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