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September 08, 1983 - Image 41

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1983-09-08

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The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 8, 1983- Page 9.B
Old profs sa smaller 'U, was better

Quietly living on campus are a few former
University students, who became University
professors and who are currently retired
emeritus professors. They are living en-
cyclopedias of what freshman life was like in
the early 1900s. Adelaide Adams, Carlton
Wells, and Warner Rice remember when the
University survived with only one building
and they explain why the campus was better
When Adelaide Adams came to the
University in 1916, she would have
never dreamed of asking a boy on a
date. The bright-eyed freshwoman
from Battle Creek, Michigan could only
hope the boy she had a crush on would
notice her.
Maybe he'd carry her books or take
her out for a dime soda at Drake's, but
call him? "Heavens no!"
LOOKING DAINTY and prim among
the few women on campus, Adams
would wear a long dress, pill box hat,
gloves, and black high-top shoes to
plass every day. Perhaps the formal
attire would catch the eye of a young
freshman, clad in suit and tie with his
hair neatly cropped.
Dressing up wasn't just for flirting-it
was mandatory under the University's
htrict dress code for women. Compared
to the "scandalous" clothes students
wear today, Adams, 87, said she
prefers the old rules and regulations
she grew up with.
"Walking through the diagoial, I am
feally shocked by the students today.
Some of the clothes they wear are
really scandalous," said Adams, an
emeritus professor of art history.

THE "SCANDALOUS" garb includes
dungarees - especially those with holes,
mini skirts, and ragged backpacks
hanging from students' shoulders, said
Adams, surrounded by treasured
scraps and pictures in her apartment 18
floors above downtown Ann Arbor.
Adams has watched the University
change from a small-town school with
less than 6,000 students in 1916, to a
multi-campus operation for 35,000
students and more than 15,000 em-
Adams made University history as
the first woman instructor in the art
history department, yet she doesn't pay
much attention to equal rights.
Although it took her 44 years, doing a lot
of "dirty work" in the department
before earning tenure and the rank of
associate professor, Adams said she
never felt discriminated against
because she was a woman.
"I DIDN'T think men treated us un-
fairly," she said. "I never felt abused.
"I loved what I was doing and I was
happy to get paid for it. I thought I was
mighty lucky to be hired by the Univ&-
sity, otherwise I would have been
teaching Latin in some small town high
But the University's attitude toward
women, since the first 34 were allowed
to enroll in 1870, was that females were
"corrupt and evil," and must be con-
trolled so they didn't damage the
school, said University historian Peter
"THE THEORY WAS if you control
the women, what the hell can the men
do?," said Ostafin, 75, an emeritus
associate director of housing.
And the University adopted many
stringent regulations to back this
theory. Women were banned from
walking in the front door of the
Michigan Union. This prevented the
building from somehow being "defiled"
by female presence, said another
emeritus professor.
Although men had to contend with a
campus-wide prohibition on drinking
alcohol or owing a car, women were
denied the simple pleasure of smoking
a cigarette.
living off campus and had a 10 p.m. cur-
few. Like other women students in 1916,
Adams lived in a rooming house which
was tightly supervised by both the
University and a stern landlady.
Landladies were reluctant to take
women boarders because of the extra
supervision the University required to
control the corrupt gender. Women
were usually charged higher room
rates than men to pay for the lan-
dladies' policing service.
Adams never questioned the rules.
She let the landlady know where she
was going and of course, never enter-
tained any male visitors.
There were two women's dormitories
in 1916, Helen Newberry and Martha
Cook, and 58 rooming houses which
were controlled by the University deans
for men and women. Joseph Bursley,
the first dean for men students, along
with the first two deans of women,
Eliza Mosher and Myra Beach Jordan,
pushed for more University residence
halls, since many rooming houses were
in shabby condition with poor heating
and little space.
Students in 1916 ate meals cheaply at
town boarding houses such as Chubb's
or Freeman's on State Street.
"Believe it or not, you got three
meals a day with two on Sunday for
$5.50 a week," Adams said.
ALTHOUGH $5.50 sounds cheap, a
dollar was worth six times as much in
1916 as today. Struggling to pay room,
board, and tuition, most students had

Emeritus Art History Prof. Adelaide Adams, 87, was a student at the
University student in 1916 (center) and graduated in 1920 (left) Adams wore

a long dress, hat gloves and black high-top shoes to class in 1916. Students
today dress "scandalously." according to Adams.

pact when Wells was a student and
most classes were within a few yards of
University Hall, the main building on
campus, which was replaced by Angell
Hall in 1925.
Although students in 1916 didn't have
the luxury of fat, cushioned chairs or
electric screens that magically fall
down to enlighten crowded, 300-student
lectures, they did have some similar
problems--such as deciding on a major.
Wells remembers groping to find a
major during the four years at the
University and he studied several dif-
ferent areas.
"LIKE MANY OTHER freshmen, I
was uncertain as to what I was going to
do," said Wells, his quiet voice pausing
slightly between precisely spoken wor-
ds. "But I also didn't like to say, 'I
don't know' when asked what I was
majoring in.
"That looked, to a freshman at any
rate, a little weak or stupid to come to
the University and not know."
After two semesters of Chemistry
Wells concluded that going to lab was
"a bore," and he wasn't suited for a
science career, despite his high marks
in the courses.
have to be as much an engineer as a
chemist. Well I couldn't even repair
my bicycle and to this day I can't drive
a car," he said.
Wells also tried economics, taking an
introductory accounting class taught by
a 90-year-old professor who was
"probably to the right of Reagan." But
a business career was also a dead end.
THE CLASSES HE most enjoyed
were the required freshman rhetoric
courses and two semesters working as
a reporter for the Michigan Daily. It
was a "flip of the coin" that Wells was
able to find a teaching job at a small
high school after graduating in 1920
with an English degree.
Wells returned to the University in
1921 as an English instructor and is still
considered one of the University's top
professors of literature and writing.
In addition to teaching, Wells was a
coordinator of Phi Beta Kappa with
Adelaide Adams for more than 10
years. He was also a faculty advisor for
the Cosmopolitan Club, a predecessor
to the International Center for foreign
students, through which he met his wife
Cecilia, a student from Poland.
WELLS' extracurricular in-
terests, especially his passion for
golf, got him into trouble with Univer-
sity supervisors. After winning a state
amateur golf tournament in 1923, Wells'
picture appeared in the Daily with the
caption: "Rhetoric is his sideline."
Following his victory, the head of the
English department had a talk with
Wells about his "outside interests."
"Some of my colleagues and cer-
tainly the dean of the college took (the
caption) seriously and thought I was
spending too much time on my ex-
tracurricular interests," he said.
But winning the tournament gave
him a nleasing "taste of success."

that professors today get paid more for
doing less.
When Rice joined a teaching staff of
745 .at the University in 1929, he was
paid about$2,400 a year for at least nine
hours of classes a week and spent
evenings grading papers.
TODAY WITH ALMOST 3,000 faculty
members and 6,000 administrators,
professors average $36,000 a year for
teaching about three hours a week and
employing teaching assistants to grade
papers, Rice said.
As the University expanded, it "made
every mistake possible," to fragment
the campus, said Rice, who earned a
doctorate in English at Harvard
"In the early days, a student only had
to go a few yards to get to another
class," he said. "They didn't have to
hike across the campus or take a bus to
North Campus.
just as a community breaks down into
villages. You've got the engineers who
want to make one village over on North
Campus. The law school is a village on
its campus. And it is the same with the
School of Business Administration."
During the 1930s there was more in-
timacy between students and
professors. Students, faculty, and ad-
ministrators shared Angell Hall, where
there were both offices and classroms.
Trudging to class in the morning,
students could see University President
Alexander Ruthven walking to his of-
fice in Angell Hall.
"BUT NOW, YOU see, the captains
never walk the ship," Rice said. "A
good captain goes around through the
ship every once in a while."
When administrators moved their of-
fices from the central location on cam-
pus to the "salmon loaf" (LSA
building), the University began to
spread out and disintegrate, Rice said.
Today, students rarely see ad-
ministrators whose offices are secluded
on Jefferson and Thompson streets
away from central campus, he said.
"As the deans get out of the building
they are supposed to be in charge of,
there is nobody in charge--so the
University is a slum. It's dreadful," he
said. "There is a complete loss of
"You go through the fishbowl and you
see the illegal and unsanitary sale of
food. You see the whole place plastered
with posters and graffiti like in the New
York City subway cars. This is not a
proper academic atmosphere.
"The University officers don't live in
a building all scarred with graffiti--they
leave that to the people who use the
library;"he quipped.
Tf n- inet-tn- . 1 t,.,_..., ..


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