The Magazine of Marquette University | Fall 2006



Marquette History

Heading off a crisis

Marquette is the first Catholic University
to ask, "What about the women?"
Alumnae House, 1939
Alumnae House, 1939 — Photos courtesy of Special Collections and University Archives

Excerpted from Dr. Thomas Jablonsky's book History of Marquette University 1881-1981

EARLY IN 1909, REV. JAMES MCCABE, S.J., president of Marquette College, received a report on Catholic elementary and secondary education in Wisconsin from Rev. Cornelius Shyne. This Jesuit colleague foresaw an impending crisis in Catholic education — not a single four-year Catholic women’s college existed in Wisconsin. Religious women, the instructional bulwark of parochial schools, could not earn college degrees in the Badger State. In the not-too-distant future, Father Shyne predicted, Catholic schools would be shamed by the academic superiority of public education. ....

Father McCabe acted with remarkable resolve. From September to June each year, Johnston Hall was overcrowded with male students (and at least one female classmate) from the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Law. After Commencement day, however, these young men scattered to the winds, leaving the college hall empty except for a handful of Jesuits who used the residential quarters. Father McCabe had already planned a unique undertaking for the summer of 1909. He scheduled the first summer session in the history of Catholic higher education, beginning on June 28. These classes were intended for “deserving [male] students who find it impossible to attend the regular courses of our colleges and universities.” .... Suddenly, without the sanction of his religious superiors, Father McCabe expanded the phrase “deserving students” to include religious sisters and laywomen.

Summer of 1909: Permission was granted for the inclusion of ?ladies and even nuns to attend? Marquette?s summer sessionTHE SUMMER OF 1909 ran its course, as did the 1909-10 school year without word from Rome. And so the coeducational 1910 summer school session unfolded. In the following fall, the School of Journalism opened its doors. Dean John Copus, S.J., had long supported female journalists. He felt that they could only help a profession sorely in need of an ethical rebirth. As classes started in September Father Copus admitted women to the first “J-school” at a Catholic university. .... Finally, in the spring of 1912, nearly three years after Father McCabe’s original request, Rome responded to his appeal. Permission was granted for the inclusion of “ladies and even nuns to attend” Marquette’s summer session.

A dental hazing

[In late October 1915, the dental school’s entire junior class was suspended by Dean Banzhaf for hazing a first-year student.]

On the day in question, a dappily attired freshman was said to have strutted past the junior dents as

they exited their building on Wells Street. The first-year student apparently failed to demonstrate a proper sense of humility toward his elders who, in turn, chased him for several blocks onto the college athletic field. When caught, this unfortunate freshman was dumped, fully clothed, into a locker room shower.

Dental Hazing, 1915Carpenter Hall student union, ca. 1946

Student union built for men

Peter A. Brooks was a veteran of World War I, a junior in arts and sciences, and president of the Marquette Honor Society. During the first week of May 1920, this young Hilltopper (who subsequently became president of Marquette) attended a convention of student union representatives scheduled around the dedication of a $1 million facility at the University of Michigan. Within days of his return home, Brooks wrote an article for The Marquette Tribune heralding the benefit that a central facility might hold for (male) students who were scattered about town at Fourth and Reservoir (School of Medicine), Ninth and Wells (School of Dentistry) and Eleventh and Grand (everyone else). With the approval of then president

Rev. Herbert C. Noonan, S.J., Brooks called for a mass meeting of students in the Gesu school auditorium. The president suspended all university activities during this assembly and personally led the deans and faculty into the auditorium. After Brooks finished addressing the audience, a unanimous vote authorized a charge of $5 per (male) student for the maintenance of a center that would house all student activities. ....By September 1921, the union board had purchased a site for a new building. Three years of plans and counter plans created a blizzard of blueprints and design sketches before the union was completed at the cost of $65,000.

WHAD at Marquette

One activity that reached out from campus into the local community was WHAD, the Marquette radio station. It began in 1921 as a university-owned 100-watt station, with a 70-foot high, four-legged tower behind Johnston Hall. During the first year, programming focused on “speeches, sermons, concerts and the like.” The glee club presented the first concert. The energy behind this undertaking came from

Rev. John B. Kremer, S.J., chairman of the Physics Department. Father Kremer built most of the early equipment himself, but left the programming to others, although as faculty adviser he remained responsible for over-the-air content. When Science Hall was completed in 1924, the station moved from Johnston Hall. WHAD occupied two rooms in the new hall, a broadcast studio in the tower and a room for its generators and batteries in the basement. By 1925, the station was generating 500 watts. It became the most powerful station in Milwaukee, with a signal picked up occasionally
in Boston and San Francisco. 

Student hangouts

The Weigle-Schewe Pharmacy, across Wisconsin Avenue from Gesu, was a popular gathering point

for any undergraduate with an hour or two between classes. In a letter published in the Sept. 24, 1931 Marquette Tribune, owner Henry G. Schewe expressed his hope that the store might become an all-purpose center for students. Schewe described how, during his days at Marquette, he missed the conveniences that his new shop aimed to provide. It cashed checks, sold stamps, checked parcels, made free pharmacy deliveries, and provided an array of pencils, pens and loose-leaf notebooks. It featured the Varsity Room, where lunches, sodas, phosphates and malted milks were downed amidst a thick cloud of blue-gray cigarette smoke. Students bought quick, convenient meals at the Ardmore Pharmacy, the Ardmore Restaurant, the Monitor Restaurant, the Marquette Union cafeteria, the Campus Kitchen (in the LaSalle Hotel), and the Stratford Arms Hotel Restaurant. The Abbot Crest Hotel, a few steps west of the drug store, featured a dining room, a shoe repair shop, and, its most popular business, a billiard parlor. In the fall of 1930, a splashy, terra cotta-covered, five-story office building rose on the northwest corner of 11th and Wisconsin, across the street from the Law School. Managers at the Franklin State Bank building (currently the 707 Building) promised that its tenants were all professional men who were “Marquette minded.” Attorneys, physicians, real estate brokers and a dentist invited students to draw upon their services. In a Tribune advertisement, management urged overworked students to relax at the rooftop miniature golf course that featured “new Turftex greens.” The course was open from 9 a.m. (just an hour after classes began) until midnight.

Marquette classrooms were filled to capacity following WWII, photo ca 1946Marquette classrooms were filled to capacity following WWII, photo ca 1946

World War II’s impact

The Marquette Tribune kept its readership posted on the whereabouts of students and alumni with a weekly column summarizing wartime assignments. When announcing deaths in action, deaths in the line of duty, prisoners of war or those missing in action, the student newspaper reported each event with a somberness befitting the tragedy. A front-page column noted the passing of the 100th Marquette casualty in April 1945, just a month before hostilities drew to a close in Europe. A billboard was erected in front of Johnston Hall during the fall of 1943 bond campaign with the theme “You’ve Got a Bill to be Paid.” Attached to the billboard were the names of 27 deceased servicemen from Marquette. A final accounting sent to Father President in December 1945 (four months after V-J Day) listed 138 deaths among Marquette students and alumni, with 25 still missing. Nearly 7,000 members of the larger Marquette family had served in the armed services. As hundreds of veterans returned to campus during 1945 and 1946, they brought home to the university community the seriousness of the epoch they had survived.

Dr. Thomas Jablonsky, director of the Institute for Urban Life and Harry G. John Professor of Urban Studies, traces 100 years of Marquette history in his book History of Marquette University 1881-1981. Look for more in the Spring 2007 issue of Marquette Magazine.

Coed colleges
Veterans returning from war to campus


Special Collections and University Archives
125th Anniversary Web site
More excerpts from Dr. Thomas Jablonsky's book

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