Westminster College during the late '60's and early '70's- Part II
By Elaine Brown
In part I, readers were given an historical overview of Westminster College, a comparison of student statistics then and now, a picture of its former more spacious campus, and an overview of its past Presbyterian affiliation and Christian emphasis.
Given the small number of Westminster students during the late1960's, most classes (except for required core classes) were small, giving students a unique personal academic experience and opportunity to mingle socially with faculty on a regular basis.
Dr. John D. Telecky, Head of Westminster's Education Department had high expectations for his students, clearly in academic matters, but also in attire. Education majors were expected to 'dress for success' while attending Education classes. For male students, that meant dress slacks, shoes, shirt and tie; for female students it meant a knee length (not mini) dress or skirt, stockings, and two-inch heels.
Another popular, quintessential-tweeds, jaunty cap, mustache, pipe and intellectual persona--professor, who shall remain nameless, was frequently seen chatting informally with small groups of students on the spacious Westminster grounds or in the break room. Majors in his discipline soared during his brief, but influential tenure, but as suddenly as his rise to popularity had been, the ever-present professor was soon a 'real no-where man.'
Rumor had it that rather than a doctorate in his professed academic area of expertise, his credentials actually consisted of a mail order doctor of divinity degree that, upon discovery, caused the once ever-present professor to disappear. That departure prompted a tongue-in-cheek tweaking of Abe Lincoln's statement relevant to the absentee professor, 'You can fool some of the people all of the time, all of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time,' in Westminster's student newspaper, The Parson.
Overall Assessment of Westminster in the late 60's
The late 60's was a great period of time for students at small liberal arts colleges, like Westminster-a unique opportunity to become involved and interact personally with practically all other students and faculty. Unfortunately, many of those colleges became anachronisms and closed their doors for financial or curriculum relevancy-related reasons in the years that followed.
Curriculum relevancy at Westminster during that period was high overall, particularly in its Education and Nursing Programs, which had excellent reputations. Moreover, a review of alumni during from that same period reflects overall career success among most Westminster graduates, many of whom successfully pursued advanced degrees as well, demonstrating that, overall, Westminster did offer a quality academic program, relevant for the times.
Westminster College survived the 1970's, though clearly in a different manifestation. In 1974, it dropped its affiliation with the Presbyterian Church including its 'Parson' mascot. In 1979, Athletics were also dropped, for financial reasons. Though many of those programs were reinstated, football, considered a college institution by some, was not.
Westminster's current academic program has expanded to include more career-focused curriculum, related internships, and graduate programs. New buildings including an expanded library have also been added. Friends and benefactors of the college have been generous with their donations in an effort to ensure its future.
Westminster is also reaching out to improve its community relations. Its geographic expansion has been met with mixed reviews. Encroachment into the surrounding residential area has not been well accepted, though most, but not all area residents are enthusiastic about Westminster's, pending construction in progress, move into the Sugar House business district. Clearly its future is more certain today than it was in the early 1970's.