Coming on a promise
When I drove to then ISUE in 1968 at the old Centennial School, I met with Dr. David Rice in his office, which was no bigger or better than anyone else’s as I recall. Dr. Rice showed me the plans for ISUE (which included a new building at the current campus site that opened in 1969 – the building is now called the Wright Administration Building). Dr. Rice then drove me downtown (we had to pass Fulton Avenue which still had remnants of its red-light district days) where the brand new civic center and government and county building complex was being finished. I came to ISUE on a promise of a new and exciting university, as well as a new city recovering at last from the economic tribulations of the ’50s. Dr. Rice and Byron Wright (vice president emeritus for Business Affairs and treasurer emeritus) deserve a great deal of credit for what has happened in the last 40 years, and if you were there at the beginning, you would think even more so. These men had a vision and persevered against many obstacles.
Dr. Thomas M. Rivers
Professor of English
Director of Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Program
The shaping of a fledgling university
I probably represent the typical student from the early days of USI ("University") (then known as ISUE, but not because we wanted it that way). As the first person in my family to have a opportunity to graduate from college, I worked at Whirlpool Corporation from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. to finance my education. I would schedule the minimum of 12 credit hours and work full-time.
This was during the late 1960s and for many of us, our goal was to avoid involvement in the Vietnam conflict and continue our education. That all changed when the lottery for the draft was implemented. Most college deferments were eliminated, and all of us spent a "twilight-zone night," where we waited with our friends either (a) feeling bad for the friends with low lottery numbers, (b) connecting with our friends that were in limbo and probably going to be drafted or (c) enjoying the fact that some individuals had been selected as high numbers with little chance of being drafted. It is important to note that this event was not a reflection of our commitment for or against the Vietnam Conflict but rather a self-preservation exercise.
Once I knew I would not be drafted, I spent time getting involved in University activities. I was convinced that most students did not have a true connection to Indiana State University (ISU). We appreciated that ISU had been willing to adopt the University and to support its growth, but many of us believed that the real opportunity for University growth was to be an independent university. It is especially important to note that in the early days of the University, the direct involvement with ISU added great credibility to the degrees from the University.
|"This was during the late 1960s and for many of us, our goal was to avoid involvement in the Vietnam conflict and continue our education. That all changed when the lottery for the draft was implemented."|
Later, a student committee visited several universities throughout Indiana to look at their union buildings. The ideas developed from those visits were incorporated into the plans for the University Center including the tiered seating area (Pyramid Lounge) that allowed students to lounge informally. The dining area and outside walkway that overlooked Reflection Lake also were ideas from other universities.
The second key event was the building of the Rice Library. To be an independent university, the campus was required to have a library. There was a student committee established that did a mailing to citizens throughout the greater Evansville area. The goal was to solicit money to buy books and/or to request that books be donated to the new library. We believed that the community response would be greater if the students themselves managed the campaign. The campaign was a huge success and helped to establish the library as a key resource within the campus environment.
The third event occurred after I had graduated from the University. That event, the establishment of the University of Southern Indiana, was the culmination of ongoing efforts by community leaders, the administration and faculty of the University, students and alumni of the University, and members of the State Legislature. The University exists as an independent university because of the tremendous commitment and insights of community leaders that created Southern Indiana Higher Education (SIHE) to buy the land and to create a land-grant college within Southern Indiana. The land-grant concept was used in our discussions with the state legislature to distinguish our campus from other extension campuses for other Indiana universities. Those other universities did not want their extension campuses to be independent, so they initially blocked the University's efforts to separate from ISU. However, the land donated by SIHE was unique to the University. Equally important, the land has provided a beautiful setting for higher learning.
It is important for all of us who have been given an opportunity to attend and graduate from the University of Southern Indiana to follow the model established by the foundation. Our contributions to and ongoing support for the University will create opportunities for future students to have the same advantages that were provided to us.
Robert Roeder ’71, management
Principal/Consultant, Mercer Human Resource Consulting
Meeting a mate
I met a delightful young lady (Diana Hale ’71) in my freshman English composition class in fall 1967. We married two months before my Commencement, and I was fortunate to have an excellent job waiting. Still together 33 years later, we look fondly on our years at ISUE, especially our very humble beginning at the old Centennial School.
Chris Melton ’72, marketing
Executive Vice President
Ohio Valley National Bank
Present at birth
I am one of only two people still remaining at the University of Southern Indiana who were actually present for its birth in 1965, and, like any proud parent would, I feel compelled to relate some of the University’s history to you. I'm going to reflect a little about those early years, because I want you to know and to see how far we've come these past four decades.
Let us step back in time to 1965. Imagine going to college in a very old grade-school building, with creaky wooden floors, windows that allowed the snow and rain to sit on their inside sills, and a total full-time faculty of two professors, plus a handful of part-time instructors. Would you have liked having classes only between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday? That means no class on Friday – no class before noon. Perfect, you say! Well, that was truly the scenario that first academic year! Of course, it didn’t stay that way long! Student enrollment increased so much that by the second year, the starting time for classes was moved to noon and by the third year, we were offering classes all day long, five days a week. However, we were still just an extension of Indiana State University, and we only offered the first two years, so it was necessary, at the end of that time, for students to transfer elsewhere to finish their education. Finally, though, by 1971, we had added the last two years of coursework and we began graduating our own students here in Evansville.
|"Seldom have I known a year on campus when we were not in the middle of a construction project! "|
It is difficult for me to imagine that all of this has happened in my tenure at USI — it seems like yesterday that it all just began, at which time I was only 24, just a little older than most of you. I have always felt honored and very special to have been present for USI’s birth 40 years ago, to have been present through its formative years, and now to still be present as it moves on to the next level in its quest to serve the educational needs, not just of southern Indiana, but the entire state. For as our campus has grown, so has our educational influence.
However, let us not forget the most important part of this whole equation. (Did you hear that word “equation”? You really must humor me because you know I do teach mathematics!) The important part of this whole equation is you, the many graduates before you, and the ones that will follow after you. You are the ones who have really benefited from the labors of the many people who made this university a reality. Reflect for a moment on their supreme efforts, for if it were not for these outstanding men and women, you would not be sitting here today. Make them proud of you! Make their efforts worthwhile!
I suppose by now you have surmised how much I’ve enjoyed — no, let me rephrase that — how much I’ve really loved spending almost all my entire career at this fine institution. Through the years, I have often thought of the wisdom of Confucius, who said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” That quote has certainly applied to me and I hope it will apply to you in your future careers as well! Congratulations!
Instructor in Mathematics
2005 Commencement Reflection
Pride in Centennial School
USI had its humble beginnings in my alma mater, dear old Centennial School, named such because it was built 100 years after the Declaration of Independence. When I graduated from there in 1935, I was proud to be the student speaker. Then I became a teacher and in June 1965 I was the speaker for the last graduating class. It broke my heart when I thought it would be abandoned, but made me very proud when it became the home of ISU. I feel my school had an important role in USI’s beginnings. (Incidentally, I never thought it was a shabby old school…but one that will stand majestically in my memory.)
Marcella (Horny) Stein
I remember starting at the Centennial location in the fall of ’67 after a year of party at IU. In those days it was a lot more like my "small town" high school. The classes were small and the instructors spent a lot of time and effort with their students. Dodging the falling plaster also helped my coordination.
I was in student government in ’68-’69 and saw the new campus being built. Then I had to go to Terre Haute for classes I couldn’t get at ISUE in ’69-’70. I returned to the new campus in ’70-’71 and was in the first commencement exercise on the lawn in front of what is now the administration building (all 151 of us).
I returned to take graduate classes in ’77 and completed a Master of Public Administration [then offered by Indiana State University on the USI campus] in ’79.
I returned to USI in ’99 and graduated in the class of 2003 (there were over 1400 of us that time) with a degree in computer information services.
The staff and faculty were still very helpful and considerate of student needs. There are so many memories I could probably write a book.
John Schroder ’71, management, ’03, computer information systems
Assistant Director, Vanderburgh County Office of Family and Children
More than one building
The first time I heard about a new university in Evansville was Palm Sunday, April 11, 1965, while attending an Indiana Business Officers’ meeting at Notre Dame. On this date, 11 tornadoes swept through 20 counties in Indiana killing 137 residents.
At a reception that evening, the business officer of Evansville College told a group of us that Indiana State University was going to start a campus in Evansville. He also stated that this would possibly have a negative effect for Evansville College. I didn’t give this much thought since I was worried about getting back to Muncie the next day.
Then in the latter part of July 1967 a colleague at Ball State told me that he had placed my name in the hat for the position of business manager of the Evansville Campus of ISU. I still didn’t know much about the Evansville campus. Later David Rice called asking if I would be interested. I then interviewed with Dave and later with Ken Moulton, vice president and treasurer of ISU in Terre Haute.
|"When we drove into the parking lot at Centennial School, I thought, 'Oh, no!'"|
I was employed to start at Evansville on September 1, 1967. On August 18 my family and I arrived in Evansville to look the city over and to find a place to live. When we drove into the parking lot at Centennial School, I thought, “Oh, no!”
I went into the building to see one of the present administrators to find out about possible housing and to look the place over.
Then I was given directions to where the new campus was being planned. We drove out and turned onto the lane that led into the farmland that was to be the new campus. It was easy to see how the plans I saw in Terre Haute would merge to this location. The hill on which the farmhouse and barn stood and the flat land surrounding relieved me of any fear that I had made a wrong decision to come to Evansville.
This weekend was the Germania Maennerchor which was close to our motel, so we were able to get the feel for at least one social activity of the city.
In the Sunday paper we found a few houses for rent and rented one with occupancy starting September 1. On that day we moved into our new place of residence; and I began my first day of work at what is now the University of Southern Indiana.
Vice President of Business Affairs and Treasurer Emeritus
The perfect fit
I returned from Vietnam August 23, 1969. I saw in the Courier that a new school was opening that Thursday. I had gone to University of Evansville right out of high school, but after four years in the USAF, I just wanted to get through college and get a job. ISUE was the perfect fit.
There were many veterans like me. Using the GI Bill and with a night job at the post office, I was in the second graduating class in 1972. The first class I had was Economics 101 with David Deen. He encouraged me to apply myself. While at USI we started Alpha Kappa Psi and the intramural sports program. The veterans started the Gaffers – we were football and softball champs all my three years (’70-’72).
I’ve lived across from campus for over 30 years and have served on the Alumni Council and as chairman of the Varsity Club. My son graduated from USI in 2004.
I’ve seen USI grow from 54 who registered with me to 10,000 plus. Without USI I doubt I would have gone back to school.
Thanks for everything.
Roger L. Griffin ’72, marketing
President, Brucken’s, Inc.
Paycheck on bus
One of my lingering memories of the early days of ISUE is that we used to have to wait for the Greyhound bus to arrive from Terre Haute before we could get paid. Since we were officially part of the Indiana State University family back then, checks (and, of course, they were paper checks – no electronic payments) were cut in Terre Haute and shipped down here by bus. If the bus was late, the checks were late. I recall many an afternoon waiting patiently for the check-bearing bus to arrive!
Dr. John Gottcent
Professor of English
West Side Nut Cub
The West Side Nut Club was an integral part of getting USI (ISUE) to Evansville’s West Side. Mayor Frank McDonald Sr. contacted Dr. [Vic] Johnson (Nut Club president) and told him that there was a good possibility that a state university might be located in Evansville. He asked for Nut Club support to bring it here and help support it. The West Side Nut Club has supported USI (ISUE) from its infancy to the present.
Past President and Past Festival Chairman
West Side Nut Club
I am ISUE
I first came to ISUE in fall 1973 as a freshman. The campus was fairly new and there were few buildings. First-aid class was held in the basement of the library. Math class was in the basement of the science building. Accounting and psychology classes were held in the forums in the science building. I majored in accounting and then changed to business all in the same year.
There was air conditioning in the buildings! (We sure didn’t have that in high school.)
|"The day they brought in our first computer was a day to truly rejoice! The computer was huge! It took up an area about as big as a desk! It was a timesaver."|
I was a student worker in the registrar’s office, which was in the same large room as Financial Aid, Admission, and other departments. I worked for John Deem’s secretary.
There was a large record vault where we kept student folders. I did a lot of filing in that vault. I also typed letters. What a chore that was! We had a manual typewriter. If we made a mistake, we had to erase it. If we erased too much, we would get a hole in the paper and have to start over. The day they brought in our first computer was a day to truly rejoice! The computer was huge! It took up an area about as big as a desk! It was a timesaver. It meant we could type letters on the computer, makes changes on the computer, and mass produce hundreds of the same letter instead of typing each individually. We were sold! I enjoyed working in the registrar’s office where we also took pictures for student IDs, and copied transcripts for graduates. I remember signing students up for classes. We had small rectangular pieces of paper about index-card size. Within the area were boxes that had the numbers 5, 10, 15, 20, etc. As a student signed up for a class, we would make a hash mark in the box. Once the paper was filled, the class was closed.
I quit college after my freshman year, because I was scared to take speech. I thought at the time that perhaps one day I would come back to ISUE and work in the registrar’s office.
A few years ago I came back to USI to work on an associate degree in computer information systems. I took a couple of classes each semester until I finished. One of the first classes I took was speech and I got an “A.” It wasn’t as hard as I thought. Of course, being older made it a little easier because I knew more and could talk about what I knew. I kept applying to work at USI. Finally, when I finished my degree, I was hired to work in the Pott College of Science and Engineering. I enjoy my job here at USI helping the students and teachers. It is great to see the growth, not just in the buildings but also in the number of students and of individual students. I am proud to be a part of USI.
Susie Schmitt ’03
Pott College of Science and Engineering
Remembering Centennial School
The number 412 is significant to me.
The 412 I’m referring to is not the area code of a region in Pennsylvania.
|"At 18 I wasn’t interested in the news from my mother, but when I heard the radio announcement, the possibility seemed intriguing.."|
And it is not a statistic showing 412 hit results from a Web page.
I am one of the 412.
I am one of the 412 students who enrolled for the first semester Indiana State University Evansville opened.
I graduated from high school in June 1965, and that summer I heard a radio announcer report that students could apply for college at a new branch campus in Evansville. My mother had read about the new opportunity in the newspaper and encouraged me to apply. At 18 I wasn’t interested in the news from my mother, but when I heard the radio announcement, the possibility seemed intriguing.
I’ve never regretted mother’s prompting or my decision to enroll. I worked as a clerk typist in retail advertising for the Evansville Printing Corporation, the company that printed the Sunday Courier and Press, the Evansville Courier, and the Evansville Press.
I took classes during evenings the first year. Later, as more daytime classes were added, I enrolled for a class over my lunch hour, too. It was a short drive from downtown Evansville to the campus on 12th Avenue, so I could make the class and get back in time to punch the time clock. A red light or slow train could throw me off schedule, but that seldom happened.
I met wonderful new friends, excellent teachers who opened new learning opportunities, and inspirational people who helped me establish a career in public relations. Dr. and Mrs. David Rice, Mr. Byron Wright, and Dr. Donald Bennett knew me as a student worker in the administration office on Saturday mornings.
I’d hear about plans for the new campus on the side of town I called home. I met local opinion leaders and business executives who believed in the dream of public higher education. I saw the enthusiasm and dedication of the administrators who developed the dream. And when I was offered the position of secretary to the dean, I accepted the fall after I finished my degree requirements in Terre Haute. Not all classes were available yet in Evansville, so I had to take two German classes that summer to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.
I am one of the 412 who has been fortunate to live the dream.
Kathy Will Funke
Director, News and Information Services
When the madrigal dinners began, they were a pretty big affair done on a shoestring budget.
The event was the idea of David Deeg, USI’s first music director. Dr. David Rice, USI’s first president, liked the idea and proposed that the church he attended, Howell United Methodist Church, help by catering the dinner. Men and women from the church pitched in to make the foods — roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, plum pudding, and more. First, they had to learn how to make Yorkshire pudding. No one knew how.
The food was transported from the church to the University by numerous trips in cars and vans. The volunteers even served the meal. At the time, the dinners were held in the temporary student union building. Howell United Methodist Church worked on the project for the first three years until the University was able to afford a caterer.
Shirley Bryan ’95, Administrative Associate (retired)
Bower-Suhrheinrich College of Education and Human Services
Mid-America Singers, madrigals, and musicals
I [formerly Judy Deeg] am going home — home with a new baby! A new home and a new University! David Rice was hiring faculty for the school that was nearing completion on the west side of Evansville, and we were to be part of those exciting times. A picnic was scheduled on the new campus for newcomers. There was David Rice, president of the University, in casual clothes seated on top of a picnic table with a bright yellow cap on his head, welcoming all in attendance. He was friendly and made us feel important to the success of the vision he had for the education of students in Southern Indiana. Dr. Rice had assembled a young faculty and joined to them some older members who could provide wisdom, guidance, and experience — a great combination. Some of my former teachers at Bosse High School were part of the team.
In those early days and nights, Betty and David Rice promoted esprit de corps by inviting us to their home on a regular basis for dinner and a wonderful evening of Betty’s great food. She had an easy flair for entertaining and was a master at gracious hospitality. The Board of Trustees and faculty were there. Actually, no one would miss a chance to go to one of her parties. Enthusiasm was high. We were a team working together on something important – something that would last and provide opportunities for the children of our state, particularly our end of the state. The social events helped make us a cohesive group. We knew each other and wanted to help each other succeed. David and Betty made us one unit. It was part of their plan. The future held great promise.
Betty helped me organize parties for students and faculty and sent to my home all the equipment I needed for entertaining and serving. She gave me recipes that would serve 25 to 50 people and were easy to prepare. She encouraged all of us to promote the activities of the new school.
I assisted with the promotion of the University through the Mid-America Singers, which I named. Using the state motto, Crossroads of America, the name Mid- America came to mind. It was approved and that is the name today. The purpose of the vocal group was to be an ambassador for the University. The group sang all over town.
Then came the Madrigal Dinners, held at first in the cafeteria of the school. Betty Rice baked all the plum pudding served at the first dinners, including enough to sell. All the costumes came from a professional costumer at the Indiana University School of Music Opera Department. A trip to New York was planned to get the trimming for the costumes. Feathers and fur from the garment district gave us all the trim — ermine, mink and sable as well as other skins — for the Elizabethan costumes.
The faculty wives came to my home in Howell to work on sewing trim on the costumes. My living room was filled with beautiful garments and Lynda Wilhelmus, Polly Bigham, Pam Deem, Mary Alice Bertram, Anne Denner, and others worked on the embellishment of the costumes. We all thought they were spectacular. Marilou Berry, a new reporter at the Evansville newspapers covered the story. It was the beginning of a friendship that lasted all the rest of Marilou’s days. She died last year, and I lost my dear friend who also was a big part of the team that helped ensure the success of the university.
The Madrigal Dinners were highly successful. The first Madrigal was sold out. The songs and dances were performed and the dishes had to be washed, so Betty Rice and I washed them in the small dishwasher in the School of Business lounge. We loaded and unloaded the dishes until the job was completed.
A musical, the first for ISUE, was planned. By then, the association with New Harmony was being established through the History Department. Thralls Opera House in New Harmony was the ideal place for the musical, “I Do, I Do,” a romantic story about a couple who marry and grow old together as a loving couple. During the performances I was in the rafters dropping curled up cloth ribbons for one of the scenes. The show was a financial success.
A bed was the featured setting in the musical. A man on the west side of Evansville who was a popular cabinetmaker fashioned a miniature replica, which I recently turned over to the University. I still have a second miniature bed representing the “I Do, I Do” musical.
Because of the wonderful support of Betty and David, I received a scholarship and a student loan to attend ISUE and complete my degree. I earned a B.S. in education and qualified to teach in Indiana. As strange as it seems, I had already been a teacher in Hawaii at a high school on the Island of Maui. I taught art and history to gifted children. At this time I was a housemother at Maunaolu College.
Now it is almost 40 years since I met that wonderful couple who helped me and oh so many others achieve success in their life endeavors. We all worked together, and look what the team accomplished. The enrollment is over 10,000. People do make a difference, and I for one am happy we had these diamonds in our own back yard.
Judy Morton ’73, elementary education
The year was 1972 and I had just arrived at Indiana State University Evansville in February. The campus was small in those days and I would have to say, a little laid back. To prove both points, I will relate a story about the day a Board of Trustees member, the admission director, and I played a little hooky right on campus. I got a call from Paul Bessler, the admission director wanting to know if I would help him with a problem. Paul had been an excellent golfer in his college days and, had it not been for the need to have a steady income, he would have tried the professional golf tour. He had received a call from John McCutchan, an Indiana State University board member and a strong supporter of ISUE. John was having trouble with his golf game and was seeking Paul’s help. Paul had told him that the University had a new video camera that could capture John’s golf swing on tape and could do wonders for helping John understand his problems. Paul wanted me to help set up the camera while he gave John instruction. Since there was a board member involved in this little diversion, I could not say anything but “yes.”
|"The campus was small in those days and I would have to say, a little laid back. To prove both points, I will relate a story about the day a Board of Trustees member, the admission director, and I played a little hooky right on campus. "|
In the end, the competition got so intense that the three of us lost all track of time. I don’t know if John McCutchan’s golf swing got any better after this experience. I do know that Paul and I may not have accomplished much in the office that day, but when it was over, we had a very happy board member and an even stronger supporter of the Evansville campus. As a result, I guess we really did get our jobs accomplished that warm spring afternoon and had much fun doing it.
Vice President Emeritus for Business Affairs
and Treasurer Emeritus
Climbing in for a first look
The summer of 1969 was a life-changing one for Charles and Mary Alice Bertram. As students at Indiana University, Charley finished his course work for his doctorate and I finished mine for an education specialist degree. We both still had to do our research and finish our writing, but we were moving! He had a dissertation and I had a lengthy original research paper to complete. On July 29, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, and we bought our first house, where I have continued to live. While house hunting, we decided to check out the new, under construction, westside campus of Indiana State University-Evansville, where Charley had been hired to teach mathematics. One hot Sunday afternoon in July we made our visit. The building, which was to house both the administration and classrooms was locked, but had no glass in the windows. We climbed in and had our first look at ISUE and wondered if it would be ready for students in the fall! Classes were delayed two weeks while the campus was completed, and the staff and administration moved in. Because of heavy rains, mud, and a small amount of pavement, Charley’s boxes of books and math materials were hauled to the building in Jeeps. In September, classes started, and the impact of this regional campus on Southwestern Indiana and the Tri-State was soon felt.
Mary Alice Bertram
Widow of Dr. Charles J. Bertram, Professor of Education and Mathematics
Pre-foodservice dining in car
I attended ISUE (then) in 1968-70. I didn't think it would become the large campus that it is now. When it relocated in 1969, I would go to the parking lot and eat my mom's prepared lunches in the car. This was before a cafeteria/refectory was built. I was able to complete my B.A. 20 years later at Providence College in Rhode Island. The two-and-a-half years at ISUE really helped out toward this!
How I almost lost my job
In the “good ole days,” young administrators (actually we were all young administrators in those days) were asked to wear many hats. If you didn’t look like you had enough hats, you were given another one. In 1973, ISUE was not a large enough campus to have a director of student activities. Since it was determined that I didn’t yet have enough responsibilities and because in my college days I had been president of the Student Union Board at Ball State University, I was asked to help organize some student activities. This was generally very difficult because of the commuter nature of the campus and the tendency of the students to head for home or to a job immediately after classes let out for the day. Getting the students back to campus on the weekends was nearly impossible. However, being adventurous, my small group of student leaders and I tried to organize an activity that would break the mold.
We planned an all-night movie marathon to be held in the Forum, which at that time was the largest open space on campus. Our idea was to hang a big sheet on the wall and let the students bring in blankets, sleeping bags, and other items needed to spend the night. We knew that if the students did come, we needed some rules and would need security just to make sure that nothing got out of hand. The rules that had been given to us by the Administrative Council were pretty simple — no alcohol, drugs, or hanky-panky allowed.
At the time, the campus had a security guard named Bill Finn — tall in stature and broad in the shoulders. If you looked at him, you just knew that you were not going to do anything wrong if he had any chance of catching you. As an administrator, you also knew that behind this façade, Bill was really a very gentle soul and someone who could calm any student confrontation just by his mere presence. Bill knew when to act and when to look the other way. This gift made him invaluable as a campus security officer, both to students and administrators since he had everyone’s trust and respect.
When the night of the event finally arrived, we didn’t have a clue if anyone would show up. But about 7:30 p.m. the doors started to open frequently, and before long we had a crowd that far exceeded our wildest dreams. The movies started and everyone was having a great time. A break between movies was announced at about 9:30 p.m., so everyone was up and around socializing. Suddenly who should come through the Forum door but President David Rice and his wife Betty. They were on their way home from another event and had decided to stop by the Forum to see how things were going. The Rices saw Bill Finn and me standing together and headed toward us. No sooner had they taken a few steps, when from out of nowhere, someone kicked an empty bottle in front of the Rices. It was not just any empty bottle, but an empty beer bottle. At that moment the world stopped turning. For what seemed to me like five minutes but was probably only a second or two, everything stopped and nobody said a word. Everyone was wondering what would happen next. I knew what would happen next. I was going to be unemployed. However, without skipping a beat and seemingly without even noticing, President Rice stepped right over the bottle and shook hands with both Bill Finn and me. Then he said to Bill, “How are things going Sgt. Finn? Is everything under control?” Bill Finn just smiled a big smile (make no mistake — he, too, had seen the bottle) and replied, “Yes sir, no problems at all. Everybody is just having a good time.” President Rice said, “That’s good. It certainly looks like everyone is having a good time.” With that President and Mrs. Rice exchanged a few pleasantries with some of the students and then turned and started to leave the building. I knew I still had my job, because there was just a little grin on his face as he turned back at the door and gave me a thumbs up as he passed through the doorway. That is how things were in 1973 when times were much less complex than they are today.
Vice President Emeritus for Business Affairs
and Treasurer Emeritus
In 1954, I graduated from Centennial Grade School.
In 1962, I started teaching at Centennial Grade School.
In 1965, I enrolled in college classes at Centennial Grade School (ISUE/USI) in preparation for graduate work.
Enrollment in ISUE — a hot
ticket in September 1965
Dr. William Jones came to Evansville with the task of opening a branch of Indiana State University. He had an abandoned school building named Centennial that sat at the corner of Indiana and St. Joe Avenue on Evansville’s west side. I was working for the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation as a counselor at Reitz High School. At the same time, I was working on my doctorate, plus teaching psychology courses in Henderson and Madisonville for the University of Kentucky. Dr. Jones offered me a job teaching psychology courses for the new branch. I was delighted because Centennial was less than one mile from my home compared to the travel for U of K. The money was the same.
Dr. Jones conducted a pre-enrollment to help determine the number of students per classroom. The branch also offered enrollment the first day of class. All classes were taught between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. There were no daytime classes. I think that was because there were no teachers available during the day. We were all “adjunct” or part-time.
|"I thought that first night experience would discourage about half of the students from returning, but to my surprise the second meeting brought back 65 hardy souls."|
As I stood at the door to my classroom, students started to arrive. Quickly the 36 chairs were occupied, and students kept coming. Some sat on the floor; others stood. By 6 p.m., I had 67 students crammed in a room designed to hold 36. There were no window shades and, obviously, no air conditioning. Breathing was a challenge.
I will never forget that one student asked me what the appropriate dress would be. I thought for a second and replied that anything goes. I estimated the temperature to be 100 degrees. I had worn a suit and tie. At the end of the first night’s session, I had lost four pounds and many of the students equaled or surpassed that.
I dismissed the class 30 minutes early to check on additional seating and texts. Dr. Jones, his secretary, and I finally secured enough chairs for 48 students. The main campus in Terre Haute was to send additional textbooks and supplies, which didn’t arrive for two weeks.
I thought that first night experience would discourage about half of the students from returning, but to my surprise the second meeting brought back 65 hardy souls. One student brought a thermometer to measure the temperature and, sure enough, it topped 105 degrees. Another asked if she could bring some type of cover for the west windows. There was another enterprising student who asked permission to bring in some folding chairs from her church. These people were fantastic. They truly wanted an education and they were willing to sacrifice to get it.
The students were a wonderful mix of recent high-school graduates to Korean vets going to school on the GI Bill. Most of them were working full time and wanted to further their education in the evening.
After a few meetings things began to fall in place. The classes were held two nights per week for two hours each.
I remember the enrollment kept growing and after a few semesters we needed two adjunct professors to handle the psychology classes. Two different courses were offered. One was general psychology and the other was child and adolescent psychology.
One semester we had both courses being taught and for some reason the professor who was teaching the general psychology course left in the middle of the semester. That left Dr. Jones in a very precarious position. Forty students had signed up for the course, paid their fees, bought texts, and supplies, and there was no teacher. I was working full time for the EVSC, teaching two nights a week for ISUE, and had a family. I agreed to teach the other class which meant I taught four nights a week. At the end of that semester, I was “wiped out.” By the beginning of the next semester, another psychologist was recruited, thank God. ISUE offered summer school every year. It is of interest to note that several students who enrolled in my classes were ones that did not regularly attend ISUE. Most of them were from other institutions of higher learning. I remember students from almost all the Tri-State colleges and universities plus some from as far away as Michigan, New York, and Colorado. They were wanting to pick up extra credits to transfer to their home schools.
I taught at ISUE for several years, and the overall quality of the students
was excellent. They were eager to learn, and many of Evansville’s leaders
came through the doors of ISUE.
Gerald T. Jessee, Ph.D.,
The family farm
When Indiana State was looking for a new location [in Evansville], I had a client who was willing to give up her family farm if the new school was located on the West Side.
The head of the West Side savings and loan worked out a deal where she transferred her land to the church, and it obtained a large Newman Center tract on the West Side campus.
Editor's Note: Mary Nurrenbern left land in her will to the Catholic Diocese, stipulating that some of it be set aside for a Newman Center and a parish church, the location of which would be determined later. The Catholic Diocese gave the land to SIHE but retained a tract in the event it wants to establish a Newman Center.
I will never forget the first registration at USI. I was an accounts payable clerk for the bookstore and helped the cashier when needed. It was a very welcoming experience – especially for those who were not familiar with the area and needed information.
Santa Claus, Indiana
Centennial and back
I started kindergarten at Centennial grade school in 1952. Grades one through six were at West Heights and grades seven and eight again at Centennial. Then I went on to F. J. Reitz, graduating in 1964. Many college-bound students from Evansville attended Indiana State University at Terre Haute, so I spent my first year of college at ISU. Then, lo and behold, in 1965 a small satellite of ISU started at my old grade school. How cool! To save my parents some money I decided to enroll for the fall classes in 1965. Now I was at ISUE. Some of the instructors at ISUE were the same teachers I had at Reitz — Mrs. Fury for one. Four years in the U.S. Air Force, marriage, family and work delayed graduation until 1981.
David L. Schneider ’81, marketing
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