A Rollins Perspective

Part III: Setting the Course

By Lorrie Kyle Ramey ’70

“Rollins is a young institution—young in thought, action, and purpose, but old in its traditions of independence and service to the community and nation.”

President Jack B. Critchfield, 1970

Jack Critchfield

The Class of ’70 returned to Rollins its senior year to meet a new president. President Hugh F. McKean had moved “upstairs” to become chancellor and chairman of the board of trustees and Dr. Jack B. Critchfield had arrived as Rollins’ latest leader.

The Class of ’70 had been the first to encounter the Hourglass Curriculum, an experiment which was remodeled every year. Senior seminars in the major were offered in 1969, but the senior interdisciplinary courses intended to complete the Hourglass were not available until the following year. Seniors then completed either the Group Study Course or the Synoptic Course, in which the students “try to state the basic methods, problems, assumptions, ‘irreducibles’ and values of their own field, and then try to relate this field to the other fields represented in the section ...”(Annual Catalogue, 1970-71).

Rollins adopted a new course structure in 1970. The normal course load was increased to four courses in each of the Fall and Spring Terms, with a single, high-intensity course in the now-reduced (five weeks) Winter Term. Winter Term offered students a broad menu of on- or off-campus courses or independent studies.

The Hourglass Curriculum was abandoned in 1973, but vestiges remained in the form of area requirements in Humanities and Expressive Arts, Science and Mathematics, and Social Sciences. Area Studies majors, which drew courses from three or more departments, were introduced in 1974. It was also the first year for Fall Term programs in Ireland and Australia.

Alternative curriculum choices began to be proposed as early as 1971. The original “Alternative Program” proposal grew into Holt House, in which the student chose a “don,” who acted as “a ‘super’ faculty advisor.” The student and the don designed a personalized program of study, which they formalized with contracts. The Holt House program reflected the College’s contention that Rollins did, indeed, maintain the Conference System of Hamilton Holt.

Alternative curriculum choices expanded into alternative housing choices, and special interest groups like Holt House, Fine Arts House, the Student Center for Social Concerns, and the Environmental Conservation Organization were soon living together as well as studying together. These groups extended their scopes beyond the classroom and presented programs for the entire campus.

In 1971, the Renaissance Committee called the College together for “Community Day.” The entire campus broke into discussion groups to pinpoint Rollins’ problems. As well as requests for more liberal academic requirements and more unique and demanding Winter Term courses, the discussions touched on the need for more programs for black students and more all-campus interaction.

The Black Student Union was established in 1972. The BSU developed Black Awareness Week, which became an annual event and drew speakers such as Dick Gregory and Jesse Jackson to Rollins. The first Black Awareness Week also featured “An African Happening” and a “soul luncheon.” Later in 1972, the Office of Student Affairs inaugurated the Real-World Program, which involved Rollins students directly in community projects. The initial Real-World Program saw more than 100 students participate.

A new form of government also began to evolve at Rollins. With the formation of the College Senate, faculty and students had the opportunity to become involved in making the decisions that affected them. Heated debate surrounded questions ranging from revising the foreign language requirement to 24-hour visitation. (Revision won, visitation lost.)

After the completion of the New Women’s Dormitory in 1970, the campus remained relatively quiet until 1973, when the Alfond Pool provided students with a new place to see and be seen. In 1974, Frederick A. Hauck Hall, which houses foreign language studies, was built next to Casa Iberia. The Music Department moved into R. D. Keene Hall later that year. In 1978, thanks to a gift from George D. and Harriet W. Cornell, the Art Department and the Rollins College Museum of Art found new homes in the Cornell Fine Arts Center. They were the last buildings to be dedicated during President Critchfield’s administration.

On his arrival at Rollins, President Critchfield had said he would limit his tenure to eight to 10 years. True to his word, he announced his resignation in 1977, effective the following year. After his departure, while the search committee continued to seek his replacement, Dr. Frederick W. Hicks administered Rollins as acting president. One of Dr. Hicks’s presidential actions was to declare the first Fox Day since 1970, when the spur-of-the-moment holiday had been discontinued in the midst of nationwide war protests and peace demonstrations. The spring surprise contained another surprise—a visit from Rollins’ next president, Dr. Thaddeus Seymour.

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