MacMurray Through the Decades
The following was presented as part of the college's closing ceremony, Hail to MacMurray: A Fond Farewell
Recognition of Alumni by Decade
David Ekin ('77), Chair
MacMurray Foundation and Alumni Association
At this time, we will be honoring alumni of the College from each decade in which we have living alums. We begin with the 1940's.
The MacMurray College of the 1940s, having been named in honor of Senator James MacMurray in 1930, benefited by the ongoing generosity of Mr. MacMurray. In the early 40s many Mac women left college to be married to servicemen or to participate in the world war effort. The building boom of the 1930s continued with the refurbishing of several buildings and the construction of Rutledge Hall. Mrs. Henry Pfeiffer funded the library building in honor of her husband as well as the chapel, named Annie Merner in her honor. Liberal arts courses as well as home economics courses were the foundation of a MacMurray education.
Will members of the audience who attended or graduated from MacMurray in the 1940s please stand and be recognized.
The decade of the 50s at MacMurray will always be remembered as the revolutionary time of adding the Mens College with the first class entering in 1957 into a co-ordinate, not co-ed college. The countrys economic prosperity of this time allowed three new down campus dorms to be built in a contemporary design to give the mens college a separate and distinctive look. The first two years of mens classes were separate from the women, as well as were all activities such as student government, newspapers, vocal groups, etc.
Will members of the audience who attended or graduated from MacMurray in the 1950s please stand and be recognized.
The decade of the 60s was a huge growth time for colleges and universities, and Macs enrollment was at its highest, 1100+ students. Dr. Gordon Michaelson brought a new humanities curriculum from the East Coast and many students came from that area also. The Julian Chemistry building, the Gamble Campus Center and Michalson Dormitory were added. The early years of the decade were calm and happy days during the presidency of JFK, but the advent of the Vietnam War caused turmoil and questioning of social norms on college campuses later in the 1960s.
Will members of the audience who attended or graduated from MacMurray in the 1960s please stand and be recognized.
With the increase in student protests across the country after Kent State in 1970, changes came rapidly to the Mac campus. A new curriculum, "COPE," and a revised academic year, 4-1-4, were instituted by President John Wittich, fondly known as Johnny Bowtie for his ever present signature tie. Earlier requirements such as required chapel services were dropped, co-ed dorms were were created and many of the original campus buildings such as Harker Hall, Main Hall, Orr Auditorium and the Hardtner Gym were razed in this time period. A highlight of this decade was the success of the soccer team, which went to the NCAA final four tournament and became fourth in the nation.
Will members of the audience who attended or graduated from MacMurray in the 1970s please stand and be recognized.
By 1986 when Dr. Edward Mitchell became president, the financial situation of the college had become critical as the student body had decreased to approximately 700 students. By making difficult cuts in all areas of the college, a financial recovery occurred. The largest majors were service oriented, such as education, social work, nursing, and criminal justice. Bright spots in the 80s included the addition of football during BG Stephen's presidency, and the success of wrestling and soccer teams.
Will members of the audience who attended or graduated from MacMurray in the 1980's please stand and be recognized.
The highlight of the 1990s decade was the celebration of MacMurray's sesquicentennial in 1995-96 with the college being in the ranks of only 4% of all US colleges at that time to reach a sesquicentennial. The motto "Shaped by Our Past, Confident in Our Future" became a rallying point for many years. Other high points of the 1990s were the major renovation of Jane Hall, the financial support of major donors, and the accreditation of the strong social work program.
Will members of the audience who attended or graduated from MacMurray in the 1990's please stand and be recognized.
2000s — the "aughts"
A strong focus carried from the 90s was a new emphasis on respect for diversity in LGBTQ rights and developing awareness and acceptance of individual differences. One of the high points of this decade was a capital campaign, "Points of Excellence," created and funded by the trustees. This program sought input from all campus entities, faculty, staff, and students in making immediate visible improvements to the campus and departmental needs. The Putnam-Springer art and music building was erected during this timeframe, and was the first major addition to the campus in over 25 years.
Will members of the audience who attended or graduated from MacMurray in the 2000 "aughts"'s please stand and be recognized.
The last decade of MacMurray's history was an active and upbeat time in many ways. Even with a small enrollment, student organizations were very energetic and busy in improving the campus and promoting features such as the Highland Grind, a student run free coffee center. Wrestling and cross country were brought back and the men's basketball team won a conference championship. Music classes and activities also reappeared and criminal justice and homeland security majors were popular. The nursing program graduates achieved perfect scores on the NCLEX exam. Pipers' Grill in the campus center was again a popular gathering place.
Will members of the audience who attended or graduated from MacMurray in the 2010’s please stand and be recognized.
The 2019-2020 Academic Year
In the fall of 2019, students arrived on campus expecting to enjoy the year with friends, especially the seniors. Fall went well...a new gazebo, new sidewalks, new coaches and professors, and a great Homecoming...until in December/January, when disturbing news of a quickly spreading, deadly disease came to the U.S. and the MacMurray campus. As spring break began in March, students departed, not knowing they would never return to classes. Much sadder news came soon, announcing that the College would close permanently. The pandemic prevented the senior class from having a graduation ceremony, and all the celebrations attached to it. Bittersweet memories mingle with lifelong friendships and an excellent liberal arts education.
Will members of the audience who attended MacMurray during the 2019-2020 academic year please stand and be recognized. To the members of the Classes of 2021, 2022 and 2023, please know that you will ever and always be considered alums of MacMurray College, and will ever and always be included in all MacMurray Foundation and alumni activities.
This brings us to the Class of 2020, the final graduating class of MacMurray's history, who was denied a graduation ceremony because of a global pandemic. We honor them now, beginning with words from the two speakers chosen by the class in the spring of 2020. We will hear first from Alexis Moore, followed by Charles Brauch.