairs, especially in organizing the Associated Charities, later called the Family Society.14
On October 11, 1911, in the Wilmington New Century Club, members of Emalea Warner’s education committee of the State Federation of Women’s Clubs and of Mary H. A. Mather’s committee of college women listened once again to President Harter, who urged them to rouse public sentiment and convince legislators of the demand for college education for women. Once again he explained the need for buildings–dormitory, recitation hall, gym–and for separate "playgrounds." The lower classes might recite separately, he suggested, and the higher classes be mixed. He argued strenuously for placing the new buildings near Delaware College, not only for economy in the use of facilities, but also because he thought "being thrown together more or less was good for boys and girls."
The women at the New Century Club did not wholly accept Harter’s suggestions, but they found them more palatable than Dr. Spaid’s proposal, at the same meeting, for a separate normal school. The idea they approved was for a women’s college, separate and yet affiliated with Delaware College, offering a full program in arts and sciences, plus training for teachers and in domestic science. The genesis of their ideas lay in what was happening at other eastern institutions, at Harvard (where Radcliffe was the affiliated institution), at Brown, and at Columbia. They preferred to take their inspiration from the elite colleges of the East rather than from the coeducational state universities of the West.
In a set of fourteen resolutions they declared that women were entitled to share in the intellectual benefits of higher education, that the agricultural and "academic" departments of Delaware College could be adapted to their needs, that teacher training could be given as part of a college curriculum, that the money being appropriated annually to send Delaware students to normal schools elsewhere could be better applied to support a college in Delaware, that a college affiliated with Delaware College would be economical and would meet objections raised against coeducation, and that a building to serve as dormitory, recitation hall, and gymnasium "could be secured at a distance of a few squares from the present College for a few thousand dollars" and equipped at little more expense. These resolutions were mailed to officials and leading citizens of Delaware with an appeal for support.15
Well aware, according to Emalea Warner, "that Delaware College must renew its Charter at the next Assembly, we considered the opportunity was ripe for the inclusion of a clause to provide for a Women’s College in the new charter." Several groups immediately rallied to the new movement, including especially the State Grange, the Equal Suffrage Association (forerunner of the National Woman’s Party and the League of Women Voters), and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, which were all interested in increased educational opportunities for women.16
Not all the responses to the fourteen resolutions drawn up at the New Century Club were enthusiastic. Some legislators said the state could not afford a college for women, according to Emalea Warner’s recollections: "Increase our taxes! Oh–horrors! Girls can go to Goucher, Swarthmore, Bryn Mawr, and other Women’s Colleges. What if the State gives $125,000 for two buildings and nobody comes?" The Delaware College trustees played their cards close to the chest; their equipment and resources were "entirely inadequate to supply opportunities to women," but they provided for a committee to confer on the subject with interested groups.17
Harter was more enthusiastic than the trustees. In a refinement of his fall talk, which was printed by Everett Johnson in the Newark Post the day after the trustees’ meeting, he declared that "a collegiate education should be provided for the girls just as full and complete as for the boys," with stress on both academic subjects and pedagogy. "Normal training," in his mind, was "just as good for boys as for girls, just as any training in special lines has no regard for sex." He suggested that there might be a two-year course (as in agriculture) for teachers who could not take time for a full college course, an idea that was subsequently adopted.
"Let us work," he wrote Mrs. Warner, "for a co-ordinate college in the broadest sense….Let it not only be a normal school, a school of domestic science, but a school that embraces the whole range of college activity." Privately, he told a friend that Dean Hayward had many organizations, "both male and female, in a highly excited condition" about women’s education. He himself felt strongly that the best plan was for an affiliated college nearby, "in which women could get instruction in any subject and in any degree that is offered to the men."18
Dean Hayward, Everett Johnson, of the Newark Post, and Dr. George W. Twitmyer, superintendent of Wilmington schools, who was also president of the State Board of Education, were "tireless workers," in Emalea Warner’s phrase, in developing a plan for legislative action.19 A question that Dean Hayward sent Mrs. Warner this spring led to the accumulation of some helpful data. "What," he asked, "is the demand for an institution of this kind? Or, in other words, how many young women in the state are asking for higher education?"20
A questionnaire was drawn up quickly and sent to every high school principal in Delaware. The important questions were two: how many girls expect to go to college next year and how many more would like to go if it were financially possible? The answer to the first question was 144, and to the second, 194. In other words, 338 senior girls wanted a higher education. Other questions discovered that only 30 of these girls had already (in April) chosen a college and that 74 were primarily interested in a normal school.21 The results of this survey allowed little doubt that there were candidates for admission to a state women’s college that would include teacher training.
In its May 1912 issue the Review published the responses its editors received to thirteen letters they had sent asking for comments on the higher education of women in Delaware. The majority of the nine responses favored an affiliated college. Only the one student–Wallace Sawdon, ’13, the Review’s editor-elect–was wholly opposed. He favored an entirely separate women’s college, arguing that an affiliated college would turn out to be the equivalent of a normal school and would undermine the good reputation of Delaware College, especially of its engineering program. Henry Ridgely, a leading Dover lawyer, and George Messersmith, now principal at Lewes, both argued against limiting the program for women to teacher training. So did Everett Johnson, who called for "a square deal" for women, in tones reminiscent of Theodore Roosevelt, whom he admired. Professor Sypherd saw an affiliated college as permitting the strengthening of several departments and increasing the effectiveness of Delaware College. Sussex County School Superintendent E.J. Hardesty was the only respondent to note that Delaware State College offered coeducation for black women; he favored it at Delaware College too and had "never heard or read a real argument against it."
The State Board, with the responsibility to present a plan to the legislature, named Twitmyer (its president) and Dean Hayward to work out a plan with an advisory group. Twitmyer and Hayward visited several New England colleges, including Radcliffe, Brown, and New Hampshire, and with their committee prepared a proposal that the State Board of Education further refined in a series of conferences with a committee of three–Harter, Chancellor Curtis, and Daniel W. Corbit, of Odessa–representing the Delaware College board of trustees. On January 28, 1913, the full college board accepted the proposal of its committee (as approved, apparently, by the State Board) that separate buildings, classes, and laboratories be provided in a college affiliated with and "to that extent part of Delaware College," that this college should have some women teachers, including a dean, with responsibility for discipline, that three courses–arts and science, domestic science, and pedagogy–be offered for women, that eight additional faculty should be hired, including three or four women besides the dean, that the courses offered be supervised by the professors heading the appropriate departments, and that at least two new buildings should be constructed, one a dormitory (where the dean and women faculty would reside) close to the present college campus but not on it.22 These proposals very accurately foreshadowed the Women’s College.
Before the legislature met, a State Grange convention at Newark in December 1912 aroused enthusiasm through a crowded afternoon meeting in the Oratory, as a parade of speakers urged support for an affiliated college. Dr. Twitmyer emphasized the need for the higher education of women by noting that of 697 teachers outside Wilmington, 552 were women, and that in the entire state only 40 of the present teachers had received state support for normal school training, most of the others having had no college training whatever. One-third of all college students in the nation were now women, declared Chancellor Curtis, and women had received one-tenth of all the Ph.D.’s awarded in the last four years. Dean Hayward reported that an architect had prepared tentative plans for buildings so that the legislature could have an idea what funds were needed. Sypherd predicted, "Our work…the range of our activities…the scope of our influence" will be widened and strengthened by the opening of an affiliated college. "Let us soar in our ambition," cried Emalea Warner.23
The proposal for an affiliated college soared right into the legislature in January 1913, with the support of Charles R. Miller, the new governor, who recommended the college, if it "can be properly financed," in his inaugural address; privately he voiced some doubt about the $125,000 price tag the proposal carried. Possibly more important was the report of the State Board of Education, made by Dr. Twitmyer, its president. The State Board unreservedly recommended an affiliated college, and declared their plan for it had the "unqualified support" of the State Federation of Women’s Clubs, the trustees of Delaware College, the State Grange, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, and the Women’s Equal Suffrage Association. It was a stroke of statesmanship on the part of Dr. Twitmyer, Mrs. Warner, and their associates to have assembled such formidable and diverse backing and to have secured unity of opinion on the plan for women’s higher education that was being proposed. The State Board also recommended a new and perpetual charter for Delaware College that had been drawn up in conjunction with a special committee of the college trustees (and approved by the full college board on January 10) that provided for an affiliated women’s college to be established and maintained by the college trustees as soon as means were provided, as well as for a department of education to train teachers for the public schools.24
A rally to arouse support was held at the Dover New Century Club on January 24. Elizabeth Robinson, president of the State Federation, introduced Emalea Warner, who in turn presented a series of speakers, including Governor Miller, who further pledged his support, saying, "The time is ripe, and I hope that before my administration is over, I will not be the governor of the only state…that is not educating its women." Emphasizing the need, Dr. Twitmyer noted that few Delaware teachers now have "more than a rural high school equipment." Mary Mather told of the success of Brown University in drawing to its women’s college students from Rhode Island communities that had never previously sent girls to college. And President Harter noted his amazement "that what was only a dream two or three years ago had been taken up with such energy and perseverance."25
Still there was foot-dragging and obfuscation in the legislature after the Women’s College bill was introduced. The chief fear expressed was about the amount of money involved, $125,000 for land, buildings, and equipment, to be raised largely by borrowing on the credit of the state. How much beyond this would be needed for upkeep?26
The women’s continued pressure overcame such doubts. "The hour for our active and united effort…is now at hand," Emalea Warner wrote her coworkers for the Women’s College bill. A provision to raise the $125,000 through bonds provides "reasonable financial limitations which Delaware can surely meet," she explained. And she charged them: "Let us be up and doing, the time is ripe!"27
As far as upkeep of the new college was concerned, the bonds were expected to provide enough money for the first year. Then, as Everett Johnson explained, on behalf of the trustees, $10,000 a year would be needed for the next two years, and $15,000 a year thereafter. He also pointed out that since Delaware State College was coeducational, young black women shared in the benefits of the $10,000 a year of New Morrill Act funds allotted to it, whereas the $40,000 a year from the same source allotted to Delaware College served the needs of white men only, young white women receiving no share of it.
Other speakers were also allowed on the Senate floor, all favoring the bill–Chancellor Curtis, who noted that twenty Delaware College trustees had met that morning and given the bill their hearty approval; President Harter, who explained that this was no hastily conceived measure but very close to the plan he had outlined two years earlier; Samuel H. Derby, who declared the State Grange had been advocating for years that women should be offered the same educational advantages as men; Dr. Twitmyer, who told of the current practice of issuing temporary permits to unqualified teachers because Delaware did so little to prepare teachers adequately; Elizabeth Robinson, president of the State Federation, who stressed endorsement of the plan by seventeen women’s clubs; and Lida Shaw King, dean of the women’s college (later called Pembroke) of Brown University, who had been brought to Delaware to explain how much her school had meant to the young women of Rhode Island.
Still the bill failed. Senator David Reinhardt, of New Castle County, explained that he would vote against it because of his conviction that bonds should be issued only in an emergency. Ten senators supported the bill but six opposed it, and as a bill involving borrowing money it required a three-fourths vote. But the defeat of March 17 was only a temporary setback. Reinhardt immediately offered an amendment providing a direct appropriation of $30,000 a year for five years from state revenues, enough to build and equip the Women’s College and also to provide for its operation for several years.
The amended bill was easily passed by the Senate on March 18. In the House it ran into a temporary roadblock on March 19, but on reconsideration it was passed on the same day by a vote of 30-3. The cause of this hold-up is unknown; quite possibly some lukewarm legislators sought assurance on totally unrelated concerns before they would let this bill pass.28
Besides the speakers mentioned, other friends of the bill had appeared at the Old State House from time to time to cheer it on. On one of the last days, a party of six from Newark was almost stranded in Dover. Charles B. Evans, Dean Hayward, Professor Thomas F. Manns (then the new plant pathologist and soil bacteriologist), and their wives were so caught up in the excitement of the legislative proceedings that they missed the only return train from which they could have transferred at Porter’s Station to a train to Newark. As a consequence they left the Delaware Road train at Middletown and set out on the final sixteen miles to Newark in the best carriage they could hire, which unfortunately was built to carry not more than three.29 Their only alternative would have been to continue on the train to Wilmington and then come back to Newark; such were the problems of travel in premotoring days.
All came out as the six intrepid travelers wished, despite a further delay of more than a week after the legislature had acted. "The General Assembly has appropriated money so fast," explained the governor’s son–and secretary of state–Thomas W. Miller, "that unless we scrutinize our expenditures very carefully we will be faced with a deficit." Finally, however, on March 31, governor Miller signed the Women’s College bill into law, using a gold pen and silver penholder that Emalea Warner sent to him for this occasion.30
Another bill introduced in January, one providing a new and perpetual charter for Delaware College, had become law before the Women’s College bill, perhaps because it did not call for the appropriation of any money. Some opponents had secured a hearing before a joint session. They were all active Grangers from the Newark area; two were former masters of the State Grange–Arnold Naudain, Jr., and Hervey Walker–and another opponent was Arthur Neale, who had remained in Delaware operating his wife’s family’s farm near McClellandsville and probably still resented his dismissal from the experiment station. A battery of important men appeared at the same session to defend the new charter: H. Rodney Sharp (speaking for the Alumni Association), Dr. Twitmyer (for the State Board of Education, which was responsible for preparing the new charter), Judge Victor B. Woolley, ’85, John G. Gray, ’83 (a leading Wilmington attorney), and Everett Johnson. Later President Harter was called on to testify.
Since the bill passed both houses without an opposing vote, Dr. Neale and his friends apparently did not provide effective opposition.31 Very likely the wind was taken out of these Grangers’ sails by a provision of the new charter making the master of the State Grange ex officio a trustee of the college. Three other ex officio trustees were provided for: the governor, the college president, and the president of the State Board of Education. Eight trustees were to be appointed by the governor to the first vacancies to occur hereafter; twenty trustees were to be elected by a majority of the whole board. The appointed and the elected trustees alike must be confirmed by the State Senate; once approved they served without term. The only restriction on the election was that at least five must reside in each county. The only restriction on the governor’s appointment was that one must be "skilled in the Mechanic Arts"–an attempt to balance the provision for the master of the State Grange by assuring representation of the other major field required to be taught in land-grant colleges.
Besides provisions for a women’s college and a department of education, the new charter provided for a close relationship between the college and the state by requiring the college trustees to transmit the president’s annual report to the governor before December 1 and by ordering an audit of all accounts of the college treasurer by the state auditor. A valuable privilege extended to the college by this charter was the right of acquiring–for a fair price–any land in New Castle County that the trustees judged necessary for the purposes of the college or the experiment station, a right generally known as the power to acquire by eminent domain. In return for the favored status extended to the college, its trustees, as they had promised to do, deeded all its property–lands, buildings, books, apparatus–to the state on June 17, 1913.32
The right of eminent domain was also given to a commission provided for in the Women’s College Act of March 31. This commission consisted of six members–the governor and representatives of five bodies, the State Senate, the House of Representatives, the State Board of Education, the Delaware College trustees, and the State Federation of Women’s Clubs. They were to select a site and arrange for the construction and furnishing of "two modern fire-proof buildings," a dormitory for fifty students and a laboratory-classroom building. Dr. George W. Marshall, of Milford (president pro tem of the Senate), Chauncey P. Holcomb, of New Castle (speaker of the House), Samuel J. Wright, of Newark (representing the college board), and two stalwart leaders of the struggle for women’s education, Dr. Twitmyer and Emalea Warner (representing the State Board and the Women’s Clubs, respectively) comprised this commission, together with Governor Miller, who became its chairman.33
Getting to work quickly, they purchased the twenty-acre Wollaston farm, almost halfway between the Pennsylvania Railroad depot and the Delaware College campus, for $9,000. A ground-breaking ceremony was held on Farmers’ Day, June 16, but the work of excavation and construction was not begun until December. Laussat R. Rogers, of New Castle, was hired as architect of the two buildings, originally called Residence Hall and Science Hall, later renamed Warner Hall and Robinson Hall. The commission awarded the construction contract to the W.D. Haddock Company, of Wilmington, on December 19, 1913, and required them to complete the work by August 15 so that the buildings would be ready for use in September 1914.34
While the commission was planning construction of the Women’s College, a special committee of three, chosen by the commission and the college trustees’ committee on instruction and discipline, searched for a dean. According to the trustees, this committee, consisting of Emalea Warner, Dr. Twitmyer, and President Harter, sought "a woman of liberal learning, adequate experience and undoubted character and ability to organize…." For their purpose, they made a remarkably good choice when they selected Winifred J. Robinson.35
Writing her on November 11, President Harter offered a salary of $2,000 plus a home on campus and a contingent fund for travel, and he added, "It might be useful for us to know of what church you are a member when we make our recommendation,…not that membership in any particular church is required, but that we may assure [the trustees] of the christian character of one for such a responsible position as the Dean of Women in Delaware College."36
Winifred Robinson, who became one of the five or six most important figures in the history of the University of Delaware, was "a woman of liberal education," acquired under difficult circumstances. Born two months after her father’s death she was reared by her mother in Battle Creek, Michigan, on, as she wrote, an "extremely small income," in the home of her grandmother and an aunt. After completing high school, she taught for six years before entering the normal school, now Eastern Michigan University, at Ypsilanti, in 1890. From then on she alternated studying and teaching, including three years as a visiting teacher for the normal school, until she completed work on a B.S. in biology at the University of Michigan in 1899.
Thirty-one years old when she received the baccalaureate degree, she soon launched out on a new career as a botanist, accepting an appointment at Vassar College as assistant to a professor who had moved there from Michigan. Again she moved ahead slowly but steadily, carrying on research at the New York Botanical Gardens, in Jamaica, in Hawaii, at Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and at Berlin, while prosecuting graduate studies at Columbia, where she took an M.A. in 1904 and a Ph.D. in botany in 1912. An instructor at Vassar from 1900 to 1907 and from 1908 to 1913, she was appointed to the modest rank of assistant professor when she was forty-five, one year before she came to Delaware.
But her slow scholarly progress had been accompanied by rich experience, not only in teaching in grade school, high school, and an excellent women’s college, but as director of practice teachers, as supervisor of freshman off-campus residents at Vassar, and as acting dean of women at the 1913 summer session of the University of Wisconsin; she was appointed associate warden of students at Vassar College in her last year there but may have left before undertaking this responsibility. It was the Wisconsin position that called her to the attention of the Delaware committee, who, when they interviewed her in October, sensed that she was a woman of "undoubted character and ability to organize."37
"Queenie," as she came to be called because of her somewhat regal and authoritarian manner, almost ideally fitted the prescription for a dean who could convert a plan and a dream into a successfully functioning institution, accepted and prized by the people of Delaware. Immediately on her first visit to Delaware, she struck up a close friendship with Emalea Warner, who had taken her to meet members of the Women’s College Commission and the Delaware College board of trustees. "It was hard," she wrote later, "to leave the satisfactions connected with teaching Botany at Vassar–my well-prepared students, delightful friends…contacts with distinguished botanists from Europe and the Far East…and perhaps hardest of all to leave an attractive research problem unfinished," but, as she wrote at the time, "the organization of a new college in an untried place" gave "opportunity for larger service" than she was offered at Vassar. Yet when she came to Newark in February 1914 to set up her temporary residence in the Deer Park Hotel and saw the partially built stone wall of one new building on an abandoned farm one-half mile down a dirt road from the small college that was to provide most of the faculty, her courage almost failed her.38
In another month the new dean and Emalea Warner began canvassing the state to arouse interest and recruit students for the new college. Between March 24 and April 9 they made separate day trips to Middletown, Dover, Harrington, and Georgetown (where they also met club women from Milton, Lewes, and Rehoboth), and a five-day junket to Milford, Seaford, Bridgeville, Camden-Wyoming, and Smyrna. Since the Laurel and Delmar women’s clubs were invited to Seaford, Emalea Warner was making sure Dean Robinson met leading women of downstate Delaware.39
Dean Robinson and Mrs. Warner also went directly to every high school in Delaware to seek out students. Remarks that the new dean made at Wilmington High School give some idea of her spirit and aspirations: "What we want to do in college is to educate men and women for citizenship….While we want to give vocational training, we also want to give you a point of view that will enable you to discriminate. We want you to have fun while in college and want you to come prepared to organize dramatic, literary and other kinds of clubs….I hope you’ll all come to college."40
In succeeding months Dean Robinson hired four women for the faculty: the first professor of education (Mary Rich), the first professor of home economics (Myrtle Caudell), an assistant professor in English and French (Gertrude Brady), and a director of athletics who would also assist in chemistry (Alfreda Mosscrop), as well as a matron (Sarah Churchman) and a secretary (Edwina Long). She had insisted that a woman be appointed professor of education on the grounds that most of the teachers in the state were women and that a better woman than man could be secured for the money available ($1,200 and a room on campus). She complained that Dr. George Marshall (chairman of the trustees’ committee on instruction and discipline), State Commissioner of Education Charles Wagner, and even Emalea Warner were pushing the appointments of candidates she did not favor. After she spoke of the aggressive personality of one candidate whom she rejected, Dean Hayward wrote, privately, "My own personal opinion is, that Miss Robinson can furnish all the aggressiveness that is needed for the Women’s College for the next year or two."41
This small woman, always wearing long dresses that hid the deformity of her very thick ankles and legs, needed to be aggressive in the man’s world that she found in Newark, and though her judgment of faculty was not always as shrewd as her judgment in other matters, she insisted on her way, and generally got it, in dealing with presidents, trustees, faculty, and students for the next twenty-four years. Emalea Warner and she became very close friends, and since Mrs. Warner (who was 61 in 1914) lived to a grand old age, the friendship endured through Dean Robinson’s long service at Delaware.
It was fitting that Emalea Warner became, eventually, the first woman trustee. But this was not to occur until 1928, even though a committee of three trustees (Chancellor Curtis, Henry Ridgely, and Charles Evans) declared in January 1914 that "ideally" women should be added to the board. A committee on the Women’s College was created by the board in May 1914, and since all its members were men an "advisory council" of five women was appointed who were to meet with this committee but to have no vote. The dean of the Women’s College was to meet with the board and to have a voice in the appointment of all faculty who would teach in this college. Faculty governance was to be exercised by an academic council consisting of all who taught in the Women’s College and presided over by the president or, in his absence, the dean.42
As the contractors rushed to complete their work, Emalea Warner helped Dean Robinson select furnishings and equipment. Every women’s club in the state made a gift to the new college, some furnishing students’ rooms. Governor Miller, board president Preston Lea, William Bancroft, A.D. Warner, and their wives made gifts, mainly of furniture, while Mary H. A. Mather and Alice P. Smyth gave about 700 books, as well as furniture, for a browsing room. Another gift of 2,000 books came as the bequest of Dr. Twitmyer, who died in February 1914 and left his library to this college of which he had been a major founder.
The Women’s College opened on schedule in September 1914, though the dedication of the hastily completed buildings and the inauguration of Dean Robinson were not held until the afternoon of October 10. On that same day, in the morning, a new president was inaugurated on the old Delaware College campus.43
George A. Harter was a shy, modest man, possessed apparently of little eloquence, in no way a grand public figure. He had begun his administration only as an interim president to whom the trustees turned when they failed in 1896 to secure an outsider they sought. But his complete grasp of the details of college operations, the clarity of his reports, and his dedication to the best interests of the college had impressed them and they kept him on for what turned out to be the second longest administration in the college’s history.
Internally–that is, on the campus–Harter seems to have been a popular president. College presidents always have to face problems, and in making decisions they make enemies or lose some support, even if only temporarily. Twice student strikes had disturbed Harter’s administration, but in neither case was the strike directly aimed at him. The first occurred in the late spring of 1902, when more than seventy students, including George Dutton, Joseph Frazer, Bassett Ferguson, Charles Bush, and Richard Rodney, stayed away from classes to protest a faculty decision to suspend six students for the hazing of an unpopular freshman who was the brother of a member of the faculty. The students charged that the faculty had acted "unjustly," but in the end they gave in and returned to classes. The faculty member whose brother had been hazed was dropped the next year in an apparently unrelated action.44
The second student strike in the Harter administration occurred in February 1912 and was directed at a professor of electrical engineering whom the seniors and juniors described as incompetent and unfair, as well as ungentlemanly and discourteous. The students said they had mulled their grievances, knowing the faculty were unaware of the professor’s inadequacy, and then finally the two upper-class presidents presented President Harter with a list of complaints against this professor, asking that they be read at a faculty meeting. When no action was taken, the students voted to cut classes. Every student but one is said to have joined the strike. The trustees’ committee on instruction and discipline, together with such other trustees as could attend, met on February 19 and heard the students and the professor. Practically all of the trustees thought there was some merit in the student complaints, but they insisted discipline be preserved and classes resumed, as they were. A solution came, as the trustees hoped it would, when the professor of electrical engineering resigned at the end of the term.45
Measured against whatever student dissatisfaction these strikes indicate–and the evidence is that they were quickly forgotten–is the great loyalty and devotion to the college demonstrated by many of those who were students in the time of Harter’s administration as, for instance, by Hugh M. Morris, ’98, Everett C. Johnson, ’99, H. Rodney Sharp, ’00, Willis F. Harrington, ’02, and Charles Polk Messick, ’07, to note but a few. In general, Harter’s relationship with the other members of the faculty seems to have been good. He was, said E. N. Vallandigham, once a professor, "tactful and nicely conscientious." There was, of course, the unpleasantness over Manning’s advocacy of a move to Wilmington, which led to this professor’s dismissal. There was a direct confrontation with Arthur Neale over the relationship of the experiment station to the college. There were problems that led to other dismissals or resignations. But only in the Neale case is Harter known to have been centrally involved in an adversarial role.
The movement that led to the end of Harter’s presidency may not have been directed against him personally in any way. The first reference to it that is known is on January 28, 1913, when two prominent alumni, Hugh Morris and Charles Bush, as a committee of the Alumni Association, informed the board of trustees that the alumni proposed raising a fund to free the college president from teaching. According to Edward Vallandigham, a group of alumni–Everett Johnson, Rodney Sharp, Charles Bush, Hugh Morris, W.O. Sypherd, and others–dined together by agreement at the Wilmington Country Club one evening and sat until 2:30 A.M. discussing how the college could be improved. They decided that the first necessity was to get a full-time president who could concentrate on development plans, for which Harter, obsessed with his teaching chores, had neither the time nor, perhaps, the necessary exuberant personality. Consequently these men formed a committee, with Sharp as its chairman, to raise an endowment fund by solicitation, with their first objective being to get sufficient income to hire a new executive. The sum of $50,000 was mentioned, but Sharp said, "Why not $100,000?" and so it was this sum they sought.
Vallandigham gives March 1913 as the date of this meeting, but he is probably wrong, for an alumni banquet was held at the Hotel du Pont on February 22, 1913, at which Rodney Sharp, Judge Woolley, Charles Bush, and Hugh Morris spoke informally of raising an endowment of $100,000. Prepared addresses were made by Herman M. Sypherd, ’95 (older brother of Professor Sypherd), on the topic "How Should the State Support Delaware College" and by Everett Johnson on "Delaware College and the State." In the enthusiasm of the meeting $5,200 was subscribed by those present.
At some later time the alumni became even more enthusiastic and spoke of raising $250,000, but this enlarged figure was soon abandoned.46 Their movement was not directed against an overworked President Harter, they kept insisting, but it is obvious that they thought this retiring, quiet, academic man was not the enterprising, perhaps even rambunctious president they thought was needed to lead Delaware College to a new day.
The trustees acknowledged the alumni activity by appointing a development committee in June 1913 to seek ways and means to improve the college and its administration. To improve the administration this committee agreed with the alumni that a full-time president was needed, an "executive head" who would not have the responsibility for any one department. Henry Ridgely, committee chairman, reported to the trustees in January 1914 that Harter was willing to give up the presidency and continue as full-time professor of mathematics and physics at a salary of $3,000, the same salary he received as president–this being a reward for his past service and present cooperation, since it was fifty percent higher than the regular professorial salary.47
"This movement was in no sense a conspiracy against Dr. Harter," declared Edward Vallandigham, "for he cheerfully cooperated in the movement, though he knew from the first that it contemplated the ending of his own administration." The editor of the Review was sorry to hear of Harter’s resignation when the news of it was announced. "He has always been a real friend to Delaware men," the editor said and spoke of the "high regard and affection they felt for him."48 However he felt about being replaced, Harter never interfered with his successors as he continued to teach for two more decades, becoming the grand old man of the campus by the 1930s.
At its January 1914 meeting the board of trustees set up a committee of seven, with Henry Ridgely as chairman, to select a new president, who was to be offered $5,000 and freed of teaching duties. By February 21, the night of the annual alumni banquet (which had come to be held regularly near Washington’s birthday), Rodney Sharp announced that his committee had raised $64,000 of the $100,000 it sought. He was not permitted to say that $50,000 of this sum came from one man–and one who was not an alumnus of Delaware–his brother-in-law, Pierre S.du Pont, who wanted no publicity. Despite his efforts, Sharp succeeded in raising the total figure only to $68,000, when another nonalumnus, Josiah Marvel, a prominent Wilmington attorney, saved the day by pledging $1,000 a year for five years for the new president’s salary.49
By that time Ridgely’s selection committee had completed its work and reported its choice to the board. Their choice, who was duly elected on June 16, was Samuel Chiles Mitchell, president of the Medical College of Virginia, who had been recommended by some of the most important men in the national educational field–Abraham Flexner and Wallace Buttrick, of Rockefeller’s General Education Board, Henry Pritchett, of the Carnegie Foundation, and President William H. P. Faunce, of Brown University, among others.50
Samuel Chiles Mitchell was an unusual man and certainly the best-known president, in a national sense, that Delaware College had yet had. Born December 24, 1864, during the Civil War, in Coffeeville, Mississippi, where his mother had fled for refuge, Mitchell was the son of a Confederate army officer who fought with Nathan Bedford Forrest and saw his financial prospects, along with his Memphis business, destroyed by the war. To escape the near poverty of his home, Samuel Mitchell, when in his teens, went to the Southwest, to Galveston, to make his fortune. He was befriended by a merchant named William Terry, who first hired him as a clerk in his store and then, impressed by Mitchell’s quality, sent him to an academy in Kentucky. Though Terry soon died, Mitchell continued his education until he had graduated from Georgetown College, Kentucky, in 1888.
He taught at Georgetown, at Mississippi College, Clinton, Mississippi, and at Richmond College in Virginia between 1888 and 1909, continuing his studies intermittently at the University of Virginia and the University of Chicago, where he received a Ph.D. in history in 1899. Meanwhile he had married the daughter of a minister who was a professor at the Louisville Theological Seminary. The Mitchells eventually had five children (three of them graduates of Delaware), of whom two became nationally distinguished, the oldest son as an economic historian and the youngest as the director of the Southern Regional Council.
Marriage to a minister’s daughter may have reinforced Mitchell’s evangelical spirit. A Baptist, a Sunday-school teacher, he was ecumenical in his religious spirit, but an enthusiastic reformer who adopted causes such as prohibition, world order, improved racial relations, and indeed everything that he saw contributing to human betterment and especially to the improvement of conditions of life in his native region, the South.
His merits were early recognized by, for instance, honorary degrees at Hampden-Sydney and Furman in 1905, at Brown (where he had served as a visiting professor) in 1910, at Baylor in 1913, and at Cincinnati in 1914. But his career was not unmarred by reverses. Elected president of the University of South Carolina in 1909, he aroused the hostility of a demagogic governor, Coleman Livingston Blease, who had once been expelled from the university and now sought to make political capital by attacks on it and its president, accusing him of undue friendliness to the education of blacks, even though in segregated institutions.51
Earlier, while teaching in Richmond, where he was very popular, Mitchell won attention by proposing a union of all the colleges of the Richmond area in one great university. This union was not accomplished, but in 1913 several medical schools were united in Richmond as the Medical College of Virginia. Sufficient jealousy existed between the merged faculties and student bodies to lead the trustees to seek a president from outside who might help cement the merger, and they offered the post to Mitchell because he was highly respected in Richmond and yet, not being a physician, had no ties with any of the medical faculties.52
Richmond was a happy refuge from the unpleasant stresses he had found in South Carolina, but Mitchell regarded his work there to be only that of an interim peacemaker, a catalyst to a bonding operation, and he found that Delaware offered a more challenging field to his talents. As he saw it, a renascence was taking place there, originating in two separate movements, one a movement of women led by Emalea Warner to acquire the educational opportunities so long denied them, and the other a movement of alumni led by Rodney Sharp to advance Delaware College to the position and status it had long promised to attain. Mitchell had become a fervent supporter of the "Wisconsin idea" (as he had heard it proclaimed by President Charles R. Van Hise) of having the state college or university serve every side of life in the state.53
It is an interesting commentary upon the vigor and leadership of Winifred Robinson to note that it was she who first spoke to Mitchell on behalf of the Delaware College trustees. She sought him out in Richmond in February 1914 at a convention of the superintendents’ division of the National Education Association, explaining that the Delaware College committee looking for a new president had been given his name and asked her to interview him. Some time later they saw each other again at a meeting of the Religious Education Association at Yale and they sat together on the train returning from New Haven to New York.54 Dean Robinson was obviously entering on her duties quickly, for she had just been appointed in January and moved to Newark in March.
Many other men were considered to replace Harter; Dr. George W. Marshall, ’74, a trustee but not a member of the search committee, wrote ex-president William Howard Taft to ask whether he would be interested, but received a polite response to the effect that Taft felt there was other work he could do better. Mitchell was interested and accepted an invitation to confer with Henry Ridgely and other trustees at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia. Following this meeting Charles Evans took him to Newark to see the old campus, the site where the Women’s College was being built, and the farm.55
Mitchell, an unabashed optimist, was very favorably impressed with the prospects of Delaware College and accepted the presidency when it was offered to him, having declared he would leave the Medical College as soon as he saw the union of faculties was cemented. But a Richmond religious publication mourned losing an "alert, active and influential" leader, "unselfish, broad-minded, public-spirited," who "might well be called the first citizen of the town."56
The Newark Post reported that October 10, 1914, the date of Mitchell’s inauguration, of Dean Robinson’s installation, and of the dedication of the Women’s College buildings, was "the greatest day Delaware has ever known." Two or three thousand people attended the festivities, and enthusiastic optimism about the future of higher education in Delaware prevailed among the crowd.57
The school year had, of course, begun in September and it had begun very well. Publicity about the opening of the Women’s College may have been good for Delaware College, which had its largest entering class in history–ninety-two men, of whom thirty-five were in engineering and thirty in agriculture (though half of the Aggies were in the two-year course and not candidates for a degree). The total in Delaware College was 197, and there were fifty-eight students in the Women’s College, a number that few of its supporters had dared hope for in the first year. Obviously Dean Robinson, with Emalea Warner to help her, had done a splendid job of recruiting.58
When the Women’s College opened, temporary boardwalks stretched over the muddy lawn from Residence (Warner) Hall to the street. Science (Robinson) Hall was not ready for use until October 9, so for the first three weeks one building served for all needs, and Professor Conover or Professor Sypherd might be conducting a class at one end of the lounge called the Hilarium while the dean and her secretary, Edwina Long, worked at desks at the other end. Yet the students, who called themselves "the pioneers" with a spirit of adventuring, made do with inconveniences, recognizing them as temporary. A number of them felt they could not have gone to college had the Women’s College not been opened.59
Even the summer school enrollment in 1914–190, up from 169 in 1913–was encouraging. The work in agriculture in the fall was enhanced by the opening of a new greenhouse, designed by Richard Whittingham, who was later the architect for the new Rhodes Drugstore, which replaced Frazer’s and came to be considered almost a campus facility. More important, the first county agricultural agents had been hired under the Smith-Lever Act–Levi Cooch, for New Castle County; M.O. Pence, for Kent County; and W.C. Pelton, for Sussex County. A home economics agent, Elizabeth Jefferson, was approved by Dean Robinson and added to the extension staff in July 1915.60
Even on the athletic field, a new day seemed to have dawned, as the football team, still coached by "Brick" McAvoy, completed its best season ever, with seven victories against only one loss and one tie. To be sure, there were critics who said the schedule was soft since it included schools that were hardly comparable, such as Baltimore Poly, Baltimore City College (both essentially high schools), and Temple University (then a recent extension of the work of Russell Conwell’s Temple Baptist Church). The team was cheered on by the "fillies," a name coined for the women from the "affiliated college." A "hop" was held at the end of the football season to celebrate the team’s success.61
One cloud had, however, appeared on the happy horizon. Mitchell recalled later that on July 31 as he and his two deans (Robinson and Hayward) rode with a trustee, Joseph H. Hossinger, to a camp meeting at the town of Wyoming, "to present the needs of the colleges," they read newspaper headlines an inch high declaring that Europe was on the brink of War.62 The fear of July 31 became an actuality in August, and both the years of the Mitchell administration and the early years of the Women’s College were to be passed in a war-torn world.
After the opening of the Women’s College the next great development in the history of Delaware College followed an encounter in the fall of 1914 that began one morning when Rodney Sharp phoned Mitchell to ask when he would be in Wilmington. That afternoon, he answered, when he would be getting a train to go downstate.
"Good," said Sharp. "Drop in to see me, please."
At about 3:00 P.M. Mitchell stopped in at Sharp’s office in the Du Pont Building and was in a short time introduced to Sharp’s brother-in-law, Pierre S. du Pont. After a few minutes’ conversation, du Pont, looking very serious, asked, "Have you any plans for the development of Delaware College?"
"No," Mitchell answered, adding that a worthwhile plan would have to be made with the help of those who knew the situation best and should follow a careful study of the educational needs of the state and the resources of the college to meet them.
"That’s the right way to go about it," said du Pont. This interview soon ended, but on a later occasion du Pont called Mitchell to his office. "When we were alone," as Mitchell remembered the incident a quarter-century later, "he asked, `How would you use a million dollars?’ " After Mitchell said he would need to confer with supporters of the college, du Pont "insisted that he be not mentioned in any connection, adding, `I shall be glad to have a memorandum from you as to proposed plans.’"63
Mitchell drew up a memorandum, but serious planning did not begin until Frank Miles Day of the Philadelphia firm of Day and Klauder was appointed supervising architect for the college at a special meeting of the trustees in December 1914. The expenses of the survey, according to the minutes of this meeting, were to "be borne by certain members of the alumni."64
Another account, supplementary, not contradictory, to the one just given traces the origin of the campaign to improve Delaware College to Professor Sypherd, who is said to have complained to Rodney Sharp, four years his junior at Delaware College, about the condition of campus buildings and other facilities. Sharp, in turn, informed his brother-in-law that the college needed substantial improvement to realize its potential in providing for the higher education of the youth of Delaware. It is said that Sharp drove du Pont to Newark one day and showed him about the campus so he could see how things were for himself.65
In 1914 Pierre S. du Pont (1870-1954) was approaching the zenith of his business career, which was to bring him in 1915 to the presidency of the du Pont Company and later to the same position in General Motors. He had begun the development of a grand estate at Longwood, Pennsylvania, twelve miles from Wilmington, where he lived unostentatiously in the old Peirce farmhouse but developed magnificent gardens, with fountains, outdoor theater, conservatory, and music room for the pleasure of his personal guests and, with increasing frequency, the general public. His philanthropic interest in the public schools and their financing was just beginning.
Governor Miller was obviously aware of at least a part of the plans for Delaware College, for when he visited the college with the legislature in mid-January 1915 he spoke of the consideration being given to the scientific planning for college buildings and grounds looking far into the future and hinted at the possibility of an endowment that would give the college a far greater impetus to improvement than even its most faithful friends had dreamed possible a few years ago.66
The supervising architect visited the campus on January 29 with Henry B. Thompson, chairman of a special trustee committee set up to work with him. Thompson was the head of a group of textile mills, with offices in New York, but lived in Delaware, where he and his wife, Mary, the daughter of General James Wilson, were very prominent in social affairs. The choice of Day to carry out the survey of campus needs was probably due to Thompson, who as a trustee of Princeton, his alma mater, had been chairman of a building and grounds committee that had worked closely with Day on Princeton’s building plans.67
The first step in the physical improvement of Delaware College was taken this winter when Rodney Sharp, using money supplied anonymously by Pierre du Pont, began buying up the properties along South College Avenue (formerly known as Depot Road and then Station Road) between Main Street and the Women’s College campus–a tract about one-half mile long (north to south) and of a varying width that in places may have been almost a fourth of a mile–while also extending the old campus eastward by purchase for $17,000 of the one-acre Elliott property on the north side of Main Street between the John Watson Evans house (the present Alumni Hall) and the property where Rhodes Drugstore stands. Since the college had, by its charter, the right of eminent domain, it could have forced any recalcitrant landholder to sell. However, it did not need to go to such lengths; the purchases were all privately negotiated in the names of Sharp and his wife, Isabella, and finally transferred to the college. In its turn the college in 1919 deeded all these properties, except the Elliott tract, to the state.68
The cost of this magnificent extension of the campus was over $200,000, a substantial portion of the million promised by Pierre du Pont. Henry B. Thompson predicted a gift of that magnitude at the midwinter alumni banquet in February 1915, when President Mitchell, characteristically, described Delaware College as a "moral fortress," eschewing partisanship and politics, but seeking "to reinforce every intellectual and spiritual cause in the commonwealth and nation."69
The relationship of the alumni to the board of trustees was immensely strengthened at this time by Governor Miller’s appointment of William H. Heald, ’83, a Wilmington lawyer and former congressman, and H. Rodney Sharp, ’00, to the board. New vigorous leadership was assured in June when the board chose Henry B. Thompson as its president.70
At the board’s next meeting, in November, Thompson announced a further magnificent gift from Pierre du Pont, who requested anonymity–a gift of $500,000. Of this sum, $200,000 was for endowment and $300,000 for buildings, including refurbishing Old College. At the same meeting, Rodney Sharp, as chairman of a committee on planning and development, reported that the library would be moved from the John Watson Evans house to a larger building on the southeast corner of Main Street and South College Avenue, once used as a hotel called the Delaware House but most recently known as the Johnson building, where the Newark Post was printed. When vacated, the Evans house would be turned over to the YMCA, which had had a rather inactive branch on campus since the end of the nineteenth century.71
Mitchell called the gift "an epoch in the educational history of the State" and reminded the trustees that it was not a sporadic act but part of a plan. Privately he explained to the president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching that only part of the total gift was being announced in the fall of 1915, "as the donor thought that it would be best to let the people grow into this larger idea of the development of the College."72
Early in 1908 a publicity release prepared by Professor Sypherd declared that the college had three major needs that could not be met from funds available then, in decreasing order of importance: (1) adequate housing for the library, (2) an engineering and general science building, and (3) an annual state appropriation for general expenses.73 Whether or not it was sufficient, an annual state appropriation for general expenses had been made since 1909. Housing for the library was hardly adequate yet, but had been greatly improved with its removal from Recitation Hall, first to the Evans house and now to the Johnson building. But in relation to a building for engineering and general science nothing had been done, and it was to redress this neglect that a large part of the gift from Pierre du Pont, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was directed.
Engineering, however, would have to wait. The engineering laboratories, after all, did have Electrical-Mechanical Hall, the newest academic building (that is, other than the gymnasium, greenhouse, and heating plant) on the old campus. The science laboratories were in very cramped quarters in Old College, Recitation Hall, and the experiment station building. Therefore it was decided that the first new building to be constructed would be a large science hall to accommodate agriculture, biology, and chemistry, for the time being. This would absorb $225,000 of du Pont’s gift for buildings, leaving $75,000 to be employed on making over Old College Hall. In providing $200,000 for endowment du Pont sought to counter any criticism about the cost of maintenance of the new buildings; the endowment money would, he hoped, provide for their upkeep.74
Before the new science building was constructed, the architects, Frank Day and his partner, Charles Klauder, who gradually took over an increasing amount of the responsibility, even before Day’s death in 1918, worked out a campus plan. According to Mitchell, the general design originated with Henry B. Thompson, who had it "flash upon his mind" as he rode the train one day returning from New York. Another account tells that Rodney Sharp took Charles Klauder on a trip around Delaware to familiarize him with the eighteenth-century style Sharp wished to see utilized in the new campus buildings. Quite likely both stories are true, at least in part.75
A six-page brochure prepared by Day and Klauder declared that "the time has passed when groups of buildings are allowed to grow in a planless and haphazard way" and described the building plan for the entire campus, including the Women’s College. "It has been very strongly felt," the brochure declared, "that the buildings should carry on the good tradition of that Colonial architecture of which so many beautiful examples are to be found, at Dover, New Castle, Odessa, and in many other parts of the State." This comment, and especially the reference to Odessa, suggests that Rodney Sharp exerted a major influence on the architects. As illustrations in their brochure they used the Ridgely House (Dover), the Old Court House and Immanuel Church House (New Castle), and Old Drawyers Church (near Odessa).76
In his reminiscences Mitchell explains that Pierre du Pont took a personal interest in these building plans. At Mitchell’s invitation, though he was not a trustee, he sat with the executive committee when it was reviewing the architect’s designs. "He is a man of reserve and did not open his lips," as Mitchell recalled, "until the question arose as to what type of structure was preferred." A trustee who had been influential in erecting the Women’s College buildings "commended them as slow-burning (while not fireproof), inexpensive, and good examples for us to follow." Mitchell, distressed because he wanted absolutely fireproof buildings, especially for dormitories, was relieved when du Pont, "in his quiet way, said, `I hope it will be the pleasure of the Board to put only fireproof buildings on our campus.’ That settled it."77
Possibly at this same meeting Frank Miles Day explained he could put up a new building on the fine site occupied by Old College for less than it would take to repair the old one. "At this point," according to Mitchell, "Mr. du Pont remarked, `Mr. Day, we shall have many occasions to put up new buildings, but this is the only old one we have.’"78
According to another account it was H. Rodney Sharp who insisted that Old College be preserved. Unquestionably the firm opinion of either of these brothers-in-law would have sufficed to save Old College, for the remodeling of which building the board of trustees allocated $86,000 in March 1916. The old walls and exterior architecture were to be retained, while the roof was removed and the interior was gutted. The outer walls were strengthened by reinforced concrete, the windows were altered, and the plan of the interior was greatly changed. The old Oratory became a dining and assembly room, popular hereafter for dances, with its ceiling raised so that it was the height of two of the original floors. Among other changes, a students’ lounge was provided in a large room in the east wing of the second, or main, floor. In March 1918 it was officially ordered by the board of trustees that this building, once known as "the College" and then as "the Dormitory," should hereafter be "Old College Hall" (the name generally applied to it in previous pages of this book, to avoid confusion). By this transformation it became the social center of Delaware College, although at least one of its rooms–the west wing on the ground floor–was still employed for large classes.79
The interior reconstruction of Old College meant that there was a pressing need for a new dormitory. A new gift of $75,000 from Pierre du Pont, made available July 1, 1916, provided the wherewithal for construction of a building that Rodney Sharp, as chairman of planning and development, had already approved, on the basis of a design provided by Day and Klauder. Though originally it had been intended to place all men’s dormitories on the north side of Main Street, these plans were changed to allow space for a group of fraternities there, and the new dormitory was built just to the south of Main Street, on the same side of the Green as Wolf Hall, which was opened in 1917. Both this building and the new dormitory, which was called Harter Hall, were named at the suggestion of Rodney Sharp, who remembered in this way two of his most memorable professors. He informed the board that Pierre du Pont had agreed to allow his name to be used in connection with the gift of Wolf Hall, but not for Harter Hall.80
Du Pont’s gifts attracted others, probably by making Delaware College appear to be a worthy recipient of philanthropy. In November 1915 Mitchell noted that individual citizens had given generously to help needy students and suggested that the board appoint a committee to foster a student loan fund. Instead, the board referred the problem to the Alumni Association, but Josiah Marvel, who was already contributing $1,000 a year to Mitchell’s salary (raised to $6,000 in 1916 at the suggestion of Pierre du Pont), made another gift that was sufficient, according to the board, to put the student loan fund on a permanent and secure basis, though the board also acknowledged generous gifts to this fund by "a signal list of contributors." One contribution to the student loan fund, intended to help a student from Cecil County, came from Robert Brookings of St. Louis, known for his support of Washington University there and of the Brookings Institute in Washington. Brookings, a native of Cecil County, was probably impelled to make this gift through meeting President Mitchell when on vacation at Lake George, New York. Mrs. Annie Wheeler, of Wilmington, gave $2,500 for a scholarship in the name of Robert B. Wheeler. Mary Mather and Alice Smyth in 1916 provided for an instructorship in the history of art at the Women’s College for one year. Rodney Sharp furnished the new headquarters of the YMCA and helped furnish the lounge in Old College.81
Du Pont’s gifts continued, usually anonymously, until they passed the million dollar amount he had promised. Late in March 1916 he offered the trustees $25,000 as the nucleus of a faculty pension fund, explaining that after talking with Rodney Sharp he had concluded that such a fund "would be of benefit in many ways." The first professor to be aided by the fund was Frederic Robinson, the civil engineer, who received $50 a month pension after retiring in June 1916. Unfortunately his health was then so poor that he lived only a very short time.82 This "nucleus" that du Pont provided did not grow rapidly enough to offer much security to men or women who wished to retire in the next twenty years and had had little opportunity to lay up savings from their very modest professorial salaries.
The final major gift to complete Pierre du Pont’s commitment was announced to the board in November 1916. It was a gift of $100,000 to be added to the endowment, and once again the donor asked that his name not be used. Still one more large gift came from the same source in June 1918–$30,000 to complete payments on the new buildings and their equipment.83
This was by no means the end of Pierre do Pont’s benefactions to Delaware College, but from this time forward most of his gifts were made for specific interests, as when he and his brothers Irenee and Lammot pledged $15,000 in 1919 to provide sixty scholarships for teachers. Other gifts that originated with him came through agencies he had established, like the Service Citizens of Delaware, which provided $17,000 in 1919-21 for the assistance of the teacher-training program.84
In June 1915 the board had established priorities for needed buildings: (1) an agricultural building and chemical laboratory, (2) a men’s dormitory, (3) reconstruction of the old dorm as a dining hall and social center, and (4) a women’s dormitory. The first three were taken care of (Wolf Hall, Harter Hall, Old College) in 1916-17 through Pierre du Pont’s generosity. The fourth was provided by the state legislature in April 1917, when it raised $125,000 by the sale of bonds (the method it had spurned in 1913) for construction of a second dormitory, called Sussex Hall, on the Women’s College campus.85 The Women’s College was the special child of the state legislature, which by its appropriations in 1913-17 atoned, to some degree, for its woeful neglect of the higher education of the white women of Delaware in years past. The physical transformation of the men’s college, Delaware College proper, in this same period was made possible by the generosity of one man, Pierre S. du Pont, acting often through the agency and with the counsel of his friend and brother-in-law, Rodney Sharp.
Wolf Hall, Harter Hall, and the reconstruction of Old College Hall were all well on the way to completion before the entrance of the United States into the World War in April 1917 interrupted the renascence of Delaware College. As early as 1916 some students left college for a military life when the Delaware National Guard was called to the Mexican border. One who did was John Wilson O’Daniel, of the class of 1917, who stayed in the army and eventually rose to the rank of lieutenant general.86
Though some of the women students had been making bandages for prisoners in war camps even before the United States was involved, such activities greatly increased afterwards. Conservation was emphasized, and many of the young women learned to can foods, while some worked in a war garden. A Red Cross chapter, started at the Women’s College early in 1918, soon had enrolled all of the students as members. Many of them became active in campaigns to raise money by the sale of securities called Liberty Bonds.87
The men at Delaware College participated in some of these activities, too. In the summers many worked on farms or in Wilmington shipyards, as the nation strove to produce "a bridge of boats" to the Allies in Europe. However, when the Delaware College schedule was altered in the fall of 1917 in order to speed up the college term and allow additional time for summer schooling and summer jobs, the male student body objected to being asked to give up part of their Thanksgiving holiday. They held a meeting and voted not to attend classes on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving. Not all of the students went on strike, but so many did that President Mitchell and the faculty were upset.
The students claimed that their action was based on the principle of student self-government and on the right of petition. They had petitioned the faculty to restore the holiday; the faculty felt that no change should be made since the altered schedule had received the approval of the board of trustees. One aspect of the strike that seemed serious was the fact that juniors and seniors received pay for hours spent in military drill; one of the days when they cut classes, Friday, was a drill day.
The punishment voted by the faculty was to lower the grades of all students who cut classes on these two days by one letter and to remove all their rights to unexcused cuts for the remainder of the year. One more cut would mean failure in the course; two cuts would mean expulsion from college.88
The height to which passions rose during the war was illustrated in June 1918 when the board of trustees voted to drop the teaching of German; this prohibition affected only one academic year, because in March 1919 the board voted to restore German to the curriculum. The flu epidemic in the fall of 1918 affected so many people that both colleges were closed for most of October. Harter Hall and Alumni Hall (then the YMCA) were pressed into use temporarily as hospitals for people of the community; the college infirmary, recently opened in a two-story brick house at the corner of Delaware and South College avenues, was far too small for the emergency. One student (Lee Roach, of Georgetown) died of the flu, as did one soldier stationed here.89
This soldier belonged to a group of special students who remained at Delaware College, even when the flu drove other students home–a group of 200 soldiers sent to the campus by the War Department for vocational training. The original contract called for 200 men to be assigned to Delaware College for two terms of eight weeks each beginning July 1, 1918–100 for training in gas engine work, 40 as radio operators, 30 as electricians, 15 as machinists, and 15 as "bench workers." All available spaces, including the new lounge in Old College, were turned into barracks temporarily. Military drill was, of course, also part of the program for these soldiers, and when one group of them had completed their four-month program, another group of similar size was sent to the campus.90
The Selective Service Act was passed on May 18, 1917, with the first draft taking place on June 5. It had little effect on the regular student body of Delaware College, since it applied only to men between the ages of twenty-one and thirty. A second draft, on September 12, 1918, embraced all men between eighteen and forty-five, but college students were put in a special category. They were allowed to stay in college, but all students in good physical condition were taken into the army as part of the Students’ Army Training Corps. Except for those few men who had physical problems, all of the Delaware College students were therefore taken into the army in the fall of 1918. They lived under military discipline, wore uniforms, took certain prescribed courses, and were on the federal payroll as part of SATC unit No. 351. The extracurricular life of the students underwent a number of changes. For instance, student government, which had been initiated for the male students in 1916 (more than a year behind the women) was suspended; the football team played a full schedule but was coached by one of the army officers, Max Aronowitz, who was also a physician.
Though President Mitchell loyally supported the war–three of his sons were in the service, and one of them was gassed in France–he was disturbed that instead of studying the humanities "students were drilled to rush up with a hideous yell to stick a bayonet into a bogeyman." He rejoiced on November 7, 1918, when Rodney Sharp phoned him to tell of a report that an armistice had stopped the fighting in Europe. Sharp and his wife drove to Newark, where the students had also heard the news. The men had gone down to the Women’s College and with singing and yelling awakened the women. All gathered on Frazer Field at 3:00 A.M., including the Mitchells and the Sharps. Rockets and sparklers were set off to celebrate, but unfortunately it was a false alarm. But the real armistice was only four days off.
On November 11 Mitchell was at an assembly where a woman from Washington was speaking on health care and illustrating the need of brushing the inside of the teeth when he heard a brass band leading a spontaneous parade of Newark citizens celebrating the real armistice. To Mitchell’s chagrin the speaker went on, undeterred by the noise, and when the students were free to leave they had to run to catch up with the parade, which proceeded to the lawn in front of the academy. Mitchell addressed the crowd there, Dean Robinson beside him. A woman student remembered shrill whistles and dancing far into the night–but since Dean Robinson’s rules were very strict and November 11 was a Monday, it is very unlikely that this meant later than midnight, if that late.91
One month more passed before the SATC was demobilized and Delaware students became civilians again. Some faculty members’ involvement in the war lasted longer: Allan Cullimore, of the School of Engineering, a one-armed man himself, was on leave for many months teaching maimed veterans how to cope with their injuries, Professor Clarence Short entered the army, and Dean Hayward was given leave after the close of the war to go to France as a regional director of agricultural education under the YMCA. President Mitchell too was frequently absent on war-related activities, as in the spring of 1918 when, at the request of the U.S. secretary of agriculture, he was given leave for several weeks to speak to groups of farmers about the country’s wartime needs.92
Other faculty members adjusted their teaching schedules, offering new courses, such as one in geography and another on "war aims." When the war ended, Dean Robinson was planning to introduce a nurses’ training course if funds could be found. Some teachers and researchers were lured away from the campus by opportunities that the war opened to them in industry. An inflation that occurred after the war forced others to leave the college to support their families properly. Professor Short, for example, decided to take a job with a local industry when he left the army. Howard K. Preston left the engineering faculty in 1918 but returned later to resume a distinguished teaching career. To stop the drain of talent, an emergency fund of $70,000 was raised from alumni and others by a committee chaired by Rodney Sharp. The accumulation of this money allowed the trustees to raise all salaries ten percent, beginning July 1, 1919.93
On June 27, 1918, Congress passed a Vocational Rehabilitation Act. Under its terms an average of about 150 veterans a year came to Delaware College for vocational training that was designed to fit them for careers in some phase of agriculture. For the most part these "rehabs," with their work centered around a wooden building, South Hall, constructed behind Wolf Hall in 1921, seem to have remained a class apart from the regular college students, who were usually considerably younger. Over sixty of them, however, completed a special two-year course and eight transferred into the School of Agriculture before the program came to an end in 1924.94
The war had very little effect on the growth of the Women’s College–frequently referred to in print, especially in student publications, as WCD (for Women’s College of Delaware). From the inchoate state in which an entering student from the Eastern Shore, Ruth Clendaniel (later Mrs. Robert O. Bausman), first observed it–
It was the most forlorn place you ever saw. It was all mud out in front
and we had a boardwalk…there was no shrubbery, no anything…
there was no organization whatsoever.
–the college was soon put in smooth working order under the directing genius of Dean Robinson.95
According to the dean’s first report to the trustees (November 24, 1914), rules on social affairs were established without delay. No students could attend evening parties except on Friday and Saturday. Social calls by men were permitted only on Friday afternoon and evening. Sunday guests were limited to family members who could not conveniently come on another day, in order that Sunday would remain a quiet day for reading. Students going uptown must sign in and out. Students could go "automobiling" only with parents or persons for whom permission had been filed in writing, by a parent, in the dean’s office–and a chaperon must go along. In attending functions such as ball games, students must return in the same groups they set out with.96
These Victorian restrictions are very well remembered by WCD alumnae. Some changes occurred over the years, but the spirit was unchanged. Winifred Robinson, a posthumous child reared in a woman-dominated home who had found contentment and success in a woman’s college (Vassar) after overcoming many obstacles, primarily financial, in a very slow climb up the first steps of the academic ladder, was determined to make the Women’s College of Delaware a school in which the parents of this state could take pride, a school in which young women would learn not only the arts and sciences as well as, if they chose, a vocation, but also would be instructed in proper social behavior–in how to dress, how to act, how to conform with the expectations for young women of their day. While intellectually she wanted them to soar, as she had, socially they were to fit a behavioral pattern that she had firmly in mind. The Women’s College was a sort of finishing school encouraging unlimited intellectual growth while requiring a strict social conformity.
So Dean Robinson looked over the "girls" and passed on their clothes and makeup before they went out to a dance. A woman could not accept an invitation to a dance at the last minute; she must note her date three days ahead. Yet the students were early given some participation in social controls through a student government that was established at the Women’s College in the fall of 1914, a year and a half before any similar organization was set up at Delaware College. (When asked about it in 1912 George Harter, then president, had responded, "Delaware College has never formally adopted student government. In theory I am very much in favor of [it], but in practice it does not work very well.")97
But to Dean Robinson it was of the utmost importance that young women be trained in leadership by having a voice–though by no means a controlling voice–in their government. The functions of the Women’s College student government were primarily judicial, and they came to be exercised with care, the most dread punishment being "campusing," restriction to the WCD campus for a fixed period of time. To develop the proper spirit in this system of regulation, Dean Robinson had insisted that the students admitted to the college should all be freshmen, members of the same class, rather than transfer students from other colleges at various levels. It may or may not have helped that all of the full-time women on the faculty were required to live on campus with the students: at its best this encouraged a group spirit or sense of comradeship between the students and teachers; at its worst it may have hurt the recruiting of talented scholars. There is no positive evidence that it did, but a female high school teacher’s life was freer of restrictions (at least in an urban high school) than that of a woman professor at WCD.
Although at first only freshmen were admitted as resident students, summer school classes were open with few restrictions, especially to teachers. This probably explains how the Women’s College graduated its first student in 1916, two years before the first entering class completed four years of work. The first graduate was Rebecca Churchman, who had entered Delaware College in 1873 with the second class of coeds but left before completing her course. Forty-three years later, at the age of 61, she took her degree at last, a B.S. in education.98
There were other women who completed the work they set out to do in 1916, for at its opening the Women’s College offered two-year certificate programs in education and home economics. The latter was abandoned in 1918; the former not until 1932, though it had at an early time become restricted to those planning to teach in elementary school. Many, indeed most, of the two-year certificate students later completed their work for a bachelor’s degree, chiefly through summer schools. If teachers in Delaware public schools, they were encouraged to continue by the assurance of making a higher salary once a degree was secured.99
Though fees were low–$200 for room and board, plus $60 tuition to non-Delawareans–the State Federation of Women’s Clubs setup a student loan fund in 1916. The amount in the fund never exceeded $10,000, but over $26,000 was loaned (since the sums were paid back and then loaned out again) to 174 students in less than thirty years. Many students helped meet expenses by working on campus. The rate paid in 1914 was ten cents an hour, and the most common jobs were in the dining hall, where the numerous applicants took turns working for a month or so each. Scholarships for teachers were provided in 1919 not only by individual donors but also by the Service Citizens of Delaware, a group financed by Pierre du Pont.100
As enrollment grew at the Women’s College the space available for students became cramped. The second dormitory, Sussex Hall, relieved the pressure briefly in 1918. At different times temporary quarters were found by renting nearby buildings, but in 1920 the Delaware School Auxiliary saved the day by erecting two frame structures on campus, each housing twenty-two girls. Theoretically temporary (though they remained in use for over thirty years), their rapid construction was recognized by the names they were given–Topsy and Boletus, the latter suggested by the artist Frank Schoonover from the name of a mushroom that springs up in the late summer. (A third such dormitory, constructed three years later, was called Turvy.) The same agency provided for an expansion of the dining hall and kitchen in the basement of Warner Hall to accommodate 180 persons, instead of the original 65. In all, including maintenance of Topsy and Boletus for one year, the Delaware School Auxiliary spent $52,141. Another facility added to the Women’s College properties in these early years was the Practice House, or Home Management House. This building on South College Avenue had served as the home of the Mitchell family, until The Knoll, at the corner of South College and Delaware Avenue, was bought for them in the fall of 1917. Successive groups of home economics majors lived in the Practice House after 1919, gaining experience in home management; here too they conducted a nursery school for pre-school children.101
Many of the social activities at the Women’s College were provided by student clubs, like the Glee Club, the Mandolin Club, the Dramatics Club, the Athletic Association (which sponsored interclass but not intercollegiate–competition), Forum (an international relations club founded in 1922 and connected to a series of such clubs sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation), and clubs connected with various departments of study. A chapter of the YWCA organized in the spring of 1915 enrolled almost all of the women and was the first religious organization on the WCO campus. In the early years all students were required to attend some Sunday morning’ church service (the one Jewish girl in the first class received permission to stay in her room and read in the Talmud), and on Sunday evening a chapel service, conducted by students, was held in Warner Hall; there was also a daily chapel service until 1925. (Daily "morning prayer" was abandoned at Delaware College in 1917, according to the catalogue.) On several occasions a few students became interested in starting a sorority, but the overwhelming majority of students, as well as the faculty, felt that sororities would be divisive, and they were banned from the campus for many decades.102
The organization of the Women’s College, with faculty living among the students and participating in many of their activities, and with William "Pop" Harrington, the somewhat less-than-tidy watchman, a one-man security force, locking everyone in at night, helped produce a high degree of collegiality among the resident students, at least. (The number of commuters varied, running at times as high as forty percent.) When the honor system on examinations was introduced in 1919 it was a notable success, lasting as long as the Women’s College did, whereas a similar honor system, introduced earlier at Delaware College with the encouragement of President Mitchell, though successful at first, broke down in time and was eventually abandoned at the request of students.103
A social committee of students arranged dances and get-togethers of various sorts. Many programs started in the early years became traditions at WCD. One such event was Founder’s Day, celebrated every October to mark the anniversary of the Women’s College and of the installation of Dean Robinson. Another was the May Day celebration, complete, after 1920, with a queen and her court, a May pole, skits, and dances. Thanksgiving Dinner and Christmas Dinner became special events. One unusual event was the Shakespeare Festival of April 28-29, 1916, commemorating the 300th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. The event was celebrated throughout Delaware; in Newark the two colleges and the community joined together in a rare case of town and gown cooperation. The English department, of which Sypherd was chairman, directed the program, which began with a procession of floats and costumed participants from the Women’s College to Frazer Field. Elizabeth Wilson, of Oaklands, granddaughter of Rathmell Wilson, as Queen Elizabeth presided over the events, which included folk songs, dances, and scenes from plays performed by college students. For two evenings Twelfth Night was performed in the Newark Opera House, with a junior, Irving Reynolds, ’17 (later a New York lawyer), playing Sir Toby Belch.104
Other uncommon events at WCD in the early years included the selection by Dean Robinson of what she called a "flying squadron" of eight students who were sent to high schools around the state to encourage girls to come to college. In November of 1917 the resident students and faculty at the Women’s College turned out to march in a temperance parade. Earlier that year the students voted to adopt as their alma mater a song with both words and music by Selma Bachrach, a member of the first class.105
Most of the publications of students at the Women’s College were quite distinct from those at Delaware College. WCD students contributed columns on their activities for the Wilmington and Newark papers and for two years after 1915 collaborated on the Review, which had just become a weekly. In 1917 they launched a newspaper of their own, the Women’s College Reporter. A yearbook, the Chronicle of 1918, was produced by the first class. Subsequently this book was usually called the Blue and Gold (though Cheemaun, from Longfellow’s Hiawatha, was the title in 1924) and was published every two years by the junior class, its publication alternating with that of the Blue Hen, published in alternate years by the junior class at Delaware College.106
Like most of the publications, the early commencements were separate, with Delaware College holding its graduation exercises in the morning (outdoors under the lindens after 1916) and the Women’s College in the afternoon. In 1918 ex-President William Howard Taft, who was then teaching law at Yale, spoke at the Delaware College exercises in the morning, and in the afternoon the Women’s College proudly graduated its first class, with its own guest speaker. Of the thirty members of this class, twenty-five were from Delaware and four from Maryland. Fifteen received the B.A. degree (thirteen in arts and science and two in education) and an equal number took the B.S. (nine in home economics, five in education, and one in agriculture).107
More teachers had been trained in the first four years than the seven students receiving degrees at this commencement; by this time three classes had completed work in the two-year certificate program. One program offered initially by the Women’s College that did not prove popular was the course in agriculture. Enthusiastic supporters of the Women’s College like Dean Hayward and members of the State Grange had thought that such subjects as home gardening, poultry raising, and similar interests of farm women would attract more students than they did. As a result of this lack of interest and possibly as a result of problems of chaperoning students the program in agriculture ceased to be offered at the Women’s College early in the 1920s, not long after Dean Hayward’s departure, after only two women had completed it–Ruth Clendaniel Bausman in 1918 and Helen Bancroft Thomas in 1920.
Besides seeing the graduation of the first Women’s College class, the 1918 commencement was notable because for the first time a woman was given an honorary degree. Two women were so honored at this time, Annie Jump Cannon, a native of Delaware who had won distinction as an astronomer at Harvard, and Violet Oakley, a Philadelphia painter who once studied under the Wilmington illustrator Howard Pyle.108 No woman had yet been added to the board of trustees, but it was in this year that the first approach was made to a woman who was to become one of the major influences on the physical development of the university.
The woman was Marian Cruger Coffin, a graduate landscape architect from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she was the only woman in a class of 500 in 1904. Blocked by prejudice when she sought employment, she opened her own office and began a very successful career. When Rodney Sharp suggested her name to Dean Robinson as a suitable person "to make the detail plan of our planting," she was not the first woman landscape architect to be employed at Delaware College. Elizabeth Bootes Clark, daughter of a Delaware graduate, was doing landscaping work on the campus in 1911-12 but the details of her work are unknown.
Marian Coffin was well known to Sharp and to his friend Henry Francis du Pont (who became a trustee in 1919) because of work she had done on the gardens of their estates, Gibraltar and Winterthur, near Wilmington. In fact, du Pont told Sharp he would contribute toward the expense of her work at Delaware, and the two men were undoubtedly influential in a board ruling in June 1920 that "all plantings of trees and shrubbery" should henceforth be under her supervision and "in accordance with [her] plans and specifications."109 For more than a quarter century thereafter Marian Coffin was intermittently occupied with the appearance of the Delaware campus, lending a romantic touch to the classical formalism of the plans of Day and Klauder. Elegantly and subtly she masked the junction of the discordant axes of the Women’s College campus and the main mall stretching southward from Main Street. She added, for instance, a grove of sycamores, elms, and walnut trees to the north campus east of Recitation Hall, and she provided honey locusts instead of elms for the WCD Campus.110
In the years of the Mitchell administration, a number of women were appointed to various staff positions at Delaware College–besides the appointments being made at the Women’s College; one suspects that in some cases opportunities were opened to women because men were drawn elsewhere by higher salaries or opportunities for special wartime service. Eleanor Todd, for example, was appointed registrar of Delaware College (with an office in Recitation Hall) in June 1915. A woman was appointed instructor in extension work in poultry husbandry in 1917. A year later a woman was appointed assistant chemist in the experiment station and another woman became an assistant in animal husbandry.111
A major change was made in the administrative structure of the institution in 1915 when E. Laurence Smith, the popular professor of modern languages, was made "Dean of the Arts and Science Courses in Delaware College." Thereafter he was listed in the catalogue as "Dean of Delaware College." Since President Mitchell was at the same time given leave to attend meetings of "the friends of Peace in America in different cities," it was important to have someone to preside over the faculty in an emergency during Mitchell’s frequent absences from campus. In the teaching functions of the agriculture departments Smith now had a priority over Dean Hayward, but this did not mean supervisory rights, and Smith had no power whatever over that part of Hayward’s domain that was the experiment station or the extension service–and he had not even a nominal priority over Dean Robinson. A further administrative change occurred at faculty request in 1917, when the engineering departments were given their own dean–Allan R. Cullimore, a graduate of MIT (in civil engineering), who was teaching in Toledo when Mitchell brought him to Delaware in 1916 to replace the retiring Frederic Robinson. All accounts agree that Cullimore was an excellent teacher. His departure in early 1920 to become dean and then president of the Newark (New Jersey) College of Engineering was a loss to Delaware.112
Essentially the institution now had the administrative structure that it retained until the Second World War: the Women’s College, under a dean, with faculty divided into departments but meeting together as an academic council; Delaware College, divided into three schools–each with a dean, but with the dean of arts and science having priority as dean of the college–with faculties divided into departments but meeting together on occasion as a school faculty or as the college faculty; and the experiment station and extension service, each with a professional staff that sometimes also had appointments on the faculty of the School of Agriculture.
One other necessary element in the administrative structure also appeared during the Mitchell presidency–a business office. The duties of this office had apparently been divided heretofore between the president of the college and the secretary-treasurer of the board of trustees, but the many building operations under way in 1917 (Harter Hall, Wolf Hall, Old College, Sussex Hall) led the buildings and grounds committee, of which Rodney Sharp had just become chairman, to hire William Langhorne as their assistant in charge of business management at $3,000 a year, more than Dean Smith was then paid. Langhorne left in a very short time, to be replaced by Arthur Wilkinson, a somewhat officious but efficient Englishman whom the students soon christened "Buzz" and who soon brought order out of what had apparently become near chaos. All income and all disbursements, including those of the station, the farm, and the Women’s College were to go through his office, although Dean Robinson’s approval was also required on all Women’s College matters.113
A number of important appointments were made in these years to the faculty. The department of education, established with the beginning of the Women’s College, was strengthened in 1916 by the appointment of George Counts as professor of psychology and education. He was director of the summer school and took charge of the preparation of teachers for the secondary schools, while Mary Rich concentrated on training teachers for the elementary schools until she left in 1920 to accept a position with the State Board of Education. When Counts, who was later to have a distinguished career at Teachers College of Columbia University, left in 1918, he was succeeded by William Wilkinson. Consideration was given for a time to constructing a model school on campus as a sort of laboratory for the teacher-training program, but in the end an arrangement was made to carry on practice teaching in the Newark public schools. The training of teachers was greatly encouraged by the numerous scholarships offered, particularly to those in the two-year program, by private donors and by the State Board of Education.114
Another new vocational department appeared when a professor of business administration was appointed in 1917, but there was little continuity and limited interest as yet in this field. Economics was intermittently taught in the history department, which received a notable, though young, addition in 1915 in the person of Kent Roberts Greenfield, fresh from graduate work at Johns Hopkins, where he had been a friend of Mitchell’s oldest son. Greenfield made an excellent reputation as a teacher in the five years before he left to go to Yale and, later, back to Hopkins, where he made his mark as the premier American authority on modern Italian history (the virtual founder of the field), as well as through his editorship of a series of histories of the U.S. Army in the Second World War.
More lasting in her influence was Quaesita Drake, a Vassar graduate who came to Delaware as an instructor in chemistry in 1917. After securing her doctorate at Chicago, Quaesita Drake was rapidly promoted to professor and chairman of the chemistry department at the Women’s College, where as a distinguished teacher, adviser, and committee woman for more than three decades she became the strongest member of the WCD faculty after the dean, whose loyal supporter she was. Professor Drake was highly respected at both ends of the campus and also through the state, where she was known as president of the Delaware branch of the American Association of University Women for two years, 1924-26.115 The Women’s College, incidentally, had departments of physical education, biology, and chemistry that were independent of similar departments at Delaware College. Home economics and art were departments that existed only at the Women’s College; other departments offering courses at the Women’s College, such as mathematics, history, English, and modern languages were shared with Delaware College and dominated by men, although the two last-named departments each had at least one woman member who taught only at WCD.
George (Dinty) Koerber, who came from Lafayette in 1913 as professor of electrical engineering, gave stability to that department for the next thirty years. A bachelor, he lived in Newark at the Washington House and became briefly famous for having the first radio on campus; this he operated in one of the three war-surplus wooden buildings that were erected on the space between Harter Hall and Delaware Avenue in 1919 for the benefit of the engineering departments, which had been previously crowded in Mechanical-Electrical Hall. Koerber’s domain, an old graduate testifies, "was the liveliest and most challenging environment day and night I ever lived in."116
When Dean Cullimore resigned he was succeeded as professor of civil engineering by Robert H. Thoroughgood and as acting dean of engineering by Firman Thompson, who had joined the faculty as station chemist and professor of agricultural chemistry in 1908. Bacteriology was a separate department under Charles C. Palmer, a veterinarian, who joined the faculty in 1917; because he initiated studies in cattle diseases, Henry F. du Pont, then more interested in milch cows than in antiques, paid part of his salary in 1920. Physics, taught by Guy E. Hancock, was separated from mathematics. Robert O. Bausman, who joined the staff as a county agent, and Louis Detjen began long terms of service in agriculture in the Mitchell years. After Professor Wolf’s death in 1909, Charles L. Penny, who had once served as chemist at the experiment station, was called back from Penn State as professor of chemistry, geology, and sanitary science, as well as state chemist, though he gave up the latter post before long. Lee Rose joined the staff as superintendent of grounds and buildings in 1915 and proved, as William Ditto Lewis wrote, to have "green thumbs on both hands" as he superintended much planting and transplanting.117
The Mitchell administration began in a vast outpouring of enthusiasm, as well as money, for the opening of the Women’s College and the enrichment–in personnel, programs, and facilities–of Delaware College. In the enthusiasm of the time it was thought proper for the college to develop new approaches to the people of Delaware–not just to prospective students, though these were especially cultivated by Dean Robinson. To reach graduates the Alumni News was published, beginning in 1915. Its course was not a steady one; published intermittently under various titles in the following years, it finally settled down to a regular schedule as the University News in 1935–to be succeeded eventually by the Blue Hen Messenger. In 1919 the agricultural extension division began publishing, in conjunction with the Farm Bureau, the Farm Bureau News, which changed its name to the Extension Service News in 1920.118
As president of the University of South Carolina Mitchell had made strenuous efforts to expand the usefulness of the university beyond the campus to all parts and peoples of the state and it was only to be expected that he would exhibit the same enthusiasm at Delaware College. It is "the function of a state college…to meet the educational need of the people in all feasible ways," declared a college bulletin issued in September 1915. "If you can’t come to Delaware College, Delaware College will come to you."
A beginning in such an extension of college programs had been made in the Harter administration, and in the year 1914-1915, which had, of course, been planned for before Mitchell came, 125 lectures had been presented before various groups throughout the state. Now more lectures than ever before were offered, everything from George Dutton’s "Cowboy Songs and Ballads" and Professor Ernest Vaughn’s "Social Life in Colonial Delaware" to Dr. Jacob Taubenhaus’s (of the station staff) "The Plant Doctor and His Mission" and Myrtle Caudell’s "Women as Spenders." But besides the lectures, the college announced its intention to establish extension centers where regular and systematic work with credit toward a degree could be offered by faculty members. It also planned essay and oratorical contests for high school students and hoped to make a debating coach, plus the college library, available to help encourage formation of debating clubs in the public schools. Not just yet, but in the future, there might be correspondence courses offered that could be taken at home. (Mitchell had secured approval of a correspondence course in South Carolina in 1910.)119
The war interfered with plans for academic extension. The agricultural extension service, supported by state and federal money, carried on, of course, and so did the home economics extension service. Elizabeth Jefferson, its first director, worked under the joint supervision of Dean Hayward and Dean Robinson, but after Hayward was gone rulings from Washington eliminated the Women’s College from sharing control of this service. President Mitchell hoped to develop an industrial extension program that would be as useful to the factories and mills of northern Delaware as the agricultural service was to the farms, but financial support was not forthcoming.120
At Delaware, as at South Carolina, Mitchell’s effectiveness on campus was somewhat diminished by the breadth of his interests off campus, as well as by his extraordinary kindness and gentility. When he taught a course in English history at the Women’s College, his students loved him. He made a great effort to learn to recognize every student on sight and succeeded fairly well. Early in his administration Mrs. Mitchell and he invited students from the Women’s College to dinner, generally two at a time, until all had been entertained. He tutored some of the men, invited them to his home when they were having serious problems, wrote to them when they left campus, especially when they went off in the army. He kept no copy of his letters, which probably were written longhand, but numerous replies exist which demonstrate that his concern was appreciated–such as a letter from young Captain John Wilson (Iron Mike) O’Daniel, `17, written at Longwy, France, on November 26, 1918, thanking Mitchell for two letters and describing the scene at the front on Armistice Day.121
"A plain country man and his wife" wrote to Mitchell anonymously on Christmas 1915, "You have a warmer place in our hearts than any one else ever connected with Delaware College….The genial manner with which you greet the public along the road is more appreciated than you will ever know." With four of the five Mitchell children still at home, the Mitchell family were very warm hosts. The Episcopal bishop of Delaware, retiring from his post and about to turn Catholic, told Mitchell, a plain Baptist, "there is no home in the State I should more like to see much of than yours." And a student leader, newly awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, thanked Mitchell for making him believe in himself, for saving him from the consequences of some misstep in his freshman year and giving him courage to carry on.122
But Mitchell was not so popular with the faculty as he was with the students. He was apparently a lax administrator who left the chores of running the college to others. He sought to rule students by love, not by fear of punishment for infringement of rules. To professors engaged in the mundane chores of campus life, grading papers, making out schedules, preparing lectures, Mitchell seemed to have his head in the clouds. And often he was away. He spoke at a convocation at the George Peabody College for Teachers, in Nashville, in June 1915; he was invited to speak at a similar function at the University of Chicago in 1916. He was a trustee of the Hampton Institute in Virginia, a member of a Provisional Jewish Emancipation Committee, of an International Committee of the YMCA, and of the Committee for Educational Extension of the Sulgrave Institution for Anglo-American Friendship. The Cooperative Educational Association, the League to Enforce Peace, the National Institution for Moral Instruction, the Mexican Cooperation Committee of One Hundred, the Southern Summer School for Social Service and Christian Workers, Chautauqua, and the League of Nations were among the organizations that gained his interest and support.123
Events like the student strike in November 1917 hurt Mitchell, who reposed great confidence in the good will and eventual good judgment of the students. He was troubled by the removal from direct contact with students that a busy executive schedule required. It was a strange fact that this man, brought to Delaware to be a full-time executive and to cure a situation in which the president was also busy as a professor, really preferred being in the classroom with a direct personal connection with students that a president could not have. He had hardly realized his own preference in his one year at the Medical College of Virginia or in his three years as active president of the University of South Carolina, disturbed as the latter period was by his persecution at the hands of a rabble-rousing governor. But at Delaware after four years he came to the conclusion that he missed the classroom and he missed the South. He was 54 in 1918; if ever he meant to return to teaching, that time could not be long delayed. Hearing, in January 1919, of a possible vacancy in the history chair at Richmond College, where he had spent many happy years, he inquired about it, but Richmond did not seem ready to fill the potential vacancy yet.124
In the following fall a problem arose regarding Dean Hayward, who had returned from a year’s leave in France in September. It is not clear what the trouble was. In his history, Vallandigham speaks of "friction of some years standing." Possibly the problem was foreshadowed in a letter Robert B. Wolf, ’96, son of Professor Wolf, addressed to Mitchell soon after his appointment: "There is a discordant factor," Wolf warned, "in Mr. Hayward…director of the experimental station, and a very strong effort was made by him in the first place to become president of the institution and in the second place to prevent the new president from having control of the station work…. Mr. Hayward is, in my opinion, an exceptionally good man in his work. He is, however, entirely unfitted for the presidency….You will find him a thoroughly capable director [but] unless he is handled pretty firmly from the start, instead of being a help he will be a source of constant irritation.125
Firm handling was not Mitchell’s way. Control over the farm, the experiment station, and agricultural extension work, besides the teaching duties of the School of Agriculture gave to Hayward a domain of his own that was potentially at least as independent as Dean Robinson’s world at the Women’s College. The two deans worked well together, as she testifies in her memoirs. Not only had he played a major role in setting up that college, before and after he became a member of the Women’s College Commission, but he continued to be cooperative. For example, when $400 was needed to buy bookcases for a library at the Women’s College, Dean Hayward met the emergency by selling a cow from the college herd.126
That difficulties between the director of the experiment station and the president of the college were endemic is indicated by the problems that had arisen between Dr. Neale and President Harter. The president had then turned out to have the stronger hand in the contest between them, and Neale had been dismissed. So it was now. Despite Hayward’s success in developing the agricultural enterprises of Delaware College–especially in attracting students–some unknown event triggered his dismissal in the fall of 1919. Suddenly, without explanation, the trustees, on November 25 of that year, requested Hayward’s resignation–at the unanimous motion of the executive committee. Unfortunately the minutes of that committee are lost.
On the same date a special committee, including the agriculture committee, three other trustees, President Mitchell, and two faculty members, was set up to report on the condition of the agricultural department and the experiment station. It reported at a special board meeting on February 21, 1920, but the report was kept so secret that no word of it is known to survive. The next board meeting, on March 6, authorized borrowing money to supply a deficiency of up to $3,000 in the budget of the experimental farm, but this deficiency seems hardly a sufficient sum to have led to Hayward’s dismissal. The same meeting saw an unusual event, a controversy over a revision of the by-laws, with a minority report, presented by ex-Congressman William Heald, ’83, adopted instead of the majority report presented by Chancellor Charles M. Curtis, ’77. But the issues in the controversy are unknown.
Apparently Dean Hayward’s resignation was received soon after it was requested on November 25. When the resignation and its acceptance were announced at a meeting of the agriculture committee on December 5, they set off a wave of speculation. President Mitchell, normally a very truthful man, was quoted by a newspaper as saying that Hayward’s action was "entirely voluntary." Perhaps in some strange way it could be so interpreted. Hayward, who had quickly secured a position with N.W. Ayer & Son, the large Philadelphia advertising agency, wrote the secretary-treasurer of the board that he regretted being "obliged to leave Delaware at this time" and wished he "might look forward to returning at some time in the future."127
Possibly there had been criticism of Hayward because of his great enthusiasm for horse racing (a graduate suggested this as a bare possibility), but if so none of it has survived. Contemporary newspapers emphasize friction between engineering and agriculture; one quotes Clarence Short, who had just resigned from a joint position in mathematics and engineering, as declaring that conditions had become unbearable, with money freely spent on agriculture while the needs of engineering were overlooked. There is also newspaper reference to "an ill-advised transfer" of funds and to the use of department funds in other ways than were intended.128
Whatever friction existed between agriculture and engineering may have been ended or at least ameliorated by Hayward’s resignation, followed quickly by that of Dean Cullimore, whose departure seems to have been wholly voluntary. But most of the agriculture staff–notably excluding Charles McCue, who had come as a horticulturist in 1907 and now was appointed to Hayward’s place, and A.E. Grantham, an agronomist, who resigned for a job in industry–petitioned the board of trustees to make every effort to retain Dean Hayward; so did the Agriculture Club. These petitions reached the agriculture committee of the board after Hayward’s resignation was accepted; not that their speedier delivery would have made any difference. A student petition asked for an investigation of the resignation. The State Grange, ever alert to problems involving the agriculture program, supported the students, and John Greiner, the prominent Baltimore engineer who was president of the Alumni Association, appointed a committee that came to campus and, using the Faculty Club as a headquarters, interviewed various people early in December. As usual in such investigations, long-smoldering grievances came to the surface, and many of them were, not unnaturally, directed against the president.129
Though no action–and, so far as is known, no request for action–arose from the alumni investigation, the frank opinions that were expressed turned what had purportedly begun as a defense of Dean Hayward into an attack on President Mitchell–much as President Purnell had been injured by a similar investigation of a faculty member three decades earlier. All of the president’s faults of omission or commission, real or imagined, were exposed, including his failure to exert any tight control over the faculty and staff and particularly "his inclination," as Edward Vallandigham put it, "to deal too gently with erring students." His unwillingness to take responsibility, according to the same commentator, forced Arthur Wilkinson, the business manager, to go directly to the board on several occasions.130
The criticism must have stung Mitchell to the quick. He unquestionably had the confidence of the strongest members of the board, but, as one of his sons wrote, "a check to his progress threw him off stride [as it had in South Carolina], and he preferred to bow out of a situation in which his critics had been vocal." He was moreover genuinely "eager to return to teaching…his special gift." The classroom, along with the lecture platform, had been the scene of his greatest successes and after ten years of administrative cares and worries "he was hungry to get back to it."131
At this critical moment the correspondence with Richmond College initiated a year earlier was resumed. On December 22 a Richmond friend wrote to inquire about Mitchell’s continued interest in "the matter about which we last spring had a conversation and some correspondence." Indeed Mitchell was interested now. When his friends in Richmond heard this, they moved rapidly to win him back, offering a salary of $5,000, beyond that of any other professor. His old church begged him to take up again instruction of a Bible class that had fallen off in attendance since he left in 1909. His resignation was announced on March 26, 1920.132
And then Delaware considered what it was losing. The six years of Mitchell’s presidency had marked great advances for Delaware College. A reactivated alumni body, and particularly that most loyal of Delaware alumni, Rodney Sharp, deserved great credit. So did Emalea Warner and Winifred Robinson and the band of devoted women and their male supporters who had enabled all the women of Delaware at last to have an opportunity for higher education in their home state. Not least deserving of credit was Pierre S. du Pont, whose awakened interest in public education had led him to provide financial support for most of the improvements made north of the Women’s College since 1914, and to do it for the most part anonymously.
When Mitchell was asked in 1919 to note the achievements of his administration he mentioned some items neglected in this chapter, such as the annual publication of a treasurer’s report, the raising of entrance requirements by requiring graduation from a four-year high school, provisions of expenses, under certain conditions, for teachers attending summer school (for which he thanked Governor John G. Townsend, Jr., and his secretary of state, Everett Johnson), the strengthening of the English department by additional appointments, a state high school conference held annually in connection with an interscholastic track and field meet, concentration of numerous events–alumni and alumnae reunions, a meeting of the board of trustees, and a public meeting with a prominent speaker–on the Saturday nearest Washington’s Birthday. He noted other developments that have received attention; the new development plan for the campus, the construction of Wolf Hall and Harter Hall, the reconstruction of Old College, the purchase of The Knoll as a president’s home, establishment of an infirmary, separation of physics from mathematics, acquisition of a business manager, of a department of education, and of a professor of economics and business administration, creation of new deanships of arts and science and engineering, and some increase in salaries, though he was not satisfied with what had been done in this regard.133
There was more to be said than Mitchell thought of or chose to mention. For instance, the campus had been greatly expanded by purchase of what they then called the Green; the Women’s College had not only been opened since Mitchell arrived, but successfully conducted and even physically enlarged by construction of Sussex Hall and acquisition of the Practice House (and if Mitchell preferred to leave credit for these developments to Dean Robinson, he was at least her collaborator); a student loan fund and a faculty pension fund had been instituted, and the endowment fund greatly enlarged. Mitchell, thanks to his enthusiasm and his willingness to join movements, attend meetings, make speeches, had helped give Delaware College a national visibility it had never known before. And before leaving, he planned a project that his successor took up with enthusiasm–the idea of constructing a new memorial library.
In November 1918 Mitchell suggested to Rodney Sharp "that a Memorial Library at the College" would be a fitting commemoration of the Delaware men and agencies (like the Red Cross) "that have shared in the victory of right….Used by both colleges," Mitchell prophesied, "it would be the dynamo of the whole institution." Its "commemorative purpose would be the soul of the library," which "would dominate the whole development by reason of its central position and universal use." Alcoves and tablets could bear the names of those commemorated and would be better than marble or bronze monuments scattered through the state. Perhaps private individuals would join the legislature in financing it.134
As far as is known the idea of the new library serving as a state memorial was original with Mitchell. The library itself was part of the first plans drawn up by Day and Klauder; the first extant copy of these plans, printed in a "Commencement Supplement" on June 14, 1916, shows a library precisely where the Memorial Library was finally built, and it is also here on all subsequent plans.135
Clearly the rickety old tavern-turned-printing plant at the corner of South College Avenue and Main Street that was being used as a library would not suit the new Delaware College, in appearance or in capacity, though Professor Sypherd, who functioned also as librarian, was utilizing his connections with the Sons of Delaware, a Philadelphia organization of Delaware expatriates, to beg substantial additions to its somewhat meager holdings. In November 1919, a year after Mitchell suggested the library as a war memorial, he listed the library as one of the major needs of Delaware College, along with an engineering building, another dormitory, and endowed professorships.136
But Mitchell was not to stay to see the completion of his vision for Delaware. He told the Review he thought "the future path…so well defined that his successor [would] have no difficulty following it." He expected to have not more than ten years of educational activity left, and he was "determined to spend his remaining years in his native South." (He had more than ten years; blessed with good health, he taught at Richmond until 1945, retiring finally at 77.) The student body, when he was leaving, was saddened to realize that they were losing a very good friend. They had ridiculed some of his attitudes and statements, as when he told them an 89-0 football defeat by Pennsylvania was a great moral victory, but they appreciated his personal interest in them.137
The editor of the Review wrote Mitchell that "whenever I think of…the Delaware College I knew my thoughts shall be dominated by the thought of the one man for whom I shall always have a deep sense of love and gratitude." Rodney Sharp wrote, "I have formed an attachment to you that I shall always cherish," and within a decade he marked that attachment in the name of the auditorium he built for the college. Henry Ridgely, the acute though blind Dover attorney, noted that Mitchell was a man of high ideals whose success at Delaware was "proved by facts which are plain and outstanding," and he added, "I have not known a single occasion when you showed any narrowness or selfishness."138