Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Stephens: A Look Back - 1947

It’s 1947 and the end of an era at Stephens College.

President James Madison Wood’s is celebrating his 35th and final year at the helm. He writes: “My final word to you, then, as Stephens women, is to hold true to your purpose—and to your ideals. You will live in a world beset with problems and needs. Your contribution to that world is indispensable if it is to rebuild itself into some semblance of order and goodness. Where men have failed, in their dependence on dollar diplomacy, you will not fail. My faith in you sustains and supports my faith in the future.”

President James Madison Wood bids ado to Stephens College as he boards a plane for London.
The staff of the 1947 Stephensophia devotes a section to his legacy, writing: “Love, leadership, laughter, loyalty. For thirty-five years, James Madison Wood has brought these qualities in full measure to the thousands of Stephens girls who have passed in and out of the campus gateways. He has invested his life in the lives of students and has given himself wholeheartedly to the direction of their minds and hearts toward the goal of better living…No girl, whether she was the first to enroll in 1912 or the last senior to receive her diploma in 1947, will ever forget his humble, patient, loving kindess.”

Dr. Homer Rainey will succeed him. Raney served as president of the University of Texas-Austin from 1939 to 1944. In 1946, he ran an unsuccessful campaign for governor of Texas. At Stephens, he’ll enjoy a nearly decade-long tenure as president.

The Stephens community this year also had to say goodbye to Basil Deane Gauntlett, who served as director of the Stephens College Conservatory from 1909 until his passing in 1946. Gauntlett was a pianist who performed across the country and a beloved member of the faculty, according to tributes left to him in the yearbook.

The 1947 Stephensophia is built around the idea of the United Nations and it’s potential for the future. 

There’s even a letter from Warren R. Austin—a U.S. Senator from Vermont and 2nd U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.—from his U.N. office in New York addressed to the “Girls of Stephens College.” He writes: “Just as the combined power and effort of all people are required to defeat the common enemy during the war, it will take the devoted interest of people in every country to defeat the much more destructive common enemies of hunger, disease and ignorance. We now have the United Nations through which to wage this struggle. We must face the future with good will, with patience, with vision; we must face it with a full sense of our responsibility as world citizens. We must face it with the knowledge that ours is the era which can fulfill the ancient dream of a world where men may live as brothers and work for the good of all.”

A World Federation Committee is formed at Stephens to sponsor and promote interest and understanding in the U.N.

There’s also a new course in international relations under the Division of Social Studies. The goal is to promote a greater understanding of present situations and problems of international scope.  The faculty, pictured below, is dedicated to helping women become “the best possible citizens.” (Today, that would include not smoking pipes on campus!)

The Occupations Division aims to deliver “an education for making a living.” Today, that’s how many people view college in general. But the faculty understood the broader scope of liberal arts education. “A careful study has been made of those occupations for which women are especially fitted by temperament, aptitude and experience. As rapidly as possible, programs are developed for specific training of women in these selected vocations. It is recognized, however, that occupational interests occupy only a small part of the total time available to an individual. Therefore, students taking courses in the Division of Occupations are urged to elect as much work as possible in other divisions in order to prepare themselves to meet their numerous personal and social responsibilities.”

Attention is returning to a campus fund to build a new chapel—which began eight years ago but was stalled because of the war. The chapel, of course, will become Firestone Baars, which students (and brides) still enjoy today.

Jo Glatt
Jo Glatt is president of the Civic Association this year. She would go on to become Jo Standish-Lee, a bronze life master at bridge, world traveler, mom, grandma and “elegant woman who lived life to the fullest,” according to her 2013 obituary.

There’s a page dedicated to democracy, saying “Democracy did not ‘happen’ to Stephens. It grew out of the basic philosophy on which the College is founded. Its primary educational goal is the development of individual personality…When we say that our campus is a democratic campus, we mean that every girl is granted the necessary ‘elbow room’ to expand her interests and develop her fullest capabilities, that every girl is challenged with the responsibility of governing herself and helping to govern others for the best interest of all; that every girl, under a system of democratic representation, lives under her own jurisdiction in a free community governed by the will of free citizens.”

There’s a new fashion club for students with an eye toward interesting students in choosing proper clothing, promoting fashions of good taste and learning more about nationally known designers.

The Prince of Wales Club has changed its rules for admissions. Women no longer have to fall off of a horse before being invited. Now, to qualify, women have to be able to put a horse through three gaits, bridle and saddle a horse and pass a written test on breeds, aids and gaits. The club his year attended an American Royal Horse Show.

Phyllis Terry
The yearbook includes letter form the senior class written by Syril Levingson—fitting as Stephens just sent another group of graduates into the world. She writes: “During our two years at Stephens, we have acquired an understanding of the truths of experience; we have developed a truer sense of values; we have gained independence in judgment; we have discovered a new spiritual wealth and made it a living part of us. We feel in our hearts the full joy of achievement, which tempers our sadness in leaving Now as we place our diplomas among our Stephens treasures, we feel we have passed the introductory tests and are ready for the next step toward mature responsibility. Whatever our new situations may be, we know that our success will depend on the way in which we use our Stephens heritage.”

Marjo Langrell
Some notable Stephens women this year include Phyllis Terry, now Phyllis Sandel, who reminded us a few years ago on Facebook that her mom was Class of '23, her daughter was Class of '77 and granddaughter was the Class of '12. This year, Terry is involved in the World Federation Committee.

Elizabeth Murphy
Elizabeth Murphy is editor of the Stephens Standard. She studied journalism and aviation and went in to serve in the Civil Air Patrol, traveling throughout Europe, before working as a copywriter in Detroit.

And Marjo Langrell represents the Ideal of Cheerfulness this year. She went on to become Marjo Price, a longtime friend of Stephens and recipient, along with her husband, Al, of the 2011 Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Citizen Award.

Stephens has its eye on the future this year. The annual faculty show was all about the “Flying Sixties”—what life, and Stephens, will be like in the 1960s. Stephens, they predict will be “a truly incredible school whose students think nothing of hopping into their planes (jet propelled, naturally) and streaking back and forth across the world to get their knowledge ‘on the spot.’ No corner of the globe is too remote for these intrepid Susies of tomorrow to penetrate. We more-or-less earthbound students of 1947 laughed at the idea of siesta in Hawaii and Applied Fashion in Paris. And yet…and yet how do we know? What would a Susie of twenty years ago have said if she had been given a picture of the cosmopolitan Stephens of today? It may be stretching things a little far to call the ‘Flying Sixties’ a preview, but our world-conscience campus of today does give promise of far wider horizons tomorrow.”

Turns out, Stephens women weren't hopping into airplanes and jet setting around the world in the 1960s. But we're getting closer to what our foremothers of 1947 predicted. Today, more and more Stephens women are adding Study Abroad to their college experiences. Many Stephens fashion students are, indeed, studying fashion in Paris....although we're not quite siesta-ing in Hawaii. Maybe in another 70 years.

We leave you with this. It's a poem written by Stephens students in honor of President Wood.

Our Answer Dedicated to President Wood on his retirement from the presidency of Stephens College after thirty-five years of outstanding service and leadership. 

“The time has come to step aside,” said he. “Time frees the hand, but the heart is never free. Though tower and bell and ivied walls may stay, The arch, the court, the same as yesterday, It is not these that bind my thoughts to you. 'Tis sound of laughter, footsteps passing through The thousand doorways, down the winding walks, The memory of friends-and friendly talks. The Stephens I have loved goes ever on, And I shall go on with it, closer drawn By ties securely knit in mind and heart, At one with you, of all your dreams a part. Whatever bloom the future years may bear Will be the bounty which my soul will share. Your peace will be my prayer, and your success The crowning smile of my own happiness.”
Our more than thousand voices raised as one, We answer him: “Love's race is never run. You fathered us in spirit, helped us grow. Our rooted faith is anchor 'gainst the blow Of storm and changing winds. Like father, you Have molded us to your own likeness true. 'The time has come to step aside' you say. A phrase! . As April steps aside for May! As nurturing June, beneath a sun-filled sky Gives way to golden harvests of July! But love lives on, as changing seasons run, And autumn warms itself with April sun. We taken the road ahead, as you have planned. In common faith, we take it hand in hand.” 

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