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  February 23, 2004

A Piece of UConn History
A Year of Anniversaries - 2004

120 Years Ago
1884: The second graduating class of Storrs Agricultural School consisted of six boys, who heard the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher speak at Commencement in June. The cost of room and board went up in 1884 from $2.50 per week to $3.59. In addition to living quarters and meals, the cost included all laundry, plus fuel for heating and kerosene for lighting.

110 Years Ago
1894: Three students were the first women to graduate from what was then known as Storrs Agricultural College. The three had begun taking classes informally in 1891, and the legislature made their attendance official in 1893. This was also the year the first student government was formed at the college. Known as the Students' Organization, it consisted of nine elected students "who shall confer with the faculty upon matters of the government of the college"; A student literary society formed in 1892 changed its name to the College Shakespearean Club; in the 1930's it became the Theta Sigma Chi fraternity. Always known as "the Shakes," the fraternity disbanded in the early 1990's.

105 Years Ago
1899: In its second name change in less than 20 years, Storrs Agricultural College became Connecticut Agricultural College. Concern among the surviving Storrs family led to a legislative act requiring that any library built be named the Storrs Memorial Library. However, in 1939 the legislature approved an act giving naming authority to the Board of Trustees, and when the first stand-alone library building opened that year, it was named for Gov. Wilbur Cross. Storrs Hall, a dormitory built in 1905, was named for the College's founder, Augustus Storrs.

95 Years Ago
1909: The General Assembly appropriated $10,000 for the college to improve the road between Storrs and the Eagleville train station, now known as North Eagleville Road.

90 Years Ago
1914: With federal adoption of the Smith-Lever Act, the Extension Service was created; CAC's program later became known as the Cooperative Extension System. Curriculum reforms begun in 1911 were completed and the college now had a true "college" curriculum; applicants also were required to have a high school diploma for admission. Also in 1914: the wood-frame Gold Hall, a men's dormitory built in 1890, was destroyed by fire; the semi-monthly Connecticut Campus replaced the monthly Lookout as the student newspaper; and the college acquired its first "auto-bus" as a shuttle to train stations and other off-campus points. The vehicle held 16 riders.

85 Years Ago
1919: Grove Cottage, built in 1896 as the first dormitory for women, was destroyed by fire. It was located approximately on the site of Beach Hall, which was constructed in 1928.

A tea party hosted by Louise C. Beach, around 1920.
Women of Storrs, including students and children, attend a tea party hosted by Louise Crombie Beach (center, standing behind table), wife of President Charles L. Beach. Mrs. Beach, much loved by the college community, died after a brief illness in 1924.

A detail closeup from the photograph shows Mrs. Beach standing at center, behind the table. The gathering is on the porch of the Valentine House, formerly the Storrs family homestead, which was acquired by the University around 1920. It faced west on Route 195 and stood in front of what is now Whitney Hall.
A closeup of Louise Crombie Beach

80 Years Ago

1924: The campus was saddened by the death of Louise Crombie Beach, wife of Connecticut Agricultural College President Charles Lewis Beach. She had broken her leg in a fall a few months earlier, but during her recovery she contracted pneumonia and died on Jan. 28. The Feb. 1 issue of the Connecticut Campus said: "The death of Mrs. Beach came as a shock to the community of Storrs. She had made for herself a host of friends, not only in the community but among the faculty and students of the college as well. Mrs. Beach was in love with Storrs. She was interested in the students and their activities. Her home was always open to the college, its alumni and friends. In her death the community lost a valued friend." President Beach, who had bought several paintings to cheer his wife during her recovery, continued to add to the art collection. He presented it to the college as the "Louise Crombie Beach Memorial Collection," and it became the core of the University's permanent art collection.

75 Years Ago
1929: Old Main, a three-story wooden-frame building that had served as the central administration building, dining hall, library, faculty apartments, and classrooms and auditorium, was torn down. It was replaced by a new administration and science classroom building named for President Charles L. Beach, who had retired the previous year. The first offices, including the president, the registrar, the extension service, and the college business manager, moved from Old Main to Beach Hall on Feb. 15 and 16, 1929.

70 Years Ago
1934: With its name change a year earlier, the college was now known as Connecticut State College. No longer known as "the Aggies," sports teams were called "Connecticut Statesmen." In fall 1934, after students kidnapped the ram mascot of football rival Rhode Island, a Connecticut Campus contest resulted in the selection of the Husky as the college mascot. Although he was not named until the next year, the first "Jonathan" Husky, a brown and white dog, arrived in Storrs in December 1934.

Edwina Whitney, college librarian since 1901, retired in 1934 and received the college's first honorary degree. Born in 1868, she continued as a prominent member of the Storrs community until her death in 1970.

Also in 1934, Professor E.L. Jungherr, an animal pathologist in the Department of Animal Diseases, published the results of his pioneering research on the role of viruses in poultry diseases. He would become the world's leading authority on the histopathology of avian diseases.

65 Years Ago:
1939: New additions to the campus included Edwina Whitney Hall, the Wilbur Cross Library, and what would later become known as the Castleman Engineering Building. On May 26, Gov. Raymond Baldwin signed legislation changing the name of CAC to The University of Connecticut, and in the fall of that year, the University opened its first extension center in Hartford – later to become the Greater Hartford regional campus.

60 Years Ago:
1944: Two weeks after D-Day on the French coast, President Albert Jorgensen delivered his annual commencement address with the title “Forming a Beachhead for Peace.” Also in 1944, Dean of Women Mildred French imposed new disciplinary rules regarding the growing trend of hitchhiking. Women students who were founded to have hitched a ride faced suspension or expulsion. The practice of “thumbing a ride” was considered to reflect badly on the University and endanger students’ safety. Women were asked to face traffic as they walked along roads so that they would not be unjustly accused.

55 Years Ago:
1949: Temporary wooden barracks and Quonset huts that had housed the hugh influx of ex-service men and women from World War II were now being replaced with brick dormitories. The first was North Campus, with residences named for Connecticut’s eight counties. In the late spring, about 800 students who received bills for “excess of normal wear and tear” in the new dormitories built a bonfire and staged a protest. President Albert Jorgensen, who is said to have climbed a utility pole (or stood on the seat of a convertible, depending on the source), used a bullhorn to address the all-male mob when they marched to his house. Jorgensen agreed to cancel the bills.

The University awarded the first three Ph.D.’s in 1949.

45 Years Ago:
1959: A boom in campus building during the later part of the Jorgensen presidency was nearing completion. The year would see the opening of more than a half-dozen academic buildings, including Arjona, Monteith and the Fine Arts buildings. Also that year, the last of the original “new” campus buildings from 1890, the Agricultural Experiment Station, and which had been moved in the 1940s, was torn down to make way for the Torrey Life Sciences Building.

40 Years Ago:
1964: A 25 th anniversary celebration was held to mark the signing of the bill that turned Connecticut State College into The University of Connecticut. The year also saw creation of the University Foundation to handle private fund-raising activities; and President Homer Babbidge and other University officials moved into the newly renovated Gulley Hall from their former offices in the Budds Building. Trustees approved a proposed Health Center, 106-acre, seven-building complex for a site in Farmington, and the School of Law moved into new facilities on the Greater Hartford Campus.

35 Years Ago:
1969: At the height of nationwide protests over the Vietnam War and ongoing struggles for civil rights, four faculty members were placed on probation after being charged with disrupting classes in anti-war activities. Also that year, the Center for Black Studies was established, and the first year of its activities saw 1,500 students enrolled in 40 sections of 15 black studies courses. The University also began to give accelerated attention to the recruitment of blacks and other under-represented groups. A report to trustees noted that in the first 78 years of its history, the University had hired “perhaps three or four” black faculty members. In 1969, the University had 23 black administrators and 18 black faculty members.

30 Years Ago:
1974: Due to discontent among students, the contract with a private firm for management of the University bookstore was cancelled, and plans to start a cooperative bookstore were begun. Also in 1974, an administrative re-organization, ordered by President Glenn W. Ferguson, resulted in replacing the provost system of the past 34 years with a cabinet of four vice presidents. Protests over the need for larger facilities for the African American Cultural Center, the planned appearance of a controversial speaker on the topic of human genetics, and proposed changes in the anthropology department, result in a number of black students taking over the Wilbur Cross Library for a day.

25 Years Ago:
1979: John A. DiBiaggio, vice president for health affairs at the UConn Health Center, became the tenth president of the University of Connecticut. Also in 1979, “end of the world” parties patterned after the on-screen antics of the movie “Animal House” resulted in thousands of dollars of damage in one dormitory alone. Students spread garbage, burned dorm furniture, books and trash in bonfires, smashed water fountains with sledgehammers, and commit other acts of vandalism. Students were charged for the damage and not permitted to graduate or re-enroll unless they paid the bill.

The University community also was angered and horrified by a vicious attack on a woman graduate student who was jogging on campus during daylight hours. A metanoia – day of reflection – was held later in the year to protest violence, racism, sexism and harassment of homosexuals.

20 Years Ago:
1984: Former University president Homer D. Babbidge died on March 27 at the UConn Health Center where he had been received cancer treatments. Gov. William O’Neill said in a statement that under Babbidge, UConn had gained “national recognition as one of the finest institutions of higher education in the country.” A strong believer in public-supported higher education, Babbidge was president from 1962 to 1972. After Babbidge announced his resignation from UConn in October of 1971, more than 7,000 students signed a petition asking him to reconsider. Shortly before his death, he was awarded an honorary degree by the University, and in 1985, the University library that was planned during his tenure, was named in his honor.

5 Years Ago:
1999: Ray Neag, a UConn alum, donated $23 million to the University, with. $21 million targeted for the School of Education and the remaining funds for the Health Center. At the time it was the largest single contribution in the University's history, the largest to a school of education in the country and the largest gift to an institution of higher education in New England. On June 10, a UConn research team of animal scientists announced the birth of the first cloned calf from an adult farm animal in the United States. Amy, a Holstein heifer, was delivered by C-section at the University's Kellogg Dairy Center. Amy's birth is especially significant because she is the first successfully cloned animal from non-reproductive related cells.

Also in 1999, the UConn men’s basketball team defeated Duke 77 to 74 to win the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship.

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