The Summer Session at Wake Forest College, 1921-1964

Wake Forest Magazine, August, 1964

THE FOUNDING of Wake Forest College was one of the manifestations of the intellectual and humanitarian awakening known as the Jacksonian Age, symbolized by the motto on the College seal: Pro Humanitate. Born in a period of change in the forests of Wake County 130 years ago, the College of Wake Forest has developed as an educational institution to the relative size of one of the giant oaks which once overshadowed it. It has achieved its present stature by the ability and willingness of its founders, faculty, and philanthropists to adapt to changing times. Nowhere has this spirit of change been more manifested than in the summer session.

Although informal instruction was given in the summer by the faculty of the Law School from its beginning in 1894, the summer session as a distinct part of the educational program of Wake Forest was not officially established until 1921. It was in the inevitable changes following World War I that the summer session was born. While the idea perhaps originated with President Poteat, the arrival on the campus soon after the war of two young faculty members helped spark the movement. Hiram T. Hunter, who joined the faculty in 1920 as Professor of Education, was a graduate of Teachers College of Columbia University. A. C. Reid, who also came in 1920 as Professor of Philosophy, had had three years of experience as Dean of Piedmont Normal Summer School at Anderson College in South Carolina. Their knowledge and experience, joined with President Poteat's concern, and the increasing demand for summer instruction on the part of students and public school teachers, prompted the faculty to propose, and the Board of Trustees to approve, the use of College facilities for a summer session in 1921. For the first three years the summer session was under the direction of Dr. Hunter. Classes met one hour each day, five days each week for six weeks and yielded two semester hours credit. Regular college students, teachers, and college preparatory students were admitted. The session of 1921 enrolled 230 students; that of 1922, 332 students, and the summer session as a regular part of the College had been successfully launched.

In 1924, when Dr. Hunter resigned to go to Western Carolina College, the summer session was reorganized and placed on a more permanent basis. The man who was chosen to supervise this reorganization was Dr. D. B. Bryan, another graduate of Teachers College, who had joined the faculty in 1921 as Professor of Education and who became Dean of the College in 1923. Dr. Bryan had been Director of the Summer Session at Richmond College before coming to Wake Forest, and in 1924 he was appointed Director of the Summer Session at Wake Forest, a position he held until 1949. Under the new organization, two six-week terms were offered. No tuition was charged but a matriculation fee of $15.00 was required each term; room rent was $6.00 per term and board could be obtained privately for about $6.00 per week.

In the 1920's many public school teachers had only a high school diploma, and the state of North Carolina was making a major effort to improve the public school system by raising teacher certification requirements. As a result, the vast majority of the students who enrolled in the summer session were teachers seeking to improve their certificates, and the summer session alas largely tailored to meet their needs. A total of 550students registered for both Sessions in 1924; the faculty numbered about twenty-five.

To meet the increasing demand, and at the request of some citizens of New Bern, two divisions of the summer session were operated during 1925-1927. One was at Wake Forest and the other at New Bern, called the Neuse Forest Division, under the direction of Dr. A. C. Reid. In 1925, 615 students registered at Wake Forest and 125 at Neuse Forest. In 1926, 825 registered at Wake Forest and 148 at Neuse Forest.

In 1928 another major modification of the summer session was made. Since the summer session had to be self-sustaining, the question of adequate financing had always to be considered. The Neuse Forest Division had proved unprofitable and it was discontinued after 1927. Although enrollment at Wake Forest was ample, expenses were disproportionate to the number enrolled. Enrollment in the second term was only one-half that of the first, yet the operating expenses were not materially lower. Upon the recommendation of Dean Bryan, the two six-week terms were abandoned and a single nine week session was adopted. This change was also made for the purpose of more effectively integrating the summer session with the regular session in terms of courses and credits.

The College recognized that the nine-week summer session with more regular college courses and fewer professional courses would have less appeal to many of the teachers seeking certificate improvement credit. But it hoped that as many of the teachers had now acquired one or two years of college credit, they would continue working toward their bachelor's degree, and that those who had earned the bachelor's degree might return for graduate work. The College also hoped to appeal to more of its regular students, to employ more of its regular faculty, and to promote a general improvement in the quality of work. Basically, the College was moving away from the professional education summer session program to a more standard college curriculum. Results were disappointing. The decline in enrollment the following year was more drastic than had been anticipated, as only 428 attended. In an effort to promote enrollment, women were admitted to the summer session in 1929 as candidates for bachelor's degrees as well as for graduate degrees. Enrollment, however, was still disappointing; it fell to 370 in 1929, and to an all-time low of 334 students in 1931.

The crash of the stock market in 1929 and the depression which ensued undoubtedly contributed to the declining enrollment and brought financial stringencies which had to be met. In 1933 Wake Forest and Meredith joined hands in a combined summer session which was operated on the Wake Forest campus. Meredith girls were encouraged to attend Wake Forest and credit their work toward either a Meredith or Wake Forest degree. A total of 444 students enrolled in 1933.

In 1935 a further change brought Mars Hill into the summer session picture. One division was operated: Wake Forest and a Western Division under Professor, B. Y. Tyner of Meredith at Mars Hill. Mars Hill prints a separate summer session bulletin with pictures depicting the mountain setting of the campus in an effort attract students. In 1936, the second year of this operation, enrollment at Wake Forest reached 675 and at Mars Hill 280, or a total of 955. This arrangement between the three schools was continued until the outbreak, World War II in 1941, with enrollment hovering around 800-900 during most years.

To those whose memories carry them back to the 1930's, the summer session was an eagerly anticipated part of the school year. The boys, after nine months confinement on a campus limited strictly to men, often attended summer session not for hours and quality points much as for the opportunities offered by maidens, moonlight and magnolias. For Meredith girls, similarly marooned during nine months of the year on the "Angel Farm" out from Raleigh, the summer session brought long-sought opportunity for a summer romance which might lead to the achievement of a secondary aim of college education, a husband. Even the teachers seemed to enjoy the summer session as a social opportunity apart from the credits earned toward degrees or improved certificates. Many students considered their college education incomplete if they had not attended at least one summer session at Wake Forest. In those leisurely days a favorite pastime was spending an hour or so after supper sitting on the rock wall that surrounded the campus chatting with one's lady love as the sun slowly settled beyond the horizon. The popular song of the day, "Lazy Bones," seemed to describe the setting perfectly.

To this idyll educational and social adventure, the second world war brought a rude awakening. The boys were off to war and the tempo of the educational world, increased. As a college for men Wake Forest suffered drastic drop in enrollment in its regular session as well as in the summer session. The College attempted to meet the exigencies of war in a variety of ways. An Army Finance School was brought to the campus to make use of idle college facilities. The College's all male status was terminated when women were admitted as regular students in 1942. The summer session was made more of an integral part of the school year. Students were admitted in June, September, or January, and diplomas were awarded to senior students at the end of each period. For a brief period a twelve-week term was offered in the summer. These measures enabled student to complete all or a major portion of the college education before becoming liable for military service at the age of twenty. During the war years enrollment in the summer session ranged from 350 to 400, with women accounting for about one-third to one-half of the students.

In 1946, the first normal year after the war, under the G. I. Bill veterans flocked to the summer session in large numbers, anxious to attend both summer and winter to make up for the years lost in military service. Enrollment in the years 1946-48 more than doubled the war time enrollment. A change in the status of the faculty was made when the Trustees provided for employment on a twelve-months basis with every third summer free. The peak of the veteran enrollment was reached in the summer of 1948 when 853 students enrolled. Thereafter enrollment declined each summer to a low of 338 it 1954. Due to the declining enrollment in the summer all the faculty was not needed. In 1952 the regulation concerning summer teaching was further modified so that the faculty taught only every other summer.

The next major change was the removal of the college to its new $20,000,000 campus in Winston-Salem. The College was scheduled to open on the new campus for the summer session of 1956. A major re-designing of the bulletin was, therefore, necessary to guide students and faculty in their new environment. The summer session bulletin carried a picture of the chapel on the front cover, a map of the campus inside, and pictures of all buildings, indicating the location of registration, classes, library, residence and dining facilities, and other necessary information. The buildings were there when students and faculty arrived, but the rooms had no numbers or other designations and for a time the blind led the blind in an effort to locate classes and administrative offices. Somehow we survived, and by the fall term a semblance of order seemed to be appearing. All agreed that the comfort of modern air-conditioned buildings more than compensated for any temporary confusion.

While the general increase in enrollment on the new campus was reflected in a corresponding increase in the summer enrollment, the summer session gave little indication of attracting many summer visitors. Between 1956-1959 the enrollment stood between 560 and 584. At the same time, the expenses of the new plant were greater than the old, and it was desirable to keep the maintenance force as nearly intact as possible for the fall and spring operation. The faculty was also larger and there was not enough demand to employ even half of them in alternating summers. Furthermore, as the old agrarian order in the South receded before the rising urban development, many students were anxious to attend college in summer. But Wake Forest's nine-week summer session was now almost unique. There had been many changes since World War II in college enrollment and attendance patterns and most colleges operating summer sessions offered one or two six-week terms. Many student who would attend for six weeks did not choose to commit themselves to practically the entire summer. The Wake Forest summer session was out of step with the times.

In 1960, therefore, the summer session was once more extensively remodeled. Members of the faculty were hired on a ten-month instead of a twelve-month basis, with summer teaching optional. The nine-week term was abandoned for two six-week terms. By lengthening class periods to seventy-five minutes, a student could take two courses for three hours credit each, and by coming both terms could complete twelve semester hours. Under this arrangement a student could complete his college program in three years and three summers. It was also more economical as tuition charges were approximately one-half the charges of the regular session. The new six-week terms offered other advantages. By coordinating the Wake Forest program with that of most other institutions, it would facilitate the interchange of students in the summer and perhaps contribute to the growth of the summer session. The six-week term was also more suitable to the needs of teachers, and might bring them back to Wake Forest. If the summer session grew as anticipated, it would mean the employment of a larger segment of the faculty in the summer. It would also facilitate the practice of exchanging visiting professors with other colleges to teach special courses which would be mutually beneficial. The flexibility of the system would enable the College to provide for more special programs in the summer session. In brief, the College, with a vastly increased faculty and facilities, was striving to be of greater service to more people.

Educationally, the six-week summer term also provided a new approach to learning. In the regular session the student's interest is divided among as many as five or six courses which meet every other day. Furthermore, he is confronted with choosing from a multiplicity of extracurricular andperipheral activities which often serve to distract him from his real purpose and to foster procrastination and postponement of prescribed tasks. By contrast, the summer session requires more intense concentration on twocourses for a shorter period of time. While ample recreational opportunities are provided in the summer session, it dispenses with many of the frills of the College year, and exacts serious work. The summer session proceeds so swiftly that if the student delays active study for two days he is already n week behind schedule. It is no place for "Joe College." In this sense, therefore, the six-week summer term is a valuable experience for developing one of the major goals of a college education—the quality of self-discipline.

Administratively, however, the new arrangement required more advance planning in employing faculty, in establishing courses, in publishing the bulletin, and especially in handing the increased volume of mail as more visiting students began to apply. It also meant that the Director was committed to full-time summer duty. These factors brought about yet another change. Professor J. L. Memory, Jr., who had served as Director of the Summer Session since 1949, launched the new system but asked to be relieved of his duties at the close of that 1960 session, because he was also serving as Director of Placement and as Chairman of the Department of Education. At the same time, the role of the Director of the Summer Session was changed. Since the operation of the College during the regular session had become more intensive and exhausting, it was deemed wise to provide some relief for the regular administrative officers during the summer. The Director of the Summer Session was, therefore, asked to assume the functions of the Dean's Office during the summer session and in the absence of the President and the Dean to become the chief executive officer of the College during the summer. Accordingly, to fit his title more to the responsibilities with which he was charged, he was named Dean of the Summer Session. Dr. Percival Perry, who had joined the faculty in 1947 as Professor of History, was appointed to this position.

The new system was introduced in the summer of 1960, with rewarding results. During the first term 629 students enrolled and in the second 477, or a total of 1106, nearly twice the number enrolled in 1959. The two six-week terms soon won popularity with students and faculty, and increasingly with students from other colleges. Many local residents who attended college elsewhere in the winter now found it desirable to live at home and attend Wake Forest in the summer. In 1962 the enrollment in both terms reached 1426 and in 1963, 1815. On an average, the summer session attracts approximately 400 visiting students from over seventy-five colleges. The presence of these students on our campus lends variety to the summer session. The number of public school teachers has more than tripled under the new system, and these, too, add leaven to the summer session. Since 1961 six or eight visiting professors have been employed each summer with results beneficial to both students and faculty alike.

The policy of providing special summer programs has been continued and expanded. In 1951 a one-week Forensics Workshop was begun for the training of high school students interested in debating and public speaking. In 1961 this was expanded to a four-week Speech Institute for High School Students, and has continued on that basis each year since. In 1964 the Speech Institute, with a faculty of four, enrolled eighty students from eight states. The students receive training in debating, public speaking, radio and television, and dramatic arts. The Institute, under the direction of Professor Franklin R. Shirley, serves to acquaint superior high school students with the advantages of Wake Forest and sometimes leads them to apply for admission to the College upon graduation from high school. It is no accident that Wake Forest has a championship debate team year after year.

In 1959 the first National Science Foundation Summit Institute for Teachers of Science and Mathematics was held on the campus. Fellowships were awarded to sixty-five high school teachers who had been out of college for twenty years, to enable them to return to the campus and refurbish their scientific knowledge. The teachers take the new knowledge and methods of teaching back to their high schools and in turn send to college students better prepared in these areas. Since these teachers come from all parts of the United States, even as far as Hawaii, this program adds to the intellectual and social interchange which the summer session fosters, and promotes the name of Wake Forest throughout the United States. This program has been repeated on our campus each year since 1961. In addition, a Summer Science Institute in Physics for about twenty-five high school teachers has been offered in the summer sessions of 1962 and 1964.

In 1962 the Remedial Reading Training Program for teachers, offered by the Graylyn Psychology-Reading Speech Center of the Bowman Gray School of Medicine was incorporated into the summer session and college credit on the graduate level given for the courses. This is one of the few centers in North Carolina which provides teachers with theoretical and clinical training in remedial reading techniques. About twenty-five or thirty teachers avail themselves of this opportunity each year.

Recognizing that the social studies teachers in our public schools are handicapped by the fact that there is no equivalent of the National Science Foundation to provide scholarships for them to attend college, Wake Forest is endeavoring to find some means to enable this group of teachers to return for refresher courses. The College has not been able to realize its plans in this respect due to limited resources. It does, however, grant a one-third discount on tuition to all in-service undergraduate public school teachers. Recently, two other steps have been taken in behalf of this group.

In 1963 Wake Forest, in cooperation with the Asian Society of New York, sponsored an Institute in Asian Studies for High School Teachers. The Institute was under the direction of Professor Balkrishna G. Gokhale formerly of the University of Bombay, Bombay, India and now a regular member of the Wake Forest College faculty. Twelve scholarships were provided, and sixteen teachers took advantage of the opportunity to enhance their knowledge of the Far East. While the Institute was primarily for teachers, classes were open to regular summer session students and sixty-eight enrolled. The Institute was offered again in 1964 and will be repeated in 1965. The increasing importance of Asian people and countries in our modern world make this a particularly timely and valuable program.

In 1964 the state of North Carolina sought to fill the void created by the federal government's sponsoring of fellowships for science teachers. The state extended its In-Service Teacher Training Program by providing tuition scholarships for social studies and humanities teachers desiring to attend the summer session. Wake Forest was delighted to see this development and has cooperated fully with the In-Service Program, with the result that in the current session fifty teachers are enrolled in social studies and humanities courses.

Two other changes of great significance have occurred m the summer session since 1961. In May, 1961, the Trustees authorized the admission of students to the summer session without regard to race, creed, or nationality. This action was taken so late in the year that only three Negroes enrolled in the summer session that year. But in 1962 and again in 1963 forty Negroes enrolled. Some of these were visiting students from other colleges such as Bennett, Barbia-Scotia, Agricultural and Technical College in Greensboro, and from more distant places like Delaware and West Virginia State. But the vast majority of the Negro students are local school teachers taking advantage of the opportunity to live at home and renew their certificates or to begin work on a master's degree. In removing racial barriers, Wake Forest is rendering an important community service in promoting better relations between the races and in making available to local teachers the facilities of the College.

The other significant change has been the resumption of graduate work. During the early years of the summer session, from 1921-1949, from forty to fifty students enrolled each summer for work beyond the bachelor's degree. The pressure of huge post-war undergraduate enrollments and the problems connected with the removal to the new campus between 1946-1956, forced a cessation of graduate work in 1949. In 1961 after the College had become adjusted to its new environment, the Trustees authorized the resumption of the graduate program in six departments, English, History, Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Physics. The summer session of 1962 was the first in which Graduate work was offered on the new campus, and seventy students enrolled. In 1963 the number increased to 160.

The resumption of graduate work was of special significance with regard to the number of teachers enrolled in the summer session. Between 1949, when graduate work was suspended, and 1961, when it was resumed, Wake Forest had only a small number of teachers attending the summer session, and its influence in the public school system materially declined. The state now required all teachers to have the bachelor's degree, and all principals and superintendents to have the master's degree. Since the master's degree was not offered at Wake Forest, teachers who wished to advance were compelled to attend elsewhere. In the summer session of 1961 before graduate work was resumed, there were only thirty-two teachers enrolled. 'This number increased to 109 in 1969 when graduate work was resumed, and to 166 in 1963. The influx of public school teachers under the graduate program and as participants in the several special institutes is again enabling Wake Forest to increase its contribution and influence in the public schools of North Carolina. In turn, teachers who have had a pleasant and profitable experience in the Wake Forest summer session are often valuable allies in recruiting superior students for the College.

The Physical Education Department of the College has also found a way to make use of its excellent athletic facilities during the summer months through the organization of a day camp for boys. The camp was begun in 1960 and has been conducted each year since. With a staff of five, it regularly enrolls about 100 boys for six weeks. It offers an important community service by giving expert training in various sports and provides boys with a worthwhile activity during summer months. As these boys reach college age, it may be that the investment in them will be repaid on the baseball field or the basketball court.

Preliminary figures on the 1964 summer session indicate that approximately 1800 students have enrolled. Of this number over 400 are visiting students from other colleges and public schools. Approximately 200 are public school teachers, and 161 are graduate students. The faculty for the 1964 summer session numbers eighty-three, and is of superb quality. Wake Forest has one of the highest ratios of Ph.D.'s on its faculty of any college in the nation, and the summer session maintains this ratio. The summer session faculty is chosen from those with the most advanced degrees and with the longest teaching experience. Summer session students therefore are the beneficiaries of the highest quality of instruction that Wake Forest has to offer.

With the adoption of the two six-week terms the summer session has become what Dean Bryan first envisioned it -- an integral part of the College year. The great majority of the students in the summer session are regular Wake Forest students. But the two six-week terms also provide sufficient flexibility to permit various special programs which make use of College facilities and offer special service to particular groups. The College is rendering increasingly important service to its own students and constituency, to visiting students and teachers, to residents of Winston-Salem, and to the state and national educational programs. Already plans are being made for the summer session of 1965. A new department, Psychology, will be added to the list offering graduate courses, and a continuation of the Asian, Science, Physics, and Speech Institutes, and of the In-Service Teacher Training Program is contemplated. In addition negotiations are under way to bring two new programs to the campus for the 1965 summer session.

The summer session of 1965 will mark the tenth anniversary of the College on the new campus. With a proud tradition, a young and energetic faculty, modern and efficient buildings, and the experience of several years operation under the new system, we look forward with increasing confidence to the future and invite qualified students to join in this new and exciting adventure in higher education.


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