Thursday, July 23, 2015

This Week in Texas Methodist History July 26

President Score Greets New Southwestern Students and Emphasizes School’s History, July 31, 1943

The last week of July seems like a strange time to start a new academic term, but in 1943 war time exigencies meant a reshuffling of the academic calendar to accommodate the new program on campus.  As a matter of fact, the new calendar was one of the least of the changes that had surrounded the campus for the past few years.

The World War produced important changes in the United States even before Pearl Harbor.  A draft was instituted, and industrial production to help the allies increased.  Both developments cut into the number of young men choosing to enroll in colleges and universities.  Southwestern University faced the prospects of declining enrollment and declining tuition payments with apprehension. SU enrollment had dropped to 376 for the 1942-1943 academic year.

One solution to increase enrollment and also contribute to the war effort was to participate in one of the programs the federal government had started to train military personnel.  Such a program would require considerable readjustment, but it was certainly worth the effort.  
Thanks to the efforts of President Score, Congressman Lyndon Johnson, Secretary of Commerce Jesse Jones, and other influential friends of Southwestern, the school received official notification in February 1943 that it would become a V-12 site. Southwestern would help train military aviators so badly needed in both Europe and the Pacific Theater.

  Among the changes that had to take place was a shuffling of student housing.  Laura Kuykendall Hall became the USS Kuykendall.  The women who had previously lived there moved to Mood Hall or to the newly purchased Sneed House across University Avenue from the campus.  Civilian men who had been living in Mood Hall were dispersed among a variety of facilities including private residences.  

As new students entered in July, 1943, President Score called them to an assembly.  Dr. William C. Finch (later SU President) gave a lecture on the history of Southwestern—after all many of the new students had not chosen Southwestern, they had been assigned there.  President Score then addressed them on the standards of conduct to which they must conform.  He then turned the assembly over to Ray Davidson, former civilian SU student and now in the V-12.  Davidson spoke of the school’s traditions and led them in three school songs,

The first was Hail, Alma Mater, the official school song.
The second was the Pirate Fight Hymn, followed by the Southwestern Hymn.  The fight song is not as well known as the Hail, Alma Mater, so here is the text:

Pirates fight for old Southwestern
For your Alma Mater dear,
Pirates fight for old Southwestern
For Victory is near.
To Southwestern we’ll be loyal
Till the sun drops from the sky
Remembering until the end
Pirates, fight, never die.

The fight song was especially significant because a considerable portion of the audience was about the take to the gridiron wearing the Pirate colors.  There were many V-12 students who had played collegiate football for regional powers such as UT, TCU, Baylor, and SMU.  The Pirate football team  went on to successful seasons and two victories in the Sun Bowls of 1944 and 1945. 


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