(Editor's Note: This
is the first in an ongoing series of articles showing how Southwestern
College faculty are making an impact in a world without boundaries.)
Connections Are Music to SC Ears
relationship between Southwestern College and the Wichita Symphony Orchestra
Even before Michael Wilder joined the music
faculty in 1978, SC professors had played with this elite group of musicians:
Ross Williams honed his violin artistry there for decades while educating
generations of Southwestern music majors.
Perhaps never before has this relationship
had more synergy, though, than during the 23 years since Michael and
Joyce Anne Wilder simultaneously joined the Southwestern College faculty
and the Wichita Symphony Orchestra. Now professor of music and chair
of the performing arts division, Michael plays second clarinet in the
symphony; an adjunct faculty member at Southwestern, Joyce Anne is a
While this professional combination has
been ideal for the Wilders (feeding both their academic and artistic
sides), the ultimate beneficiaries of their dual careers have been Southwestern
College students and music-lovers in the community.
Because of his connections with the symphony,
Michael has been able to build on a practice of now-retired music professor
Jim Strand, bringing world-caliber musicians to the campus in conjunction
with their symphony appearances. As a result, SC students have had the
opportunity to hear and interact with such artists as Igor Kipnis (the
world's foremost harpsichordist), Michala Petri (arguably the best living
recorder player), and Jennifer Koh (an extraordinary 24-year-old violinist).
And the artists don't simply fly in to
town and on and off stage. Campus settings are provided that are informal,
often a morning 'Coffee Concert' or classroom experience.
"What these artists do in Wichita is wonderful,
but here they are able to talk to the audience, perform, and get to
know our students personally," Wilder explains. He works carefully with
management of the symphony to invite musicians who are personable and
articulate, and the result has been extraordinary connections between
the musicians and the academic community.
Violinist Corey Cerovscek, who was pursuing
doctorates in both music and mathematics by age 14, accepted Michael's
invitation to participate in a Southwestern faculty enrichment session
in 1998. Cerovscek was so intrigued by former mathematics professor
Reza Sarhangi and the college's integrative studies work that he became
an annual participant in the Bridges Conference celebrating the link
between mathematics and the arts.
The artists almost always are willing to
add the Southwestern appearance to their full weeks at a fraction of
their usual appearance fees; Michael estimates that the college pays
about 10 percent of the normal cost to piggyback onto the symphony appearance.
As a result, admission at the coffee concerts
and Winfield recitals is free.
"We don't want there to be any barriers
at the door to everyone having the opportunity to hear and meet and
interact with these artists," Wilder emphasizes. "We want to do everything
we can to encourage and strengthen music anywhere in the area."
The First Lady of the World Visits SC
By Jerry L. Wallace
Suffice it to say that if all the people
of the world cherished the same goals and practiced the same brotherhood
and love of fellow man [as does Eleanor Roosevelt], there would be no
need for the ministry: the millennium would be here.
--"Bouquets and Brickbats," Southwestern
Collegian, April 13, 1962
On a bright spring day in 1962, Eleanor
Roosevelt-one the most prominent and influential women of the XXth Century-visited
Southwestern College. No one was more pleased than Dr. C. Orville Strohl,
president of Southwestern College (1954-72), for it was his policy to
seek out and bring onto the Builders' campus leaders in all fields of
American life. It was not enough, however, for students to see these
movers and shakers of our world only at a distance on the stage of Richardson
Auditorium. Dr. Strohl wanted students also to have personal contact
with them and watch them interact with faculty, students, and townfolks
as they moved about their campus. In this regard, the visit of this
exceptional woman to the SC campus was perhaps his greatest success,
and one that he still recalls with pleasure and satisfaction to this
At the time of her visit, Eleanor Roosevelt
was a 77-year old widow. Her health was weakening. In early 1960, she
had been diagnosed with aplastic anemia. Determined to carry on, she
ignored, as best she could, the illness that came and went. The spring
of 1962 found her still fully engaged in public life, including writing
her daily newspaper column, "My Day." There was no slowdown, physically
or mentally, as was noted frequently during her stay at Southwestern.
Yet there were signs, according to her biographer, Joseph P. Lash, that
by early 1962, she sensed that Death's call was not far off. When not
traveling, she resided at her comfortable home, Val-Kill, at Hyde Park,
New York, surrounded by friends and family members.
It had been 17 years since the death of
her husband, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd president of the United
States (1933-45), who had led the nation through the dark days of the
Great Depression and then on to victory in World War II. For 12 years,
she had been an exceptionally active and often controversial First Lady:
F.D.R.'s eyes and ears.his good angel.beloved by many, hated by some.
Never in our history had there been such a First Lady. All Americans
But Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was much more
than the wife and widow of a former president. She was a remarkable
lady in her own right, having overcome personal misfortunes and difficulties
to become a noted writer, speaker, political and social activist, and
supporter of humanitarian causes. The post-War years found her working
on behalf of the United Nations, first as a U.S. delegate (1945-51),
heading its United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization
(UNESCO) Commission on Human Rights, and then as a vigorous supporter
of its work through the American Association for the United Nations.
She became identified with that institution and its good works. By 1962,
as one can sense during her Southwestern visit, most Americans no longer
perceived Mrs. Roosevelt as an embattled New Dealer. Instead, looking
beyond past political battles and her social and political ideas (which
were not always popular), the public saw her primarily as a women of
good will, warm-hearted, kind, with a deep sympathy for the underprivileged
of all nations. Eleanor Roosevelt had become one of the most respected
and admired women in the world. Upon her had been bestowed the title
of "The First Lady of the World."
What brought Eleanor Roosevelt to Southwestern's
campus on Friday, May 4, 1962? She had accepted an invitation extended
by the "Friends of Finley Committee" (a Cowley County-based political
group), Wes Syler, chairman, to participate in the opening of the campaign
of the Reverend S. Ben Finley, of Conway Springs, for the Democratic
nomination for the U.S. Senate. Why this show of support for Rev. Finley,
a popular minister and powerful speaker, but a political neophyte, lacking
a politician's temperament, who would soon bow out of the primary campaign?
Rev. Finley, while pastor of the Tisdale
Methodist Church (1952-59), located east of Winfield, had started a
program in May 1954 called the "Little United Nations." The Cowley County
chapter of UNESCO, of which Rev. Finley was chairman, sponsored it.
(Setting on the UNESCO Board was Murrel K. Synder ['29], an associate
professor of sociology and soon to be Southwestern's registrar; he also
chaired its education committee.) Giving it an important boost, the
Little UN had obtained the blessing of President Dwight David Eisenhower
and the active support of the U.S. State Department. It also fitted
in well with the Methodist Church's nationwide effort, "A Crusade for
World Order," undertaken in the month of February 1954 (and repeated
again in 1955), aimed in part at developing knowledge of and support
for the UN.
The Little UN brought together Heartlanders
and foreigners living in the area, along with representatives of the
State Department, UN, and foreign governments (mostly consuls stationed
in Kansas City), to discuss world issues. Rev. Finley, who shared many
of Mrs. Roosevelt's ideas, described the purpose of the Little UN as
"[b]ringing the world to the grassroots of Kansas so that we might understand
all nations and our own domestic needs." Meetings were held in Winfield
and Arkansas City, with a traditional closing dinner at the Tisdale
Methodist Church. Participants included area civic groups and Southwestern
faculty and students, along with students from other local colleges
and schools. The program was quite successful and received national
publicity. Unexpectedly, in May 1959, Rev. Finley disbanded the Little
UN at the conclusion of its sixth annual meeting. There were problems,
but the deciding factor, according to him, was the failure of local
sponsors (all but two) to support his proposal to have Eleanor Roosevelt
as speaker at the 1960 meeting. It was not long after this that Rev.
Finley left his charge at Tisdale for one in Conway Springs.
The Little UN had attracted Mrs. Roosevelt's
attention, expressing as it did her ideals while building support for
the UN in America's Heartland with its isolationist past. Over time,
she became acquainted with Rev. Finley and his work. She undoubtedly
welcomed the opportunity offered by the Friends of Finley Committee's
invitation to express her respect and admiration for this outstanding
man, this like-minded spirit.
Dr. Strohl and Southwestern's trustees
were pleased for the college to participate in the visit. Dr. Strohl
was acquainted with Mrs. Roosevelt from his days in Iowa with the Commission
on Christian Education, when she spoke to groups he sponsored. Dr. Strolh
also knew Rev. Finley, and admired and approved his work with the Little
UN. Moreover, Rev. Finley had attended Southwestern for a year in the
mid-1920s, while his son, Dennis R. Finley, had graduated from the college
in 1958. Dr. Strohl recognized that Mrs. Roosevelt's visit offered an
excellent opportunity for students to hear and met one of the outstanding
figures of the century. The college itself, of course, would benefit
from favorable publicity and gain prestige.
While the initiative for the visit was
political, the visit itself, given Mrs. Roosevelt's prominence and standing
as a world figure, took on a broader and nonpartisan aspect. Indeed,
given both her and Rev. Finley's focus throughout the visit on the United
Nation, the affair can be characterized as an effort on that organization's
behalf, rather than the Finley candidacy. Individuals, present at the
time, with whom I have spoken, often tend to forget the political nature
of the visit. Mrs. Roosevelt did, of course, speak kind words about
the candidate, who accompanied her throughout the day, along with a
bevy of Democratic Party officials, but she addressed in a nonpartisan
manner (as the press noted) students and the public on the pressing
issues of the day. While clearly a political affair, it is difficult
to think of it as such.
As for the times, Mrs. Roosevelt's visit
took place during the Cold War, long before the "Evil Empire" was swept
into the dustbin of history. Hanging over the world was the threat of
nuclear war and mankind's annihilation. On the very day of her visit,
as Mrs. Roosevelt lunched with the Southwestern faculty, the United
States set off, as part of its test program, a middle-sized nuclear
device in the atmosphere near Christmas Island in the Pacific. John
F. Kennedy had moved into the second year of his presidency. The Peace
Corps had been launched; Judith Charlton ('60) and Janice McKelvy ('62)
would soon answer the call for volunteers and in September depart for
Ethiopia and the Philippines, respectively. At the time of her visit,
President Kennedy was attacking Big Steel's price increases. Before
the end of the month would come "Blue Monday," the so-called "housewives'
panic" on Wall Street, which sent the Dow-Jones Average into its sharpest
drop since 1929. The Congress was then debating legislation that would
lead to the establishment of global network of space satellite, which,
it was predicted, would "revolutionize world communications." Later
that year, just before Halloween, the Cuban Missile Crisis developed,
with our nation and the U.S.S.R. moving to the brink, some say, of nuclear
war. It was truly, using W. H. Auden's perceptive phrase, "The Age of
What follows is a chronological account
of Eleanor Roosevelt's activities during her visit to Southwestern.
Arrival: Mrs. Roosevelt's plane
touched down at the Wichita municipal airport at 9:30 p.m., on Thursday,
May 3, 1962. A large and enthusiastic crowd greeted her. Among the welcoming
party were Mayor S. Andrew Swoyer of Winfield; officials from Cowley,
Sumner, and Sedgwick Counties, and a host of Democratic Party officials.
Escorted by Mrs. Eugene (Betty) Graham, Cowley County Democratic Party
chairman and her official hostess, Mrs. Roosevelt motored to Winfield,
where she spent the night at the Sonner Motel. She was not the first
Roosevelt to visit Winfield; her uncle, Theodore, had done so earlier
in the century. As Mrs. Roosevelt had no Secret Service protection,
local police officers were detailed to provide for safety. During her
stay on campus, three officers always were present.
Friday, May 4: This was to be a
full and busy day for Mrs. Roosevelt. It began with breakfast with Mrs.
Graham and women officials of the Kansas Democratic Party, including
Mrs. Georgia Neese Gray, former treasurer of the United States and national
committeewomen, and Mrs. Marie Vickers, state vice-chairman.
Address to Students: A little before
11 a.m., Mrs. Roosevelt's car drove up the drive (which then existed)
to the front of Christy. There, wearing a lavender dress and a black
beret, with eyeglasses with hearing aid, she was welcomed to the campus
by Dr. Strohl and members of the student council. The party then proceeded
into Richardson Auditorium, where she spoke to an assembly of 800, composed
of college and area high school students. As she entered, all present
rose and greeted the great lady with "thunderous applause." Jim Glenn
('62), student council president, escorted her; they were followed by
Rev. Finley and members of the student council. Merwin E. Mitchell ('62)
extended the welcome and Shirley Roberts ('63) presented her with a
gardenia corsage. Mrs. Roosevelt, introduced by Rev. Finley, gave a
30-minute talk titled "Youth Takes a Look at the World." The Courier
described the scene:
Talking in the relaxed manner of one who
does not require note cards, but speaks from the mind and heart, Mrs.
Roosevelt gave the assembled youth of this community a look at their
nation in relationship to the rest of the world.
She stressed the importance of knowledge
of the languages, problems, customs, and habits of other countries.
In this regard, Mrs. Roosevelt spoke of her high hopes for the Peace
Corps, especially a better understanding of other peoples that the volunteers
would bring back home. She pointed out that as the world grows smaller
and is tied more closely together, many problems within the U.S. cannot
remain domestic; as an example, she cited the food surplus problem.
To the students, she expressed a hope that "you will be given the courage
to study and look without fear at the problems of the world." An informal
question-and-answer period followed her talk, ending at noon. She departed
the auditorium as she entered it, to a standing ovation.
To insure that students had close contact
with Mrs. Roosevelt, Dr. Strohl had placed the student council in charge
of this event; the three chief participants had previously taken part
in the Washington Semester program. The May 18, 1962, issue of the Collegian
had this to say of their performance:
Jim Glenn [president of the student council]
has won many honors in his four years at Southwestern, but perhaps he
is deserving of no higher accolades than those due him and the student
council for the fine manner in which they handled the appearance on
our campus of the first lady of the world, Eleanor Roosevelt. The gracious
courtesy and the fine hospitality accorded this wonderful lady reflect
credit to our council and to our student body.
Private Luncheon: At 12:30, at
the Student Center, Mrs. Roosevelt lunched with a group of professors
and Democratic Party leaders from over the state. There were no empty
seats in the tri-dining room that noontime. Judith A. Huffman ('62),
accompanied by Jo Anne Bockhaus ('64), sang two vocal solos, "Romance"
and "Love Is Where You Find It." During the meal, Mrs. Roosevelt talked
informally on a number of topics:
I tell young people that instead of just
security they should really try to live life to the maximum-to do something
for the world to the best of their ability. They should feel that their
country and the world has profited some from their efforts..
We should make sure that young people understand
the difference between the communist and democratic forms of government
[state focus vs. people focus].
Communists have confidence that they can
win the struggle for world domination. It will be a long struggle, and
it is up to us whether we win or loose. Each individual must carry his
Following the luncheon, Mrs. Roosevelt
Press Conference: After an hour
delay, from 5:00 to 5:30 p.m. Mrs. Roosevelt held a press conference
in the Pounds Lounge, which was arranged by Glenn Newkirk, assistant
professor of journalism and director of Southwestern's news bureau.
It was well attended by the media from Winfield and nearby communities,
as well as by college and high school journalism students. Although
Mrs. Roosevelt had some trouble with her hearing aid, she was not disturbed
and answered all questions quickly and spontaneously. Topics included
problems of youth, Peace Corps, food for peace, training for diplomatic
service, threat of atomic war, reviving the Civilian Conservation Corps
(CCC), and the position of women in the field of political science.
In response to a question about the youth of the country "becoming demoralized
and going off on such tangents as 'the twist' [former President Eisenhower
had just criticized the dance]," she expressed confidence that they
would met crises and challenges as had all those who had gone before..
She also noted that youth faced so many more and such different problems
than in the past and that youth could not turn to their elders for guidance
because their elders themselves lacked answers.. She did not believe
there would be nuclear war because the U.S.S.R. realized the strength
of U.S. retaliatory power. She urged Americans not live in fear of it:
"Who knows what will happen tomorrow, so why live in fear?"
Barbecue: That evening, at 6:00,
Mrs. Roosevelt was the guest of honor at the "Finley for Senate" barbecue
at Southwestern's Sonner Stadium. She made a dramatic appearance in
a white convertible driven onto the field. This affair-a combined barbecue
and speech-officially opened Rev. Finley's campaign for the Democratic
nomination for the U.S. Senate. Tickets were $10 for couples and $2.50
for students, with the proceeds going to the campaign. The supper consisted
of barbecued beef and ham, French bread, baked beans, cole slaw, potato
salad, and coffee, catered by Bob-Inn. For the benefit of Catholics,
Bishop Mark Carroll of Wichita had issued a special dispensation permitting
them to partake of meat on this occasion. Mrs. Roosevelt declined an
offer to have her plate filled for her, insisting on "going through
the line just like everyone else." The Courier reported "She chatted
throughout the meal with those at her table and afterwards graciously
met many of the people attending the dinner." The girls of Intermediate
Scouts Troop 107 helped serve at the meal to 1,000 attendees. Later,
these young ladies had their photograph taken with the great lady herself.
Speech at Stewart Field House: Following
the barbecue, at 7:30 p.m., Mrs. Roosevelt, wearing a pink crepe dress
with lace bodice, spoke in Stewart Field House. Howard Elrod served
as moderator for the program. Mrs. Kenneth Shively furnished organ music
for the event. The Rev. C. P. Criss gave the invocation. Rev. Finley
spoke briefly on the importance of working towards better world understanding
and the purpose of the Little UN. Mrs. Georgia Neese Gray then introduced
Mrs. Roosevelt, whose topic was "Does America Face World Leadership?".
She began by reviewing how the U.S., at the end of World War II, had
been thrust "automatically" into world leadership, "without wanting
or preparing for [it]." Discussing U.S. effort to save neutral countries
from Communism, she observed that "sometimes we Americans are too anxious
to be liked when it is often more important to be respected." Noting
that many Americans felt there was no future for the world, which was
reflected in a "what's the use" attitude, Mrs. Roosevelt made her primary
point. She told of how during World War II a doctor in desperate circumstances
had responded to her questions of how he carried on: "As long as one
lives," he said, "one must live to the best of one's ability or one
dies." Mrs. Roosevelt then observed, "A nation who lives by this will
lead in the world and will perhaps save the world."
At the end of the talk, in a 20-minute
question-and-answer period, Mrs. Roosevelt responded to a variety of
questions, "quickly and profoundly." Some examples: She backed President
Kennedy fully in his action to roll back Big Steel's price hikes; "he
had no choice" but to act.. As for the John Birch Society, "They claim
they are anti-Communist," she said, "but their objectives are identical.
".Because of her war-like stand, Red China could not be admitted to
the UN.." Concerning medical care for the aged, against which the AMA
was waging a bitter fight, "Of course I approve of it."
Then, it was over: The end of a perfect
day-a sad time, a time for dear friends to part. Mrs. Roosevelt retired
to the Sonner Motel.
Departure: The following morning,
Saturday, May 5, Mrs. Roosevelt was escorted to the Wichita airport;
from there she continued on to her next engagement.
Closing Words: On May 18, 1962,
Dr. Strohl wrote to Mrs. Roosevelt: "It was a real privilege and joy
to have had you on our campus.. As you may have noticed., we are emphasizing
world affairs. You could detect the interest of the students, and that
they were proud, indeed, to be in charge of the assembly." Mrs. Roosevelt
responded: "This is just to express my gratitude for your letter.and
your kindness during my recent visit to your campus. I was happy to
be at Southwestern College and note the students' interest in world
As mentioned earlier, Mrs. Roosevelt suffered from aplastic anemia.
During her stay, according to press reports, she appeared vigorous and
alert and undertook a full and rigorous schedule. In mid-July 1962,
her health began to decline precipitously. Death came for her on November
7, 1962, six months after her visit to Southwestern, following a recurrence
of the tuberculosis she had acquired in 1919. The world mourned her
passing. With John Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower, and Harry Truman looking
on, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was put to rest next to her husband in the
rose garden at their Hyde Park estate.
Around the time of Mrs. Roosevelt's visit
to the Southwestern campus, the World Affairs Committee of the student
council, based on a survey of students, recommended the revival of the
Little UN, which had ended in 1959, under the sponsorship of the college.
With Dr. Strohl's full support, a Little UN Steering Committee was established
to plan the affair; it consisted of Mary Wentz ('63), chairman, Janice
M. Tucker ('64), Linda Nonken ('64), Gary Phillippi ('63), George "Bill"
W. Minturn, Jr. ('63), and Darrell K. Huddleston ('64). Their efforts
were successful. The first Southwestern Little UN, composed of 36 delegations,
met April 5, 1963. Mr. Andre Bovay, an official of the United Nations,
and Thomas Noone, information officer of the World Bank, were the principal
speakers. Thereafter, with a name change from "Little UN" to "Model
UN," annual sessions were held into the 1970s.
o o o O o o o
Jerry Wallace came to Southwestern as its
historian-archivist in September 1999. Since then, he has been working
to develop its archives and record its history. The Spring 2000 issue
of the Southwesterner contained his article on the Richardson Hall fire.
Below is his account of Eleanor Roosevelt's visit to the college in
May 1962. The article discusses not only individual events, but also
provides background to them. It is based on information taken from the
pages of The Winfield Daily Courier, supplemented by other sources,
including interviews with participants.