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October 1, 2004
Volume 42, No. 3

features

Spokesperson: UI employee speaks out, cycles for cancer cure
"It was 50 years ago today..." In the time of soda fourntains and polio, Iowa nabbed Willard Boyd
Campus employees try to balance politics, civility

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Promotion and tenure information available online
Committee solicits input regarding general counsel
Salaries indicated as a major factor in faculty resignations
ITS: Campus computer security still a big concern
Poet wins Capote award
UI Press to bring out two works of winning fiction

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“It was 50 years ago today…”


 
Photo: Students in skirts and bobby socks gather outside Whetstore Drug
From 1927 to 1962, UI students enjoyed Persian sherbets from the Whetstone soda fountain in downtown Iowa City. Photo courtesy of UI Archives.


In the time of soda fountains and polio, Iowa nabbed Willard Boyd

Photo: Willard
Willard “Sandy” Boyd served as UI president from 1969 to 1981 and as interim president from 2002 to 2003. Boyd currently is the Rawlings-Miller Professor of Law in the College of Law and interim director of the UI Museum of Natural History. Photo by the Office of Public Information Photo Unit.

Half a century ago this fall, the College of Law hired a young man named Willard “Sandy” Boyd to join its faculty—and thus began a long, enriching association between Boyd and the University. In 1969, after five years as provost, Boyd became one of the University’s youngest presidents at age 42. Although he left Iowa City in 1981 to take the helm of the Field Museum in Chicago, he was drawn back to campus in 1996 to teach law, and was convinced to reprise his role as UI president on an interim basis after Mary Sue Coleman’s resignation in 2002.

A lot has changed since Boyd first stepped foot in Iowa City in 1954. Here are some things the law professor and others would have noticed on campus back then:

• The University was known as the State University of Iowa, or SUI.

• Virgil Melvin Hancher was the University’s president. The Iowa native and UI graduate served in the office from 1940 to 1964.

• Students welcomed several new facilities: the Communications Center and Danforth Chapel had just opened the year before, followed by the Children’s Hospital of Iowa and Halsey Hall. Blueprints for Parklawn showed 53 new apartments geared toward married UI students.

• Forest Evashevski was the relatively new Hawkeye football coach. In the opening game of the 1954 season, Iowa defeated the defending Rose Bowl champions, Michigan State University, 14-10, and jumped to No. 3 in national polls. The team ended up having a less-than-stellar season that year but went on to win the Rose Bowl in 1957 and 1959. Frank “Bucky” O’Connor, meanwhile, coached the men’s basketball team to the Big Ten Conference title.

• Whetstone’s soda fountain, across from the Pentacrest on the northeast corner of Clinton and Washington streets, was a popular gathering spot for UI students. Dances held in the IMU Main Lounge as well as in the residence halls were another favorite social pastime.

• Hillcrest was the preferred residence hall among men. Additions in 1949 and 1956 made it the largest of the residence halls (until Burge opened in 1959), and it even had its own newspaper. Many UI athletes called Hillcrest home in 1954, including all-American football player Calvin Jones and basketball star Milton “Sharm” Scheuerman.

• The Coralville Dam wouldn’t be constructed for four more years, so flooding on campus was frequent and sometimes severe.

• With Jonas Salk’s discovery of a polio vaccine still a year away, the polio ward at UI Hospitals and Clinics was bursting at the seams. Rooms designed for two patients often held four adults or six children.

• The civil rights and women’s rights movements had yet to step into high gear, and Iowa City and the University campus were not immune to the racial and sexual discrimination that plagued the country. Women were only a small minority on the UI faculty and only one college dean (nursing) was a woman. Potential students were asked about race, color, and creed on their UI applications.

• An undergraduate named Jerry Silberman of Milwaukee was honing his acting skills as John Proctor in a campus production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. He also had recently portrayed Biff in Miller’s Death of a Salesman. Years later, he would rise to fame as a comedic film star in such hits as Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. The 1955 UI graduate is better known today as Gene Wilder.

• The first computer center would not be established for four more years, when a room in East Hall (now known as Seashore Hall) became home to an IBM 650.

• Some young Hawkeye fans these days learn the words to the “Iowa Fight Song” by Meredith Willson before they’re fully toilet-trained. But in 1954, the rousing school anthem was a toddler itself, having debuted just a few years earlier.

by Sara Epstein Moninger

Sources: A Pictorial History of the University of Iowa by John C. Gerber, the 1955 Hawkeye yearbook, and Calm and Secure on thy Hill by Larry Perl

 

Published by University Relations Publications. Copyright the University of Iowa 2003. All rights reserved.
   

 

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