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Books Faculty

Madame Gagarine

Madame Marie Gagarine was one of those characters who frequently inhabits college campuses.  She arrived at Wofford as a cold war Russian emigre and soon became part of the Wofford community.

Madame Gagarine was also reportedly the first woman to teach courses at Wofford, as she taught some Russian as well as French courses.  I’ve heard more than a few stories about her from many of our now-retired faculty.  Her life spanned much of the 20th century, and she recounted her fascinating story in the late 1960s in her memoir From Stolnoy to Spartanburg: The Two Worlds of a Former Russian Princess.

I remember reading the book as parallel reading in Dr. Ross Bayard’s Europe from 1914-1935 class some twenty years ago.  We recently acquired a new copy, so I asked one of my student assistants to scan the book, and we’re making a digital edition available on our digital repository.  You can find it here.

Along with her memories of life in tsarist Russia and her stories of surviving the Russian Revolution, she also writes of her love for her country and her adopted country as well.  It’s worth a read to learn a little more about one of the characters that has shaped life at Wofford.

Categories
Faculty Photographs

The faculty, 1908

We are underway here at the college for the 162nd (I think) time, and yesterday, at opening convocation, we celebrated the annual ritual of the faculty photo on the steps of Main Building.

So, for Flashback Friday, here’s a faculty photo from 1908.

Faculty

We were a little smaller in those days.

Categories
Alumni Faculty

Charles Nesbitt: Teacher of Preachers

For some thirty years, Dr. Charles F. Nesbitt was the teacher of preachers at Wofford College.

Dr. Charles Nesbitt
Dr. Charles Nesbitt

A 1922 graduate of Wofford, Dr. Nesbitt took his seminary degree at Emory. He taught in the religion departments of several college – Lander, Millsaps, Blackburn College in Illinois, and Wesley College in North Dakota. He also taught in public schools in Kentucky. The academic life being his area of ministry, he pursued first an MA and then a PhD at the University of Chicago, completing his doctorate in 1939. He was also an ordained Methodist minister in the South Carolina Conference.

It was in that year that he returned to South Carolina and to his alma mater, taking a position in the Wofford religion department that he would hold until 1966.

As a practitioner of the academic study of religion, Dr. Nesbitt was a founding member of the southern section of the Society of Biblical Literature as well as a member of the American Academy of Religion. He was an active scholar, writing numerous articles during his time at Wofford.

As a member of Wofford’s small but influential religion department, he taught Old and New Testament and other upper level religion courses to a generation of Wofford students who went on to seminary. He had the ability of identifying especially well qualified seminary students and sending them to Yale’s Divinity School or to his own Chicago.  Those students found themselves well-prepared for the academic study of religion.

Dr. Nesbitt, as religion professors sometimes do, ran into occasional critics of his writing and teaching. He once wrote a modern interpretation of the Apostle’s Creed for a lesson at Central Methodist Church, which found its way into print, and which caused a flurry of letters to the state’s Methodist newspaper about his having done such a scandalous thing. He had studied at the University of Chicago with scholars involved in the translation of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, and encouraged the college to move to giving it at graduation.

According to his former student and later colleague Dr. Charles Barrett ’55, Dr. Nesbitt had a strong hand in writing Wofford’s 1965 Statement of Purpose, which is still in effect, particularly the line “students and faculty alike will be challenged to a common search for truth and freedom, wherever that search may lead.” Dr. Barrett noted that not only had Dr. Nesbitt been a great teacher and scholar, he was a good and decent man as a faculty colleague.

Dr. Nesbitt continued to live in Spartanburg until his death in December 1976, and his funeral service was held on Christmas Eve.

Categories
Alumni Faculty

Dean Logan

There’s never been a dean of students quite like Frank Logan.

It’s a little risky of me to write about somebody who I met but once or twice, but who a lot of people around Wofford knew very well. The stories about Frank Logan are plentiful, and most of them are probably even true. He was a character in the truest sense of the word.

S. Frank Logan '41
S. Frank Logan ’41

Samuel Francis Logan graduated from Wofford in 1941 and was a member of the first class of members in course of Phi Beta Kappa. After a few years away from Wofford and the completion of an MA in history at Duke, Frank Logan returned to Wofford as registrar and director of admissions in 1947. He remained at the college in various capacities until 1980. During his early years he taught in the history department as well. In 1956, President Pendleton Gaines named him dean of students, a position he held for thirteen years. It is for those years that he’s probably best remembered.

At the end of his first year as dean of students, the Old Gold and Black editorialized about him “Wofford’s new Dean of Students Frank Logan has certainly shown himself praiseworthy during his first year of office. His honesty, sincerity, and industry have won him the respect and trust of the Wofford Student Body. The long waiting-line in his office, few waiting involuntarily, reflects a respected adviser.”

Some of the best Logan stories are in a chapter of Dr. Will Willimon’s book Friends, Family, and Other Strange People. I doubt I could do any of them justice, but you should find the chapter. One of the best was when he ended the famous 1965 food riot at Wightman Hall with a few choice words in a police bullhorn.
Frank Logan was dean of students in an era when the college still practiced in loco parentis, where the college acted as the parent for students. What that meant in practice was regular dorm inspections, mandatory chapel, no booze on campus, and generally a fairly regulated student disciplinary system. While there was a court of sorts, the real court was at the dean’s desk, and justice was quick and certain. There were some unwritten rules, one of which I like to quote occasionally, that being the “failure to profit” rule. Dean Logan would send someone home for failing to profit from the benefits of a Wofford education. It’s something nobody could get away with now, but there’s a certain logic when a student is clearly failing to avail himself of the opportunities that abound at the college.

After his thirteen years as dean, Frank Logan moved to admissions, which he led for several years, and then to alumni affairs, which he led until his retirement in 1980. The Logans kept in contact with their many friends on campus and with hundreds of students who called themselves “Logan’s Boys” until his death in 1995.

Categories
Faculty

Daniel A. DuPre – a lifetime at Wofford

DuPreDAThe DuPré name shows up to this day on campus, but I don’t know how many people around today know the role that three generations of DuPrés had in Wofford’s first century.

The middle of the three DuPrés was Daniel Allston DuPré, who was born in 1848 in Eagles Point, Virginia. The son of Warren DuPré, he came to South Carolina as a small child when his father became the head of a women’s academy in Newberry. At age six, he moved to the Wofford campus, where his father had become a member of the college’s original faculty.

Though he was only 12 at the outbreak of the Civil War, one biography notes that he volunteered at 15 for Confederate service. At age 17, he entered Wofford College (which must not have been a hard commute since he lived in the home next door to Main Building), and he graduated with the class of 1869. He followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming a teacher in schools in Asheville and Georgetown. In 1873, he returned to be the co-principal, with the son of the president at the time, of the preparatory department at Wofford. Less than 4 years later, his father was called to the presidency of a college in Virginia, and the trustees selected Daniel DuPré to take his father’s professorship in natural sciences.

DuPreclassroomDuPré left for a year to study in Edinburgh, but returned in 1877 to take up his faculty duties, moving into the home just west of Main Building in which he had grown up. He also assumed the duties of treasurer of the college – in these days, with no administration, the faculty handled the duties of registrar, treasurer, and others in addition to their teaching duties. He remained the college’s treasurer until 1920, when the college hired its first full-time treasurer and business manager. He taught chemistry, physics, and geology until around 1902, and physics and geology after that until the 1920s. Geology was his favorite subject, and he continued to teach that until 1930, the year of his death. With the exception of a few years, he essentially lived in the same house on the Wofford campus all of his life.

Interestingly enough, and perhaps symbolic of the broad academic and social interests of Wofford faculty members, Professor DuPré was a founding member and longtime president of the Spartanburg Musical Association, which he and a number of other community leaders and members organized in the winter of 1885. That group performed its first concert in May 1885, and several years later, was succeeded by the Spartanburg Festival Association. The latter organization sponsored a major annual musical festival each spring and organized two large choral groups – an adult and a children’s choir.

He was also a member of the local library board of trustees and an active member of nearby Central Methodist Church.
It’s said that in class, as he was asking questions of his students, he had the habit of twiddling his thumbs, generally in one direction. But, if the student started to answer a question incorrectly, he would reverse the direction of his thumb twiddling, and an observant student could correct himself quickly.

The DuPré family had deep roots in South Carolina. His wife, Helen Stevens DuPré, was a granddaughter of Methodist Bishop William Capers. They had four children, a son, Fayssoux DuPré, who was a star baseball team member who had a legendary curve ball, and three daughters, artist Grace DuPré, Spartanburg Postmaster Helen DuPré Moseley, and college librarian Mary Sydnor DuPré.

Categories
Documents Faculty

The Walt Hudgins Papers

We are happy to announce a new acquisition in the college archives. The Papers of Walter E. Hudgins, a longtime and beloved professor of philosophy, have been donated to the college and are open for research.

Dr. Hudgins, who died in 1986, was a Virginia native who did his undergraduate, seminary, and doctoral degrees at Duke University. After teaching at several colleges in North Carolina, he came to Wofford to teach philosophy in 1972.

In addition to some of his correspondence, the papers include a number of his speeches and essays. Some of the sermons he preached as an ordained United Methodist minister are in the collection.

Beyond his teaching and campus service, Dr. Hudgins was a published and produced playwright. The scripts of several of his plays are part of the collection, as well as the production notes, design notes, and the scores to the ones that are musicals. Over the next year, we’ll digitize some of the plays and share them so that others can read them.

The collection was donated by Mrs. Linda Hudgins, Walt’s widow, and we’re grateful to her for giving them to the college so that others might learn more about him and his work.

The finding aid for the collection is available here: http://www.wofford.edu/library/archives/FA-Hudgins.aspx

 

Categories
Faculty

In memory of a colleague

I don’t usually write personal entries on this blog, but this one is an exception, since one doesn’t often lose a colleague and friend to a long struggle with cancer.  So, please permit the point of personal privilege. 

My library colleague Ellen Tillett, who had served as a reference librarian and director of public services at Wofford’s Sandor Teszler Library since 1995, passed away this week after a lengthy battle with cancer.  And despite her long struggle– 18 years altogether – none of us really thought she’d leave us.  After all, each time things looked bad, she’d bounce back with a new treatment, a new clinical trial.  At least to us, she never lost her optimism.  She didn’t let her illness dominate her life, at least not with us.  She kept working in the library up until this month.

Over the past two decades, I daresay she taught more than half of the library instruction sessions that we offered.  Almost every history major at Wofford had her for the history research methods course that she co-taught with a rotating cast of history professors.  I’d imagine most Wofford student and faculty research projects benefited from her reference assistance.

Ellen was wise, considerate, and she had a wicked sense of humor.  She cared about her colleagues and was an excellent mentor to new, younger librarians.  She would dig in her heels on a point of principle, but she could be persuaded to see the other side of an issue.  She was a staunch defender of academic freedom and the independence of libraries.  Beyond all of that, she loved her garden, and I think many of us have some daylilies or other plants from her garden.  She loved to travel, a pastime she learned from her professorial parents.  She didn’t let her illness stop her from heading off to Europe or Australia during the summers or the Galapagos during an Interim.  All of us in the library enjoyed the breakfast treats, including the Moravian sugar cake that as a good daughter of Wake Forest and Winston-Salem she brought during the week before Christmas each year.

I’m still not quite certain when it’s going to hit me that she won’t be back at work.  I suspect there will be a lot of “what would Ellen do” or “what would Ellen say” remarks in the library for a long time.  We shared some of those comments in the library today.

We never know who we will touch as we pass through this life.  Each day, we meet many people, and we have an opportunity to make an impression on most of them.  I always think that our loved ones never really leave us, but live on in our memories and in the ways they shape our lives.  Ellen provides for us a beautiful example of a colleague whose wisdom, intelligence, and grace touched all of us who surrounded her.

Categories
Buildings Coeducation Faculty

Libraries, librarians, and coeducation

Last week, with a small delegation from campus, I visited two very good liberal arts college libraries in Minnesota to see how they are collaborating and also to see their facilities, how they operate, and just to gather some information for future use here in our library. And then this week, I got a request for information about a former librarian here. And finally, it’s Women’s History Month, so I’d just recently put out a display on the first decade of coeducation and posted something here on the blog about it. Three fairly different subjects.

Then, in looking for information on the former librarian, I come across a clipping that definitely speaks to the culture of the campus in the 1960s. It sort of ties all of these subjects – library planning, librarians, and coeducation – all together in a funny bundle.

In part, it reads, “Anderson has great plans for the future library on campus. He hopes to promote a feeling of ease in the new library. Smoking will be permitted throughout the entire library and the acoustics are such that friendly “bull” sessions will disturb no one. People and books will be mixed throughout the library. Group study will be accepted with the many facilities designed for this purpose.” Smoking? Indeed, lots of people smoked all around campus in the 1960s and 1970s and into the 1980s, including in the library, in classrooms, in offices, and even in labs.

Another line speaks to different attitudes toward women. “Our librarian speaks optimistically of getting everyone involved in the library. One of these ways will be “moving day” where the entire campus can roll up its sleeves and pitch in. Anderson even mentioned the idea of having a combo play that day, with Converse girls serving “punch.” In 1969, Wofford’s student body was all male, but the idea of the “girls” serving refreshments does raise eyebrows.

Still, I love the serendipity of finding several things that I’m working on at the same time referenced in one little clipping.

Categories
Documents Faculty

James H. Carlisle’s writings

We don’t talk much about Wofford’s third president – he’s sort of a representative of a very distant age in the life of the college.  A hundred or more students live in a residence hall named for him, Dean of Students Roberta Bigger lives in his house, but he’s become something of an unknown figure around campus.  Yet when he died, hundreds, if not thousands, attended his funeral, and he was eulogized as the most important South Carolinian of his day.

Writing styles change over time, of course, and so do educational styles.  We forget this sometimes, in this day of the discussion section, of the “flipped classroom.”  In late 19th and early 20th century South Carolina and Wofford, James Carlisle could evidently hold the attention of an audience, whether it was one of students or of members of the community.  He had flocks of admirers.

Recently, one of my student assistants scanned two volumes relating to Dr. Carlisle – one, the Carlisle Memorial Volume, is a series of articles about Dr. Carlisle’s life and legacy.  Many of the authors were his former students and some were his faculty colleagues.  I’ve added the Carlisle Memorial Volume (click the title for the link) to our Digital Commons site so others can peruse it.

I’ve also added a copy of the Addresses of James H. Carlisle to our Digital Commons site so that others might get a flavor of his speaking and writing style.

Technology that Dr. Carlisle could never have imagined can make it possible to share his words with people who will never know him, but nothing has ever quite replaced the kind of faculty-student interaction that he exemplified, and that we still try to practice here on the city’s northern border.

Categories
Academics Faculty

“Fish” Salmon

With a last name like Salmon, it’s no surprise that students stuck him with the nickname “Fish.”

John L. Salmon

John L. Salmon was one of the longest-serving members of the college’s faculty, coming to Wofford in 1921 and remaining active well into the 1980s.  When he arrived in 1921 to teach modern languages, he joined an already well-established corps of professors, some of whose tenure stretched back into the 1870s.  He was rather embarrassed when the chairman of the Board of Trustees saw him trying to get his bearings on campus and assumed he was an entering freshman instead of a new faculty member.  Since he was close to thirty years old and had graduated from Centre College seven years earlier, one can understand why he might have been unhappy!  He later wrote of the college at the time of his arrival, “it was a small institution with an excellent reputation, a small, but good, faculty; a student body that contained many men who would achieve greatness; and an inadequate and poor physical plant that was woefully lacking in equipment and conveniences for both faculty and students.”  In a 1974 letter to President Joe Lesesne, he noted that when he came, he was the eleventh faculty member, that the college had one secretary who worked for the president, and that the business manager used part-time student help.  His longevity on campus made him something of a campus historian, and he could always offer an anecdote or story about the many characters who had graced the campus.

For four years, Professor Salmon taught French, then he took a few years’ leave to finish his MA at Harvard, where he also taught for two years.  When he left in 1925, President Snyder called him in, and without any preamble, said, “Salmon, you have been with us four years.  I cannot give you a diploma, but I want to give you this.”  And with that, Dr. Snyder handed Professor Salmon a Bible signed by the faculty.  By 1950, when Salmon wrote those words, only he and E. H. Shuler from that group remained on the faculty.

After his return to the campus in 1928 as Professor of Modern Languages, Fish Salmon and his wife, Lynne, were a popular couple, entertaining generations of students in their campus home.  Until the Army took over the campus during World War II, the Salmons lived what is now the Hugh R. Black House, but the Army turned their home into an infirmary.  Salmon went with Wofford’s juniors and seniors to Converse, where he was the dean of Wofford’s student body there.  He and Mrs. Salmon wound up settling on North Fairview Avenue, where they lived the rest of their lives.  He was probably the first person to teach Spanish at Wofford – he picked that up along with teaching French.  The Salmons never had children of their own, but they were always sought out to serve as chaperones at campus parties – perhaps because they tended to overlook some things that might have been going on at those parties!

Professor Salmon continued to be active on campus for some twenty years after his retirement in 1964, having served as the chairman of the foreign languages department and the first Reeves Professor, one of the first endowed professorships on the campus.

Jack Salmon died in November 1988 at the age of 96, having just celebrated 68 years of marriage.  He was the oldest member of Central United Methodist Church at the time of his death.  Writing about the influence Professor Salmon had on his life, Dr. Pedro Trakas, a member of the class of 1944 and a professor of Spanish at Eckerd College in Florida, said “I remember the way Professor Salmon taught me, and he was as good a model as I could ever hope to emulate.”  Dr. Trakas wrote that he had to explain to his father why he wanted to be a professor, since “teachers don’t get paid what professionals should get, and he told his father “if I can be the kind of professor that Professor Salmon is and live the kind of life he lives, that’s all I want.”