ain College

Several improvements were made in Old Main during the 1920’s. A major improvement in student housing occurred when “…during the spring term [of the 1919-20 school year] the dormitories in east and west wings of Old Main were completely overhauled and provided with badly-needed toilet facilities.” In the summer of 1921, the Commencement Hall was “…reconditioned, and made presentable and fairly comfortable, and later provided with facilities for holding mass examinations.” Improvements were also made in non-academic facilities in the building when, in 1922, “the executive offices were remodeled and two fireproof vaults were provided…because of the urgent need for some proper place to keep the college records and valuable belongings of the university offices."

Fire and Reconstruction

On August 27, 1932, the central portion of Old Main was destroyed by fire and both wings were severely damaged. Most of the contents of the University Museum were lost. Rebuilding began in June, 1935. The A. J. Sordoni Company was the contractor. The west wing was finished in September, 1936, and the east wing was finished in June, 1937. The cost for rebuilding was approximately $375,000.00. In 1937, the central portion of the building was dedicated as a memorial to Daniel C. Roberts, Trustee from 1935 to 1940.

When the west wing was completed in 1936, it was "...a thoroughly modern, fire proof building, with fine administrative offices on the first floor and beautiful dormitory suites on the second, third and fourth floors, with accommodations for 51 men." The suites generally rented for $220.00 a year for each student "...with the corner suites which have shower baths, at $300.00 per year." In contrast, the rooms in East College and West College were rented for $120.00 per year. Students who roomed in the west wing were not eligible for scholarships. When the east wing was completed in 1937, the same situation prevailed.

Old Main in 1945

Although the central portion was dedicated as Roberts Hall, the entire building was named Main College. In 1945, two-room suites for about one hundred men were located on the three upper floors, and administrative offices were located on the first floor of both the east and west wings of the building. The offices of the Registrar, the Recorder, the Treasurer and Comptroller, and the Purchasing Agent were located in the west wing. The telephone exchange was there also. The Alumni Office, the office of the Director of Admissions, the office of the Christian Association, the Office of Publicity and Athletics, the office of the Director of the Extension Division, and the office of the Dean of Men were located in the east wing. The office of Charles W. Bond, Professor of Religion, was located in the east wing also. A post-office was located in the basement of the building. Roberts Hall contained a lobby and administrative offices for the President and the Dean on the first floor; a lounge, game rooms, and suites for seventeen men were located on the second and third floors. In 1945, the Commanding Officer, the Executive Officer, the Physical Training Officer and other men of the Ship’s Company of the Navy V-12 Unit occupied offices on the second floor of Roberts Hall. Main College was the north side of the Men's College Quadrangle.

One of the major developments between 1915 and 1945 had been the dramatic increase in the number of administrative officers and support staff. The entire first floor of Old Main was occupied mostly by administrative offices. There were twenty “officers of administration” in 1945, some of whom were ex officio such as the Secretary of the Faculty, and some of whom were faculty who held administrative appointments, such as the Director of the Observatory who was a member of the mathematics department. There were thirteen “pure” administrative officers, including the President, whose duties were completely administrative in nature. There were also thirty-nine “assistants in administration” who worked in the first-floor offices in Roberts Hall and the east and west wings of Old Main. Of these, eleven worked in the Officer of the Treasurer and nine worked in the Office of the Registrar.

Some of the “officers of administration” and “assistants in administration” also taught courses. Trennie Eisley, Director of Publicity, was an Instructor in Business English, and her assistant, Robert Streeter, was an Instructor in English; Donald Young, the Assistant Comptroller, was an Assistant in Economics.

In 1945. the administrative officers were “...included in the contributory system of retirement pensions, under the same arrangement with the Carnegie-sponsored T.I.A.A., as [was] in force in behalf of the faculty”. The Finance Committee of the Board of Trustees was “…instructed to make recommendations as to what officers shall be so included.” The “retirement pension at the age of 65 or 70” had been inaugurated “for instructors and faculty, on the basis of 3% of salaries” just before the beginning of the Second World War. It had been “put into operation” for members of the faculty and library staff “as of April 1, 1939”.

Admission Requirements

After the effects of the Great Depression began to subside in the late 1930’s, more attention was being paid to the qualities of the students who were admitted to the College. At the June meeting of the Board of Trustees in Lewisburg in 1938, President Marts reported

…that last fall it was decided to try to limit the student body to 1200 and to develop a surplus of applications each year, so that those selected for admission would possess the best qualities of mind and character, and that Frances Lybarger, ’28. was made Director of Admissions and started work last November, and that results have been produced beyond his expectation.

These efforts began to yield results two years later when Vice-President Rivenburg reported to the Board of Trustees that he expected

…there would be at least three times as many applications for admission from women as there were vacancies in the Women’s College Dormitories; and that special care was being taken in the selection of the freshmen men, emphasis being placed not only on scholarship, but on character, personality, leadership and promise.

By 1940, Rivenburg was able to report “….that nearly 7 ½ times as many students had applied for admission to Bucknell in September and paid the admission fee, as in 1935,” which was very important because “….[a]bout 92 per cent of the budget [was] operated on student payments. ….” . At the December 1941 meeting of the Board of Trustees in Philadelphia, the Vice-President stated that 1,344 students were attending Bucknell, which was “…twenty-one more students than ever before in Bucknell’s history, although Bucknell was more selective than ever before, and that the quality of the freshman class was very high.”

1942 marked a turning point in admissions and enrollment in the College. Vice-President Rivenburg described the situation succinctly but clearly in his May 1943 report to the Board of Trustees “on the academic affairs of the University for the college year, 1942-1943.”

There were, of course, great fluctuations in enrollment during the year, as indicated by the fact that college opened in October with 1317 students and by the graduation of 104 students in January and withdrawal of nearly 225 men called by the armed service, the number remaining in college at the close of the year was 972.

The Navy V-12 program began in the summer of 1943, which increased the enrollment significantly. However, at the December meeting of the Board of Trustees in Philadelphia, President Marts “…outlined what he thought might happen to Bucknell during the coming year and indicated that the Navy program would probably taper off from this time forward,” and he stated that he thought that “… [t]he educational opportunities for ex-servicemen [would] be increased and the influx of civil students [would] probably be proportional to that which followed the close of the first World War.

The following year in June, 1944, President Marts speculated “…that the 'G.I. Bill' recently signed by President Roosevelt would increase the possibilities of the return of service men to college.” Later that year in December, Vice-President Rivenburg reported to the Board of Trustees:

There has been no let down in the standards and requirements for admission of civilian students…......A special effort has been made during the last six years to improve the quality of the freshman class and to admit only those students who have the ability and preparation to do satisfactory college work. Since Bucknell received last year over three times as any applications from women students as there were paces available in the Woman’s College dormitories, the Admission Committee could be highly selective in accepting women students.

In 1945, in expectation of the effect of the GI Bill on college admissions, President Marts developed a plan to recruit veterans and young men, which was described in the minutes of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustee’s meeting in Philadelphia:

Chairman Bostwick then read President Marts’ letter regarding a new plan for campaigning for young men and returning veterans. This plan involved sending a representative of the college to separation centers and actively recruiting men who are discharged from the army and also make an intensive effort to recruit 16 and 17-year old boys to begin their college work. Mr. Henderson moved and Dr. Harris seconded the motion that President Marts be empowered to move as he deemed proper. The motion carried unanimously.”

At the June meeting of the Board of Trustees in Lewisburg when retiring Vice-President Rivenburg was “….presented….a beautiful watch with knife and chair….” and Dr. William H. Coleman was appointed “….Dean of the College for one year beginning July 1, 1945….”, President Marts spoke in favor of recruiting veterans.

Captain Marts urged that the College make a determined effort to interest the returned veterans in attendance at Bucknell. The ‘G.I. Bill of Rights’ will make it possible for large numbers of veterans to finance their college education, and Bucknell should engage the services of a personable young man, preferably a returned veteran and a Bucknell man, who will aggressively interest the returned veterans in Bucknell and thus fill the men’s dormitories.”

Later that year at the meeting of the Board of Trustees in Philadelphia, Dr. Ralph E. Page, Dean of Men and Professor of Political Science, described the situation concerning the coming of veterans to Bucknell.

The Dean had on his desk at the time he left Lewisburg for Philadelphia 110 applications from veterans for admission to the March term. This number [did] not include ex-Bucknellians who [might] want to return under the G.I. Gill of Rights, but there [were] at least 48 ex-Bucknellians who [had] planned to come back for the March term. There [were] probably many others who [had] not indicated in any way that they plan[ed] to return to the college, for it [was] not necessary for ex-Bucknellians to make advance arrangement for their return to the campus. Bucknell [would] not be able to accommodate all veterans who want[ed] to enroll at the college and at the same time continue with the naval training program because there [would] be no place in which to house the additional number of students. Dean Page was of the definite opinion that there [would] be more students seeking admission to college and asking for quarters than the college [could] accommodate with living facilities.

In 1945, the general requirements for admission to the College were presented in the Catalogue:

1. Applicants for admission to the College must be graduates of an approved four-year secondary school, or graduates of an approved senior high school.

2. Applicants will be admitted to the College on the basis of individual qualifications to do college work as indicated by such criteria as high school grades, rank in the graduating class, principal’s rating, intelligence as measured by a good intelligence test, character, personality, and qualities of leadership.

There were additional mathematical requirements for engineering students and students applying to take the Bachelor of Science courses and the Bachelor of Science in Commerce and Finance course.

The Catalogue also contained detailed information concerning general regulations in regards to government:

Attendance at Bucknell is a privilege and not a right. Any student deemed undesirable may be refused registration or requested to withdraw from the College at any time. It is assumed that all who enter upon the courses of study in the College do so for the purpose of acquiring an education. The atmosphere of the institution is not that of arbitrary restrait [sic], but of reasonable conformity to reasonable requirements. The College does not wish to place its stamp or bestow its honors upon any one who is not willing to deport himself as a gentleman. Consistent with this ideal there has been organized a Student-Faculty Congress, composed of student and faculty representatives from the sixteen major groups and interests on the campus. This group , working under the general supervision of the Dean of Men, supervises and directs all student activities and organizations.


Prior to 1920, ten “fraternities (seven for men and three for women) had been established at the university. During the “Roaring 20's”, fourteen additional “social fraternities” were established with the approval of the President and the faculty (nine for men and five for women). During the 1920's, in response to some concerns regarding the male fraternities, the Trustees passed a resolution that had been offered by Trustee Rush H. Kress:

RESOLVED that the President of the University be authorized to close the house of any fraternity which refuses to conform to such requirements as he deems consistent with the activities and the reputation of the University.

By 1931, the fraternities had been accepted as an important part of the institution by the administration, faculty, students and alumni.

Probably the number of students affiliated with Greek-letter societies [was] 75 per cent of the whole number in college, and the same percentage [held] with the alumni They [made] up the major part of the University numerically.

...”[T]hese organized societies...[gave] the students social training, close friendships, and the advantages of group membership. The fraternity movement [had] prospered because it gave to the students values that college could not give. Fraternity men [were] among the University’s most loyal alumni.

This cooperative atmosphere was characterized in Memorials of Bucknell University 1919-1931:

What is finer in college life than the way chapter members and old-time grads mingle in a joyous social way on Commencement and Homecoming Days?

Toward the end of the 1930's academic requirements began to stiffen. In the summer of 1937 “...the largest number of students were dropped from college...at any time during the 14 years [that] Dean Rivenburg [had] been at Bucknell, a total of 70 having been dropped for poor scholarship. Two years later, then Vice President Rivenberg informed the Trustees “...that the Bucknell Fraternities were keenly interested in improving the scholarship of their men and that they had requested the Administrative Council of Bucknell to adopt the following rule:

No student shall be deemed qualified for initiation into any social fraternity, unless he shall have earned twenty-five quality credits during the year prior to his initiation, or shall have maintained a “C” average in all of his work in one of the two semesters prior to initiation.

This rule was adopted.

Fraternity houses were located off-campus either along University Avenue or embedded within the town. By 1941, some fraternities were interested in building houses on the campus so a committee of the Board of Trustees was “...working out leasing so that the University and the fraternities [would] be protected.” The authority of the committee “...cover[ed] the construction and location of all fraternities [on campus].” The Trustees also passed a resolution based upon a request by the Dean of Women, the Dean of Men, the Dean of the College , and the Mother’s Association, which had been approved the Administrative Council, “...that in every fraternity house built on the Bucknell campus there shall be adequate ladies’ accommodations so that girls who attend the fraternity dances do not need to go above the first floor.”

Beginning in 1942 and continuing for the duration of the war, fraternity life at the university was curtailed greatly.”...due to the withdrawal of fraternity men for the armed service.” Because Old Main, West College and East College were used to house the cadets in the V-12 program, the university and the fraternities made an agreement in 1944 whereby

...the University ...operated four fraternity houses: Delta Sigma, Kappa Sigma, Phi Gamma Delta, and Sigma Alpha Epsilon. Civilian men were housed in the four buildings during the July term and during the November and March terms the Kappa Sigma and Phi Gamma Delta houses [were] used for women students.

By the end of that year, “[t]hree fraternity houses, the Kappa Sigma, Phi Gamma Delta, and the Sigma Alpha Epsilon [were] occupied by eighty-six women..., but plans [would] likely have to be made to vacate these houses for the use of the fraternity men soon after the termination of the war.” These three houses were located on University Avenue and St. George Street far away from the Men’s College Quadrangle on the hill. The Delta Sigma house was located on the hill near the Vaughn Literature Building. In 1945, special attention was directed to rules concerning membership in fraternities:

No student, with the exceptions noted in the following paragraphs, [which dealt with , inter alia, transfer students] is permitted to join a social fraternity until he has received a certificate from the Dean of the College, under seal, stating that he has been a student in college for one year, that he has completed at least three-fourths of a year’s work, that he either has earned twenty-five quality credits during the preceding year or has maintained a C average in all of his work in one of the two semesters of the preceding year, and that his conduct has been satisfactory.

In addition to the social fraternities, there was a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa that had been established at Bucknell in 1940, two national leadership societies, more than a dozed honorary societies, and four national professional engineering societies. The two literary societies, Theta Alpha and Eupia, no longer existed.


In 1945, degrees were conferred three times on February 24, June 23, and October 20. A total of one hundred and sixty-three degrees were conferred: ninety Bachelor of Arts degrees, twenty-seven Bachelor of Science in Commerce and Finance degrees, twenty-six Bachelor of Science in engineering degrees, sixteen Bachelor of Science degrees, and four Bachelor of Science in Education degrees. Almost seventy-four percent of those receiving degrees were women: ninety-three percent of the Bachelor of Arts degrees, eighty-nine percent of the Bachelor of Science in Commerce and Finance degrees, seventy-five percent of the Bachelor of Science in Education degrees, and fifty-six percent of the Bachelor of Science degrees. All of the engineering degrees were conferred upon men.

Room, Board and Fees

Tuition for men for both the 1945-1946 and 1946-1947 Academic Years was $400.00 for the college year from September to June. The cost of a furnished room for men ranged from $120.00 for a furnished room in East or West College to $300.00 for a furnished suite with bath in Main College . There were a variety of accommodations in Main College: “single rooms, two-room suites with or without lavatory facilities, and single rooms and two-room suites with private baths." Board in the Men’s Dining Hall was $250.00, and students could also board at “...the various boarding places in town, and at the fraternity houses.” There was a $15.00 Infirmary fee, and there were also laboratory and department fees. Tuition, board, a furnished room, Infirmary, laboratory and graduation fees for women ranged from $900.00 to 950.00 for the college year, depending upon where the woman resided. The cost was $950.00 for women who lived on the top four floors in Hunt Hall or seven specified rooms in Larison Hall. The women ate in the Women’s Dining Hall. Children of missionaries and ministers received a $100.00 reduction of the annual charge for tuition.

Graduate Study

In 1945, “[g]raduate work at Bucknell University [was] in charge of the Committee on Advanced Degrees, which decide[d] upon the eligibility of candidates for advanced degrees and recommen[ed] candidates to the Faculty “.. The requirements for Advanced degrees were stated in detail in four pages of the Catalogue:

The following is a summary of the procedure for candidates for a Master’s degree: (a) present the application blank, accompanied with an official transcript of the college record, to the chairman of the Committee on Advanced Degrees; (b) make out a program of thirty hours of graduate work (with a major of eighteen hours in one department) and any additional work needed to fulfil the requirements;(c) secure the written approval of this program by the departments concerned and the chairman of the Committee on Advanced Degrees by the October first preceding the date on which it is expected that the degree will be awarded; (d) complete the program as approved; (e) present the thesis (if one is to be offered) to the major department one month before the degree is to be received; (f) pass the general examination two weeks before the degree is to be received.

The university offered the Master of Arts degree, the Master of Science degree, and the professional degrees of Chemical Engineer, Civil Engineer, Electrical Engineer, and Mechanical Engineer.

The degree of Master of Arts [was ordinarily] conferred upon the holder of a Bachelor of Arts degree equal to that conferred at Bucknell, who...completed at least thirty semester hours of work of an advanced nature, of which a major of at least eighteen hours [was] in one department.

The degree of Master of Science [was ordinarily] conferred upon a Bachelor of Science who...completed at lest thirty semester hours of resident work of an advanced nature, of which a major of at least eighteen hours [was] in one department.

The professional degrees of Chemical Engineer, Civil Engineer, Electrical Engineer, and Mechanical Engineer [were] conferred only upon persons who [had] proved ability to plan and direct professional work or original work in applied science. The candidate must have received a Bachelor’s degree from Bucknell University at least five years before registration for the advanced degree, and must have practiced this profession successfully for a similar period, during at least one year of which he must have had responsible charge of work as principal or assistant...The candidate [had to] submit before May first, a satisfactory thesis, or an approved equivalent of the same, which shall give evidence of his fitness to receive the degree sought.

In 1945, the university conferred the Master of Arts on twelve individuals, nine of whom were women, and the Master of Science in Education on seven individuals, three of whom were women.

"...during the spring term..." and other quotations in this paragraph, MBU '19-'31, p. 102

"...a thoroughly modern..." and the other quotation in this paragraph, BT '20-'50, 12/19/1936, pp. 1-2

"...included in the contributory... and "instructed to make...," ib., 12/16/1944, p.10

"retirement pension at ..." ib., 6/11/1938, p. 3

"put into operation..." ib., 6/10/1939, p. 6

"...that last fall it was..." ib., 6/11/1938, p. 3

"...there would be at least... ib"., 6/10/1939, p. 3

"...that nearly..." ib., 6/8/1940, p. 2

"...about 92 per cent..." ib., 6/7/1941, p. 2

"...twenty-one more students..." ib., 12/20/1941, p. 2

"...on the academic affairs..." ib., 5/28/1943, p. 4

"There were..." ib.

"...outilined what he thought might..." ib., 123/18/1943, p. 3

"...that the G.I. Bill... ib.,6/24/1944, p.3

"There has been no...ib., 12/16/1944, p. 2

"Chariman Bostwick then read... ib., 5/12/1945, p. 2

"...presented...a beautiful..." ib.,6/22/1945, p. 2

""...Dean of the College..." ib., p. 1

"Captain Marts urged..." ib., p. 2

"The Dean had on his desk..." ib., 12/15/1945, p. 2

"Applicants for admission..." and the following paragraph, CAT '45-'46, p. 39

"Attendance at Bucknell is..." ib., p. 69

"ten fraternities" and "social fraternities", MBU '19-'31, p. 146

"RESOLVED that..." BT '20-'50, 1/16/1925, p. 5

"Probably the number of...", MBU '19-'50, p. 146

"...[T]hese organized societies..." ib., p. 147

"What is finer in college life..." ib., p. 146

"...the largest number of students...", BT '20-'50, 12.18/1937, p. 2

"...that the Bucknell Fraternities..." and "No student shall be deemed..." ib., 6/10/1939, p.2

"...working out leasing..." and "...cover[ed] the construction..." ib., 6/7/1941, p. 5

"...that in every fraternity house..." ib.

"...due to the withdrawal..." ib., 5/28/1943, p. 5

"...the University..." ib., 6/24/1944, p. 2

"[t]hree fraternity houses...", ib., 12/16/1944, p. 3

"No student, with the exceptions..." ib., p. 38

"single rooms..." and "...the various boading...", CAT '45-'46. p.170

"[g]raduate work at..." ib. p. 64

"The following is..." ib., p. 66

"The degre of Master of Arts..." and the following paragraph, ib., p. 65

"The professional degrees of..." ib., p. 67

The major source for the information on this page is the Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Bucknell University, 1920-1950 (BT '20-'50). Additional sources are Memorials of Bucknell University, 1919-1931 (MBU '19-'31); "Directory of Faculty, Officers of Administration and Ship's Company of Bucknell University, November, 1945";and the Bucknell University Bulletin, Catalogue Issue, Ninety-Ninth Year, 1944-1945 (CAT '44-'45) and the Bucknell University Bulletin, Catalogue Issue, One Hundredth Year, January, 1946 (CAT '45-'46).

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