Thinking of Margaret

Margaret Catherine Berry: August 8, 1915 – April 9, 2017

To my fellow UT students, she was the “cacciatore lady.” I soon discovered why.

In the 1980s, Margaret Berry, who claimed to have retired from her career at the University of Texas, was still an active volunteer advisor for several student organizations – the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity and the Orange Jackets women’s service society, among them – and every semester loved to invite each group to her house for dinner. It was at one of these gatherings that I, along with so many others, fell under Margaret’s spell.

Her oak-shaded north Austin home on Greenflint Lane was immaculately tended. She personally met each student, greeted them with a genuine smile, and invited them to explore the house and backyard. “My cat, Benji, is here, somewhere. Probably hiding under the bed!” And then she hurried off to the kitchen. “Is anyone hungry?”

Margaret, as usual, served baked chicken cacciatore, deftly handling multiple casserole dishes in and out of the oven, and spooning out large portions onto orange Wedgwood plates that featured detailed images of the University campus: the old Main Building (pictured), Gregory Gym, the UT Tower, Littlefield Fountain. Only later did we learn that the plates dated from 1937 and were actually expensive collectables. “What building is this?” someone would ask. “That’s old B. Hall, Margaret explained. It’s not on campus anymore, but let me tell you about it.”

Along with endless helpings of cacciatore – “Getcha some more. There’s plenty!” – Margaret provided salad and green beans. Bottles of soft drinks, cups, and ice were lined up on the kitchen counter, “and there’s tea in the refrigerator. Remember, T-sips drink tea.”

After dinner, the group gathered in the den to hear Margaret relate a bit about her student days at the University, her time as Associate Dean of Students, and give unsolicited but well-received advice. “Get involved on campus. Take on leadership roles in your group,” she encouraged. “Get to know your professors!” she admonished. “It’s a big university; explore every part of it you can,” she counseled. To her thirty to forty student guests, she was greeter, hostess, chef, historian, advisor, and life coach all at once. And she played each role effortlessly, and with a sincerity that left her guests inspired. “Dr. Berry is quite a lady,” one of my student friends remarked on the way home.

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A fourth-generation Texan, born August 8, 1915, Margaret Catherine Berry was raised in the tiny town of Dawson – about 30 miles northeast of Waco – and showed her academic prowess early by graduating from high school as co-valedictorian. Along the way, Margaret also learned well what it meant to be Texas friendly, something she shared in abundance with everyone.

Above: The UT campus in 1933, Margaret Berry’s freshman year. The old Main Building still stood on the top of hill, while the Littlefield Fountain was new.

A freshman on the University of Texas campus in 1933, some of Margaret’s first semester classes were held in the old Main Building, just before it was closed and razed. Along with her studies, she joined the Y.W.C.A., Mortar Board, and was especially active with the Orange Jackets. Four years later, in the spring of 1937, Margaret graduated with a degree in history, having witnessed the dedication of a new Main Building and Tower just months beforehand.

Above: Margaret Berry’s senior photo in the 1937 Cactus yearbook.

For a few years, Margaret taught in public schools along the Gulf coast – El Campo, Freeport, and Galveston – while spending summers at Columbia University in New York to complete her master’s degree in education. One summer she worked for Newsweek magazine and seriously considered remaining in the Big Apple, but Texas beckoned for her return.

In 1947, she was appointed Dean of Women and an instructor of history at Navarro Junior College, and then became Dean of Women at East Texas State Teachers College (now Texas A&M University – Commerce) in 1950. For the next decade, Margaret was a legendary figure on East Texas State campus, She was called the “lean dean,” or the “mean dean” – depending on the circumstances – and knew each coed’s GPA, whom they were dating, and if they’d violated any dorm curfews.  At the same time, Margaret took a deep interest in the education of her students and strived to be a role model for everyone.

In 1961, Margaret finally returned to Austin and juggled three responsibilities. She’d been appointed Associate Dean of Women at the University of Texas, was caring for her aging parents, and decided to complete her doctorate degree in education at Columbia.

Above left: Margaret Berry at a 1967 Texas Union event. That’s a straw hat on her head with “Hook ’em Horns!” in large letters. 

Margaret finished her dissertation in 1965, Student Life and Customs at the University of Texas: 1883-1933. It was the first survey of UT student life, required many hours of research in the University’s archives, and instilled a deep understanding and appreciation for the University of Texas. “What is a university? Like any living thing, an academic institution is comprehensible only in terms of its history,” said former Harvard president James Conant. Margaret understood this all too well. Her dissertation later became the foundation for her book, UT Austin: Traditions and Nostalgia, a staple in bookstores along the Drag for decades.

As part of the Dean of Students office, Margaret was best-known for her course “Self and the Campus Society.” It was intended to prepare UT students for leadership positions on campus and after graduation, but her infectious enthusiasm for the University, and the example she set as doing her best and always thinking of others, garnered Margaret a legion of adoring fans. “I thought you were the quintessence of a lady and a scholar,” wrote one of her students many years later. “Indeed, you have become my living definition of those two words, and my highest aspiration is to be a fraction of the example you set.”

Above right: Margaret Berry, as Associate Dean of Students and Developmental Programs Director, posed in front of Battle Hall in 1973.

In addition to her course, Margaret created the first telephone counseling service for UT students, authored the first handbook of student rights and responsibilities, was a regular speaker at the summer Honors Colloquium and freshman orientation, and volunteered as an advisor for student organizations.

In the 1970s, former UT Chancellor Harry Ransom asked Margaret to assemble an illustrated history of the University. The book, published by the UT Press, appeared in 1981. She also authored Brick by Golden Brick (a resource compilation on UT buildings), UT History 101, and The University of Texas Trivia Book, as well as histories of the Scottish Rite Dormitory and University United Methodist Church.

Though she officially “retired” in 1980, Margaret continued to be a popular personality on the Forty Acres and in Austin. She served as president of the Austin Woman’s Club and the Retired Faculty-Staff Association, was indispensable on the Texas Exes Scholarship Committee and UT Heritage Society, and was an active volunteer with the University United Methodist Church. In March 1981, the men of the Tejas Club, a student organization, asked her to be the guest speaker at the first annual Texas Independence Day Breakfast for faculty and students. The tradition continued through this year, when Margaret led the assembly in a “Toast to Texas.” (A decade ago the Club made her an honorary member.) In 1995, at the request of the provost’s office – and at the spry age of 80 – Margaret agreed to teach a freshman seminar from 1995–2002.

Above: March 2, 2017 – a 101-year old Margaret Berry is surrounded by members of the Tejas Club after the Texas Independence Day breakfast to honor UT faculty and students.

Her contributions didn’t go unnoticed. Both the Orange Jackets and Texas Exes have endowed scholarships named for her, and she was awarded the Arno Nowotny Medal, given to staff of the Division of Student Affairs “who render meritorious service.” In 1996, Margaret was a recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Awards, the highest honor afforded by the Texas Exes, and in 2004 was dubbed Austin’s Most Worthy Citizen. In April 2012, the atrium in the newly-completed Student Activity Center was named in her honor, and at the dedication ceremony, Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell officially declared it “Margaret Berry Day” in the city.

In April 2012, the Longhorn Band, UT cheerleaders, and an overflow crowd attended the dedication ceremony of the Margaret Berry Atrium in the Student Activities Center. Margaret is seated with UT President Bill Powers on the left, and Congressman Lloyd Doggett and Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell on the right.

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On August 8, 2015, Margaret Berry marked her 100th lap around the sun. Hundreds of former students, University colleagues, and Austin friends gathered at the alumni center to help her celebrate. Like a Christmas Santa at a shopping mall, everyone waited in line to take a turn, sit with Margaret for a photograph, and tell her how much they loved her and the positive impact she’d had on their lives. As part of the formal program, UT President Greg Fenves arrived with a surprise. Margaret had planned to leave the University a $50,000 bequest to endow a scholarship in religious studies named in honor of her parents, but her friends had been busy and raised more than twice that amount. President Fenves officially announced the creation of the Lillian and Winfred Berry Endowed Presidential Scholarship.

Above: Margaret Berry at her 100th birthday party, August 8, 2015.

Margaret approached the podium and, with tear-filled eyes, said “thank you,” but, truly, it was the University community and her many friends, generations of UT students touched by her spell, who, collectively, were trying to express their gratitude to her.

Yes. Dr. Berry was indeed quite a lady.

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1952: A Handbook for Greenhorns

Browse the 1952 Freshman Orientation Guide

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April has arrived, and the University’s Office of New Student Services is busy finalizing plans for this summer’s orientation program for incoming freshmen and transfer students. Each of the six, three-day sessions will be packed with information about life on the UT campus, Longhorn traditions, academic advising, registration for classes, and plenty of advice for new students. (My own advice for freshmen is here.)

Recently, I acquired a copy of the 1952 freshman orientation booklet: A Handbook for Greenhorns. Authored and illustrated by a student committee, its pages provide an interesting glimpse of campus life more than six decades ago. Below are just a few excerpts, including registration in the un-air conditioned Gregory Gym, 8:30 p.m. curfews for freshmen women, a free “charm school” in the Texas Union, and a new “no smoking” rule in classrooms.

  • From Student to Student . . .

“You’re a University student now. But you’re not a University of Texas student. You haven’t got that knot inside that makes you a Longhorn. You don’t know what it is now, but you will.

“Maybe it’ll come to you when you’re strolling across the campus under a star-laden sky; or maybe in the evening when you short-cut across the southwest corner and hear the crickets; or maybe at a football game; or maybe it’ll just grow on you.”

“Try to keep two things in mind.

“First, be aware. Aware of the way you feel the minute you feel that way – -of the kicks at the game, the laughs at a student comedy, the inner passion inspired by a symphony, the warmth of a friendship, the simple pleasures of living a college life.

“Other thing is, cash in while you can. The best you can hope for at any college is to continue learning – – not to conclude your learning, but to continue it. If you cash in now – –  cash in on the knowledge that’s here for you – – then later on, you’ll have the knack of knowledge and go right on getting it; and maybe, still later, wisdom.”

  • First Daze at U.T.

“Yes, with your first look around the Forty Acres, everything seems big – – if not a little confusing.

“Everybody has a tough time getting through first registration.  . . . The simplest way to get out of a jam is the best way. Just walk up to somebody and ask them what to do, where you should go, or whom you should see. Folks are naturally friendly at the University, like everywhere else in Texas. Collar somebody and start talkin’.”

  • Gotta Place to Live? . . . Where You Hang Your Hat

“All undergraduates will live in University approved residences unless special permission is granted to live elsewhere.

“You women will have certain housing rules which must be followed –

“First-term freshman women may have 3 nights out a week after 8:30. Any evening spent out after 8:30, even though you were studying in the library or attending a club meeting, is counted as a night out. Your residences will be closed at 11 o’clock every night except Saturday when 12:45 is the deadline.

“You men should be familiar with these rules, too, because it will be part of your responsibility to get your date in on time.”

Above: Mezes, Batts, and Benedict Halls – along the east side of the South Mall – were constructed as a single project and opened in 1952.

  • Hard Cash . . .

“In order to give you an idea of the probable expense of going to the University, let us assume that you are a Texas resident, taking one lab course. You live in a rooming house, and eat your meals at the Commons [the Texas Union]:

“You must remember that this is a minimum, and does not include money for clothes, dating, cigarettes, cokes, and other ‘necessary’ expenses.”

  • What Students Do

“It is important to be a member of some groups, meet new people, and go to their social function – – but, take it from an old hand, choose your clubs carefully and only join those in which you have time to participate actively and which interest you most. There are more than 250 clubs of every description on campus.”

 

  • Student Sports

For men –

“The boys puff out their manly chests when they say the University is generally recognized as having one of the best all-round intramural programs for men in the entire country. The latest addition is lights for the Intramural Field. And to brag some more: These are the only ones of their type in this section of the country. Spectators who shout loudly and clap obnoxiously are welcome at all games.”

And for women –

“Besides regular gym classes, any girl with the required health grade can try out and perhaps become a member of a UTSA (University of Texas Sports Association) club.

“What’s your choice? There’s Bow and Arrow (archery), Canter Club (riding), Orchesis (modern dance), Poona (badminton), Racket Club (tennis), Strike and Spare (bowling), Tee Club (golf), Touche (fencing), Tumbling, and Turtle Club (swimming). UTSA is under guidance of Miss Anna Hiss, Director of Women’s Physical Training.”

  • Students’ Association

“The Students’ Association elects representatives for its student government both in the fall and in the spring. Assemblymen are elected in the fall, whereas the most colorful election is the one in the spring, when the president and other student body executive and judicial officers are decided. Colorful campaigning, with signs, stunts, and serenading add to the spirit of elections.”

Above: For several weeks each semester, the all-grass West Mall was filled with enormous – and creative – campaign signs for student government. Click on an image for a larger view.

  • ‘tenshun!

“The University of Texas is one of the few colleges in the country which has ROTC units of all three branches of our Armed Services: Army, Navy and Marine Corps, and Air Force.

“The objective of the ROTC programs is to develop the attributes of character, personality, and leadership which are indispensable to every college graduate, whether he remains a civilian upon graduation, or makes a career of the service.”

 

Left: The cartoon scene in this section of the freshman handbook wasn’t entirely fictional. From World War II until the 1957 completion of the ROTC Building on the East Mall (later named Russell Steindam Hall and now replaced by the Liberal Arts Building), the Naval ROTC was headquartered in the Littlefield Home, with a pair of anti-aircraft guns placed on each side of the front entrance. And in full view of the Tower.

 

 

  • Student Life Centers . . .

“You will find a ‘home away from home’ here at the center of student activities. Just a few of the conveniences offered a Lost and Found department, free dance classes, ping pong, chess, card playing, checking service, and television. In addition Pep rally dances, Friday Frolics, Talent Nights, and weekly movies are given free throughout the school year. Your Union offers bridge lessons, pop lectures, student-faculty discussions called Coffeorums, and frequent appearances of nationally known speakers.

“Students plan all activities through the work of ten committees. The Charm Committee offers a co-ed charm school and style show each semester. The Free Dance Committee handles the dances. The Talent Committee keeps a file of campus talent and provides programs for various groups.

“Besides offering numerous activities, you can find popular magazines, soft drinks, candy, cigarettes, and newspapers from all over the state. You paid your dollar Union fee this semester for the use of all of these facilities.”

Above: Opened in 1933, the Texas Union was the original campus center of student activities. Much of the first floor housed the “Commons,” a large University-wide cafeteria.

  • Traffic Regulations

“Since the 40 acres small parking on the campus is limited to those holding permits. These parking privileges are restricted are restricted to the faculty, staff and disabled students. Parking after 4:30 Friday, after 1:30 Saturday, all day Sunday is open to anyone who can find a place to park.”

 

  • There is a Place to Walk . . .

“This last year, many feet of side walk were put down so that you would be able to walk from place to place without getting your feet muddy (or ruining the grass). These walks were planned so that you will be able to get from one place to another without crossing any shrubs, flowerbeds or the like. In many cases they were laid over paths that students had worn through finding the shortest distance between two points. So as you establish your paths from building to building, conform to the walks and help keep our campus beautiful. “

  • And a Place to Smoke!

“You may be one of those students who feel uncomfortable without a smoke in your hand. If so, start curbin’ that desire as a rule was passed this last year prohibiting smoking (or beverage drinking) in the class rooms and other specified areas. So look before you smoke!”

  • Longhorn Yells and Songs

Above: As lights weren’t installed at the football stadium until 1956, home games were usually held at 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon. From the right seat, a Longhorn fan watched the game framed between two Austin landmarks: The UT Tower and the Texas Capitol.

Along with “The Eyes of Texas” and “Texas Fight,” UT students in 1952 had several favorite college yells. A pair of them – the Tex Fight Chant and Color Yell – were later incorporated into the Texas Fight song.

Mud Men

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Above: In the 1920s, Texas Independence Day was reserved for pushball!

Texas Independence Day – March 2nd – has long been celebrated on the University of Texas campus. In 1897, a group of law students formally borrowed a cannon from the Capitol grounds and fired it repeatedly in front of the old Main Building. In recent years, the Tejas Club has annually hosted a 7 a.m. breakfast to honor seniors, faculty, and UT administrators, and toasted the state that provided for the founding of the University. Texas Exes chapters worldwide have traditionally gathered for what is often the main event of the year, and raised funds for UT scholarships.

1895-pushball-at-harvardIn 1912, the usual firing of a cannon and a formal Texas Independence Day assembly in the auditorium of Old Main was expanded to included a new activity: a pushball game. The sport was invented by the Norton, Massachusetts Athletic Association in 1895, and quickly found a following at nearby Harvard University. “It looks comic, but it has its good points as well,” declared the Austin Daily Statesman. (Image at right.) The pushball was a six-foot diameter round leather ball, often compared to an overgrown soccer ball, which weighed about 65 pounds when fully inflated. Played on a standard football field with eight men on a team, the object was to push, carry, roll, toss, or by some other means move the ball across the opponent’s goal line. Blocking and tackling were allowed, holding and fighting were illegal. At Harvard, students played pushball several afternoons a week with formal contests held during the halftime periods of football games. “It bids fair to rival football in popularity,” the Statesman claimed. Over the next several decades, the sport did receive some national attention and was played at universities as far away as Stanford, but it never seriously challenged football for recognition.

University of Texas students, though, were keenly aware of the new game and eager to give it a try. By 1909 The Texan was calling for it to be played on the Forty Acres. “Those who have watched Push Ball contests at other colleges and know of the great sport connected with these exhibitions cannot but wonder why the Push Ball has not reached Texas.” During the spring, students had initiated a movement to purchase a pushball and hold a game before the end of the term. Unfortunately, the cost was nearly $250, a monstrous sum at the time, easily more than the total expenses a UT student would incur over an academic year. Pushball was placed on hold, but not for long.

In the spring of 1912, Professor Carl Taylor took on the added responsibility as coach of the UT Track team. He’d played pushball as a student at Drake University in Iowa, knew of the interest in the sport in Austin, and convinced the Athletic Council to purchase a pushball for University use. It arrived about February 1st and was on display in the Co-op, then housed under the massive oak staircase in the rotunda of the old Main Building. The first contest was set for Saturday, March 2nd – as part of the Texas Independence Day festivities – between the freshmen and sophomores.

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Above: A view of the inaugural 1912 pushball contest on Clark Field, about where the O’Donnell Building and Gates-Dell Computer Science Complex stand today, with the dome of the Texas Capitol in the background. 

It had rained all morning, but a large crowd of curious onlookers gathered at Clark Field, UT’s first athletic field, on the appointed day. Just after 3 p.m., the male contingent of the freshman class arrived first and gathered at the south goal, their faces daubed with red paint to distinguish them from their opponents. The sophomore class soon followed, marched into the stadium in a double line, and took up residence on the north end of the field. Both groups heard pre-game speeches from their captains. Grady Niblo addressed the sophomores, while Louis Jordan, the only freshman selected to play on the Longhorn football team, was chosen to lead the first-years. After class yells were shouted, the pushball, accompanied by the University Band, was rolled onto the grass and ceremoniously placed on the 50-yard line. The freshmen and sophomores lined up en masse behind their respective goal lines, Coach Taylor raised his starter’s pistol, pulled the trigger, and – bang! – an estimated 370 students surged onto a thoroughly muddy field and sprinted for the ball waiting at the center.

1912-pushball-headline“A fleet sophomore hit the ball first,” reported the Statesman, but several freshmen arrived an instant later. “For a minute or two it seemed as though it was an impossibility to make the ball budge one way or another. Slowly but surely, though, the freshmen succeeded in forcing it toward the sophomore goal inch by inch.” Suddenly, the ball was raised into the air and “spectators witnesses one of the most thrilling sights that it is possible to see on an athletic field.” For the next twenty minutes, the ball was either rolling on the ground or flying through the air, prodded, pushed, and lifted by mud-caked students who were either trying to get to the ball or blocking someone from the other class. The freshman had moved the ball to within fifteen yards of the sophomore’s goal when time was called. After a short intermission, a second period was played, though limited to twenty players on a side. In the end, neither class scored and the contest was declared a tie, but all agreed that the pushball game was fun.

For the next fifteen years, pushball continued as a Texas Independence Day tradition on the campus, though the sophomores almost always won. It was discontinued in the late 1920s after the ball itself was worn out and a series of injuries to participants raised concerns.

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Above: The 1923 Pushball game had some students climbing the goal posts.

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Above: A 1925 cartoon of the annual pushball game. Students who participated wore old or worn out clothes, as few shirts or pants escaped being muddied or torn.

The UT Tower Turns 80!

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Above: The cover of the March 1938 issue of the Texas Ranger, a UT student magazine. The drawing incorrectly labels the Tower as a WPA project. A grant from the Public Works Administration (PWA), a New Deal program during the Great Depression, provided the funding for the construction of the UT Tower.  

Officially dedicated on February 27, 1937, next Monday, the University of Texas Tower will become an octogenarian!

To celebrate, the Alexander Architectural Archives is sponsoring an exhibit of original drawings of the Main Building and Tower in the reading room of Battle Hall. The exhibit will run until August, but the opening event is Monday, February 27th at 5:30 p.m.

Come celebrate the UT Tower’s 80th birthday. There’ll be cake!

For all the details, CLICK HERE.

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650,000 Thank Yous

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Above: The Texas Mountain Laurel are in full bloom on campus, and the bees are loving it.

Spring has come to the Forty Acres, and so has another milestone for the UT History Corner, which just passed the 650,000 visitor mark since it opened in May 2012. Thanks to everyone who has stopped by, and I hope you found something worthwhile!

Jim

“Coats on in the Library!”

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Above: Before 1917, coats and ties were the customary dress in the University Library, regardless of the weather.

1915-university-library-battle-hall

It was a fine day for a rebellion.

Friday afternoon, May 25, 1917, was bright, sunny, warm, and humid. The kind of late spring day that usually precedes a long, steamy summer.

For University of Texas students, the academic year was coming to a close. Term projects were due, along with one last round of quizzes, before final exams and then commencement ceremonies in mid-June.

The University Library – today’s Battle Hall (photo above left) – was a popular place this time of year.  Opened in 1911 and partly inspired by the Boston Public Library, its spacious
reading room was a great improvement over the too-crowded previous quarters in the old Main Building.  At a time before the invention of air conditioning, architect Cass Gilbert 1914-university-library-entrance-screen-doorsdeliberately positioned the library just to the west of Old Main, near the top of the slope in the middle of the Forty Acres. Facing east and with the reading room on the second floor, the tall, arched windows could be opened to catch the southeastern breezes from the Gulf of Mexico, and help to mitigate the heat in the warmer months. To further help with air circulation, customized screen doors were created and fixed to the front entryway. (Photo above right.)

On this particular Friday afternoon, a small group of male UT students arrived for some late day studying, but looked decidedly different from their fellows. While there was a firm classroom dress code of suits and ties for men and dresses for women, the library wasn’t a classroom, and on this warm day, the students decided to leave their jackets at their west campus boarding house and visit the library in shirt sleeves.

After just a few minutes, Wilson Williams, officially the library’s Supervisor of Gifts and Exchanges, but better known on campus as the “silence restorer” of the reading room, swooped down upon the group with the peremptory command, “Coats on!”

1920-university-library-and-old-main

Above: Architect Cass Gilbert placed the library just west of the old Main Building.

As the students had left their jackets at home and couldn’t comply, they attempted a parley. Williams explained they had violated a well-established guideline of dress. The students asked whether the rule might be overlooked this one time, saving them the trouble of having to trudge home just to don jackets on a hot day.

Unmoved, Williams insisted, but the students persisted, and finally demanded to see the written rules that governed library dress and conduct. Williams reluctantly admitted that there was no formal regulation that required jackets be worn, but it had been a longstanding custom since the University opened in 1883.

To the students, though, practicality outweighed an unnecessary tradition. The group, confident in their victory over the library administration, remained at their seats in shirt sleeve comfort. Within a few minutes, a dozen other UT compatriots had peeled off their jackets, and before the library closed for the day, every male student had joined in the uprising. For the hapless Mr. Williams, a longstanding custom was no more. But for the students, a new tradition was born. Coats and hot days were not to meet in the library again.

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Above: After 1917, UT students in the library studied in their shirt sleeves on warm days. Click on an image for a larger view.

The Big Enormous Building

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Above: The original west entrance to the Business-Economics Building.

For the business school, it was a dream come true. On February 2, 1962, the swanky new Business-Economics Building, the largest teaching facility yet on the Forty Acres, hosted its first classes. Business Dean John White was elated with the new digs. So were the students, who promptly dubbed the edifice the “Big Enormous Building.” Though much of it has been renovated over the past half century, the original “BEB” was, in many ways, a modern marvel and campus trend-setter.

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spurgeon-bellAt the University of Texas, business classes made their debut in 1912, when UT alumnus Spurgeon Bell (photo at left) was hired to found a “business studies” department within the College of Arts and Sciences. The facilities, though, weren’t ideal. As UT’s growth outpaced its funding, resources to construct new buildings simply weren’t available. Temporary pinewood shacks were built instead. Crude and without proper foundations, UT President Sidney Mezes purposely left them unpainted in the forlorn hope that the state would be so embarrassed by their appearance and replace the shacks with adequate buildings.

g-hall-1912-business-training-classes

Above: In 1912,”G” Hall for business studies stood in front of today’s Gebauer Building.

The business studies department was assigned to “G” Hall, located in front of today’s Gebauer Building. Poorly heated by pot belly stoves, Bell had to arrive early on cold days to stoke the coals left by the custodian overnight, and then gather more firewood from a stack behind the building. Despite the primitive conditions, the business department grew, matured, and was made a separate school in 1922.

Waggener Hall.1930sA year later, the 1923 discovery of oil on University-owned West Texas land offered the promise of better quarters in the future, but it wasn’t until 1931 that Waggener Hall was opened along the west side of Speedway Street. Named to honor Leslie Waggener, UT’s first president, the hall was intended for business administration, a message made clear though the building’s ornamentation. Twenty-six terra-cotta medallions placed just below the eaves portrayed some of the exports of Texas at the time: cotton, oil, pecans, maize, wheat, cattle, and lumber, among others. However, with space on the campus at a premium, business initially had to share the building with the math, English, and public speaking departments, along with an anthropology museum that filled the top floor.

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Above: A typing class in the late 1930s. Ceiling fans regularly hummed in the un-air conditioned classrooms.

The new quarters were a boon for the business school, but as its classes grew more popular with UT students, Waggener Hall was short on space within a decade, and then almost unmanageable after World War II, as thousands of returning veterans enrolled in the University under the G. I. Bill. It became something of an annual tradition for the business deans to lobby the UT administration for a new facility.

ut-75th-logo-1958In  1958, the University observed its 75th anniversary. Along with the many campus celebrations, a Diamond Jubilee Commission was created to “chart the University’s next 25 years.”  Appointed by UT President Logan Wilson, the commission tackled issues ranging from academic programs, enrollment, research, and student life, and created a series of recommendations intended to bring UT up to the top tier of the nation’s universities. In response, President Wilson formally launched a “Ten Year Plan,” intended to overhaul degree programs and improve facilities. A new headquarters for the College of Business Administration was among the priorities, and the Board of Regents approved the $4 million for construction.

Ground was broken in July 1959 and the building was ready for use by spring 1962. At the time, UT’s academic year opened in late September, with fall semester finals scheduled in January, just after the holiday break. With a brief, ten-day intersession, the spring semester began in February. For the business school, the 1962 intersession was a great scramble, as all of the filing cabinets, office desks, teaching materials, and library books had to be moved from Waggener Hall to the new building in time for the spring semester start on February 2nd. A winter ice storm that pelted Austin mid-week only added to the chaos.

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Above: The invitation to the Business-Economics Building dedication.

Formally dedicated at the end of March, the Business-Economics Building – the “BEB” – was touted by some as the largest business learning facility in the Southwest. The faculty initially requested a contemporary structure, both in appearance and design, but the University administration felt that some adherence to the Mediterranean Renaissance style found on the rest of the Forty Acres was preferable. While the building was definitely modern, its limestone, brick, and use of Spanish red tile still identified it as part of the campus.

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Above: The main entrance to the BEB faced west, toward the Forty Acres.

The BEB was organized into three distinct components, each designed around specific functions. On the south end was a five-story, rectangular classroom building constructed 1968-class-in-beb-room-150around a central court from the second to fifth levels; the first level of the court was occupied by a 400-seat auditorium (photo at left). Functionally, the court provided a light well for the classrooms along the inside, but also boasted two fountains with reflecting pools, landscaping, and benches.

Along with the main auditorium, the first floor held four other theater-style classrooms for 100 to 150 students each. All were outfitted with modern sound and projection equipment, and some had mounted television monitors, a medium that had become popular less than a decade before.

beb-libraryElsewhere in the building were circular seminar rooms with tiered seating – the first on the campus – along with accounting, statistics, management, and marketing labs, study halls, interview practice rooms, and a 10,000 volume business library (right) with room for 270 students.  A series of large exhibit cases fronted with plate glass simulated store front windows to show off retail marketing class projects.

Extensive use of mosaic tile was used as wainscoting along the hallways of the classroom building, with different geometric patterns – diamonds, stars, and cubes –  in blue, brown, and yellow hues on each floor.  A solar screen of  Spanish red tile in a quatrefoil design covered the outside windows along the top floor, and while the roof was flat, its broad eaves with coffered soffits were similar to those found elsewhere on campus.

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The basement of the classroom building was reserved for student recreation, with lounges, games, student organization offices, and a myriad of vending machines (photo above) that served coffee, candy, ice cream, pastries, sandwiches, cold drinks, warm soups, and cigarettes. “It’s not that the soup and coffee served by electronic magic and a few well-placed nickels and quarters taste much different from a meal at home,” explained Anita Brewer from the Austin Statesman, “It’s just the nerve-wracking uncertainty of a machine trying to be smart.” When ordering coffee, “A cup appears first. Then the coffee starts filling the cup, and for an agonizing moment, you wonder if it will shut off in time and what you will do if it doesn’t.” Along with the vending curiosities, The Daily Texan took great interest in the new automatic bill-changer that “scans paper currency and issues coins when the proffered bill passes its critical-eye examination.”

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The north end of the BEB was a seven-story office building which housed the faculty and dean, and at the time was the second tallest structure on the campus, next to the Tower. Each level was reserved for a specific department. Starting from the first floor: finance, dean and career placement offices, accounting, economics, management, business services, and marketing. For a short time, the Institute of Latin American Studies shared the seventh floor until more appropriate quarters could be found.

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In a nod to the medallions on Waggener Hall, UT art professor Paul Hatgil designed a series of fifty ceramic panels (image above) that were placed above the top row of windows around the office unit. Their blues, browns, and yellows echoed the colors used for the mosaic tiles in the classroom building. His whimsical creations not only added color to an otherwise all-brick facade, their stylistic rows of small, raised circles were meant to be reminiscent of buttons, as the many inventions of the 1950s – from computers to vending machines – had transformed the modern world into what was then called a “push button society.”

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beb-escalatorAbove: A single bank of “up only” BEB escalators on the second floor of the crossover. The main west entry to the building is seen on the right. 

A protected crossover linked the classroom and office units. It functioned both as a corridor and housed the University’s first escalator. The high-speed moving staircase, austin-statesman-headline-1962-01-18-escalatorthough, only went up; there was no down escalator. While the BEB was furnished with elevators and stairs, a persistent joke was that students and faculty would all wind up on the top floor at the end of the day.

Similar to the top floor windows on the classroom building, the mostly glass crossover was sheathed in a solar screen, this one a perforated concrete wall, to block some of the heat from the Texas sun. So, too, was the front entrance of the BEB, found on the west side of the crossover. The glass doors were covered in a deep blue diamond pattern made from steel.

Because of the sloping terrain, visitors entered at the second level. Just behind the crossover, on the east side along Speedway Street, a walled patio provided space for faculty and alumni gatherings. An alumni lounge, next to the dean’s office in the office building, was equipped with a kitchenette,  along with doors that led out to the patio.

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Above: Behind the crossover, on the east side along Speedway Street, an enclosed patio served as a space for faculty and alumni events. In the 1980s, the area was enclosed and made the McCombs School’s Hall of Honor, though alumni events are still held here.

“The Family,” a sculpture by art professor Charles Umlauf, was placed at the main west entrance, in front of the crossover. A heroic-size bronze more than fifteen feet tall and weighing over two tons, Umlauf created the piece in Milan, Italy. Its mother, father, and child symbolically represented the basic economic unit. The sculpture was shipped across the Atlantic Ocean to Houston, and then carefully transported to Austin, but didn’t arrive in time for the BEB’s formal dedication. Instead, a prankish student attached a placard to the front of the statue’s empty granite base that read, “Tomb of the Unknown BBA Student.”

Above: Charles Umlauf’s “The Family” guarded the main entrance to the BEB. 

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1962-ibm-comuterThe opening of the BEB galvanized the business school. As part of the University’s Ten Year plan, the undergraduate and graduate programs were reviewed, revised, and strengthened. A Business Honors Program was founded. Typing classes were discontinued (though still offered through University Extension) in favor of courses in mathematical analysis, leadership development, and the use of technology. While the BEB was under construction, Business Dean John White invested a sizable $75,000 to purchase an IBM 1620 Data Processing System (above left), a room-exciter-newsletterssize computer that could perform over 1,500 calculations per second. It was installed in time for the BEB dedication, and was a highlight of the building tour. “In preparation of the computer world of the Seventies and Eighties, all students in the College of Business explored the mysteries of this fantastic machine,” explained the 1965 Cactus yearbook.

Along with academics, the business school used the BEB to initiate an outreach program. In 1960, an Advisory Council was created to both help with fundraising and “provide an avenue of direct liaison between the faculty and the business community.” The school’s first alumni newsletter, The Ex-Citer, was published three times a year, and special events, including an annual homecoming during football season, were held on the alumni patio.

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There have been several renovations to the BEB over the years. In 1975, the Graduate School of Business Building was added to the west side, which eliminated the crossover entry and moved the main entrance to the south side of the building. By the early 1980s, business school enrollment topped 10,000 students, the largest in the nation and nearly a quarter of the entire University. The University
Teaching Center was built across the street to the south in 1982 to ease overcrowded classrooms, and a pedestrian bridge added to connect it to the rest of the business 1985-business-school-renovation-hall-of-honorschool.  A few years later, the BEB underwent a significant renovation. The central courtyard was covered to create an atrium (top left), classrooms were retooled and upgraded, the original decorative tile along the hallways was removed, and the alumni patio enclosed in favor of a “Hall of Honor.” (photo at right) The complex was renamed the George Kozmetsky Center for Business Education and formally dedicated in 1986. A later, minor renovation was completed in 2008. Citing problems with pigeons nesting among the tiles, the solar screen along the top row of windows of the classroom building was removed.

Above: Business Dean Robert Witt (left) inspects the progress of the 1980s renovation to the Business-Economics Building. The mosaic tile on the wall – a different pattern for each floor – was removed. 

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Above: A then and now look at the Business-Economics Building from the UT Tower observation deck. The image on top was taken in 1968, while the Jester Center residence hall was under construction. “The Family” statue can be seen in front of the west entry into the BEB crossover. The old Law Building (1908) was then home to the anthropology department. The photo above was taken in 2012. The Graduate School of Business Building was connected to the BEB in 1975, and later renovations enclosed the courtyard of the classroom building. Click on an image for a larger view.

The Main Building Seals

The seals of a dozen universities are on the Main Building. Why?

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“In a large group of buildings, be it a city, a world fair, or a university, there is always a certain part of the whole which provides the image carried in our memory when we think of the place.” – architect Paul Cret, 1933 University of Texas Campus Master Plan

ut-tower-aerialFormally dedicated eighty years ago – on February 27, 1937 – the University’s Main Building was designed to serve a variety of purposes. Functionally, it was meant to house the central library. Its grand reading halls and special collection rooms were assembled around a massive tower, which held the book stacks. To accommodate future growth, the library was intentionally planned to be larger than needed, which prompted the Board of Regents to reserve a portion of the building for UT administration.

Stylistically, architect Paul Cret blended the needs of his clients with his own desires. The limestone exterior, red-tile roofs, Spanish-themed reliefs, and a spacious, seven-arched loggia all expressed the Mediterranean Renaissance idiom first seen in Cass Gilbert’s 1911 Library (now Battle Hall), a style which the Board of Regents deemed appropriate for Texas and its historical connections to Spain and Mexico. But Cret added Classical elements as well. Simple Doric columns enclosed the two front extensions along with the belfry at the top of the Tower, while the south facade was decorated with a row of dentils, and pilasters with Ionic capitals. Cret felt strongly that, as America was a modern democracy, its public buildings should evoke some sense of those democratic origins in Ancient Greece, and dubbed the style a “New Classicism.”

main-building-south-facadeRight: A line of dentils – those square “teeth” along the top of the image – along with an Ionic capital atop a pilaster, are among the Classical decorations on the Main Building’s south façade, all carved in place during construction. Click on an image for a larger view.

Symbolically, Cret intended his monumental Tower to be that iconic image “carried in our memory when we think of the place,” and sought to give it an “appropriate architectural treatment for a depository of human knowledge.” The ornamentation on the building spoke to its purpose as a library as well as to the mission and aspirations of the University. Names of literary giants were carved in limestone under the tall windows along the east and west sides. Displayed in gold leaf on the north side of the Tower were letters (or cartouches) from five dialects that contributed to the development of English language: Egyptian, Phoenician, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. The biblical quote inscribed above the south entrance, “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free,” was selected by the Faculty Building Committee as suitable for
those who came to use the library. “The injunction to seek truth as a means to freedom is main-building-athenaas splendid a call to youth as we can make,” explained committee chair William Battle. (See “The Inscription”)

Placed alongside the literary images were familiar Classical symbols. The lamp of learning, the face of Athena as the goddess of wisdom (photo above), and rows of scallop shells – associated with Venus as the goddess of truth and beauty – were all added to the south façade, carved in place by Italian stone masons. Learning, wisdom, truth, and beauty: values long associated with the purpose of higher education.

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Above: Along the east side of the Main Building are six university seals.

The most colorful ornamentation was placed along the east and west sides of the building, just below the broad eaves, where artful representations of a dozen university seals were meant to convey a history of higher education, as well as proclaim UT’s own aspirations to be a “University of the first class.”

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Above: The west side of the nearly-completed Main Building in 1936.

The seal project began in the spring of 1932, as the initial phase of the Main Building was under construction.  Cret’s design allowed for something to be placed under the eaves, but left it to the University to determine the specifics. The idea to display university seals originated with the Faculty Building Committee and its chair, Dr. William Battle.

Which universities would be included? Battle consulted with Professor Frederick Eby, then the campus authority on the history of higher education. Eby provided a list of fifteen candidates: Bologna, Paris, Salamanca, Prague, Vienna, Heidelberg, Oxford, Cambridge, Geneva, Leiden, Edinburgh, Harvard, Yale, Virginia, and Michigan.

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The roster was heavy on European schools and, in part, charted a genealogical line. Bologna in Italy, founded in 1088, is widely regarded as the first degree-granting modern university, followed closely by the University of Paris. Oxford developed in the mid-12th century after King Henry II prevented English students from traveling to France. A dispute in 1209 between the town of Oxford and its university caused some of the local scholars to leave in protest and begin a new school in Cambridge. Four centuries later, among the Puritans who established the Massachusetts Bay Colony in North America, a group of Cambridge alumni created what would become Harvard. Located in the tiny hamlet of Newtowne, the group changed the name of the village to Cambridge in honor of their Alma Mater.

Two state universities were also included. Thomas Jefferson’s University of Virginia had been a role model for many colleges in the South, though Eby told Battle, “The influence of Michigan on state universities has been greater than that of any other in my judgement.”

earnest-w-winkler-ut-librarianThe Faculty Building Committee considered Professor Eby’s suggestions. After some discussion, Yale, Leiden, and Vienna were eliminated to trim the list to twelve. Additional input came from Ernest Winkler, the UT librarian (photo at right). “Should not the seal of the University of Mexico, the ancient university, be used also?” said Winkler. “It was created by decree of Charles V in 1551, as was put in operation in 1553. Printing was introduced into Mexico ten years earlier. These cultural forces appeared in New Spain (Mexico) much earlier than they did in any of the other Spanish possessions in America. These are facts which may be pointed to with pride. It seems to me we ought to include the University of Mexico seal.”

The committee readily agreed. Mexico’s university predated Harvard, was the oldest in North America, and its connection to the history of Texas made it an obvious and appropriate choice. Mexico was substituted for Geneva.

The Board of Regents gave its approval at their meeting on June 17, 1932, but allowed the committee to make minor changes if needed. In early July, John Calhoun, the University Comptroller and a member of the committee, suggested that a female college be added to recognize the inclusion of women in higher education. As a final change, Vassar College replaced the University of Prague.

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Above: From left, the seals of Salamanca, Oxford, Paris, and Bologna on the west side.

With the list finalized, Battle set out to acquire printed copies of the seals or coats of arms. Some were found in books in the UT library, others obtained through correspondence.  “I wonder if you can help me out in securing a copy of the arms of the University of Bologna,” Battle asked the secretary of the Italy America Society in New York. “What I am looking for is a black and white print or Photostat of one from which our designer can evolve the form appropriate to the space at his disposal.”

While Battle required a black and white image to start, he also needed the correct colors. “The only place on which our seal appears in color,” said Frank Robbins, the assistant to the president of the University of Michigan, “is the flag which is annually carried at the head of the Commencement procession.” Robbins sent a copy of the 1931 graduation program, with an image of the UM seal printed on the front, and in pencil drew arrows to the various parts and listed the colors he saw on the flag.

Vassar College proved to be the most challenging, as it didn’t yet have a printed version of its seal to send. Instead, Battle received two imprints of the seal embossed on a single sheet of white stationery. “This is our only emblazoning and it is not used with colors,” explained a brief note from the president’s office. “Unofficially, the colors of the college are rose and gray.” A pair of short clippings of rose and gray ribbon was attached with a paper clip.

edinburgh“How do we best proceed to get them made?” Battle asked Paul Cret. The ornamentation was to be in the form of oval-shaped cartouches, not circular, formal reproductions of the seals, so there would be some artistic license in the finished product. “I am not easy in my mind by heraldic designs made by Texas artists. They do not know even the first principles of the art.”

The highly regarded Atlantic Terra Cotta Company in Perth Amboy, New Jersey was chosen. Headquartered just southwest of New York City, it was only 75 miles from Cret’s firm in Philadelphia, and Battle wanted Cret to oversee the design. The cost to produce the twelve cartouches was just under $1,400.

Above right: A terra cotta rendering of the University of Edinburgh seal.

Through the fall of 1932, sketches of the cartouches were prepared in Philadelphia, and then sent to Perth Amboy to be fashioned in terra cotta. They were installed in early March, 1933.

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Above: The process. From a drawing of the University of Virginia seal in Paul Cret’s office, to a rendering by the Atlantic Terra Cotta Company, to finished cartouche. 

“The university shields are now in place and as a whole have excited general admiration,” Battle wrote to Cret. “They give very attractive spots of color, and the designs in most cases can be made out well enough to understand them.” Unfortunately, the Salamanca, Virginia, and Vassar cartouches, “being all in one color, and that a dull one, can hardly be made out at all from the ground.” While not entirely colorless, most of the renderings for these three were a natural light grey, which made it difficult to see details. An oil-based paint was applied to brighten the hues and provide additional contrast.

On the Main Building, the university seals are arranged in order of the years they were founded.

Along the west side, from south to north:

bologna-coat-of-arms-cartouche

bolognaBologna (1088): The original seal of the University of Bologna (left) was pressed into hot wax to authenticate official documents, and its design was purposely intricate to discourage forgery. As it was too complicated to be easily understood as a cartouche, Cret and Battle opted to use the city of Bologna’s coat of arms instead.

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Paris (1200): Along with Bologna, Paris is one of Europe’s oldest universities. Here, the design was simplified. The flour-de-lis designs were eliminated to feature the “hand of God” delivering knowledge and wisdom from the heavens. Though the present University’s seal is blue and gold, Cret, a native Frenchman, used blue and red, the national colors of France.
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Oxford (1167): The Latin motto on the Oxford University seal on the open book is Dominus Illuminatio Mea – “The Lord is my light.” But look closely. The top left line reads “Domi,” and the second line “nus.” A slight error in the making of the cartouche has the top line “Dom” and the second “inus.”

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Salamanca (1230): In medieval Europe, the University of Salamanca, Spain was best known as a law school. The cartouche on the Main Building was the only attempt to stay true to the intricate design of the original university seal. Officially black and white, university colors were selectively applied to highlight the many details.

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Cambridge (1281): The Cambridge University coat of arms was granted in 1573 and consists of a red background and a cross of ermine fur between four gold lions. A book, placed horizontally with the spine at the top, is in the center.

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Heidelberg (1385): As with the University of Bologna, Heidelberg’s cartouche is a representation of the city’s coat of arms.

Along the east side, from north to south:

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Mexico (1553): The oldest in North America, the University of Mexico’s seal features the castle and lion, symbolic of the Spanish crown when Mexico was part of New Spain. It’s also seen on the Salamanca cartouche.

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Edinburgh (1583): The coat of arms for the University of Edinburgh features the blue, St. Andrew’s cross of Scotland with an open book of learning at the center, an image of Edinburgh Castle at the bottom, the thistle – the national flower of Scotland – at the top.

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Harvard (1636): The oldest university in the United States, Harvard’s motto – Veritas, or “Truth” – dates to 1643. At a New England regatta in 1858, Harvard crew members Benjamin Crownshield and Charles Elliot hurriedly supplied crimson bandanas to their teammates so that spectators could easily distinguish them in a race. Elliot was named Harvard’s 21st president in 1869, and served in that capacity for four distinguished decades. In 1910, the year after he retired, crimson was officially named the University’s color and added to the seal.

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Virginia (1819): Founded by Thomas Jefferson, the University of Virginia’s seal features an image of Athena, the goddess of wisdom, standing in front of the original mall and buildings of the campus, which Jefferson termed an “academical village.” As the seal was colorless, Cret’s office had to artistically add UVA’s orange and blue to the design.

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Michigan (1817): The University was founded in Detroit two decades before Michigan became a state, and its seal has been through several revisions. Currently all blue and maize, the description Battle received in 1932 included a red shield in the center. The design was simplified for artistic reasons – the sun and rays were eliminated – and the red shield became the predominant hue, though blue is still seen on the motto, Artes, Scientia, Veritas – Art, Science, Truth.

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Vassar (1861): Now co-educational, Vassar was founded as one of the first women’s colleges in the United States. The seal wasn’t approved by its Board of trustees until 1931, only a year before Battle requested a copy for use on the Main Building. The design features an image of Athena as the “patron of learning,” holding an olive branch as a symbol of civilization, and with a view of the Ancient Greek Parthenon in the distance. As with the Virginia seal, there were no colors yet assigned to it, though the College’s colors were unofficially rose and grey. Cret’s office had to make artistic decisions, and oil-based paint was used to color the cartouche.

Autumn on the Forty Acres

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Autumn has crushed her vintage from the wine-press of the year. December has arrived, a month for family reunions, frantic shoppers, Christmas sweater parties, and the Trail of Lights. On the Forty Acres, final exams have ended and the students have fled. The deserted walks have been temporarily ceded to the campus squirrels.

Just before the end of the semester, fall color made a brief but dazzling appearance. A balmy October and November kept the trees mostly green until the last minute, when a Thanksgiving chill prompted the leaves to turn all at once. The show peaked mid-way through finals – almost too late for most of the students to enjoy it – and lasted just over a week until a Texas Norther carried much of the color away.

While sunny skies and warm temperatures are often the rule, it’s good to know that the UT campus does indeed experience seasons.

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Above: Battle Hall is a fine sight any time of year. (Click on an image for a larger view.)

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Rusty-brown cypress and the deep green of live oak provide a great contrast to frame”the Family” statue in front of the McCombs School of Business.goldsmith-hall

The University of Texas seal is part of a decorative pediment on the north side of Goldsmith Hall, home to the School of Architecture.

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For a short time, the east entrance to Rainey Hall, on the South Mall, was full of color.

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Autumn made a singular statement in front of the Perry-Castaneda Library.

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Ranks of windows and balconies along the north side of Sutton Hall. Opened in 1918 as the Education Building, construction began a century ago, in January 1917.

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More fall color in front of the Moore-Hill residence hall, next to the stadium.

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Framing the UT Tower among the fall color was easy. Either floating in a sea of gold…

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… or bordered by red and orange. (Click on an image for a larger view.)

Pearl Harbor, and the Rose Bowl that was (almost) in Austin

coach-dana-bible-and-texas-longhornsWhen he was hired in 1937, UT head football coach Dana X. Bible (photo at left) claimed the Texas Longhorns would be a “winner of a football team” in five years. As the 1941 season loomed, the coach’s predictions seemed likely to come true.

Since its inaugural season in 1893, the University of Texas football program boasted a lengthy list of regional successes – including an undefeated squad in 1900 – but had yet to earn respect as a national power. By the 1930s the team was lackluster and inconsistent. The 1932 squad posted a respectable 8-2 record, but had slid to 2-6-1 by 1936.

Bible was recruited to change that. Having produced a series of highly respected teams at Mississippi College, LSU, Texas A&M and the University of Nebraska, Bible’s reputation was solid. His arrival in Austin was hailed as the start of a new era for Longhorn football, though it wasn’t without some controversy. The new coach was awarded a 10-year contract at the unheard of salary of $15,000 per year. (In comparison, the average UT professor made $3,750, while President Harry Benedict earned $8,000.)

The first two years at Texas were rough. Bible’s 1938 team posted only a single win before the program began to improve. But as the 1941 season approached, hopes and expectations were high among the Longhorn faithful.

life-magazine-cover-nov-17-1941The schedule opened with a 34-6 victory over the University of Colorado, and continued with decisive wins over LSU, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Rice. When Texas blanked Southern Methodist University 34-0, the Longhorns were routinely outscoring their opponents by more than 30 points. For the first time in UT’s history, the Associated Press (AP) ranked the Longhorns as the best in the country. Life magazine elected to make the team its cover story for the November 17th issue (photo at right), which was to be released just in time for the upcoming Baylor game.

The victory over SMU, though, exacted a price. Four key players were injured and would be unable to participate the next week. And Baylor, playing at home in Waco, was understandably motivated at the prospect of hosting the No. 1 team in the nation. The Bears fought hard to earn a 7-7 tie with Texas, and as there was no overtime, the score ended UT’s perfect record.

torchlight-parade-and-football-rally-1941That evening, a devastated Texas football squad arrived at the Austin train station at Third Street and Congress Avenue. They were met by thousands of supportive fans who escorted the team to campus with a torchlight parade, though the mood was tainted and somber. In recognition of the tie score, the Tower was floodlit half orange and half white, but when the next AP poll was released, Texas had fallen to No. 2, behind the University of Minnesota.

Texas Christian University was next on the schedule, and while the Longhorns tried to shrug off their disappointment in Waco, the “curse” of the Life magazine cover lingered. For most of the game, the score was again tied 7-7, but with eight seconds left in the final period, TCU’s Emory Nix completed a 19-yard pass to Van Hall in the end zone to give the Horned Frogs a 14-7 victory. Hapless Texas saw its ranking drop eight positions to 10th.

On Thanksgiving Day, UT was to travel to College Station to take on the Texas Aggies. Texas A&M was having a banner season. Undefeated and ranked second in the nation by the AP, the Aggies had already won the Southwest Conference Championship. They also had a jinx on the Longhorns.

red-candlesSince 1923 -for 18 years – the Longhorns had been unable to win a game at Kyle Field. Desperate to break the College Station spell, UT students consulted Madam Augusta Hipple, a local fortune teller. She instructed the students to burn red candles the week before the game as a way of “hexing” the Aggies.

Through the week of Thanksgiving, Austin shops found it difficult to keep red candles in stock. Candles were burned in store windows along the Drag, in the fraternity and sorority houses of west campus, in the lounges of university residence halls, and in the windows of Austin’s neighborhoods. Madam Hipple knew what she was doing. By uniting the football team and its fans with such a visible show of support, how could the Longhorns fail?

They didn’t. Texas went to College Station, defeated the Aggies 23-0, ended the 18-year jinx and restored their pride as the AP’s final poll listed Texas as No. 4.

The season wasn’t quite over though. Texas was to host the University of Oregon on December 6th, but the major bowls were already extending invitations. Many of the sports media predicted the Longhorns would travel to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl to play Pacific Champion Oregon State, but bowl officials were nervous about UT’s upcoming game with the Oregon Ducks. Earlier in the season, Oregon State had eked out a 12-7 win over their cross-state rivals. Suppose Texas was invited to Rose Bowl, but then lost their final regular game to Oregon, a team Oregon State had already defeated? To play it safe, the Rose Bowl invited Duke (then ranked No. 2) instead.

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Furious at being snubbed, Coach Bible announced that Texas wouldn’t accept invitations to any bowl games, and was eager to show the Rose Bowl officials what they might have had in Pasadena. In front of 30,000 fans, Texas overwhelmed ill-fated Oregon 71-7. There was no mistaking in Bible’s message. As a final curtain call with just a few minutes left in the game, the coach sent in his first string players to a standing ovation. Three plays later, as the crowd sang “The Eyes of Texas,” the Longhorns scored their tenth touchdown of the day.

paramount-theater-sargent-york-listing-december-7-1942Austin was still celebrating on the morning of December 7th. “Boy-o-boy!” exclaimed The Daily Texan, “Where is the Rose Bowl, and who cares?” After early church services, many students walked through downtown Austin in search of lunch. A few went to the Paramount Theater and paid the 40 cent admission to see the noontime showing of Sargent York, starring Gary Cooper. The top-grossing film of the year, it related the experiences of Alvin York, among the most-decorated American soldiers of the First World War. When the movie began, the audience knew that, despite what they saw on the screen, the world outside was still at peace. But as they left the theater, it was soon clear that everything had changed.

education-for-victory-pamphlet-ww-iiNews of the attack on Pearl Harbor reached Austin by 12:30 that afternoon, and shattered the joy of the football victory the day before. Most people huddled in groups around radios and listened for the latest reports. Evening events were cancelled, and Austinites with family stationed in Hawaii worried about the fate of their loved ones. “What do we do now?” was the question of the day. By Monday morning, military recruiting stations in town were busy, as were the offices of the Red Cross. Before the end of the week, UT President Homer Rainey had outlined a plan for the University to participate in the national war effort.

Fearing an air raid along the west coast, the U.S. Government prohibited all large public events for the duration of the war, including the Rose Bowl. Instead, the game was moved to the visiting team’s stadium, in this case, to the Duke University campus in Durham, North Carolina. Oregon State managed a 20-16 upset over the second-ranked Blue Devils, but if the bowl officials had invited Texas as was expected, the 1942 Rose Bowl would have been held at Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin.

Several of the images used in this post are courtesy of the Life magazine photo archives.