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Images: A Centennial Joiraiey 

By Suzanne Britt 
Photographs by Chip Henderson 



Readers know Suzanne Britt by her essays in 
; New York Times; Newsweek; Boston Globe; 
ider's Digest; Newsday; Books & Religion; The 
mmunicant; and numerous textbooks in the 
lited States and Canada. 
They know her by her books-Sfcmni/ People 
; Dull and Crunchy Like Carrots; Show and Tell; 
dA Writer's Rhetoric. 

They know her by her columns which have 
ipeared over the last fifteen years in the News 
d Observer; North Carolina Homes & Gardens; 
ickens Dispatch; and the Leader. 
Readers of Meredith publications know her 
7 her regular contributions to Meredith, the 
lUege magazine — particularly by her column 
indSight." They know her by her poetry in the 
corn, a literary magazine edited and published 
/ students. 

Suzanne Britt joined the Meredith faculty in 
)87 after having taught at North Carolina State 
niversity and at Duke Divinity School. She 
irned the B.A. at Salem College and the M.A. at 
/ashington University. 

She embodies the good that is Meredith— in 
\e classroom, as she teaches in the Department 
f EngUsh; in the Office of PubUcations, as she 
xpresses her talent as an editor as well as a 
/riter; and in the pubUc forum, as she speaks to 
tudent groups, such as Kappa Nu Sigma; or to 
oUege-related groups, such as the Wake County 
Chapter of the Alumnae Association. 

In Images: A Centennial Journey, the breadth 
md height and depth and spirit of the College 
mfold in the words of this teacher... this 
philosopher.. .this historian... this writer of 
Vieredith prose. 



Zover photo: The Shaw Fountain and Johnson Hall, 
:he administration building, illuminate Meredith's 
iront campus. Photography by Chip Henderson. 



First edition printed fall 1991 

Published by Meredith College Press 

Meredith College 

3800 Hillsborough Street 

Raleigh, North Carohna 27607-5298 

Design by David G. Howell 

Printed in Canada 

Library of Congress Catalogue Card Number: 91-76281 

Hardcover ISBN: 1-879635-00-3 
Copyright © by Meredith College Press 

Henderson photographs copyright © by Chip Henderson 

Neither the book nor portions may be reproduced without the written 
permission of Meredith College Press 



Images: A Centennial Journey 



By Suzanne Britt 
Photographs by Chip Henderson 



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 



There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream, 
The earth, and every common sight. 

To me did seem 

Apparelled in celestial light. 
The gloiy and the freshness of a dream. 
It is not now as it hath been of yore; — 

Turn wheresoe'er I may. 

By night or day. 
The things which I have seen I now can see no more. 

— William Wordsworth 
Ode: Intimations of Immortality 

When Wordsworth wrote these lines in 1802, it 
would be thirty years before Daguerre discovered that 
images could be fixed successfully to silver plates. To 
those of us living in the latter part of the twentieth 
century, the combination of words and photographs is 
a regular part of any day — whether we browse through 
a local newspaper, peruse a magazine or catalogue, 
look idly at a television program, study a textbook, or 
put together a scrapbook. We can employ the work of 
professionals or laugh at our own efforts to record in 
words or photographs the places and the people dear 
to us. These personal records often provide a vantage 
point from which to view our private histories. 

But public occasions call for a more systematic and 
sweeping view. Filmmakers employ techniques such 
as establishing shots, anticipatory setups, or bird's eye 
views to give their audiences a sense of the "lay of the 
land." They also use close-ups to record details impor- 
tant to plot or character. In the pages that follow, 
readers will find both the long view and the intimate 
detail, the shapes and the shadows, the history and the 
hope of Meredith College. And they will hear the 
voices of many of the people who have lived the stories 
included here. 

The storytellers are in some cases the early founders 
of the college; in others, its current inhabitants. Some 
records come from college archives and publications. 
Other information comes from sharp memories and 
affectionate hearts. Whatever the source, it is clearly 
revealed in the text. 



What is not found there is the story of the writing 
and publication of this book. In 1988, President John 
E. Weems appointed the Executive Board of the Cen- 
tennial Commission: Anne Dahle, Janet Freeman, 
Blue Greenberg, Carolyn Grubbs, Brent Pitts, Carolyn 
Robinson, Betty Webb, and Jean Jackson. Early in its 
meetings, this group decided that it wanted a fine 
volume of essays and photographs published in honor 
of the centennial of Meredith's charter. But decision 
and desire are only prelude. Next, the Publications 
Committee of the Centennial Commission took on the 
task of investigating the project. This committee, 
chaired by Carolyn Robinson, believed the book a 
good idea and began to investigate costs and to select 
a writer and principal photographer. President Weems 
encouraged the committee to determine the market- 
ability of the book; plans were announced for its 
publication at the Annual Meeting of the Alumnae 
Association and Class Day of 1990. Orders poured in, 
and additional orders were placed in response to 
advertisements in Meredith, Meredith Writes Home, and 
Angels Aware; thus, alumnae, students, and friends of 
Meredith demonstrated that they wanted this book to 
become a reality. 

Many people, in addition to the Executive Board, 
have helped it become so, including John Weems, 
Charles Taylor, Doris Litchfield, lone Kemp Knight, 
Robin Colby, Nona Short, Caroline McCall, Dru 
Hinsley, Steve Wilson, Bill Norton, Jeannie Morelock, 
Carolyn Hill, JoAnne Cota, Bill Wade, Ruth Balla, 
Craig Greene, Catherine Moore, Clara Bunn, Elaine 
Harbison, Adrienne Dyson, Kim Dennie, Crystal Pike, 
Ted Waller, Kelly Morris Roberts, Martha Lou 
Stephenson, Alyson Honeycutt Coburn, Tracy 
Sternberg, Christy Sizemore, Sandra Flynt Canipe, 
Suzanne Bagnal Britt, and Mimi Holt, as well as all 
those persons named in the pages or featured in the 
photographs which follow. Many of those photo- 
graphs represent the eye, craftsmanship, and artistry 
of Chip Henderson. Without him, the book would 
certainly look different; without his business acumen, 
the book would likely still be only a good idea. 



But to no one does this work owe its life more than 
to Suzanne Britt. It is her creation above all: itsouthne, 
scope, clarity, and soul — all reflect the professional- 
ism she brought to it. A quick wit, sharp mind, loving 
heart — attributes typically shown in her writing — 
were focused for one year on Meredith. We are indeed 
grateful to her for the application of her considerable 
gifts in seeing that this book would be a fitting tribute 



to the college in its centennial year. It is to her that we 
owe our chance to see this place "apparelled in celes- 
tial Light," perhaps not as we first knew it but with the 
added beauty attained by tranquil recollection. 

Jean Jackson, Director 

Meredith College Centennial Commission 

May 1991 



This world's no blot 

for us, 
Nor blank; it means intensely, and means 

good. . . . 

— Robert Browning 

Fm Lippo Lippi 



w. 



hy does a world mean? It means, first, because 
it is a world, with all the passion, intelligence, conflict, 
and abiding love of our first homes, original families. 




It means, too, because the world' s colors, trees, grasses, 
waters, skies, faces, minds, and hearts scatter abroad 
an ineffable divinity. Radiance is everywhere if we 
know where to look and how to see. Failing to catch 
even the faintest glimmer of this light, we are doomed 
to darkness and to ignorance. And so we go searching 
through many worlds for the one true light, the light 
that gives meaning to the whole of existence. 

Meredith College is a world of light and meaning — 
not the world its women were born into bv chance but, 
rather, a world searched for, singled out, chosen when 
the time has come for such choices. For generations of 
Meredith women, this campus world has meant "in- 
tensely," and meant good. Inner lights — faith, a desire 
to learn, a solitary search for identit}^ — all these have 
led Meredith's women to come to this place, in this 
time, and at this crisis of decision — the landmark year 
between random, careless vouth and thoughtful, con- 
scious maturity — to discover for themselves the whis- 
pered dreams in Meredith's lovely campus, the secret 



wisdom in its humming corridors and classrooms, the 
bright promise in its stately chapel. The light that 
shines today is the same Ught that irradiated the pur- 
poses and plans of Meredith College's Baptist founders; 
the same light that lured Meredith's great-grandmoth- 
ers, grandmothers, mothers, and aunts away from the 
safety and familiarity of home and into the wider 
world of knowledge, work, leadership, service. 

Meredith College has always been a place where 
meaning can begin. Long after students have left the 
campus and moved out into a still larger world, they 
have retained a vivid sense of Meredith's part in 
shaping, defining, and giving light and purpose to 
their lives. It is no accident that Meredith means, that 
Meredith shines. This campus is a world, after all — the 
first world that generations of women could rightly 
call their own. 




Breeze-ami/ leading from Stringfield to Belk Dining Hall 



Women are supposed to he very calm generally: hut women feel 
just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties and a field 
for their efforts as much as their hrothers do; they suffer from 
too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men 
woidd suffer. . . . 

— Jane Eyre 
Charlotte Bronte 



T. 



he fictiorial Jane Eyre, about to embark on her 
career as a governess at Mr. Rochester's Thornfield 
Hall, is restless with yearning for a meaningful life. She 
expresses a feeling no different from many genera- 
tions of women who have come to Meredith College, 
seeking a balm for their fevered aspirations, a direc- 
tion and purpose for their vague longings. The male 
founders of Meredith were similarly restless in behalf 



of women — similarly driven to big dreams and solid 
advocacy in the cause of educating women. As early as 
1835, a lone voice at the North Carolina Baptist State 
Convention called for consideration of "the establish- 
ment of a female seminary of high order. " One of those 
present at the convention, Thomas Meredith, founder 
and editor of the Biblical Recorder, would serve on the 
committee to consider such a proposal. 




Students in Fairdoth Hall, 1907 




Baptist University for Women 1904-1909 

But Meredith College was not to receive its charter 
until many years later — in 1891 — largely because of 
disputes about the wisdom or, more pointedly, the 
common sense of bothering to educate women at all. 
Even as late as 1896, disgruntlement and bewilder- 
ment produced sputtering indignation among certain 
men. One young man — surprisingly, an "educator" 
himself — was quoted in the Biblical Recorder as saying, 
"What is the use of educatin' a woman anyhow? If she 
was educated, she couldn't be sheriff, nor a register of 
deeds, nor a clerk of the court, nor go to the legislature, 
so what is the use of educatin' her? The fact is ... it 
hain't her hemisphere to be educated anyhow, it is us 
men's hemisphere." 

Sadly, the young man was right, at least about the 
limited opportunities for meaningful work available 
to females. Women could do very little in those cramped 



times. Restlessness, longing, frustration, and envy 
surely plagued the secret hearts of many bright young 
girls who were every bit as stymied and daunted by 
custom and tradition as the fictional Jane Eyre, survey- 
ing the wide fields beyond Thornfield Hall and chaf- 
ing under the considerable restraints she suffered. 
Being orphaned and seemingly penniless, she could 
either marry well or make her way as a governess. 

Yet in life — as in fiction — heroes do exist. Just as Mr. 
Rochester recognizes Jane's worth, wit, fire, and intel- 
ligence beneath her plain exterior, so did Oliver Larkin 
Stringfield become the champion of neglected, under- 
valued women in North Carolina. He, a poor preacher 
who felt divinely called to ser\'e as a tireless advocate 
in the then-unpopular cause of educating women, 
spent years raising money for the Baptist Female Uni- 
versitv, which later became Meredith College. 



Stringfield took on the job of fund-raising when the 
hope of having such an institution in Raleigh had all 
but died. A graduate of Wake Forest College, Stringfield 
had not forgotten his younger sister's haunting lament 
when he himself had set out for college: "I'd give 
anything if I only had a chance to be educated," she 
had cried, clinging to his neck and sobbing. Stringfield 
wrote in his memoirs: "The more I prayed the greater 
my anxiety became that we offer our girls the same 
advantages we were glad to give our boys at Wake 
Forest." 

Stringfield's battle was difficult, as was Jane Eyre's 
perilous entry into the wider world beyond Lowood 
Institution, the charity school to which Jane had been 
sent by her decidedly uncharitable aunt. Stringfield 
worked against the deeply ingrained notions and preju- 
dices that have always hampered any action of God's 
grace in a world too often given to law and rigidity, not 
love and freedom. Stringfield first had to convince the 
parents that their daughters were every bit as worthy 
as their sons to be given an opportunity for higher 
education. More significantly, he had to convince the 
daughters themselves that they were capable and 
deserving of such an opportunity. 




1635 



CENTENNIAL ISSUE 



1935 



BlBLlCAJ^ ilEe^^HDER 



Elva Wall Davis Gate 

Even today, women who are uncertain and doubt- 
ful of their gifts, privileges, talents, and visions must 
be reminded of what is possible beyond the predict- 
able or conventional boundaries blocking the restless 
imagination, the inquisitive mind. Sometimes women 
don't know how to look far, look hard, look long, look 
up. But they can learn. Jane Eyre climbs to the upper- 
most level of stately Thornfield Hall and looks out 
"afar over sequestered field and hill, and long dim sky- 
line." She sees a shadowy destiny taking shape in her 
young imagination. Similarly, generations of Meredith 
women have looked out beyond the tallest pine, the 
highest spire, the farthest horizon to find the place of 
peace, light, freedom, purpose. 



'-7f^rT^iiy-<if'~-f^-'--^y'v-'-^---^7fftr^7iTg-^r-"^^ — - 



1; 



THOMAS MEREDITH 

foimilcf ,11.1 I .iitot llitili.j? Kct..r<tirt [.in. -. iK;;— Nc^. i 





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When I speak of knowledge, I mean something intellectual, 
something which grasps what it perceives through the senses; 
something which takes a view of things; which sees more than the 
senses convey; which reasons upon what it sees, and while it sees; 
which invests it with an idea. 

— John Henry Cardinal Newman 
The Idea of a University 



R 



rom the time of Meredith College's founding, the 
educational purpose has been clear as a shaft of sun- 
light through a sparkling window. The intention of 
Meredith's founders, professors, and administrators 
has been to produce in Meredith students a desire for 




a knowledge higher, deeper, wider, and more pro- 
found than the pragmatic or predictable arts of cook- 
ing, crocheting, and coquetry. Meredith stands squarely 
in the grand liberal-arts tradition. In Cardinal 
Newman's mighty treatise, he sets forth views widely 
held in his own age and pertinent to our own. Cer- 
tainly, Newman addresses his remarks to the educa- 
tion of a "gentleman." But though limited, in terms 
both of the gender and of the social status of those he 
would deem worthy of being educated, Newman 
displays an acute understanding of the distinction 
between knowledge directed toward specific ends 
and knowledge acquired for its own sake. Here, his 
reasoning is sound, his message timeless. Repeatedly, 
Newman acknowledges the urgent need for practical 
instruction directed toward achieving specific results. 
But this, he says, is not knowledge. Newman insists on 
the hierarchical nature of learning, and he never sees 
as frivolous or unworthy the cultivation of the intellect 
for the sole purpose of enlightenment — irrespective of 
tangible or temporal goals. 

On the way to gaining knowledge, Meredith stu- 
dents have learned how to prepare a souffle, develop 
a roll of film, stage a theatrical production, type a 
business letter, conjugate a verb, operate a computer, 
or manage a company. But Meredith's history and 
rigorous academic curriculum have confirmed its de- 
votion to knowledge acquired for its own sake — as 
important for women as for men. 

Newman's "idea" is a bright one. His brand of 
knowledge would encourage serious scholarship, not 
technical training; vigorous debate, not passive acqui- 
escence; profound insight, not basic or superficial 




comprehension; careful reasoning, not liaphazard 
whimsy or cant; enduring wisdom, not minimum 
competency or mere survival. To this end — surely a 
worthy end in itself — Meredith women have embraced 
a solid academic program of philosophy, literature, 
history, language, religion, science, and mathematics, 
without sacrificing the specialized training and exper- 
tise essential for survival in the "real" world — a world 
more shadowy, insubstantial, and changeable than 
the ultimate reality behind the face of things. Meredith 
women have majored in business, medical technol- 
ogy, computer science, physical education, home eco- 
nomics, interior design, sociology, or the fine arts. 
They have been taught to compete, to succeed, and to 
adapt to fashionable trends in commerce, culture, 
health, education, politics. They have been and are, in 
the vernacular of the business world, "marketable." 
But they are also people, not products. 



Faith in the liberal-arts tradition demands nothing 
less than total commitment to the physical, mental, 
emotional, and spiritual growth of a complete human 
being. Women are more than what they do, whom 
they feed, how they feel or look. As surely as a prism 
alters light, the changing culture will give surprising 
shapes and colors to the student's inner reality. But the 
light of the soul shines on steadily, and in moments of 
quiet contemplation — apart from the trends, fashions, 
and pressures of her era — the student recovers her 
essential, shining self in the eternal truths common to 
every age. To aim for less than knowledge would be to 
settle for a temporal, limited existence — something 
that stops when clocks stop, something that breathes 
only when breath is administered to it, something 
whose inner light is hopelessly fragmented by exter- 
nal pressures. To look inward, to press on toward 
something higher than the present need, to imagine 



eternity when all around us suggests only "here" and 
simply "now" — these are the great boons of a liberal- 
arts education in this or any century. There are limits 
to what a human being can do. But there are no limits 
to what a human being can know, believe. The body 
yields to the finite. The soul, heart, and mind aspire to 
the infinite. 

More startling and beautiful than any fact, machine, 
chart, manual, or star is the mind laid open like a poem 
or a leaf to receive the secrets of the universe; to absorb 
the brooding, organic wisdom of the ages. And if the 
mind is closed to all but what it thinks it needs or 
simply learns by rote, the heart sinks, the soul lan- 
guishes, and the intellect fades into "the light of 
common day." 








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Manj Lynch Johnson, professor of English, 1918-1962, and college historian 



10 



And it being found inconvenient to assemble in the open air, subject 
to its inclemencies, the building of a house to meet in was no sooner 
proposed, and persons appointed to receive contributions, but 
sufficient sums were soon received to procure the ground and erect the 
building . . . and the work was carried on with such spirit as to be 
finished in a much shorter time than could have been expected. 

— Benjamin Franklin 
Autohiogra])hy 



o. 



vercrowding, traffic noise on city streets, and 
lack of privacy forced the Board of Trustees to make 
plans for moving the campus from its location in 
downtown Raleigh to some more ample space. This 
decision, certainly a momentous one, was made on 
May 23, 1921. By Christmas of 1925, a remarkably 
short span of time for such a major change, students 
returned from the holiday to find themselves housed 
in gleaming new accommodations on a site three miles 
west of Raleigh on Hillsborough Street. What had been 
merely a cotton field on the Tucker farm was now a 
stately, if somewhat muddy and raw looking, aggre- 
gation of six buildings of Georgian design. Alternat- 
ing rain and freezing temperatures created some diffi- 
culties. The editor of the Twig commented that the 
mud collected on the girls's shoes could easily serve as 
substitutes for half soles. But the move, overseen with 
great efficiency by Meredith president Dr. Charles 
Edward Brewer, went off smoothly, without the loss of 
a single library book, desk, microscope, or piece of 
luggage. 







Of course, many students and faculty undoubtedly 
felt a nostalgic twinge for the Gothic, ivied elegance of 
Main Building on the old campus. Margaret Ferguson 
Sackett, class of 1904, wrote, "\ shall never forget my 
impression of the intricacies of Old Main's architec- 
ture, with its many turrets and gables, nor that of East 
Building, with its walnut woodwork, spacious halls, 
and high ceilings." A sigh must occasionally have 
escaped the lips of faculty and administrators who 
saw the new campus buildings crisscrossed with make- 
shift boardwalks, the grounds awash in red clay, and 
the red brick walls starkly outlined against the omi- 
nous winter sky. Age and familiarity soften surround- 
ings. The new Meredith campus would soon acquire 
the pleasing ambiance of shady streets, the soft patina 
of family heirlooms. 

For now, visitors to the new campus saw first an 
imposing administrative building, with stone steps 
leading to a colonnaded porch. Under the large dome 
were located the library on the second floor and the 
administrative offices and parlors on the first floor. In 




11 




1931, this new "main" building was named in memory 
of Livingston Johnson, a Meredith trustee for thirty 
years and editor of the Biblical Recorder for thirteen 

years. In 1956, the stone steps 
were eliminated — often a 
source of confusion for cam- 
pus visitors who climbed the 
steps and found themselves 
in the library rather than in 
the administrative offices. Ini- 
tially, a terrace replaced the 
steps, and two years later a large, bright lobby was 
created by raising the floor under the rotunda. Red 
carpeted stairs rising from the center of the lobby and 
railed balconies above now provide an impressive 
entrance for visitors. In 1969-1970, the rotunda was 
reconstructed, redecorated, and named in honor of 
Raymond A. Bryan. Around the base of the skylighted 
dome are carved four biblical quotations, fitting re- 




minders of Meredith's lofty academic aims as well as 
its Christian heritage: 

Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. 

John 8:32 
Study to show thyselves approved ujito God. 

II Timothy 2:15 
Jesus saith 1 am tlic way, the truth, and the life. 

John 14:6. 
Other foundation can lu^ man lay than that laid which is 
Jesus Christ. 

I Corinthians 3:11 

The Bryan Rotunda provides a dramatic architectural 
setting especially appropriate for the frequent exhibi- 
tions of paintings, photographs, and sculpture bv 
Meredith students and by renowned local and na- 
tional artists. Just outside the double doors facing the 
front of Johnson Hall is the Shaw Fountain, dedicated 



12 




in 1974 to Henry M. and Blanche Shaw. The fountain 
is beautifully accented with a circular driveway, 
benches and walkways, flowers and shrubs. 

Whereas the academic buildings represent the ulti- 
mate purpose of Meredith College, the offices and 
officials housed in Johnson Hall, officially designated 
the Livingston Johnson Administrative Building, make 
possible all the ongoing life of the campus. The offices 
of the president, vice-presidents, the dean of the col- 



lege, the dean of students, the business manager, and 
the registrar are housed here — as well as the graduate 
program, institutional advancement, admissions, busi- 
ness affairs, student development, and college rela- 
tions. Indeed, each day hundreds of parents, students, 
alumnae, faculty members, and community leaders 
pass through the doors of Johnson Hall. They seek 
information about student grades, pick up paychecks, 
chat in the blue parlor, meet with various campus 
administrators on matters of fund-raising, inquire 
about medical or retirement benefits, embark on a tour 
of the campus for prospective students, or simply 
stroll through the lobby to examine the current art 
exhibit. Occasionally, an employee or student pauses, 
perhaps to linger over the insights and truths carved 
around the ceiling of the Bryan Rotunda, perhaps to 
note the announcement of an upcoming campus event. 
Johnson Hall is symbolic of the duality of the aca- 
demic life. A successful institution of higher learning 
must be counted on to provide the funds for the 
necessary materials of learning: a bit of chalk; a clean, 
well-lighted classroom; a comfortable desk; a care- 




juhnv n nuu 



13 



fully selected textbook; a capable professor; a willing 
student. A vision of beauty and truth, however vital, 
must also be viable. Here, within the walls of Johnson 
Hall, the expectations of students and visions of acade- 
micians are given practical shape, design, purpose. 



Here, the dream is dusted off and given a daily, sturdy 
reality. Over time, Johnson Hall has trulv become 
another "old Main," sans ivy and Gothic turrets but 
with all the reassuring air of humming activity and the 
soul-satisfying pleasure of enduring aesthetic appeal. 




14 



Four courts I made, East, West and South 
and North, 
In each a squared lawn, wherefrom 
The golden gorge of dragons spouted forth 
A flood offountam foam. 

And round the cool green courts there ran a 
row 
Of cloisters, branch' d like mighty woods, 
Echoing all night to that sonorous flow 
Of spouted fountain-floods. 

— Alfred, Lord Tennyson 

The Palace of Art 



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< ertainly symbolic of all fresh starts, all lofty ide- 
als, the basic design of the buildings on the new 

campus was balanced, 
symmetrical, orderly. Six 
buildings then formed a 
quadrangle, the sides of 
which consisted of an ad- 
ministrative building on 
the front, four dormito- 
ries along the sides, and 
a dining room and 
kitchen on the back of 
the quadrangle. Even to- 
day, this quadrangle re- 
Vannie E.S. Heck Memorial Fountain mains the focal point of a 
campus increasingly changing and growing around 
its perimeter. 

In 1926, none of the buildings had yet been named. 
The four dormitories were simply referred to as build- 
ings A, B, C, and D. But by 1931, the year in which the 
administration building was named in honor of 
Livingston Johnson, the dormitories had also acquired 
names — particular identities. Jones Hall was later 
renamed Brewer, in honor of Charles Edward Brewer, 
president of Meredith College from 1916 until 1939. 
Faircloth, Vann, and Stringfield were named, respec- 
tively, in honor of attorney William T. Faircloth, former 
Meredith president Richard Tilman Vann, and staunch 
Meredith founder and advocate Oliver Larkin 



Stringfield. Over time, these raw-looking student resi- 
dences would become increasingly inviting and dis- 
tinctive, less alien and forbidding than they must have 
seemed to students returning to campus in the frozen, 
rainy winter of 1926. The "inns," in poet Marianne 
Moore's words, would be "residences" — real homes 
to generations of Meredith students — as familiar and 
singular as the roses, irises, crape myrtles, dogwoods, 
spirea, redbuds, and scuppernong vines that gradu- 
ally softened the angular shapes of the precise geo- 
metrical design. 

When buildings acquire names, residents, furnish- 
ings, they take on personalities. So it happened at the 
first naming in Eden, and so it happens now. The 
rather threatening sterility and anonymonity of this 
imposing quadrangle were soon to vanish. When the 
dormitories were first erected, each housed about 125 
students, and each boasted a kitchenette, launderette. 




15 




Brewer and Fairdoth Residence Halls 

pressing room, and social room. Tlie infirmary was 
located on the fourth floor of what was later to be 
called Faircloth Hall, on the east side of the quad- 
rangle. The rooms were grouped in suites of two, with 
one closet for every two students and a bathroom for 
each suite — to the delight of students who had been 
used to sharing one bathtub among twenty-nine stu- 
dents. Between 1955 and 1964, the dormitories were 
periodically refurbished, with fresh paint, new furni- 
ture and bathroom fixtures, and improved lighting. 
Eventually, wall-to-wall carpeting was added to the 
corridors, along with showers, bathroom tiles and 
cabinets, fluorescent lights, and new furnishings for 
the social rooms. And since 1968, students have been 
permitted to have telephones in their rooms, in addi- 
tion to extension and pay telephones on each floor of 
the dormitories. 

Though distinctions have blurred in recent years 
among classes assigned to particular dormitories, the 
freshmen and sophomores have traditionally lived in 
Vann and Stringfield, on the west side of the quad- 
rangle, and upperclasswomen have been housed in 
Faircloth and Brewer, on the east. Carolyn Hill, class of 
'87, remembers that the movement from the freshmen 
dorms on the west to the upperclasswomen dorms on 



the east was a significant one: "I felt like I had mo\'ed 
up when I got to the other side of the courtyard." And 
she recalls the different personalities of the dormito- 
ries being very much dependent on the inhabitants. 
"There were wild halls," she says. And certainly there 




have been, in contrast, sedate and studious halls. But 
the distinction between the lower and upper classes 
has been the strongest distinguishing feature of dor- 
mitory life. Even in the dining hall, freshmen instinc- 
tively have gathered on the end nearer Vann and 
Stringfield, while upperclasswomen ha\'e dined on 



16 




the east side of the dining room. This arrangement has 
contributed to good-natured rivalry across the court, 
especially during campus events like Cornhuskin', 
when the upper and lower classwomen run back and 
forth, competing for the honor of having spread toilet 
paper over the largest area of grass — on the side oppo- 
site their own, of course. There were waterfights, too, 
and, in an environmentally conscious era, aluminum 
can art has become a part of these competitions. 

Over the years, certain features of the dormitories 
have served to attract students for various reasons. 
Until living quarters were added to the fourth floors of 
these four dormitories, the topfloorof Faircloth served 
as the infirmary and the rest were simply attics. 
Catherine E. Moore, '50, recalls that nobody ever went 
to the attics of these buildings except to sneak puffs on 
cigarettes. She says, "When you opened the doors to 
the attics, you were confronted by piles of cigarette 
butts." But these smoking sanctuaries were denied 
students when the upper rooms were converted to 
living quarters. Dr. Mary Lynch Johnson notes that 
these new quarters were so "attractive" that students 



vied for the right 
to inhabit the 
"penthouses." 
The rooms were 
"more interest- 
ing," tucked, as 
they were, into the 
roofline. There 
were sloped ceil- 
ings, small dor- 
mer windows, an 
air of quaint dis- 
tinction. The con- 
ventional dormi- 
tory rooms were 
"boxes." These rooms at the top had character. But 
such perspectives and tastes are highly subjective. A 
high school student participating in Meredith's sum- 
mer program "Looking Toward College" was heard to 
say, "I just love Stringfield. It has so much character." 
So who can say what draws one student to Stringfield, 
another to Faircloth, still another to the cosy attic 




17 



lodgings in all four buildings? It is a personal matter — 
and mysteriously evocative — like names, like memo- 
ries, like traditions, like the scent of roses beyond the 
window or a whiff of tobacco floating illicitly down 
the corridor. Similarly, each incoming student — her- 



self unique — ultimately learns the singular personali- 
ties of these residence halls. And in time, these "clois- 
ters" become colonies, each humming with its own 
particular energy and rhythm. 




Vnnu Residence Hall 



18 



The year is nearly over. Snow has fallen, and everything is white. 
It is very cold. I have changed the position of my desk into a corner. 
Perhaps I shall be able to write far more easily here. Yes, this is a 
good place for a desk, because I can't see out of the stupid window. 
I am quite private. The lamp stands on one corner and in the 
corner. Its rays fall on the yellow and green Indian curtain and on 
the strip of red embroidery. The forlorn wind scarcely breathes. I 
love to close my eyes for a moment and think of the land outside, 
white under the mingled snow and moonlight — white trees, white 
fields — the heaps of stones by the roadside white — snow in the 
furrows. Mon Dieu! How quiet and how patient! 

I am sitting at the window of a little square room furnished with a 
bed, a wax apple, and an immense flowery clock. Outside the 
window there is a garden full of wall flowers and blue enamel 
saucepans. The clocks are striking five and the last rays of sun 
pour under the swinging blind. It is very hot — the kind of heat that 
makes one's cheeks burn in infancy. But I am so happy I must send 
you a word on a spare page of my diary, dear. 

— Katherine Mansfield 
Journal 



mr^mm- 






f^. Mt 



n^^^r^ ■ • 



I 



n every season, a woman can know — in her new- 
found freedom from home and family — the bliss of 
coming at last to a room of her own — of shoving a desk 
where she pleases; of feeling the radical significance 
of an open window beckoning and distracting her 
from the waiting page; of catching a flash of blue 
enamel, a flower, a red apple in the mind's eye; of 
sighing and smiling to the rhythm of clocks and 
weather; of privacy, silence, patient snow, perfect 
intimacy. 



■'^im^vm r 



When Katherine Mansfield wrote these words, she 
was a young woman in her mid-twenties — not much 
older than the Meredith students who have for one- 
hundred years settled into the small, square rooms of 
their first private living quarters, there to discover — 
after the occasional pangs of homesickness have sub- 
sided — a breadth of freedom and independence they 
never believed possible. They are rulers of miniature 
domains, empresses of Lilliput, arranging their books 
on the shelves, setting out their toiletries and family 



19 




photos on the dresser. Daily irritations of raucous 
plumbing, dormitory pranks, uncapped toothpaste 
tubes, overcrowded closets, or recalcitrant roommates 
are trivial beside the one great pride and pleasure of 
ownership — the sound of the key turning in the lock, 
the telephone call that must be for them. They are 
happy to fall on the bed at the end of a long day, among 
the plumped pillows and thick quilts that signal a 
burgeoning domestic maturity and safety. Asked what 
they remember most about college life, Meredith stu- 
dents would surely cite the small rooms and resonant 
atmosphere of the buildings in which they lived, wrote, 
studied, sang, sobbed, argued, joked, and, very likely, 
prayed. 



Prior to 1962, the four dormitories comprising the 
east and west sides of the courtyard were adequate to 
house the students then at Meredith. But in the last 
thirty years, the number of residence halls has grown 
to accommodate the larger student population. Poteat 
and Carroll were completed in 1962, and Barefoot and 
Heilman were completed in the early seventies — the 
latter dormitories having been part of a five-million 
dollar development campaign announced in 1 966 and 
intended for two new dormitories, a library, student 
center, and gymnasium. Carroll Annex, a smaller facil- 
ity housing only twenty-two students and two upper- 
class hall officers, was the last of the five new residence 
halls to be completed. Each of these new dormitories 
was named — as have been other buildings on cam- 
pus — in honor of major financial supporters, trustees, 
presidents, or admired faculty members. Poteat bears 
the name of Ida Poteat, an art professor at Meredith for 
forty years. The Delia Dixon Carroll Health Center and 
Residence Hall was named for the first of Meredith's 
college physicians, who came to the Baptist Female 
University in 1899. The odd juxtaposition of living 
quarters and health facilities in a single building caused 
some consternation among the medical staff. Accord- 
ing to Dr. Marie Mason, "all the doctors and nurses 
threatened to resign when the students moved in," 
proving, one must suppose, the universal human need 
for "space," both in life and in work. Dr. E. Bruce 
Heilman, Meredith's fifth president, had the honor of 
having a dormitory named after him as well, a build- 
ing so luxurious that students dubbed it the "Heilman 
Hilton." Barefoot Residence Hall bears the name of 
C. C. Barefoot and his wife Kilty and family. C. C. 
Barefoot and his wife have both served on the Board of 
Trustees. 



-\JM 


'-*Mi««: ^ 


jK. 




^^^S3» r^^ 7~ 


■ ■ ^ 


^JHB W 


ii'^ 


l^ T«-; Tr mJt^M 




^^' wK^^^ ■ H^^^^l 




W 1 



20 




Dorm life in the 



21 




Delia Dixon Carroll Health Center and Residence Hall 

With the exceptions of Carroll Hall and Carroll 
Annex, each of the other residence halls houses 140- 
170 students, with arrangements and facilities almost 
rivaling any modern hotel. Private baths are available 
for each two students, the rooms are wired for cable 
television, and the residence halls provide additional 
space for socializing, doing laundry, preparing meals 
in the kitchenettes, and ironing — should any Meredith 
student care to disturb the natural fibers of her 100 % 
cotton shorts or blouses with a bit of steam heat and 
sturdy pressure. 

But no matter how rowdy the "public" rooms in 
these bustling dormitories may become, each student 
has the inalienable right to climb the stairs, turn the 
key in the lock, throw her books in the nearest corner, 
fix a Diet Coke, and gaze out the window — idly enjoy- 
ing, as did Katherine Mansfield, a secret, happy world 
springing forth on the pages of her diary. 





Barefoot Hall 



22 



Elysium is as far as to 
The very nearest room, 
If in that room a friend await 
Felicity or doom. 

WJiat fortitude the soul contains, 
That it can so endure 
The accent of a coming foot, 
The opening of a door. 

— Emily Dickinson 
Elysium Is As Far 



E 



iver since the Alumnae House was first used on 
November 13, 1953, its doors have been opening to 
receive a stream of visitors: speakers at campus func- 
tions, students, faculty, and, of course, the alumnae — 
for whom this building truly is a second home. Later 
renamed the Mae Grimmer House, in honor of the 
Alumnae Association's first secretary, the colonial 
brick building exudes an air of comfortable welcome. 
Originally only a small building with a single large 
meeting room and a tiny office and kitchen, the Mae 
Grimmer House later saw the addition of two wings — 
including tw^o large offices, a conference room, and 
ioui bedrooms used for overnight guests. The kitchen 




Mae Grimmer Alumnae House — Interior 




Mae Grimmer Alumnae House 



23 




Miss Mae Grimmer (left) and alumnae admiring her portrait 

was also expanded, making possible the serving of 
refreshments or even substantial meals for various 
campus meetings and social events. 

Generous alumnae and friends of Meredith have 
provided most of the amenities available in private 
homes, including such valuable items as a silver 
punch bowl and tray, a walnut banquet table, comfort- 
able sofas, a Ming vase, two Wing chairs in the style of 
Queen Anne, candlesticks, a sideboard, and a Victo- 
rian love seat. The main parlor of this House immedi- 
ately evokes the memory of home, a sense of ease and 
conviviality common among the alumnae themselves. 

Whether the assemblage is a weekday meeting of 
the Colton English Club — with students sitting cross- 
legged on the floor — or an elegant tea — with guests 
perched primly on the edges of their chairs, the Mae 
Grimmer House seems to invite visitors to stay, rest, be 
restored and enlightened by whate\'er occasion brings 



them through its doors. There is a pleasant sense of 
anticipation when the front door opens: a whiff of 
coffee is in the air; the shady trees rustle just beyond 
the window; and the foot taps lightly across the wooden 
floor to the richly carpeted interior. Ahvays immacu- 
late, always orderly, and beautifully decorated, the 
Mae Grimmer House suggests the very mood of 
Dickinson's poem. Something seems about to happen 
within those walls, and something usually does. If 
Elysium is the footfall of a friend, the opening of a 
door, then the Mae Grimmer House is surely hea\en. 



24 



So thou through windows of thine age shalt see, 
Despite of wrinkles, this thou golden time. 

— William Shakespeare 
Sonnet 3 



T, 



hrough the long perspective of advancing years 
and growing maturity, graduates increasingly come 
to value and savor their "golden time" at Meredith. 
The years bring light and space. The windows of the 
mind and heart are thrown open to admit a larger view 
of what the four years at Meredith have meant and will 
continue to mean to a host of alumnae. Enthusiasm 
and loyalty are difficult to measure except by actions, 
and certainly the alumnae of Meredith College have 
proved their ongoing dedication to this academic in- 
stitution by gifts of time and money; frequent returns 
to the campus for class reunions and special educa- 
tional opportunities; responsible leadership on boards 
and committees; and conscientious field work in local 
chapters, both in recruiting potential students and in 
keeping green the memory of what Meredith was and 
yet can be. 

Meredith's founders and students were quick to see 
the importance of strengthening and steadying the ties 
between campus life and the world beyond. The Alum- 
nae Association of the Baptist Female University was 
organized by the school's first graduating class in 
1902. Since that time, the alumnae have continued to 
change and grow, meeting the demands of an ever- 
larger and more sophisticated network of graduates 





iT ■•■ ^lliij. *. _ 



Dorothy Loftin Goodwin, '47, mid daughter, Susan Goodwin Thornbroiigh, 76 

scattered throughout the world. The first ten "clubs" 
were organized in 1912-13, and eventually became 
chapters of the Alumnae Association. The Association 
had no salaried staff until 1928, when the alumnae 
urged the trustees to hire a full-time secretary. The 
legendary Mae Grimmer, '14, took the position and 
served in it for thirty-six years, relieving the Alumnae 
Association officers of the burden of careful, daily 
attention to a wealth of responsibilities and activities. 
Miss Grimmer' s remarkable energy and wit — along 
with her almost uncanny ability to recall the names, 
faces, hometowns, occupations, and offspring of count- 
less Meredith graduates — earned for her the admira- 
tion and affection of the graduates, a respect and 
appreciation demonstrated in the naming of the alum- 
nae house in her honor. Among Miss Grimmer's many 
contributions to the vitality of the Association was the 
formation of the Granddaughters' Club, a favorite 
feature of the program presented each year on Alum- 
nae Day. In 1968, the position of executive secretary of 
the Alumnae Association was renamed, though the 
name was not used until 1 970, when Caroljm Covington 
Robinson, '50, became the first Director of Alumnae 
Affairs. 



25 




The late Ethel Canvll Squires, '07 



26 




Alumnae were first invited to speak at Alumnae 
Day in 1923, and the practice has continued to the 
present. These Meredith graduates have spoken on a 
variety of topics and themes, sometimes about devel- 
opments in their sundry professions, sometimes about 

the importance of 
Meredith to graduates, 
and on still other occa- 
sions about the respon- 
sibilities of Meredith 
women in modern soci- 
ety. The variety and 
scope of these speakers' 
presentations prove the 
value of a wide-ranging 
liberal arts education. 
K V jf -^ They have talked of ev- 

Norma V. Rose, '36 ery thing from medicine 

to television, from preaching to Japanese costumes, 
from facing the future to learning from the past. One 
alumna — Margaret Bright, who attended every 
Meredith commencement for sixty-six years — worked 
tirelessly in the care and promotion of Meredith's 
valuable doll collection, now housed in the Margaret 
Bright Gallery on the third level of Bryan Rotunda in 
Johnson Hall. Each graduating class at Meredith has 
presented a doll to the alumnae on Alumnae Day — 
representing the fashion, attitudes, and values of that 
class. 

But though the alumnae were active in many facets 
of campus and community life from as early as 1902, 
they did not enjoy representation on the Board of 
Trustees until 1918; and not until 1960 did a woman — 
Dr. Elizabeth James Dotterer, '30 — serve as president 
of the Board of Trustees. In 1961 , when Sarah Elizabeth 
Vernon Watts, '34, took over the presidency of the 
trustees because of Leroy Martin's illness, she became 
the first woman to sign the diplomas given to Meredith 
graduates. In 1991, Meredith's centennial year, Marg- 
aret Weatherspoon Parker, '38, became the first elected 
alumna to serve as chair of the Board of Trustees. 

In 1946, the Alumnae Magazine was first published, 
thereby securing for graduates and Meredith support- 
ers alike a quarterly report of college events, class 
notes, faculty lectures — indeed, any news or academic 
accomplishments of interest to all those with Meredith 



ties. Norma Rose, '36, former head of the English 
department, served as able editor of this publication 
until 1972, when Carolyn Robinson took over editing 
duties of the magazine two years into her appointment 
as Director of Alumnae Affairs. Her role was consider- 
ably expanded when she later became Director of the 
Office of Publications — a division responsible for the 
writing, editing, and production of all regularly sched- 
uled college publications. 

As a result of careful record-keeping and modern 
technology, Meredith alumnae can keep in touch and 
stay informed as they never have before. And in 
Meredith's centennial year, such a network becomes 
increasingly useful and gratifying. At an on-campus 
leadership conference for officers of the Alumnae As- 
sociation in the centennial year, the assembled women 
responded enthusiastically and thoughtfully to the 
question: "What do you want from Meredith Col- 

(- v ^^^^^»— ^ lege?" One graduate 
jl^^^^^Hk wanted to be able to "re- 
turn to a place to hear 
the ancient voices." An- 
other hoped to be "re- 
vived and affirmed 
through ongoing rela- 
tionships with women 
of like mind and val- 
ues." These Meredith 
alumnae wanted "to 
make a difference in the 
Patsy Johnson GlUihvid, 71 nnd son present and future of 
Meredith College." And finally, according to Mimi 
Holt, Association president in Meredith's centennial 
year, the women were eager to "reaffirm the values 
related to a liberal arts. Christian education." "This 
desire," Holt said, "transcends everything we have 
had to say." 

The days are most assuredly over when daughters 
attended the Baptist Female University, graduated, 
and returned to assume their traditional roles in fami- 
lies and communities. Modern women have a surpris- 
ing — and at times vaguely threatening — array of 
choices and prospects. The future, for many women, is 
less certain than it was in the sometimes stifling, but 
often rather secure, past. Women have demanded 
more from the culture, and more is expected from 




27 



them. Thus, institutions of higher learning must ad- 
dress these multiple roles and opportunities. 

Any Meredith graduate will surely agree that a 
diploma does not signal the end of learning, any more 
than a job guarantees advancement or a stable family 
life guarantees a happy, pampered old age. A college 
is expected to remain a source of inspiration, educa- 
tion, and opportunity long after official academic con- 
nections are severed. Consequently, Meredith has 
adapted its program and vision to accommodate the 
needs and desires of the graduates. In the centennial 
year, the first Alumnae College invited graduates to 
return the campus, not merely to catch up on old times 
with classmates or to receive awards but, rather, to re- 
enter the classroom, to hear faculty lectures, and to 
continue the only education worth having — the one 
that never stops, the one that sustains and enriches 
women through all the frequently stimulating and 
sometimes alarming vicissitudes of life. The "golden 
time," from the broad perspective of many Meredith 
alumnae, is now, and the "window" is open wide. 




Mary Martin johiisoii Broume, '21 (left) and Alice Bn/an Johnson, 35 



28 



The sun shone down for nearly a week on the secret garden. The 
Secret Garden was what Mary called it when she was thinkmg of 
it. She liked the name, and she liked still more the feeling that when 
its beautiful old walls shut her in no one knew where she was. It 
seemed almost like being shut out of the world in some fairy place. 

— Frances Hodgson Burnett 
The Secret Garden 



A 



shovelful of earth dug from the middle of a 
cotton field does not seem an auspicious beginning for 
a garden. But so it has happened at Meredith College. 
And so does the miracle of all gardens come to pass: 
the barren or weedy earth, the first seed, the bright sun, 
the benevolent rain, the changing seasons, the 
gardener's constant care — all these conspire to bring 
beauty out of the formless materials of creation. And 
behind this miracle is a feeling, a mood, a commit- 
ment. As the fox reminds the Little Prince in Antoine 




de Saint-Exupery's whimsical tale, "It is the time you 
have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so 
important." The campus is a rose — and countless alum- 
nae, faculty, staff, and students have tenderly cared for 
and celebrated the fragile yet enduring natural beauty 
that abounds here. 

Indeed, at Meredith there is a garden for every taste 
and purpose, all of them as shimmering and secret as 
the garden to which young Mary Lennox finds the key 
in Burnett's childhood classic. At first, Meredith's 
gardens were haphazard efforts to overcome the op- 
pressive view of muddy grounds and raw red bricks 
around the original quadrangle. Faculty members — 
among them Miss Allen, Miss Rhodes, and Miss 
Welch — planted shrubbery at the gate; roses, irises, 
and chrysanthemums over the campus; bulbs near the 
chimney; and dogwood, cherry, spirea, redbud, and a 
scuppernong vine at the corner of Stringfield Hall and 
the dining hall. The alumnae gave the cherry trees 
Uning the driveway and the two magnoUa trees in the 
oval in front of Johnson Hall. In 1969, pine trees and 
climbing roses were planted to soften the effect of the 
chain-link fence surrounding the campus. And in the 
1970's, when the cherry trees were dying, Donald 
Sampson, a professor in the English department, initi- 
ated a Valentine's Day project to replace the cherry 
trees with dogwoods. These amateur gardeners 
seemed to understand that a rough patch of untended 
ground needs every bit as much care and attention as 
the tangled souls and weedy intellects of untutored 
humans. If Meredith would grow, in every sense of 
that supercharged word, its surroundings would need 
the same light, water, and nourishment a good book 
can offer the thirsty, hungry spirit of a young college 
student. The eve must be fed, after all, and it is ever a 
window to the soul. 



29 




30 




(Froiii left to right) jean Humphreys, 'd9; Lillian Pai±er Wallace; John A. 
Yarbrough; and Becky Surles, '59, in front of Hunter Hall, February 1959 

Over the years, gardens of every shape and size 
have added beauty and focus to the larger green of 
Meredith's spacious campus. In 1964, perhaps the 
loveliest garden spot on the Meredith Campus — the 
Elva Bryan Mclver Amphitheater — was used for the 
first time on Class Day. A caption in the Biblical Re- 
corder dubbed this spot "one of the most beautiful 
places in Raleigh — or anyv^here else." This impres- 
sive oasis adjacent to the main driveway leading into 
the campus was first conceived nearly forty years 
before its completion. Miss Ida Poteat then remarked 
that the natural slope down through the oak grove 
southeast of the quadrangle would make a fine spot 
for an amphitheater. But a small spring running through 
that area seenied inadequate to yield the abundant 
water supply necessary to fill a lake. Not until 1963 did 
a landscape architect confirni that an "attractive and 
self-feeding lake" was possible. Digging began, but 
the giant hole in the ground bore no resemblance to 
Miss Poteat's fanciful ideal. For several months, the 
lack of rain seemed to guarantee that the gaping, 
muddy hole would remain an eyesore rather than the 



magnificent body of water that dreamers envisioned. 
One alumna called the hole a "Big Mud Puddle" and 
suggested rain dances to appease the dark gods who 
withheld showers. But the rains did come, and by the 
spring of 1964 the mud puddle was a tranquil lake 
sparkling under a canopy of oak trees with a lush, 
grassy island at its center. 

The word for such a garden is breathtaking. A 
bridge connects the island to the sloped banks of the 
lake, and ducks gladly consume the crumbs scattered 
on the water's surface. The azaleas put on a spectacu- 
lar display each spring, making this spot a festive 
arena for great occasions. The amphitheater, which 
seats 1200 people, has been the setting for graduation 
exercises, dramatic productions, Easter sunrise ser- 
vices, and concerts. Elva Bryan Mclver, for whom the 
amphitheater was named, included a bequest in her 
will to Meredith College for $45, 000, making possible 
the construction of this haven for countless weary 
students and local residents who gather to refresh 
themselves on the shores of the lake, under the shady 
oak trees. The gazebo is a romantic spot on moonlight 
nights, and there are benches scattered here and there 
under the trees for private talk, silence, peace — even as 
Hillsborough Street hums, roars, and fumes just over 
the grassy field. Here, the dormitory chatter, faculty 
drudgery, and administrative bustle subside for a 
while, and the only thought or feeling is the soothing 
reassurance of "lake water lapping with low sounds 
by the shore" (W. B. Yeats). After a time, visitors rise 
refreshed to return to the offices and pavements of 
daily life, but, just as the poet carries the vision of 
Innisfree in his mind's eye, they carry the memory of 
this scene and setting in "the deep heart's core." 




The Meredith iris, developed by Loleta Keihin Pozccll, '41 



31 




Elvn Bnian Mclver Amphitheater 

Other secret gardens dot the campus, bringing 
beauty — as did the medievalists to the apses, naves, 
buttresses and hidden niclies in their great cathe- 
drals — to what is less immediately visible and showy. 
The medievalists showed their reverence for all of 
creation by decorating the unseen as well as the seen. 
The Mclver Amphitheater is very grand, very public. 
But tucked away in the corners of the campus are tiny 
gardens, ideal retreats for those who like their beauty 
on a smaller, more intimate scale. Certainly, the Mar- 
garet Craig Martin Garden, on the east end of the Mae 
Grimmer Alumnae House, is such a garden — with 
walls constructed of bricks brought from the old cam- 
pus, immense shade trees, potted ferns, benches, ca- 
mellias, liriope, hollies, acuba, and, in spring, a gor- 
geous display of azaleas. This tiny walled garden is 
sometimes the site of impromptu classes or quiet 
study sessions. Henrietta Braun, '84, secretary to the 
Director of Alumnae Affairs, adds, grinning, "Some- 
times we might see an occasional couple necking in the 
garden," though the proximity of this garden to the 
windows of the Alumnae House inspires prudence, 
even among moonstruck students. This garden was, in 
1970, given by the Alumnae Association in honor of 
Margaret Craig Martin, '30, whose responsibilities at 
Meredith were as varied as the flowers in her garden — 
most of which she herself planted. She served as an 
instructor in Latin and English at Meredith, Director of 
Alumnae Affairs from 1964-1970, a member of the 
Board of Trustees, and a past president of the Alumnae 
Association. 



Still other gardens were added in the eighties and 
nineties, including the Faw Garden, named in honor of 
the family of J.C. Faw, of Wilkesboro, North Carolina. 
This garden, situated behind the Harriet Mardre Wain- 
wright Music Building, is the only Meredith garden 
which boasts a sundial and a specially commissioned 
art work. The outdoor sculpture entitled "A Joyful 
Noise" is a cheerful, playful creation mimicking walled 
vines and garden flowers. The design is the work of 
internationally renowned sculptor Dorothy Gillespie, 
who was on campus for two weeks in the early eighties 
as a professor visiting under a Kenan grant. Nona 
Short, a member of the art department, recalls using 
the Faw Garden very often for receptions when the art 
department was still located on that side of the cam- 
pus. And she adds that members of the art department 
then worked diligently to keep the Faw Garden weeded 
and tended, in addition to planting irises and chrysan- 
themums there. 

In 1989 and 1990, two gardens were added to the 
campus, both adjacent to the new Gaddy-Hamrick Art 
Center, dedicated in 1987. The Cleo Perrv Garden, 




Shaw Fountain 



32 



honoring this former Director of Alumnae Affairs and 
past president of the Alumnae Association, is located 
at the entrance to the Frankie G. Weems Gallery. 
Frankie G. Weems, wife of John Edgar Weems, the 
sixth president of Meredith College, was also honored 
by having the small garden alongside the Gaddy- 
Hamrick Art Center named for her. In addition, the 
Shaw Fountain in front of the Livingston Johnson 
Administration Building and the Fannie E. S. Heck 
Memorial Fountain in the center of the quadrangle 
provide attractive accents to the grassy expanses and 
Georgian architecture of the campus. On a hot day, 
visitors pass these fountains, listen to the sound of the 
water, watch the sprays shooting up against the blue 
horizon, and feel the soothing reassurance cool water 
brings to humans in search of rest and peace. 

Life continues to grow and flourish at Meredith 
College, both in and out of doors. But often it is 
possible to get lost in the maze of campus activities, 
the endless corridors and committee rooms of progress, 
competition, and achievement. Sometimes the only 
way to find our way back to ourselves is in a garden, 
where nature whispers secrets too deep for words, too 
fundamental for logic or intelligence. Philosopher 
Blaige Pascal writes in Pensees, "The heart has its 
reasons which reason knows nothing of." In the secret 
garden of the heart, the primordial soul is ever green, 
ever growing, if the mind and body can only be si- 
lenced long enough to hear nature's eternal message. 
It is whispering in the wind, rippling on the water, 
waving in the tall grasses, shouting in the emphatic 
red of the rose. 






: p^'^-SPv^^f^esBiut^ 



33 




34 



To admit authorities, however heavily furred or gowned, into our 
libraries and let them tell us how to read, what to read, what value 
to -place on what we read, is to destroy the spirit of freedom which is 
the breath of these sanctuaries. Everywhere else we may be bound 
by laws and conventions — there we have none. 

— Virginia Woolf 
Hoio Should One Read a Book? 



R 



or centuries the masses have looked upon scholars 
and book-lovers with mingled fear, admiration, and 
envy. Parents have sent mixed signals to their sons and 
daughters, alternately urging them to pursue their 
studies and, in the next breath, advising them to get 
their noses out of the books and go play. Virginia 
Woolf, a v^oman of considerable intellectual gifts, 
comprehends the risk of true scholarship and revels in 
the boundless possibilities of a well-stocked library, a 
comfortable chair, and the soothing sound of pages 
gently turning in the palpable air of great literature 




and great ideas. It is bliss — this freedom, this breath of 
wisdom and wit blowing through the open, eager 
mind. 

Meredith students have often tucked themselves 
into the corners of the library to conduct research, 
write papers, study, dream — to be, for a few brief 
hours, entirely free of the constraints of the society into 
which they happen to have been born. The world of 
books, after all, is timely and relevant, to be sure — but 
it exists as well outside space and time. Penelope, 
Arete, Athena — powerful women in Homer's The 
Odyssey — can become as real to students as particular 
feminine role models of their own generation. In the 
library students have been free to unlock the barred 
gates of their minds — to eschew cant, prejudice, hyste- 
ria, suspicion, fear, or even the intellectual sluggish- 
ness that leads to platitudinous thinking or belief. 
Here students have discovered for themselves the 
truth or falsehood of what they have simply been told 
by sundry authorities. Of course, not all students have 
sought out the library for such lofty reasons. Some- 
times idle curiosity, boredom, or despair has caused 
them to leaf through the pages of a novel, poem, 
biography, or psychology textbook. And necessity — a 
paper due, a big test — has sometimes propelled them 
across campus and into the library stacks. But the 
reading that may have begun with less than noble 
motives has sometimes ended with the slow but cer- 
tain formation of solid ideas, sound judgment, fresh 
perspectives, improved taste, genuine pleasure. 

But libraries have not always been the clean, well- 
lighted havens students at Meredith have come to take 
for granted. Meredith women — thanks to the con- 
certed efforts of generous alumnae and Friends of the 
Library — know little of the once rare privilege and 
pleasure of having ready access to the wisdom and 



35 




Old libnin/ in joliiisoii ILill 



36 




Carlyle Campbell Library 

ignorance of the ages, the soul-satisfying artistry of a 
poem, the unassailable fortress of hard facts. Merely to 
own a book in Geoffrey Chaucer's medieval world 
was unusual. To possess a personal library of sixty 
volumes — as did Chaucer himself — was extraordi- 
nary. Even in American history, legends abound of 
our nation's leaders scrimping and saving to buy a 
book. Abraham Lincoln had less than a year's formal 
education, but his early reading of such works as 
Pilgrim's Progress, Robinson Crusoe, and Benjamin 
Franklin's Autobiography shaped his untutored mind 
and prepared him for the arduous task of leading a 
divided nation. Later, he read Shakespeare, Burns, the 
Bible. The lifelong habit of reading changed his char- 
acter and mind, causing him to be remembered as one 
of the most eloquent leaders in our nation's history. 
As Virginia Woolf points out, a library is and must 
be a place of perfect liberty and autonomy — where no 
restless, questing human can be denied entry. In 1900, 
when Meredith College was still known as the Baptist 
Female University, the library contained only 650 
voluntas and was located in a classroom on the second 
floor of Main Building. The nearby State Library and 
the Olivia Raney Library provided students with ad- 



ditional resources in those precarious early years. But 
the trustees understood the urgent need for a good 
campus library. In 1902, the trustees instructed the 
curator of the library, then a professor of natural 
science, "to seek in all legitimate ways to increase the 
usefulness of the library." Bequests were made. Dona- 
tions came from students, faculty, and interested citi- 
zens. By 1910, the library boasted 2,500 volumes. And 
in 191 1 , Miss Emma Moore Jones became the first full- 
time librarian. 

When Meredith College moved to its present loca- 
tion, the entire second floor of Johnson Hall was given 
over to the library. Although President Carlyle 
Campbell and others recognized the pressing need for 
a separate library building, many years would pass 
before the library was completed. Fund-raising began 
in 1944. On February 27, 1969, the Carlyle Campbell 
Library was dedicated. From those early years of 
makeshift facilities and limited staff, the Carlyle 
Campbell Library has grown into a multi-faceted re- 
source center, housing everything from well-worn 
classics to audio-visual equipment, microfilm files, 
photo-copy equipment. It is a repository for nearly 
150,000 volumes, as Vv^ell as countless periodicals, pub- 



37 



lie documents, pamphlets, and newspapers. The build- 
ing also contains archives, offices, carrels, and study 
rooms. 

The Friends of the Carlyle Campbell Library works 
to support the growth and improvement of Meredith's 
library. Meredith's alumnae, trustees, and faculty un- 
derstand that the library is the touchstone, the well- 
spring for all other academic, cultural, and profes- 
sional endeavors on campus. Meredith's library is 
light years from the scant library of the medieval 
scholar, a far cry from the tiny classroom which housed 
the first library of the Baptist Female University. 
Whatever the hue and cry of doomsdayers and 
naysayers regarding the dangers of books, free in- 
quiry, and profound scholarship, Meredith College 
has continued to provide students with the light, 
space, and freedom they need to read, study, debate, 
and, ultimately, to make up their own minds. Even the 
library's designers and architects must have grasped 
the s}nnbolic and actual significance of the library in 
vouchsafing to its patrons and scholars a respite from 
darkness and ignorance. The library is situated at the 
center of Meredith's academic buildings, giving light 
to all. 





38 



Until I was thirteen and left Arkansas for good, the Store was my 
favorite place to he. Alone and empty in the mornings, it looked 
like an unopened present from a stranger. Opening the front 
doors was pulling the ribbon off the unexpected gift . The light 
would come in softly (we faced north), easing itself over the 
shelves of mackerel, salmon, tobacco, thread. It fell flat on the big 
vat of lard and by noontime during the summer the grease had 
softened to a thick soup. Whenever I walked into the Store in the 
afternoon, I sensed that it was tired. I alone could hear the slow 
pulse of its job half done. But just before bedtime, after numerous 
people had walked in and out, had argued over their bills, or joked 
about their neighbors, or just dropped in to give Sister 
Henderson a 'Hi y'all, ' the promise of magic mornings returned 
to the Store and spread itself over the family in washed life waves. 

— Maya Angelou 
I Know Why the Caged Bird Smgs 



E 



I verybody in the South remembers a favorite place 
to be, where folks in town met to gossip, shop, eat, or 
just pull up a stool to sit a spell between chores: the 
locaLhotel, the drug store, the coffee shop, the lunch 
counter at the dime store. Meredith had such a friendly, 
familiar place — the Bee Hive. Dru Morgan Hinsley, 
'52, manager of the supply store since 1953, remem- 
bers how it was in the Bee Hive with the same passion- 



ate detail Maya Angelou brings to the memory of her 
grandmother's "Store," more properly designated the 
Wm. Johnson General Merchandise Store. No place on 
the Meredith campus was more aptly named, accord- 
ing to Mrs. Hinsley. "It swarmed like a hive of bees," 
she says. And the day of the big move to the newly 
constructed student center was, she adds, "the saddest 
day of my life." 




Dm Morgan Hinsley (right) with Bee Hive staff 



39 




Bee Hive loall, imditionally painted by senior class 

Actually, there was another "store," also called the 
Bee Hive, before the second one came into existence — 
located, according to Mrs. Hinsley, in a small house 
"under the big tree beside Faircloth." The stockroom 
was upstairs, and downstairs the students sold note- 
book paper, bottled drinks, and ice cream. When the 
"new" Bee Hive was built on the back of the old 
auditorium where music classes had been held, it 
seemed palatial. Mrs. Hinsley describes the atmo- 
sphere of this beloved campus hang-out as "marvel- 
lous." The Bee Hive opened at seven a.m. and literally 
hummed with activity until eleven p.m. each day. 
"You just can't imagine how much the faculty and 
students used it," Mrs. Hinsley recalls. President 
Carlyle Campbell, who, she remembers, didn't like 
fountain drinks, used to come in every day, go over to 
the vending machine, and buy himself a bottle of Coca 
Cola for five cents. "Then he'd go on over and sit down 
with the students, who liked fountain cokes better," 
she says. A sixteen-ounce fountain drink was ten 
cents. Everybody gathered several times a day, start- 
ing early in the morning when the faculty came by for 
coffee before classes started. There were no distinc- 
tions between faculty and students, and the informal- 
ity of the place appealed to Mrs. Hinsley: "We knew 
everything about the faculty then — their children's 
names, whether they had had a fight that morning 
with their husbands or wives." And the television set 
made the place even more desirable. "TV was very, 
very new then, and I got a man who worked at Walker 
Martin appliance to donate a Sylvania to the Bee 
Hive," Mrs. Hinsley says. "I can still see that old 
Sylvania sitting there," she laughs. 



Of course, the Bee Hive also sold textbooks, school 
supplies, and a limited selection of gift items. Accord- 
ing to Mrs. Hinsley, the textbooks were stored in a Httle 
room about the size of the "cubicles" used for faculty 
offices. It was so crowded, she says, "that we sold 
books out the window to the students." And the gift 
items were hardly the sophisticated and varied array 
of sweatshirts, shorts, coffee mugs, and other 
"Meredith" paraphernalia now available to students. 
"We had two terrycloth T-shirts," says Mrs. Hinsley. 
"One with a V-neck and one with a round neck." 

But what the Bee Hive really "sold" was cordiality 
and conviviality among faculty, students, and admin- 
istrators — an invaluable commodity. When the new 
student center was ready for occupancy and Mrs. 
Hinsley was told to move out of the Bee Hive, she said 
to President Bruce Heilman, "I can move the merchan- 
dise, but I can't move the atmosphere." Mrs. Hinsley 
sees that move as the beginning of the end of real 
camaraderie and intimacy among administrators, stu- 
dents, and faculty. The new student center had a 
separate faculty lounge, and faculty lounges were also 
located in each new classroom building. She says, "It 
was the first time the faculty had ever been segregated 
from the students." And, according to Mrs. Hinsley, 




40 




life at Meredith has never been quite the same. Stu- 
dents who don't remember the Bee Hive may not be 
aware of how much this favorite Meredith gathering 
place helped to inspire closeness and real friendship 
among all the folks on the Meredith campus. But Mrs. 
Hinsley remembers — and notes the irony of at least 
some of the so-called "progressive" decisions about 
the building of modern facilities. The faculty used the 
lounge in the new student center so seldom that it was 
eventually renovated and replaced by a counseling 
center for students. Maybe if the students could chat 
informally and daily with faculty members — as Presi- 
dent Carlyle Campbell and sundry professors once 
did — they wouldn't need counseling. 




41 




Bee Hive interior 



42 



In Xanadu did Kubla Khan 

A stately pleasure dome decree: 

WJwre Alph, the sacred river, ran 

Through caverns measureless to man 

Dozvn to a sunless sea. 

So twice five miles of fertile ground 

With walls and towers were girdled round: 

And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills, 

Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree; 

And here were forests ancient as the hills. 

Enfolding sunny spots of greenery. 

— Samuel Taylor Coleridge 
Kubla KJian 



a 



reams begin iri the mind's eye, a dim stirring of 
light, shape, color hovering in the imagination. But 
dreams do not have to stay in that shimmering place of 
other-worldly longing. A dream that becomes reality 
is as close as a parcel of land, a stack of bricks and 
mortar, an architect's blueprint, an army of willing 
laborers. Riding along the high road overlooking 
Meredith College, the late afternoon sun casting re- 
markable hghts and shadows over the campus spread 
below, travelers can see the embodiment of a dream. 



From this high vantagepoint, 
the Meredith campus looks 
very like a poet's vision — 
with wide expanses of sway- 
ing grass, fields of wildflow- 
ers, manicured gardens, tall 
trees, cool fountains, formi- 
dable buildings of elegant 
Georgian design or sleek mo- 
dernity, still pools of water 




Spring Fling 




43 




mirroring the paradox of constant change. Situated at 
the edge of industrial and commercial development, 
nudging the bustling interstate highway, close by the 
familiar residences and shady streets of quiet neigh- 
borhoods, the Meredith campus is a kind of Xanadu — 
not so grandly exotic as Coleridge's fragmentary dream, 
not so foreign or inaccessible as that other world of 
poets, saints, and sages — but lovely nonetheless, and 
equally compelling to weary urbanites. The towns- 
people come, with dogs, f risbees, blankets, picnic cool- 
ers, kites, cameras, babies. They park their cars along 
the wide avenue leading to the domed edifice that is 
the focal point of Meredith's architectural design. They 
find a spot of grass under a spreading shade tree, close 
their eyes, and dream in the world that dreams made. 




44 



At mete well y-taught was she withalle: 

She let no morsel from hir lippes falle, 

Ne wet hir fingers in hir sauce deepe; 

Well coud she carry a morsel, and well keepe 

That no drop ne fill upon hir brest. 

In curteisy was set full muchel hir lest. 

Hir overlippe wiped she so dene 

That in hir cup there was no ferthing scene 

Of grece, whan she drunken had hir draughte. 

Full seemely after hir mete she raughte. 

— Geoffrey Chaucer 

Ti^e Canterbury Tales 



K 



.cademiciai\s and artists have long understood 
the primitive hierarchy of human performance and 
achievement: it is, simply, that before the soul can be 
fed the physical appetites must be satisfied. Geniuses 
like poet William Blake might have been able to write 
while the wolf howled at the door and the cupboard 
lay bare, but the rest of humankind would be better 
served in scholarship and creativity by receiving, first, 
a generous portion of mutton, a deep draught of ale, a 
choice morsel of chocolate. Before literature, comes 
food. Then spiritual and intellectual epiphanies may 
follow. Great works of art, great inventions, and great 
ideas seldom emanate from concentration camps and 
skid-row slums. 

Everyone has smiled and nodded over the potables 
and edibles in favorite novels: the ladies of Cranford 
struggling to lift a cube of sugar with the maddeningly 

inadequate tongs of- 
fered in genteel society; 
young Oliver Twist de- 
manding another bowl 
of porridge in front of a 
roomful of shocked and 
ravenous schoolboys; 
Chaucer's dainty Prior- 
ess, consuming her victuals with amusing decorum; 
Odysseus and Telemachus sitting down to elaborate 
feasts in the great halls of Greek warriors and kings. In 
fact, literary works in which the characters never dine, 
never find their eyes riveted to steaming puddings. 





never reach greedily for 
another slab of pie are 
somehow suspect. The 
authors, in their rarefied 
neglect of bodily satis- 
factions and pleasures, 
have floated away from 
the world, into a region 
where neither angels nor 
humans would care to 
go. Even Adam and Eve 
had to eat, though what 
they ate should have 
been a matter for far more careful consideration. Poet 
Robert Browning understood that the way to the soul 
is through the body, not around it. No aspect of 
creation can be denied, neither the gnawing hunger 
that drives humans to the pantry nor the restless spirit 
that drives them to their knees. 

For a hundred years, Meredith students have been 
eating, sometimes fastidiously as the Prioress, some- 
times ravenously as young Oliver, sometimes grate- 
fully as the renowned Odysseus after a long period of 
privation at sea. Before the campus moved to its present 
site, the all-important dining room and kitchen were 
located on the first floor of the Central Building, along 
with administrative offices, the president's living quar- 
ters, laboratories, and classrooms. Mrs. Mary Seay and 
Mrs. Laura B. Watson served respectively as house- 
keeper and matron of the Baptist Female University, 



45 




Veranda of Bclk Diiiiug Hall 



46 




Belk Dining Hall interior 

working under adverse conditions to make certain the 
young women were properly housed and nourished. 
One alumna described these household "managers" 
as "fine women of the homespun variety," and added, 
as a kind of afterthought to the possible charge of 
snobbery, "which, in my opinion, is the best yet." Like 
many women in literature and life, Mrs. Seay and Mrs. 
Watson worked against severe limitations of money, 
space, and convenience. Mary Lynch Johnson sums 
up the woeful inadequacies of these early domestic 
accommodations: "There were too few dishes, too few 
cooking utensils, too little shelf and table space in the 
kitchen for what they did have." But, like Faulkner's 
Dilsey, these women "endured," making do with what 
they did have and successfully feeding the boarding 
students, who then numbered fewer than 200. 

Memories of lofty intellectual pursuits and deep 
spiritual revelations are very fine and noble, but 
memory more often centers on the aroma of biscuits, 
the taste of country ham and spoon bread on a brisk fall 
morning. Alumnae of the Baptist Female University 
generally recall the wonderfully concrete details of 
daily, domestic reality. Before aliimna Margaret Shields 
Everett mentions the spiritual insights and inspiration 
gained in chapel programs, she recalls, with an abun- 
dance of detail that would delight many an English 
teacher, the morning ritual of boarding students at the 
Baptist Female University: 

The day began with an early breakfast, and a good one. Mrs. 
Seay was an excellent dietitian, although I doubt if ever she used 
the word. We came down to breakfast in our "tea jackets," dainty 
little lace-trinvmed garments resembling the present-dav bed 
jacket. Othen\ise we were perfectly groomed, hair arranged in 



the style of the day— pompadour, rats, and all. We sat in compa- 
nies of sixteen at each table, with two faculty members who 
supervised our deportment. 

And certain students were especially glad to be able to 
eat. They were classified as "needy" and given the 
opportunity to wait on tables to reduce their tuition 
costs by eight dollars a month. Still other needy stu- 
dents, who lived in the Adams building, were allowed 
to cut costs by preparing and serving their own meals. 
The average monthly cost of their meals was then less 
than four dollars. 

On the new campus, the dining facilities and ser- 
vices were improved, even as the codes of etiquette 
and dress were considerably relaxed. A separate 
dining hall and kitchen were erected in 1928 on the 
north side of the quandrangle and opposite the admin- 
istration building. The dining hall was the last build- 
ing in the quadrangle to be named. At the dedication 
on Founders' Day, February 27, 1970, the building was 
named Belk Hall, in honor of Carol Grotnes Belk, wife 
of Irwin Belk, who had financed renovations of the 
building. Both the main dining room and the more 
intimate President's Dining Room downstairs are 
attractively decorated, evoking some of the elegance 
and style now sacrificed to fast-paced living and ca- 
sual eating. 

In the years preceding this renovation, the tone and 
style of dining at Meredith were already beginning to 
change. Gone were the "tea jackets," though certain 
basic standards of decorum continued to be observed 
on the new campus. The food was originally served 
"family style." Students who worked as assistants in 
the dining hall set the tables and served the food, each 
student being responsible for two tables. Kathleen 
Reynolds, assistant di- 
rector of food services, 
notes that over the years 
both the patterns of be- 
havior and the attire of 
students have changed. 
When she first came to 
Meredith over fifteen 
years ago, students were 
not allowed to come to 
the dining room wear- 
ing cut-off jeans, tank 




47 




Dining hall on old caiiii'iis 

tops, or rollers in their hair. On Sundays, everyone 
dressed up for meals, and the crowds were large. 
Meredith students went to church and brought boy- 
friends or other guests "home" for Sunday dinner. 
Tablecloths were standard items at this Sabbath meal. 
Now, students are more mobile, with ready access to 
their own cars and a tendency to scatter on weekends 
or to eat on the run. They like food they can carry out 
in their hands, meals that can be hastily wedged be- 
tween a midterm examination and a fraternity party at 
State or Carolina. Except for special occasions, such as 
the truly elegant Christmas dinner — complete with 
lovely ice sculptures, flowers, and candles — students 
wear what they please and are expected simply to 
maintain tolerable levels of noise. Even so, the chatter 
is sometimes deafening, as students move in and out 
of the dining room, sometimes grabbing a sandwich to 
take to their rooms, occasionally coming in only to get 
an ice-cream cone or a little yogurt. 

When the dining hall changed from family-style 
service to "line service," i.e., cafeteria style, the num- 
ber of eating choices dramatically increased. Students 
can choose from among two to three entrees, four 



vegetables, and an array of desserts and salads; or they 
can opt for a quick trip to the deli bar, salad bar, or ice- 
cream machine. A suggestion box located in the dining 
room is given careful, daily attention by the staff. 
Within the restrictions imposed bv cost and availabil- 
ity, staff members try to accommodate the students' 
favorite food requests. "If we get a note in the box 
saying somebody wants honey graham crackers, the 
next week the student gets honey graham crackers," 
Ms. Gillespie says. Dining staffpersons ser\'e three 




Atinuiil luncheon sponsored by international students 



48 



meals a day throughout the year, and in the winter 
months employees work six days a week to make 
certain that Meredith students are properly nour- 
ished. Heidi Gillespie, who oversees all catering ser- 
■\dces, and Kathleen Reynolds agree that students and 
faculty alike are more health conscious than ever 
before. The staff serves much less beef and far more 
poultry, and menus are also planned as to accommo- 
date vegetarians. Heidi Gillespie says, "We're trying 
to make sure items on our menu are adaptable to 
people's dietary needs." Do students have any foods 
they absolutely refuse to eat? "They won't touch veal," 
says Ms. Gillespie, the result not so much of personal 
preference but of public issues concerning humane 
treatment of animals. Students' eating tastes are gov- 
erned, therefore, by matters other than taste or health. 
They make their choices based also on growing con- 
cern for the environment and its creatures. At the 
request of the students, the non-biodegradable 
styrofoam products were replaced by foam products 
less harmful to the environment. And the yogurt is 
98% fat free. Even visitors to campus receive the same 
dietary consideration. A group of organic farmers. 



who advocate chemical-free, natural agricultural meth- 
ods, were served a choice of chicken Parmesan or 
spinach lasagne, blasting the stereotypical notion that 
farmers are meat-and-potatoes people. 

But food service has moved beyond the four walls of 
Belk Hall. A full-time catering service operates on 
campus, supplying refreshments and full-scale meals 
for events both on and off campus. The catering service 
offers special meals for events such as luncheons and 
dinners for the Friends of the Library, dinner parties at 
the president's home, awards banquets, alumnae gath- 
erings, and holiday meals for students on Thanksgiv- 
ing, Christmas, and Valentine's Day. Each fall, the 
students enjoy a catered luau in the courtyard, with a 
Polynesian menu of sweet-and-sour chicken and tropi- 
cal fruits. Each student is given a Hawaiian lei and 
"mock" mai tais are served, with, according to Ms. 
Gillespie, "little umbrellas and things." The luau is a 
sort of welcome to returning and new Meredith stu- 
dents. In addition, the catering service supplies food 
for freshman orientation; coffee-break supplies for on- 
campus seminars and workshops; food for receptions 
following honor-society inductions; even cake and 




Presidenl 5 Dining Room 



49 



punch for wedding receptions in the chapel. Recently, 
during Meredith's time-honored bacchanal, 
Cornhuskin', the catering division of food services 
had its first pig pickin'. 

The importance of food and festivity is not lost on 
Meredith faculty members and students, who congre- 
gate daily in the dining hall for fast food or slow, 
earnest debates or casual conversation. Newcomers to 
the Meredith campus are quick to acclimate them- 
selves to the notion that all special occasions and even 
routine matters such as business or departmental 
meetings are likely to feature good food, beautifully 
served. At an autograph party held in the library, a 
Meredith faculty member was heard to say to a shy 
newcomer, after several rounds of party mints, petit 
fours, salted nuts, and punch, "Well, I see you've 
survived the Meredith trial by tea party." Janet Free- 
man, head librarian, has even accused the English 
department of being "so civilized" because depart- 
ment members regularly serve brie, grapes, and home- 
baked delicacies to make their meeting agendas more 
palatable, to shape their primitive human natures — 
"red in tooth and claw" — into English gardens of 
tasteful topiaries. In fact, all the literary greats from 
Chaucer to James Joyce, from Jane Austen to Colette, 
have known that good food and good conversation are 
as essential to easing life's tribulations as sunlight 
dancing through treetops, divine grace falling on hope- 
less sinners. 




50 



It may be possible to do without dancing entirely. Instances have 
been known of young people passing many, many months 
successively without being at a ball of any description, and no 
material injury accrue to body or mind. . . . 



-Jane Austen 
Emma 



M. 



.any, many Baptists in the last century have 
been deadly earnest about what Jane Austen asserts 
with delicious irony. These trustees, religious leaders, 
and institutional authorities were fixed in their view 
that dancing could not help and would most assuredly 
hurt a young girl's progress toward sober, responsible 
adulthood. Young women were to have absolutely no 
need for heady spins, dips, and twirls around the 
dance floor — and precious little need for any other 
social activity. For well over half of Meredith's first 
century. Baptist movers and shakers kept their daugh- 
ters' feet planted squarely on the ground, their ankles 
primly crossed, and their minds on loftier matters. The 
social activities of students at the Baptist Female Uni- 




Winter L' 



versify were limited to literary evenings with Brown- 
ing or Tennyson, theatrical productions, concerts and 
recitals, church picnics, and formal banquets. The 
considerable energies and rushing adrenaline of these 
young "ladies" were carefully channeled into student 
government, academics, and approved cultural pur- 
suits. 

But Jane Austen's wry amusement over the priori- 
ties and predilections of young people is not lost on 
mature readers — even Baptists — who nod and smile, 
recalling their own first, fluttering days of adolescent 
delirium and romance. Even the parents in those early 
years of strict decorum and high moral standards 
could not conceal their delight in the vitality and 
charm of these women. Archibald Johnson, an enthu- 
siastic supporter of the Baptist Female University and 
the father of four daughters who later graduated from 
that institution, was irrepressible in his assessment of 
the young women gathered at one University com- 
mencement. He wrote, "The girls are bright and happy 
as they can be. They are very pretty, too, though it 
would never do to tell them so." Even Mr. Johnson's 
metaphors betrayed his pleasure in the youth and 
beauty of these students. In an issue of Chariti/ and 
Children, Johnson described the newly founded Bap- 
tist Female University as "the prettiest, plumpest, 
winsomest" of the colleges of his day. 

The "girls" in whom Archibald Johnson delighted 
may have been full of life and utterly charming, but 
thev could not dance. Throughout those early years, 
Meredith women were strangely gratified by small 
triumphs and treats in their "extracurricular" activi- 
ties. In a 1949 issue of the Alumnae Magazine, Margaret 
Shields Everett recalled traveling to Meredith to begin 
her education. On this thrilling train ride from Scot- 
land Neck to Raleigh, she had her first sip of "a new 
beverage, coca-cola" and reveled in the unchaperoned 



51 




company of a trainload of Wake Forest boys who also 
happened to be going to school. But such incidents, 
though certainly fortuitous, were exceedingly rare. 
One father's comment about his daughter's supervi- 
sion at college more accurately reflects the general 
view. In 1900, he intoned, "1 do not want her to go 
anjrwhere or see anybody except in the presence of the 
faculty." Even shopping trips to Fayetteville Street, 
which students were permitted only once a week, 
were made in the company of a faculty member. 

Gradually, however, though the process has surely 
seemed slow to many Meredith students, the social 
restrictions imposed in the first half of the Meredith's 
history have been eased in the second. Meredith women 
eventually began to enjoy, in measured doses, the 
heady elixir of strolls to church with the boy of the 
moment — accompanied, of course, by a chaperone. 
Even in 1919, if they had attended the requisite num- 
ber of literary society meetings, the young women 
could receive male callers on Saturday nights from 
eight until ten. But though Meredith students were 
allowed some courting, strolling, tlirting, and blush- 



ing, they still could not dance. In 1957, the Baptist State 
Convention again refused to allow dancing, and, ac- 
cording to Mary Lynch Johnson, students were "^voe- 
fully disappointed." 

Students who attended Meredith in the \'erv late 
sixties and early seventies recall that onh- then were 
dances held on the campus. The students moved rap- 
idly to the dance floor — whether in Belk Dining Hall, 
the Weatherspoon gvmnasium, or local hotels and 
convention centers — and ha\'e been dancing ever since. 
Traditions have even grown up around the place, 
time, and occasion for such dances. Meredith students 
regularly invite boys from North Carolina State Uni- 
versity, Duke University, and the University of North 
Carolina at Chapel Hill to campus mixers in the gvm. 
Each year the Meredith Entertainment Association 
sponsors and directs a semi-formal winter dance, a 
spring formal, anci another semi-formal dance for 
freshmen and sophomores. 

The strains of music now float over the campus as 
regularly as the lines of Bro\vning or Tennvson once 
echoed through the parlors. And though the founders 



52 



of the Baptist Female University might be watching 
with some d i sapproval from their divine vantage point, 
Meredith w^omen are humming. Students are surely 
relieved that in this way too — the social side of being 
human and whole — they are enjoying a new freedom. 
But Jane Austen reminds us that such pleasures could 
hardly be deemed essential. "It may be possible to do 
without dancing entirely," she writes. And we have to 
laugh, knowing she is exactly right and knowing, too, 
that we have to grow up before we are vouchsafed the 
gifts of humor and balance. Certainly, we can do 
without dancing, but such a grim prospect is highly 
unUkely, whether in the tight social world of Austen's 
fictional English village of Highbury or at Meredith 
College in Raleigh. Young people seem to insist — in 
every generation — on toe-tapping respites from work, 
duty, responsibility. 





Meredith Dance Theatre 



53 




54 



As he was one day walking in the street, he saw a spacious building 
which all were, by the open doors, invited to enter: he followed the 
stream of people, and found it a school or hall of declamation , in 
which professors read lectures to their auditory. He fixed his eye 
upon a sage raised above the rest, who discoursed with great energy 
upon the government of the passions. His look was venerable, his 
action gracefid, his pronunciation clear, and his diction elegant. 

— Dr. Samuel Johnson 

The History ofRasselas 



R 



Lasselas, prince of Abyssinia, sets out in search of 
a Ufe higher and worthier than the Ufe of pleasure and 
ease he has previously known. Elated at having found 
at last an accomplished rhetorician and rationalist, 
Rasselas hurries to the wise old philosopher Imlac to 
relay the good news. But Imlac disappoints the prince. 
The philosopher reminds Rasselas of the "emptiness 
of rhetorical sound, and the inefficacy of polished 
periods and studied sentences." Imlac is right. Sound 
without sense, reason without divine insight, elo- 
quence without substance — all are hollow, vain pur- 
suits, reminiscent of the empty debates of Satan's 
fallen angels in Paradise Lost. Surely, the spectacular 
oratory of the finest scholars can leave students mo- 
mentarily dazzled but ultimately doomed. Wind and 
vanity, saith the sage of the Book of Ecclesiastes. And 
humans tremble with the risk and danger of succumb- 
ing too readily to the enticements of glib scholars and 
false prophets. 

But finding the gold in the sometimes tinny lectures 
of sundry academicians is surely what learning is all 
about. More often than not, the precious metal of 




enduring truth is buried within variegated shafts of 
human experience and thought. And the building 
within which these priceless treasures are daily mined 
by students and teachers alike will have, itself, a cer- 
tain shine, a certain ambiance and air that hint of 
heaven. So, for more than thirty years, has Joyner Hall 
emanated an unmistakable radiance, a timeless value, 
despite occasional dark pockets of pedantry and pom- 
posity, airless cubicles of ignorance or narrow- 
mindedness. 

There is life in Joyner — a bustling, burgeoning sat- 
isfaction as ideas butt heads with reality, as emotion 
and impulse gather shape and force in reasoned 
thought, as the poem students carry in their heads 
finds its rightful place in daily experience. The best 
professors wisely warn students against the dangers 
of a too simple abstraction, a self-indulgent and over- 
wrought subjectivity. There is a place, in Joyner, for 
passion, but not at the expense of precision. The stu- 
dents pass through the halls, here and there chattering 
in French or Spanish; railing at an unjust professor; or 
pausing idly to read news on the bulletin boards about 
doctrinal controversies in the church, the death 
penalty, abortion, foreign studies, AIDS, working 
mothers, clinical depression or SAT scores. Students 
loiter in the lounges or stairwells, challenging a 
professor's opinion on what to do about the homeless, 
practicing the opening lines of Chaucer's "General 
Prologue," waiting for advice about careers in educa- 
tion or sociology. So it goes with a building in which 
the humanities and social sciences have long been 
housed. Joyner is a place where people — not numbers 
or machines or techniques — are primary. The variety 
of subject areas represented there makes for a pleasing 



55 




jo\/iicr Hall 



56 




cacx)phony of sound, a harmony of purpose — rather 
like a typical family, each going a separate way but 
nonetheless bound by common experience, kinship, a 
shared history. 

When the new campus sprung from the center of a 
cotton field, only the imposing quadrangle signaled 
the impressive and solid campus that would some day 
foUow. Classrooms were held in wooden buildings 
that looked "like barracks," according to lone Kemp 
Knight, '43, longtime professor of English at Meredith. 
The classroom buildings were only one story and 
were intended to be temporan,' quarters, to be used for 
only ten years at the most. But the buildings remained 
in use for thirty or more years, until, according to 
Mary Lynch Johnson, new facilities became an "abso- 
lute necessity." The "barracks" were leaky, and, as one 
trustee wrote of the science building, this particular 
classroom structure had been repaired so frequently 
that maintenance people were now "repairing the 
repairs." Everyone was very pleased with the addition 
of two new buildings — ^Joyner Hall, completed in 1 956, 
and Hunter Hall, the science building which was 
ready for use three years later. 



Dr. Knight recalls that although the original wooden 
classroom buildings were leaky and certainly obso- 
lete, the rooms and offices were quite adequate in size. 
She adds, "Of course, there were few offices." Dr. 
Knight particularly remembers Mary Lynch Johnson's 
classroom because "Miss Johnson," as many colleagues 
called this well-known professor of English, taught all 
her classes in one large room which also served as her 
office. The room, lined with books on homemade 
shelves, was decorated with Dr. Johnson's plants, 
personal mementos, paintings. "It was a friendly 
looking place," says Dr. Knight. Of course there were 
no lounges or kitchens available for the all-important 
faculty coffee breaks. There was only one faculty kitch- 
enette on the first floor of Vann Hall, and everybody 
met there daily for coffee. In addition, Mary Yarbrough, 
professor of chemistry and physics and later head of 
that department, could be counted on to brew a pot of 
coffee in her laboratory, where many faculty members 
also congregated for the substance more crucial to 
academic sanity than trendy therapy, more life-sus- 
taining than DNA: the daily dose of caffeine. 

But when Joyner replaced an outmoded wooden 
building, the change was total. Dr. Knight remembers 
that everything in Joyner was brand new, and nothing 
was brought from the old building. File cabinets, desks, 
equipment — everything was emblematic of fresh starts, 
of a startling modernity. Though Joyner, like other 
buildings on campus, was Georgian in style and made 
use of the traditional materials of limestone and brick 
used in the quadrangle, it was truly a state-of-the-art 
facihty. The two-story building contained classrooms, 
seminar rooms, offices, a large lecture room, sound- 
proof recording booths, art studios, a small art gallery. 




57 




and a lounge with an 
adjoining kitchen. Later, 
the art department 
would move to various 
locations on campus 
before settling perma- 
nently in the new 
Gaddy-Hamrick art 
building. More than thirty years after its opening, 
Joyner Hall continues to serve as home for the depart- 
ments of English, history and politics, psychology, 
sociology and social work, religion and philosophy, 
and education — though plans are underway for a new 
building to be devoted entirely to education and psy- 
chology. 

Joyner Hall was named in honor of James Yadkin 
Joyner, elected a trustee for the Baptist Female Univer- 
sity in 1894 and serving as a Meredith trustee until six 
years before his death at the age of ninety-three. He 
had been the state superintendent of public instruc- 
tion for many years and had done much to advance the 
cause of a state system of public high schools. But 
perhaps even more significant was his role as dean and 
professor of English at the State Normal and Industrial 
College in Greensboro, making his name an especially 
fitting choice for the newly constructed "liberal arts" 
building. 



Of course, despite the move to new quarters — the 
comfortable lounges, handy kitchens, larger class- 
rooms, private offices, audio- visual equipment, up-to- 
date maps, bulletin boards, indoor carpets, and shiny 
metal file cabinets, the "air" in Joyner has remained 
much the same over the years. Debates gather strength 
in the corridor. A line from Keats or Shelley catches the 
eye in passing. A snippet of a Latin translation lulls the 
ear. The coffee pot remains the faculty focal point for 
witty repartee. Subtly ironic cartoons from the New 
Yorker and weighty diatribes from The Christian Cen- 
tury still paper the bulletin boards. When the faculty 
and students moved over from a wooden building 
dating from an allegedly outworn past, they brought 
with them an army of ghosts populating the psyches 
and souls of even the most thoroughly modern acade- 
micians. Virgil, Cervantes, Christ, Dickinson, Colette, 
Jung, Freud, Meade, Montessori, Austen, Shakespeare, 
WoUstonecraft, the Blessed Juliana of Norwich, Kant, 
Bacon, Mother Teresa, Mary Magdalene, Esther, Ruth, 
Naomi, Sojourner Truth, Goodall, Kierkegaard, Dr. 
Seuss, Horney, Piaget, Woolf, Yeats, Plato, Sappho, 
Matute, Buddha, Wharton, McCuUers, Lessing, Plath, 
Welty, and O'Connor haunt the corridors — a legion of 
poets, saints, and sages whispering eternal truths to 
scholars, students, or strangers passing through. 




58 



It was almost necessary to the character of a fine gentleman to have 
something to say about air-pmnps and telescopes; and even fine ladies, 
now and then, thought it becoming to affect a taste for science, went in 
coaches and six to visit the Gresham curiosities, and broke forth into 
cries of delight at finding that a magnet really attracted a needle, and 
that a microscope really made a fly look as large as a sparrow. 

— Thomas Babington Macaulay 
History of England 



T. 



he debate between humanists and scientists has 
always been heated but never more so than in the great 
prose works of Victorian writers in nineteenth-cen- 
tury England. Scientific and social progress — indus- 
trialization, urbanization, technology, democratiza- 
tion — gave new vigor and urgency to the arguments of 
those who would, on the one hand, lay emphasis on 
what humans felt and believed in the light of all 
eternity and, on the other hand, on what they could do 
and make and achieve for the here and now. Matthew 
Arnold argued for the supremacy of the soul, for the 
primacy of belles lettres. Thomas Henry Huxley fa- 
vored a departure from what he perceived to be an 
overemphasis on classical education — with concomi- 
tant irrelevancies — and a redirecting of human ener- 
gies and study toward the physical and social sciences. 
But the Victorians certainly did not initiate these 
arguments, though in times of rapid technological and 
scientific advancement such disputes between hu- 
manists and scientists have always gained vigor. Ironi- 
cally, Macaulay's glib assessment of popular fascina- 
tions with things scientific rather than aesthetic ap- 
plies to the England of the seventeenth century, when 
Sir Francis Bacon, in the early years of that century, 
had created a vogue in science with The Advancement of 
Learning, in which he systematically classified all 
branches of knowledge. In Novum Organum, he set 
forth his scientific method, and in Sylva Sylvarum, he 
examined several of nature's phenomena. As Macaulay 
reports, because political dissent was then frowned 
upon, the "revolutionary spirit" of the age was given 
over to physics. Humans, it seems, need something at 
which to hurl their passions, and in seventeenth- 
century England, science became a fad. "Even fine 
ladies" were, according to Macaulay, giddily engaged 



in scientific inquiry. In the year 1660, England's Royal 
Society was formed, later to be hilariously and darkly 
satirized in the third voyage in Jonathan Swift's 
Gulliver's Travels. 

Unfortunately, disputes between scientists and 
humanists have hardened too often into an either/or 
mentality, harmful both to the nurture of aesthetics 
and to the development of a sane, progressive spirit of 




59 




pragmatism and scientific inquiry. The scoffing and 
scrapping between so-called moderns and so-called 
traditionalists can result in an intellectual and spiritual 
stalemate. Productive energy is wasted on ponderous 
or vehement criticism of teaching whatever feeds the 
human soul — philosophy, Hterature, art, languages, 
history, religion — and teaching whatever improves 
human life — physics, chemistry, biology, the social 
sciences, business, home economics. To ignore the 
past is foolish. To neglect the present and future is 
disastrous. The true educator must embrace all that 
has been known or can be known about the natural 
world, society, ethical values, human potential and 
productivity. 

Though Meredith College has had its share of dis- 
putes about which aspects of learning deserve greater 
emphasis, this institution has never abcindoned its 
commitment to the entire realm of human learning 
and endeavor. The balance is delicate. Rather than 
adopting a rigid either/ or position, rather than misdi- 
recting valuable energies on harsh debates between 



the humanities and the sciences, Meredith has chosen 
to embrace both. The either/or is pointless, futile. In 
Meredith College's atmosphere of real de\'Otion to all 
branches of knowledge, educators enjoy the freedom 
and stimulation of a not only/but also attitude. 
Macaulay is disdainful of female curiosity about such 
manly matters as magnetic fields and microscopes, 
but no such condescension exists at Meredith. Women 
are expected to strike the crucial balance between 




60 




preparing themselves for coping in this world and 
dwelling in the eternal realms with the sages, saints, 
and poets. In institutions of higher learning such as 
Meredith, the worlds of the scientist and the humanist 
merge into a complementary whole. Einstein, despite 
the scientific genius demonstrated in his Theory of 
Relativity, humbly acknowledged the mystery behind 
the face of things — that shimmering, elusive reality 
the poets sing about, the scientists search for. A real 
scientist admits what she cannot know and leaves the 
Unknowable to God. A real humanist respects what 



can be known and applauds all human efforts to 
discover the Knowable. There is no exclusion here, no 
petty, rigid notion about what must be included or 
omitted from a sound academic curriculum. Learning 
is as big, organic, fluid as the human experience and 
the soul's motions. The Theory of Relativity is, to those 
who embrace all knowledge with equal fervor, a poem. 
And a poem is a beam of light on a knotty scientific 
problem. Tennyson insists that a poet has a duty to 
society and need not dwell solely in a "golden clime," 
with "golden stars above." In "Locksley Hall" the poet 
dips into the future and sees the advent of the airplane, 
the "Federation of the world." Finally, the poet urges 
the same philosophy and attitude that Meredith Col- 
lege carries into action: "Forward, forward let us 
range,/ Let the great world spin for ever down the 
ringing grooves of change." 

On Founders' Day in 1959, Hunter Hall — appropri- 
ately flanking the Carlyle Campbell Library and fac- 
ing Joyner Hall, the humanities building — was dedi- 
cated. Paul Gross, the Dean of the Graduate School of 
Arts and Sciences at Duke University, delivered the 
address entitled "Science in the Space Age." The build- 




61 




Hunter Hall 

ing was named for Joseph Rufus Hunter, who had 
earned his doctorate in science from Johns Hopkins 
University, taught at Richmond College, and finally 
moved to Raleigh. Dr. Hunter served for many years 
on the Board of Trustees at Meredith and proved to be, 
according to President Carlyle Campbell, a man of 
"outstanding integrity." 

As would be expected, the fields of home econom- 
ics, science, and business more accurately reflect mod- 
ern trends and fashions in education. These depart- 
ments at Meredith have been highly mobile, moving 
frequently in response to increasing student demands 
for degrees in such fields. When Hunter Hall first 
opened, it housed biology, chemistry, business, eco- 
nomics, math, and home economics. A psychology lab 
was also in Hunter, psychology being then a far less 
popular field and boasting only one professor. There 
was one computer terminal in Hunter, with several 
terminals also in the Carlyle Campbell Library. But 
with the growing popularity of courses in business, 
computer science, psychology, and math, additional 
facilities became essential. The Department of Math- 
ematics moved, for a time, into Joyner Hall, and a full- 



fledged psychology department took over the space 
abandoned by the art department on the second floor 
of Joyner Hall. Ultimately, Harris Hall, completed in 
June of 1982 and dedicated in the fall of that year, 
became the home for business, economics, mathemat- 
ics, and computer science. Biology, chemistry, phys- 
ics, and home economics remained in Hunter Hall. 

Certainly, the ideas articulated by philosophers, 
theoreticians, artists, academicians, historians, and 
scientists in the nineteenth centurv have radically 
influenced education in this century. We do not li\'e in 
a vacuum, despite youthful convictions that only the 
here-and-now matters, only the immediately useful 
seems appropriate to learning. Meredith College has 
understood and demonstrated this fimdamental con- 
viction about education. It is what the tired professor 
says to the querulous student after a classroom lecture. 
When the student asks the age-old question, "Will this 
count?" the professor answers, with all the energy she 
can muster, " Even/thing counts." And the gap between 
what we know and what we can do, in this world or the 
next, mercifulh' narro\vs. 



62 



And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns 

About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home, 

In the sun that is young once only, 

Time let me play and be 
Golden in the mercy of his means .... 

— Dylan Thomas 
Fern Hill 

All that winter in the afternoon at four o'clock precisely 
the voice ran through the halls. 'Walking, walking,' it 
cried, with a sort of falsely cheerful note of invitation , an 
affected note of persuasion. Even/one promptly appeared, a 
few moments after the call, their hats and gloves already 
on, and more or less warmly clad, according to the state of 
the weather. The young women from the Physical 
Education Department were invariably young, brisk, and 
slender; they wore short skirts, leather jackets, bright 
mittens, and bright woolen socks. They walked into the 
rooms of the laggards. The laggards got into their hats and 
coats and came along. 

— Louise Bogan 
Journey Around My Room 




A. 



.s different and as distant as bright stars from 
cold stones are these two poets' attitudes toward the 
pleasures and pains of physical motion. A child knows 
nothing of the lethargy and apathy that must be over- 
come by world-weary, bone-tired adults before they 
can move briskly forth into the rough weather where 
health and strength await them. The intellect is will- 
ing, but the body resists. The sighs, objections, and 
excuses range themselves like fierce sentinels around 
the impulse — springing from childhood memories of 
play and freedom and rosy-cheeked health — to romp, 
run, skip, jump, hop, climb, revel in the green fields of 
a welcoming day. The adolescent falls somewhere 
between these antithetical attitudes. If tiresome vanity 
or deadly drill has not entirely extinquished the spark 
of childish vitality and joy in play, young women can 
recover some of the spontaneity they knew as chil- 
dren. And if sedentary lives and unwholesome habits 
have not entirelv robbed them of sound, sturdv bod- 



63 




64 



ies, they can move with ease and grace even through 
arduous calisthenics and vigorous athletic games. 

Educators — and even the sage ancients of classical 
Greece and Rome — have long recognized the impor- 
tance of health and vigor in achieving maximum men- 
tal and emotional stability and power. The body is one 
with the mind, each serving the other, each requiring 
mental and physical alertness, flexibility, endurance. 
Thus, for a hundred years at Meredith, teachers and 
administrators have provided students with the req- 
uisite balance of physical, emotional, mental, and spiri- 
tual health. Physical education, in fact, is very much a 
science, with more and more evidence accumulating 
to support the ancient Greek supposition: namely, that 
sound minds will be sounder for inhabiting sound 
bodies. 

For many years, the physical education program at 
Meredith was housed in a large wooden building 
which was nothing more, really, than "a big room with 
lots of windows," according to lone Kemp Knight. Jay 
Massey — who came to Meredith as head of the physi- 
cal education department in 1957 and was, in 1943 and 
1944, a student at Meredith — recalls the peculiarities 



of this original wooden structure. When she was a 
student at Meredith, even the rafters of the building 
were exposed. She says, "In the old building, the floor 
was so bad we couldn't hurt it." Consequently, "we 
even had roller-skating in there." And the floor was as 
unsteady as it was bumpy. When students were folk- 
dancing, the record player needle bounced right out of 
the grooves. A piano then served as a more reliable 
accompaniment to these folk-dancing rehearsals. But 
there was no place to store the piano, and so it was 
rolled into the single small bathroom in the building. 
When the piano tuner came to do his work, he re- 
marked that he had tuned pianos in every room of the 
house but never in the bathroom. Mrs. Massey sums 
up: " Meredith had a good program in a poor facility," 
a familiar litany among those who experienced life in 
those outmoded wooden buildings around the quad- 
rangle. Miss Ellen Brewer was heard to remark, when 
two of the wooden buildings were torn down to make 
way for new classroom facilities, that the buildings 
would have fallen down a lot sooner "but the termites 
were holding hands." 

However, shaky floors and an awkwardly stored 




Vvcathei'spooii Sj'ih/iicul Education-Dnnce Building 



65 




piano were not the only trials in those early days of 
Meredith's physical education program. Dr. Knight 
blanches at the memory of the gym suits all students 
were required to wear. They were, in a word, "ter- 
rible" — big, one-piece uniforms that came to about 
midway on the calf. "They were maroon!" she groans. 
"We hated them." But glamor in fitness was not the 
high-priority issue it is today. Dr. Knight attended the 
college right after the Great Depression, and nobody 
had money even for a coke in the Bee Hive after a 
heated basketball game, much less for the chic sports 
attire of today's fitness enthusiasts. The shapeless 
maroon gym suits were standard issue and were ac- 
cepted as one of the necessary evils of collegiate sports. 
And the amenities that students have come to take for 
granted were, in those days, nonexistent. There were 
no showers or locker rooms in the old gyms. And 
certainly there was no air conditioning to refresh stu- 
dents engaged in vigorous activities. Presumably, the 
students simply dragged themselves back to the dor- 
mitories after a volleyball game, there to recover from 
heat prostration, perhaps with a hasty splash of water 
on their faces and a quick rest in front of an open 
window. 



Even, however, under such adverse conditions, the 
students in those days enjoyed a variety of sports and 
recreations, despite a very limited staff. Mrs. Massey 
remembers that even in 1970, when the new gymna- 
sium opened, there were only three additional staff 
members, one of whom was part-time. These four, 
including long-time staff member Helena Allen, man- 
aged a program that included golf, equitation, basket- 
ball, field hockey, volleyball, badminton, modern 
dance, ballet, and the aforementioned folk-dancing. 
Until the new gymnasium was built, swimming in- 
struction in life-saving took place at the Y, and there 
was also bowling instruction, which has always been 
an off-campus activity. As recently as 1989, the stables 
closed at Meredith, and equitation now is taught off 
campus as well. For years gymnastics was a part of the 
program, but the high cost of liability insurance, the 
difficulties of storing equipment, and the lack of stu- 
dent interest brought an end to the gymnastics pro- 
gram. Besides, according to Mrs. Massey, gymnastics 
is a sport that requires training starting from a very 
early age. 

Though the physical-education staff remained small, 
very likely requiring an astonishing flexibility and 




66 




strength among this group of professors, the construc- 
tion of a long-overdue physical education facility en- 
larged the scope and variety of available courses. Mrs. 
Massey says, "When the new building opened I thought 
I had died and gone to heaven." The Department of 
Health, Physical Education, and Recreation now 
boasted an 800,000 dollar facility, complete with a 
gymnasium, swimming pool, a large dance studio, a 
classroom with audio-visual equipment, faculty of- 
fices, a lounge, showers, and lockers. The basketball 
and tennis courts were of regulation size, and the 
gymnasium could seat 670 people. Shearon Harris, 
then chairman of the Board of Trustees, presided over 
the dedication of this building on September 25, 1970. 
The building was named in honor of James Raymond 
Weatherspoon, a founder of the Durham Life Insur- 
ance Company, whose gift paid for half of the cost of 
the building's construction. The building is no longer 
called the "gym" but, rather, the Weatherspoon Physi- 
cal Education-Dance Building. 

Mrs. Massey vividly recalls some of the early expe- 
riences in the new Weatherspoon Building. On mov- 
ing day, the physical-education staff members were 



instructed to be out of the old gymnasium by noon. 
There was not much to move — only the piano, some 
balls and other sports equipment, and the office type- 
writer. All other furniture was to be left behind. Mrs. 
Massey says that the staff moved out at the required 
time, and by eight o'clock in the evening, the old 
gymnasium had been demolished and completely 
hauled away. Not a trace of it remained. But the move 
occurred in June, and not until the dedication day in 
September did Mrs. Massey have a desk in her office. 
She spent the summer working on the floor. 

At the end of the first year of operation, another 
bizarre incident occurred. Mrs. Massey says, "Presi- 
dent Heilman was hell-bent on having graduation in 
the new Weatherspoon Building, even though stu- 
dents, faculty, and everybody else were against the 
idea. They wanted to have it in the auditorium." But 
President Heilman was so proud of the building that 
he insisted, and the graduation took place there. "The 
faculty had to line up around the swimming pool," 
Mrs. Massey remembers. "The place was jam-packed, 
and somebody accidentally leaned against the fire 
alarm right in the middle of graduation ceremonies. 



67 



Dean Burris hollered at me to turn off the alarm, and I 
didn't have a the slightest idea where it was." 

A few years ago, the Department of Health, Physical 
Education, and Recreation was renamed the Depart- 
ment of Health, Physical Education, and Dance — 
more accurately reflecting, in Mrs. Massey's view, 
recent changes in the program. Meredith now offers a 
dance major and a minor in physical education with a 
fitness emphasis. In addition, there are courses in 
aerobics, weight training, aquatic fitness, condition- 
ing, and, of course, "lots of dance." Meredith has two 
performing groups — the Meredith Dance Theatre and 
the Meredith Aqua Angels — as well as five 
intercollegiate sports, including golf, tennis, volley- 
ball, basketball, and Softball. Meredith teams play in 
the NCAA Division III, the non-scholarship division. 

Whereas the old building was regularly used for 
student registration as well as sports, the Weatherspoon 
Building is often the site of heated basketball games 
between faculty and students; swimming and aerobics 
sessions for students as well as faculty members and 
their families; and occasional meetings. Students, as 
passionate today about fitness and fashion as they 



were once passionate about weekend passes or sur- 
reptitiously puffed cigarettes, often voluntarily work 
out on the exercise equipment in tlie gymnasium or 
spend hours bouncing around the campus driveways 
and roads, walking and jogging away demon cellulite 
and calories from late-night pizza orgies. As these 
young women march purposefully up and down 
Ridge Road or around the quadrangle — with earphones 
attached to their heads and arms swinging — faculty 
members wonder when the students are going to be 
sedentary long enough to learn their memory lines or 
write their research papers. Certainly the attention to 
the body is a welcome change from sluggish habits 
and physical neglect more common in earlier genera- 
tions. Perhaps the body sends signals to the brain, and 
the students wisely reason that if they look good and 
feel fine they will think more clearly and perform with 
greater confidence. Scientists support the view. And 
so do those who for years have blown whistles, tossed 
up the ball, and challenged generations of Meredith 
students to hustle up and down the court — even the 
laggards who would just as soon lie down and turn 
their faces to the wall until the fitness impulse passes. 




68 



When a great office is vacant either by death or disgrace (which often 
happens) five or six of those candidates petition the Emperor to entertain 
his Majesty and the court with a dance on the rope, and whoever jumps 
the highest without falling, succeeds in the office. . . . Flimnap, the 
Treasurer, is allowed to cut a caper on the straight rope, at least an inch 
higher than any other lord in the whole empire. I have seen him do the 
summerset several times together upon a trencher fixed on the straight 
rope, which is no bigger than a common packthread in England. 

— Jonathan Swift 
Gulliver's Travels 



w. 



hen Gulliver visits the Lilliputians — "diminu- 
tive mortals" who are "somewhat longer" than his 
middle finger — he is intrigued by their odd customs 
and entertainments: the rope-dancing; the bizarre prac- 
tice of offering silk threads of blue, red, and green to 
whoever can wriggle under or leap over the Emperor's 
stick with the "most agility"; the whimsical rivalry 
between the exiled Blefescudians and the Lilliputians, 
based on the issue of whether eggs must be broken at 
the little or the big end. Of course, Gulliver never 
visited the Meredith campus, but were he to find 
himself in this strange society, he would no doubt be 
equally fascinated and bewildered by the assortment 
of activities and competitions in which the Meredith 
students have long been engaged. Play is tricky. From 
the inside it seems perfectly reasonable to the children 
gathered under a pup tent in the back yard, chanting 
all manner of nonsense and operating under a code of 
behavior unintelligible to the Brobdingnagian-sized 
adults who chance to peep behind the drawn canvas. 
To an outsider looking in, the "play" of traditions and 
customs seems absurd. But there is a certain logic 
behind these games and entertainments — a long accu- 
mulation of bits of history, habits, and expectations 
that at last bind the newcomer firmly to the sturdy 
ground across which such frothy, frenetic romps 
occur. But for a time, every incoming freshman is 
Gulliver, watching from the sidelines while seasoned 
upperclasswomen don costumes, sing ditties, toss 
toilet paper in the treetops, march in parades, hold 
relay races, and crawl across the roof of Belk Dining 
Hail, looking like jewel thieves about to stage a heist. 
Among the oldest of Meredith traditions is the Hid- 




ing of the Crook, an 
event begun in 1906 
by Miss Caroline B. 
Phelps, a dramatics 
teacher who donated 
the crook to the senior 
class to "increase class 
spirit." Each year the 
senior class hides the crook, and a week-long search 
ensues, by means of carefully worded clues. If the 
juniors find the crook, they win; and if the seniors 
outwit the juniors by hiding the crook where it can't be 
found, they win. Whichever class "wins" has its colors 
tied to the crook and carried on Class Day. The rules 
for the search are published annually in the student 
newspaper, and it reads like a list of the "articles and 
conditions" of Gulliver's Lilliputian imprisonment: a 
portion of the crook must be visible; it must be on the 
campus; it can't be locked up; only the juniors may 
look for it; it must be displayed in the cafeteria for one 
week before it is hidden; when the crook is found, it 
must be taken to the junior class president, who then 
presents it to the senior class president for official 
verification; a clue must be presented each day and 
cannot be coded; and the juniors have one week to look 
for it. According to an article in a 1983 issue of the Twig, 
the crook has been tied to a waterpipe in the tunnel, 
hung from rafters, and hidden in a faculty member's 
mattress. It has been behind the water tower, on win- 
dow ledges, and on bulletin boards. But according to 
Carolyn Carter, '73, "one of the best places" the crook 
was ever hidden was in "a bunch of briar bushes 
beside a street marker at the intersection of Faircloth 



69 










M 





70 




and Moore Street." The clue, she recalls, read, "On the 
path to Faircloth, you'll find more." In fact, the juniors 
didn't find anything, and that year the senior class 
emerged victorious from this Lilliputian caper. 

Some traditions at Meredith have died out, largely 
because of changes in the level of freedom and mobil- 
ity enjoyed by students in the seventies and eighties at 
Meredith. B.J. Yeager, '47, recalls that Palio was a 
popular tradition when she was a student at Meredith. 
"It was during the war, and we had nothing else to 
do," she says. "We had no cars, and even if we could 
go off campus, we had to have chaperones, so it was 
hardly worth the effort." Thus Palio was a major 
Meredith entertainment. This tradition was begun in 
1935 through the efforts of Helen Price, a Latin profes- 
sor, and of Miss Marian Warner, an associate in physi- 
cal education; Miss Ida Poteat, art professor; and 
Katherine Liles, then president of the Athletic Asso- 
ciation. According to Mary Lynch Johnson, Palio was 



"adapted from a medieval festival held annually in 
Siena, Italy." Sponsored by the Athletic Association, 
the fall event featured enormous banners, class pa- 
rades and songs, games, and costumes, all of which 
began in a long march from the front gate and con- 
cluded on the front steps of Johnson Hall. Ms. Yeager, 
who was secretary to the dean of students and faculty 
secretary from 1948 to 1987, remembers the effort and 
creativity that went into this important festival. Ms. 
Yeager says, "Each class had a theme. Our class built 
a ship that was fifty feet long, and we marched down 
the avenue and out of that ship." Ms. Yeager didn't get 
to march, however. "I was the majorette for the band," 
she says, "so I didn't have to get up at 6:45 a.m. to 
practice marching." She recalls that the classes com- 
peted for top honors in costumes, songs, and overall 
theme. "Usually the seniors won," she laughs. 

According to Ms. Yeager, Cornhuskin' eventually 
replaced Palio. Introduced in 1945 by Doris Peterson, 



71 




a professor in the physical education department, 
Cornhuskin' is an annual fall event sponsored by the 
Recreation Association. This tradition has grown in 
popularity over the years, and now holds a prominent 
position in the fall schedules of Meredith students, 
who often sag and droop in class after a grueling week 
of nightly events. The festivities include a parade, hog 
calling, tall tales, big and little sister songs, and the 
inevitable toilet-paper rolling in the courtyard. 
Cornhuskin' was first held in the courtyard and on the 
steps of Belk Dining Hall, but it has also been cel- 
ebrated inside the dining hall and in the auditorium. 
According to a 1979 issue of the Tzvig, previous events 
have also included square dancing, chicken-calling, a 
faculty sing-song, bobbing for apples, and cow-milk- 
ing. Each class writes a skit which is judged for 
originality, coherence, and continuous narrative. Cos- 
tumes, songs, and tall tales are also judged. But the 
"rules" for Cornhuskin' reveal the absurdity and high 
drama of this Meredith tradition: no kidnapping; no 
putting Vaseline, talcum powder, peanut butter or 
shaving cream "any place that will cause slippery or 
hazardous conditions"; no food throwing; no water- 
throwing in dorms; no dumping of garbage in court- 
yard; no locking anybody in; no aerosols; no obscenity; 
no climbing on the roof of Jones Auditorium. Carolyn 
Carter recalls that during her years at Meredith, 1969- 
1973, "Cornhuskin' was major." It remains so even on 
the eve of Meredith's second century, inspiring fierce 
competition among classes and necessitating atten- 
dance sheets and special incentives to guarantee that 
after the party's over the students will still make it to 
their eight o'clock classes. 

Another tradition that has changed dramatically 
over several decades, both in its popularity and pur- 



poses, is the rivalry between the Phis and the Astros. 
These two groups were originally formed as rather 
sedate literary societies — the Philaretian Society and 
the Astrotekton Society — which, according to a 1901 
college catalogue, met "every Saturday night for liter- 
ary work, interspersed with music and elocution." In 
the early 1900' s, members had to apply and were 
required to have a relative already in either society. It 
was then a "prestigious" matter to be invited to join. 
Carolyn Carter, however, recalls that in the late sixties 
and early seventies, she was attracted to Meredith 
precisely because of the "inclusive" nature of these 
popular societies. She says, "The Phis and the Astros 
had a lot to do with why 1 came to Meredith. Unlike 
sororities, which tend to exclude people, these societ- 
ies made a concerted effort to involve all the students." 
She was impressed by this democratic, egalitarian 
philosophy. In the early seventies, Ms. Carter says, 
"The Phis and the Astros were still going great guns. 
But by my senior year, 1973, the groups had begun to 
change somewhat." 

Changes in these literary societies began in 1928, 
when the meeting times shifted from Saturday nights 
to Monday nights. Though the purpose was still liter- 
ary, the move away from weekends showed evidence 
of a dramatic alteration in pastimes and priorities 
among students. Students were no longer ready to 
sacrifice their Saturday nights to elocution and 

Shakespeare. Gradu- 
ally, service projects 
began to replace the 
literarv endeavors, 
and applications for 
membership were no 
longer necessar\'. But 
B. ]. Yeager recalls that 
during her years of working at Meredith in the forties 
and fifties, the literary focus was still important. "On 
graduation weekend, the Phis and the Astros spon- 
sored an evening on which Avell-known writers such 
as Richard Walser and Helen Bevington spoke to 
students. We held the gatherings on Saturday night 
and always took the speakers out to dinner." She says, 
"Dick Walser just ate it up. He thought the Meredith 
students were the cutest girls he'd ever seen." "We got 
really good speakers," she remembers, and prizes for 
student writing were presented on that e\'ening. 




72 



All students were "rushed" in the fall, and quickly 
adopted the mascots and colors of their particular 
society. On Phi Day, Milton the Bear dominated the 
cafeteria. The bear was named for the Phi mascot, 
Milton, son of Professor Ralph MacLain and Juanita 
MacLain. The Phi color was lavender, and the Astro 
color was yellow. Billy the goat was the Astro mascot. 
On Phi Day, students breakfasted on blue-dyed eggs, 
and students were entertained by Phi singing groups — 
among them, Patti and the Promettes and Bathtub 
Ring IV. But, according to the Tung, by the mid-to-late 
seventies, there were "chronic attendance and partici- 
pation problems in both societies." The Astros changed 
their constitution to admit only twenty members from 
the freshman class; and the Phis, which still accepted 
all applicants, used a point system to encourage par- 
ticipation in over half of the eight Phi meetings per 
year. Both organizations devoted themselves to good 
causes, including work with handicapped children, 
the school for the blind, multiple sclerosis, and cere- 
bral palsy. 



Stunt, another "long-standing Meredith tradition," 
was organized by the Meredith Recreation Associa- 
tion and is held in February. Classes perform skits, and 
the MRA chooses a theme for the event — usually some 
current fad. In 1 984, for example, the theme was "Stunt 
the Video." Faculty members serve as judges, and 
their identities are kept a secret until the night of the 
event. Originally, Stunt Night was the climax of PaHo, 
making for a hectic day of events. Martha Lou 
Stephenson, '50, recalls producing and directing a 
wild farce with an Egyptian theme for Stunt. The title? 
It Sphinx. 

Of course, countless other events dot the calendar of 
a typical year at Meredith, giving the students a 
feeling of continuity and connection to the life of the 
college. Major campus events and traditions include 
freshman orientation; Parents' Weekend; Founders' 
Day; Christmas caroling; a faculty production oi Alice 
in Wonderland performed once every four years; Class 
Day, during which a daisy chain is made by the sopho- 
mores in honor of their big sisters; the Honor Code 




73 




74 




Ceremony; and the annual doll presentation, a tradi- 
tion which has been going on since 1902. Play Day was 
for several years a popular campus event, largely 
because afternoon classes were cancelled. Professor 
Leslie Syron says, "It was sacrilegious not to call off 
classes for Play Day." She remembers all kinds of 
games, including Bridge and Chinese checkers. Now, 
however, no classes are cancelled for Play Day. But 
Carolyn Carter says, "Play Day came back in my 
generation. My senior year we tried to re-instate it." 
But not all the traditions at Meredith are as zany or 
playful as Cornhuskin' or Stunt. Carolyn Carter is 
grateful for her experiences with Religious Emphasis 
Week, held each year in the early spring and spon- 
sored by the Meredith Christian Association. In earlier 
years, according to Dr. Syron, sociology professor, the 
speaker schedule alternated between inviting a single 
speaker one year and a team of speakers the next. She 
invited Buckminster Fuller — architect, engineer, and 
theoretician concerned with problems of global living 
and teclinology — who came to the Meredith campus 
for two days during Religious Emphasis Week. In 



recent years, however, the MCA has invited only one 
main speaker, and all religious events have centered 
in a chosen theme. Ms. Carter remembers two such 
themes during the early seventies: "Synergism" and 
"Celebrate Life." But her favorite memory of this 
week-long symposium intended to inspire theologi- 
cal debate and spiritual regeneration is of vespers held 
in the dorms. Faculty members, who seldom were 
intimately involved in the lives of the students, came 
to the dorms each day during Religious Emphasis 
Week and presented a brief devotional. Ms. Carter 
says, "I remember a picture in the yearbook of Dr. 
Johnson sitting in a rocking chair and leading ves- 
pers." 

And some Meredith "traditions" are not on the 
official campus calendar. "There was a sort of under- 
ground tradition I was introduced to when I came to 
Meredith," Carolyn Carter says. This "underground" 
tradition epitomizes the absurdity of the Swiftian ad- 
ventures in Gulliver's Travels. She says, "The very first 
night I was there, one of the juniors said if you really 
want to be a part of Meredith, you have to walk across 



75 



the cafeteria roof." The challenge was to cross over the 
roof to Faircloth, stroll into the dormitory, and say 
"hi" to a surprised upperclasswoman. "You see," Ms. 
Carter says, "we weren't allowed to walk around 
outside after hours, so the trick was to get across the 
court without touching the ground." Security guards 
were everywhere, but they apparently forgot to check 
the roofline for wayward students. She explains that 
a few freshmen, maybe eighteen, were assembled by a 
bold leader and instructed to don dark clothes and 
meet at the breezeway on second-floor Stringfield at a 
pre-arranged time. "Somebody stood on the wall and 
helped us up to the roof," she says. Then the freshmen 
loped across the roof of Belk Dining Hall to the 
second-floor breezeway of Faircloth. Any junior who 
managed to inspire a group of timid freshmen to 
complete this feat could feel, according to Ms. Carter, 
"that she had broken us in right." Of course not every 
freshman was invited to participate in this midnight 



venture. There was a sort of mystique, a sense of 
elitism and pride that bound these roof-stalkers to 
each other. 

By the time a freshman has survived four years of 
stuff and nonsense, routine and ritual, ceremony and 
celebration, she can feel — as have countless other 
Meredith students — that she has been through an 
important rite of passage. She is on the inside looking 
out at a forlorn and uninformed group of novices with 
all the pity and amusement the Brobdingnagian king 
displays toward the folly and ignorance of Gulliver. 
Meredith women like their traditions. The traditions 
are what remain long after the classroom lectures have 
faded from memory. And though the games and pranks 
and stately ceremonies may seem unintelligible to 
campus visitors, the graduates of Meredith can punch 
each other in the ribs, snicker, and remember how it 
was the night they smeared the forbidden Vaseline on 
an indisputably hazardous surface. 




76 



In the first place, Cranford is in possession of the Amazons; all the 

holders of houses above a certain rent are women. If a married couple 

come to settle in the town, somehow the gentleman disappears; he is 

either fairly frightened to death by being the only man in the 

Cranford evening parties, or he is accounted for by being with his 

regiment, his ship, or closely engaged in business all the week in the 

great neighboring commercial town ofDrumble, distant only twenty 

miles on a railroad. In short, whatever does become of the gentlemen, 

they are not at Cranford. Wltat could they do if they were there? 

— Mrs. Gaskell 
Crajtford 



M. 



.rs. Elizabeth Gaskell's gently satirical opening 
to this popular nineteenth century novel sets forth an 
amusing premise unusual for her day and time — and 
even, in some quarters, in ours. The idea that women 
could not only endure but, in fact, positively delight 




in the pleasure of each other's company — without the 
balm and bravado of male companionship — invari- 
ably brings a sly grin to the lips of many female 
readers. So delicately outrageous and seemingly in- 
genuous are the tone and style of the narrator's ques- 
tion that one is tempted to answer it. The women in the 
fictional village of Cranford are quite content with 
their daily round of visits, tea parties, chores, and 
conversation — feeling, somehow, that a male pres- 
ence might send unsettling vibrations across the even 
surface of their lives. 

Though Mrs. Gaskell posited a world dominated 
by women, her "village" is neither so rare nor so 
improbable as some might think. For centuries, women 



have kept their own amiable society in small pockets 
and niches of the larger world. The stenographic pool, 
suburban neighborhood, retirement home, church 
circle, women's club, kitchen, parlor, and shops have 
traditionally been female domains, where a man en- 
tered somewhat gingerly and tentatively, seeking ex- 
planations for the smiles and good cheer he found 
there. Gossip has often been offered as the primary 
motivation for an impromptu gathering of the "la- 
dies." But judgment falters as the outsider draws near, 
putting his ear to the door to catch the sense and sanity 
of the "chatter" inside. The talk is of politics, drain- 
pipes, budgets, religion, literature, philosophy, ambi- 
tion, and despair — every bit as much as it is of rumor, 
recipes, or grandchildren. 

Nowhere has the society of females been so intense 
and ongoing as at female academies and colleges. At 
a women's college, the campus is Cranford. Here, the 
skeptics and scoffers of women's abilities to cope can 
study a scientifically precise, test-tube example of how 
well women handle the myriad responsibilities and 
situations of life. Opportunities for leadership, com- 
petition, achievement, and cooperation abound on 
such campuses. The data concerning the relationship 
of women's achievement in life to their attendance at 
all-female institutions are both powerful and provoca- 
tive. Sandra Thomas, who came to Meredith in 1 974 as 
the college's first female vice president, cites as evi- 
dence of the success of female education an important 
study done in 1973 by Elizabeth Tidball. The study 
was done, according to Dr. Thomas, "at a time when it 



77 




Meredith presidents: (from left) Carl\/le Cniiiphell, Riehard Tillman Vaiiii, niui CImrlcf Edward Preuvr 



78 




seemed fashionable for women's colleges to go out of 
business." In fact, according to Dr. Thomas, between 
the vears of 1968 and 1972, "about 150 women's col- 
leges closed, went co-ed, or became coordinate with 
men's colleges." Certainly the question of whether any 
female college could survive was a matter of concern. 
However, she says, "When Dr. Tidball examined WIio's 
Wlio in American Women, she found an almost perfect 
correlation between women who had achieved and 
those who had enjoyed strong female role models as 
undergraduates." Nearly 86 per cent of the women 
hsted in Wlio's Wlw had been educated at female 
institutions. A significant factor was the presence of 
women on the faculties and staffs of these colleges in 
"non-traditional areas such as administration, math, 
business, science, and physical education." Dr. Tho- 
mas says, "I'm a product of three major co-educational 
universities. All the way through, I had only four 
female professors — two in undergraduate school and 



two at the graduate level." She says, "There's been a 
dearth of female role models up to now — except in 
female institutions." Though accused of unfashionable 
and possibly discriminatory attitudes toward the in- 
clusion of males in the classroom — female institutions 
have been in the vanguard of providing strong female 
role models for young women. Dr. Thomas admits 
that the public institutions are slowly advancing 
women to higher administrative and tenured faculty 
positions. "But that has always been the case in women's 
colleges," she adds. 

Certainly Meredith's founders sensed that to aban- 
don the plan for a "female universitv" and throw the 
considerable support of the Convention solely to male 
institutions such as Wake Forest College would be 
detrimental to women's education. Leonidas Lafayette 
Polk wrote in an editorial in an 1890 issue of the 
Progressive Farmer: "Baptists have done nobly by Bap- 
tist boys of the state; now it [the Convention] will turn 



79 



its attention to the equally innportant work which is, if 
possible, more urgent and obligatory, that of educat- 
ing the Baptist girls of the state. That it should have 
been so long neglected is a reproach which can only be 
obliterated by giving them now an institution which 
shall be equal in all respects to the very best and most 
advanced in all the land." The repeated calls among 
Baptist leaders of the day for an education for "girls" 
equal to the opportunity offered "boys" proved the 
progressiveness and wisdom of the philosophy still 
operating at Meredith College. 

Dr. Thomas' experience at Meredith is evidence of 
the ongoing support and dignity accorded women at 
this institution. She says of her years here that she 
enjoys a "full partnership" in the administration of the 
college and that there has been "no struggle" in her 
dealings with male colleagues at the administrative 
level. "It has been absolutely good," she says. And she 
feels that Meredith is "breaking ground" for further 
advances for women at the administrative level. "We 
now have two female vice presidents, and the dean of 
the graduate school is female. And as positions be- 
come available, women will be very viable candi- 
dates." 

Dr. Thomas is well qualified to cite the advantages 
of attending a female institution. Though her own 
education was entirely co-educational and her pri- 



mary graduate work was done in university adminis- 
tration, her secondary interest in history and Latin 
American studies led her to a surprising discovery 
about women's education. She says, "1 wondered why 
women in South America had such a long history of 
leadership. I combined two dissertations in which I 
was looking at the education of women in contempo- 
rary society in Chile and Latin America, focusing on 
their long history of socio-political involvement and 
leadership." Her discovery was similar to Dr. Tidball's. 
She says, "These women were educated in single-sex 
colleges." Of course Dr. Thomas in no way ignores the 
important contributions men have made to Meredith, 
whether in its founding, financial support, adminis- 
trative leadership, or teaching. She says, "Meredith 
has never been without men." Commenting on the 
host of males who have passed through Meredith on 
the way to pick up their dates, she says, "Meredith 
students haven't been stuck out in a sylvan glade 
somewhere away from the mainstream of society." In 
fact, in a brief flurry of delayed Hberation begun in the 
radical late sixties and early seventies, the issue of 
allowing males in the dormitories was debated in a 
1982 issue of the Tzoig. Certainly, Meredith has long 
been a favorite haunt of male students from neighbor- 
ing universities, as well as a campus where males 
teach, head departments, administer, maintain the 




Faculty qiinrtet: (from left) fohii Yaiivough, Bcnmni Cochran, joe Baker, and Hciuy Coffer 



80 



grounds and buildings, patrol the campus, prepare 
meals, or serve as trustees and officers of campus 
organizations such as the Friends of the Carlyle 
Campbell Library. Only in recent years, however, 
have faculty salaries for women been remotely equiva- 
lent to male salaries. Miss lone Kemp Knight recalls 
that women's salaries were woefully low compared to 
men's salaries until President Bruce Heilman suc- 
ceeded President Carlyle Campbell in the late sixties. 
But despite the devotion to the ideal of Meredith's 
founders — namely, that of educating women — at times 
the issue of admitting males as students has surfaced. 
In 1986, administrators and trustees met considerable 
objection when they raised the question of admitting 
males to the new graduate school of business. Ironi- 
cally, the desire to admit males as candidates for the 
M.B.A. degree came from the female students in that 
program, according to Donald Spanton, head of the 
business department. He recalls, "The women said, 
'We compete with men in business. Why not compete 
with them in school?' The majority of these women 
students were 'pro-men,'" Spanton says. Allen Burris, 




Dean of the College, says that in fact there were re- 
quests to admit males from the graduate students in all 
three schools. And he adds, "There were some very 
precarious legal questions," including lawsuits from 
some males who had been denied admission. Faculty, 
students, and alumnae, upon learning of the decision 
under consideration, were up in arms. In a 1986 issue 
of the Meredith Herald, it was reported that students, 
faculty, and administrators met in Johnson Hall to 
"express their discontent at being excluded from the 
Board of Trustees' decision either to admit men into 
the graduate program or drop the program entirely." 
The students on this occasion sang the Alma Mater and 
chanted, "No men." Faculty and students alike wore 
buttons with the slogan, "Preserve the purpose." Post- 
ers read, "Meredith College, where old traditions never 
die." And SGA president Bridgette Parker wrote a 
letter to board chairman Seby B. Jones, in which she 
said, "1 am also disappointed because this decision 
implies that Meredith's history of dedication solely to 
the education of women is at stake." She urged Mr. 
Jones "to do whatever is necessary to ensure that 
Meredith's mission of educating women remains 
strong and uncompromised." The Herald article con- 
cluded, "Weems said that the question now is not 
whether to admit men into the graduate program but 
whether to drop the program." In fact, the program 
has become one of the most successful on campus, 
though Dr. Spanton still says, "I imagine we would be 
much larger if we did have men in the program." 
However, he detects little or no lingering resentment 
or dissatisfaction among an already quite busy busi- 
ness faculty. And Dean Burris is philosophical about 
this major controversy of the eighties. He says that the 
issue of admitting men to the graduate school was 
"mistakenly perceived as a plot to have men infiltrate 
the whole school." Now, he says, "It's a dead issue. 
We're not going to become co-ed unless it becomes 
economically necessary." 

Nonetheless, the passion that surfaced during this 
controversy is evidence of a deep commitment to the 
cause and advancement of women at Meredith. The 
women here are dedicated not so much to excluding 
men as to protecting the countless opportunities for 
leadership, solid responsibility, and congenial society 
that might be jeopardized or diminished by an influx 
of males in the classroom or around the student gov- 



81 




ernment committee tables. An early and untenable 
view held by Archibald McDowell, twice president of 
Chowan College in the mid-nineteenth century, proves 
the real dangers of assuming too much for men and too 
little for women in the way of talents and powers. He 
said, "Man is characterized by strength, courage, inde- 
pendence, and self-reliance, woman by vivacity, deli- 
cacy, sensibility and a confiding sense of dependence." 



At Meredith, women are free to explore the full range 
of all their capabilities and traits, including those 
traditionally attributed to men. Like the women of 
Cranford, the women at Meredith can be free, whole, 
brave, strong, and self-sufficient. What, in fact, could 
men do if they were here? That is a very serious 
question, and one that Meredith women seem, for 
now, to have answered to their satisfaction. 



82 



Suddenly the notes of the deep-laboring organ burst upon the 
ear, falling with doubled and redoubled intensity, and rolling, 
as it were, huge billows of sound. How well do their volume and 
grandeur accord with this mighty building! 

— Washington Irving 
Westminster Abbey 



s. 



'tately buildings filled with music, drama, or dance 
are places of unsetthng enchantment, where the famil- 
iar faces of friends and colleagues take on a peculiar 
quality of unreality. In these mighty cathedrals of art 
and entertainment, we are strangely altered. Wash- 
ington Irving, visiting the great abbey of queens, kings, 
and commoners alike, vibrates to the mood and atmo- 
sphere of the place as a violin string trembles to the 
touch of a bow. His essay is as much a record of his own 
transformation as of the sights and sounds he encoun- 
ters there. A sensitive audience understands his strange 
metamorphosis. To those who passionately pursue 
the performing arts, the effect of billowing orchestral 



chords and poignant or witty dialogue is electric. We 
need, from time to time, to be in places far bigger than 
we are, bearing witness to the vastness of the imagina- 
tion, the sonorous notes of heaven, the play of light 
and sound on ordinary human lives. 

Jones Hall — the arena for many of the grand occa- 
sions in the lives of Meredith students — is certainly 
not Westminster Abbey. But it has been, over the 
years, the setting for many of Meredith's dynamic 
lectures, exciting dance performances, inspiring cer- 
emonies, compelling dramas, and superb musical 
performances. Completed in 1949, this auditorium 
replaced yet another of the so-called "temporary" 




Entrance 



83 




from Parable of the Morning Star, 1991 

wooden buildings on campus. Named in honor of 
trustees Sallie Bailey Jones and her husband Wesley 
Norwood Jones, the building offered both the college 
and the community an invaluable facility for all kinds 
of large gatherings — from a well-attended lecture by 
Dr. Jane Goodall, widely known scholar of chimpan- 
zee life, to a presentation of TJie Odyssey; from a Christ- 
mas concert to a fall convocation for Meredith stu- 
dents. At the time of its completion, Jones Hall con- 
tained, an auditorium seating 750, a studio theater 
seating 220, several classrooms, eighteen practice rooms 
with pianos, three practice rooms with organs, and 
numerous studios for instructors. 

The dedication of Jones Hall on September 27, 1949 
fell on Founders' Day and marked the fiftieth anniver- 
sary of Meredith College. Dr. Johnson writes that 
engraved invitations were sent to those participating 
in this important event. The day's round of speakers 
included Senator Frank Graham in the morning and 
Ralph McGill, editor of the Atlanta Constitution, in the 
evening. Norma Rose, former head of the English 
department and beloved mentor and teacher, wrote in 
the Alumnae Magazine: "An alert student body, a de- 



voted faculty and staff, and a host of friends present for 
the dedication of a spacious and beautiful audito- 
rium — these were her evidences of her present bless- 
ings. But equally significant for those who kno^v and 
love the College was the promise which the da\^ held 
for the future." 

Indeed, Dr. Rose's prophecy proved accurate. Over 
the years since 1949, the auditorium has undergone 
numerous changes that reflect a spirit open to the 
possibilities and potential of such a facility. David 
Lynch, who came to Meredith in 1969 and is head of 
the Department of Music, Speech, and Theatre, recalls 
some of the more practical alterations to the audito- 
rium. The acoustics, he remembers, were "terrible," 
largely because of difficulties the builders encoun- 
tered along the way. Despite the solid foundation of 
intention and aspiration that went into the planning of 
this building. Dr. Lynch says, laughing, "It was a 
house built on sand." Much of the money that would 
otherwis'' have been available for better acoustics and 
sound-proof practice rooms went into the sub-struc- 
ture of Jones Hall. He says, "When they dug the hole 
for Jones, they just kept digging and digging through 



84 




fivni OodspeU, 198 S 



85 




sand and mud, looking for solid ground." Conse- 
quently, the cost of building was far more than ex- 
pected, and to this day "there are cracks in the walls 
where the foundation keeps shifting. " Cutting costs by 
eliminating sound-proofing in the practice rooms was, 
he says, a "disaster for the music department." And he 
adds, "Termites love Jones. They eat concrete, I guess." 
But many of the problems created by these early 
construction difficulties were overcome by 1 978, when 
the renovation of Jones Hall was completed. At that 
time, the art and drama departments were expanded, 
practice rooms were sound-proofed, a dark room and 
developing rooms were added, space was remodeled 
for art education, and the small auditorium that had 
been used for student recitals was transformed into a 
theater-in-the-round for drama and choral perfor- 
mances. In addition, in recent years Jones Hall has 
added a Writing Center and an Office of Continuing 
Education. Today, all the theater productions are in 
Jones Hall, as well as aiiy concerts that include an 
orchestra. 

Also, on December 5, 1970, the Cooper Organ, 
named for Harry E. Cooper, former head of the music 
department, was dedicated. Dr. Cooper came out of 
retirement to play the dedicatory recital, and Dr. Lynch 
played as well. Annie Laurie Pomeranz, '41, was a 
major contributor to the organ fund and a prime 
mover in encouraging financial support from many 




friends and alum- 
nae, including Mr. 
and Mrs. Nelson 
Stra wbridge; 
Margaret Anne 
Thomas, class of 
1941; and Mrs. 
W.T. Brown. Dr. 
Lynch calls the quahty of the Cooper Organ "excel- 
lent" and is pleased that several generations of Meredith 
music students have caused its 1,840 speaking pipes to 
swell with magnificent chords very like the "huge 
billows of sound" to which Washington Ir\ing once 
thrilled in Westminster Abbey. 

Overall, Dr. Lynch is pleased with Jones Hall. "De- 
spite the frustrations," he says, "Jones has been and is 
a nice place to work." But Dr. Rose's tribute to Meredith, 
written at the time of the Jones Hall dedication, per- 
haps captures best the mvstique and ambiance of the 
performances and ceremonies that go on in this great 
hall. The audience waits expectantly as the curtain 
parts. A hush falls o\'er the rows upon rows of faculty, 
students, alumnae. At such moments, in Dr. Rose's 
words, "it \vould be an unimaginati\'e and dull heart, 
indeed, which did not thrill" to the transforming power 
of music, theater, dance, celebration — to the myriad 
occasions for pageantry and pomp this auditorium 
provides. 



86 



The soul created the arts wherever they have flourished. It was in his 
own mind that the artist sought his model. It was an application of his 
own thought to the thing to be done and the conditions to he observed. 
And why need we copy the Doric or the Gothic model? Beauty, 
convenience, grandeur of thought and quaint expression are as near to 
us as to any, and if the American artist will study with hope and love 
the precise thing to be done by him, considering the climate, the soil, 
the length of the day, the wants of the people, the habit and form of the 
government, he will create a house in which all these will find 
themselves fitted, and taste and sentiment will he satisfied also. 

Insist on yourself. Never imitate. 

— Ralph Waldo Emerson 
Self-Reliance 



G, 



reat literary figures have long given words to the 
artist's impulses, shaping a philosophy and creative 
ideal with all the precision a painter brings to the last 
swirl of burnt sienna or cerulean blue on the startling 
canvas. Emerson's challenge to the American artist 
reverberates with the freedom and space that are 
essential to the visual arts. We are to look with our own 
eyes, shape with our own hands, and define with our 
own minds and hearts the landscape of a particularly 
American sensibility. But art is universal as well, and 
Joseph Conrad expands the boundaries of the artist's 
responsibility in time and space. He asserts, "And art 



itself may be defined as a single-minded attempt to 
render the highest kind of justice to the visible uni- 
verse." The artist's goal is truth. She is to look at the 
world unflinchingly, "to find in its forms, in its colors, 
in its light, in its shadows . . .what is enduring and 
essential." Even artists with only flashes of greatness 
are nonetheless obligated to proceed with courage and 
perseverance through the maelstrom of public taste 
and opinion, to be the standard-bearers of this "high- 
est kind of justice." 

Meredith College has shown remarkable courage 
and tenacity in its support of and devotion to the visual 




FranJde G. W'Xms art gallery 



87 




arts. Dr. Craig Greene, head of the art department, 
says, "It's unusual that a small college would support 
one of the fine arts in such a generous way." The 
Gaddy-Hamrick Art Center is the embodiment of a 
strong commitment to a wide range of artistic pur- 
suits. The building was given by the families of two 
businessmen, F.B. Hamrick and Claude Gaddy, in 
honor of their long friendship. Mary Lily Gaddy was, 
in fact, president of the Meredith Alumnae Associa- 
tion at the time of the building's dedication in 1987. In 
the February 6, 1987 issue of the Meredith Herald, Dr. 
Greene commented, "We want this to be the center for 
women in art." Much of his prophecy has come true. In 
1990, there were "roughly" eighty-five art majors, in 
fine arts studio — including photography, painting, 
printmaking, ceramics, art history, and drawing; in 
teacher certification in art; and in graphic design. Dr. 
Greene says, "It's amazing what happens with the 
dynamics of being under one roof. We've more than 
doubled in size." 

Prior to the long-awaited construction of the Gaddy- 
Hamrick Art Center, the art department was scattered 
over the campus, and a comprehensive, cohesive de- 
partment was more difficult to maintain. Much of the 
teaching in the department was done by adjunct pro- 
fessors, but Dr. Greene has altered the proportions. 



When he came to Meredith after having served as head 
of the art department at Chowan College, there were, 
in addition to the chairman, only two full-time profes- 
sors and six adjunct professors. Now there are seven 
full-time professors and only five adjunct professors. 
Dr. Greene recalls that there were art studios and 
classrooms in Wainwright and Jones; ceramics classes 
in the old Faircloth 
house; darkrooms in 
Joyner; and print-mak- 
ing, 3-d design, and 
weaving in the old Bee 
Hive. In addition. Dr. 
Greene remembers with 
considerable nostalgia 
and some regret a "wonderful" painting studio on the 
third floor of Johnson Hall. "It had perfect light," he 
says, explaining that the north light is the most con- 
stant, the south light next in constancy, and the east- 
west lights most changeable. He liked, too, the wooden 
floors and the ambience of this now-defunct studio. 
But gaining a permanent center for the arts was worth 
the loss of this special studio. After Dr. Greene stepped 
through the floor of the old Bee Hi\'e — the result, he 
says, of zealous termites — plans got underv\^ay for a 
new art building. 




88 




Though the cost of the art building exceeded the 
budget by more than 750,000 dollars, the space was 
nonetheless inadequate. The new tenants have worked 
diligently and creatively to provide the maximum 
space for art students, even to the point of storing 
necessary equipment and materials in overhead lofts. 
Dr. Greene laughs that the photography studio has 
been redesigned "about fifty times," but Nona Short, 
who teaches photography, ups the number to five- 
hundred times. The result of these creative solutions to 
the problem of limited space has been favorable. Dr. 
Greene says of the frequently redesigned photogra- 
phy studio, "There's not another photography facility 



like it in the Southeast." He credits Ms. Short with 
much of the improvement in design and economy in 
the studio, and he says of her considerable talent, 
"She's one of the best photographers in the state." 

Overall, the building meets the needs of the depart- 
ment very well. There are facilities for the beginning, 
intermediate, and advanced students, and, according 
to a 1987 article in the Meredith Herald, the Gaddy- 
Hamrick Art Center is "personalized to fit the concep- 
tual and functional needs of the instructor." The indi- 
vidual is primary, both in the attention given to her 
working space and in the development of her particu- 
lar talent. Dr. Greene embraces a philosophy that 
includes, for beginners, a "very strong and traditional 
academic foundation" and, for the intermediate and 
advanced students, an increasing emphasis on cre- 
ativity and experimentation. "We seek a balance," he 
says, and Meredith's art majors seem to thrive on this 
rational approach to the old and the new, emerging 
with degrees that earn the respect of employers. "Our 
students are extremely good, and even sought after," 
says Dr. Greene. Though there are no qualifications 
upon entry, each graphic design student must pro- 
duce a substantial portfolio, and studio fine-arts stu- 
dents must prepare an exhibit of their works. 




89 



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And this center is wonderfully designed for exhibi- 
tions. The Frankie G. Weems art gallery provides 
functional space for displaying the works of Meredith 
art students as well as artists with established reputa- 
tions in the community, state, and beyond. A "clean 
room" is used only to assemble exhibition material, 
and the gallery itself has high ceilings and moveable 
walls onto which works are attached with Velcro. The 
gallery is named for the wife of President John Weems, 
in "recognition of her interest in and support of the 
visual and performing arts at Meredith and in the 
greater Raleigh community." Mrs. Weems was a 
longtime member of the Raleigh Fine Arts Society and 
served as its president. Dr. Greene is emphatic in hi5 
praise of Mrs. Weems. He says, "Frankie Weems wa; 
one of my greatest supporters. Her influence madi 
this building possible." And he adds, "I miss her ver 
much." Dr. Greene hopes that the creation of a Friend 
of the Gallery will go far in encouraging among meir 
bers greater attendance and support for the gallery, 
desire in keeping with the devotion Frankie Weems 
brought to artistic endeavors. 

In addition to encouraging the discipline and devel- 
opment of Meredith art students, the department also 
invites prominent artists to spend a day, week, or even 
a month on campus, bringing to art students a variety 
of fresh artistic insights and instruction. Internation- 
ally renowned New York artist Dorothy Gillespie was 
invited to spend some time on the campus and created 
two fanciful sculptures, one in the Faw Garden behind 
the music building and another inside the Gaddy- 
Hamrick Art Center. The latter is, in Dr. Greene's 
words, a "festive" work in painted aluminum of "rib- 
bons that seem to dance on the wall." And in 1988, 



Lucy Yao came from Beijing to teach traditional Chi- 
nese flower painting, returning to China on the very 
day students occupied Tianenmen Square. These 
visiting artists show the eclectic range of tastes and 
experiences available to Meredith students. "We've 
also had a realist and a surrealist," Dr. Greene laughs. 
Dr. Greene's special artistic contribution to the cel- 
ebration of Meredith's Centennial is a series of five 
etchings, "rich in detail" and depicting various cam- 
pus scenes. "These are not just etchings of buildings. 
They are landscapes, with a great deal of human 
activity," Dr. Greene says. The plates are prepared by 
hand and require extreme patience and precision as 
well as artistic talent. Half of the money earned from 
the sale of these etchings will be used for a scholarship 
endowment for a re-entry art student. Such a project, 
however, is in keeping with Dr. Greene's delight and 
pride in his work and in Meredith College. He says, 
"It's a pleasure to get up in the morning and come to 
work." He hopes some day to see a graduate program 
established for art students at Meredith, but he is 
content for the moment. The self-reliance that inspired 
Emerson's stirring call for independent action, free 
spirits, raw courage, and unique American style is the 
same impulse that drives the artist. As Virginia Woolf 
wrote in "A Room of One's Own," "There must be 
freedom and there must be peace. Not a wheel must 
grate, not a light glimmer." Those are the essential 
conditions of great art, and that freedom must he 
protected at any cost. It is the soul's secret ardor, and 
it belongs only to the brave individual who dares to 
claim its power and to the society that dares to safe- 
guard its vitality. 




Portrnit of Idn PctaU, professor of art, 1S99-1940 



90 



It was a nice house. It was in a place where the days would go by 
and surprise anyone that they were over. The lamplight and the 
firelight would shine out the door after dark, over the still and 
breathing country, lighting the roses and the bottle trees, and all 
was quiet there. 



Eudora Welty 
Livvie 



w. 



hen old Solomon carries his young bride Livvie 
"away up on the Old Natchez Trace into the deep 
country," he brings her to a house far better than any 
she has ever known. The house has three rooms and is 
full of furniture, including an organ, a tall scrolled 
rocker, a double settee, and a bright iron bed. The walls 
are covered with holly paper and decorated with 
green palmettos; yellowed photographs of Solomon's 
family are propped on the mantel-shelf, atop "fresh 
newspaper cut with fancy borders." The dirt yard is 
swept in perfect circles, and not a blade of grass 
disturbs its perfect surface. Rose bushes, peach trees, 
and a pomegranate flourish outside. A shining green 



or blue bottle is tied to every branch of the crape- 
myrtle trees, guaranteed to entrap evil spirits and keep 
them from entering the house. But the house, fine and 
sparkling and safe as it is, oppresses young Livvie. 
Nobody comes and goes there — "nobody, nobody at 
all, not even a white person." The silence is palpable. 
Nothing stirs except the spring breezes through the 
white lace curtains. Solomon knows how to build a 
house, but he has no idea of how to make a home. 

The landscape of all literature is dotted with houses 
of every kind, from Peter's pumpkin shell to 
Wordsworth's Dove Cottage, from Scarlett O'Hara's 
Tara to Thoreau's cabin at Walden Pond. And what 




Massey Housc 



91 




Massei/ House (interior) 



92 




President John E. Weems luith Chelsea 

applies, to art and life applies equally to houses, of 
whatever sort. Flannery O'Connor says the artist is 
bounded only by what he or she can make live. Simi- 
larly, the simplest or most elegant abode is bounded 
not by walls or circumstance or various adornments 
but by what the residents can make live within those 
walls, within that particular destiny. The architect 
creates blueprints. The builder gives reality and solid- 
ity to the sketched plans. But only the humans residing 
in the finished structure can give it life, breath, feeling. 
In the first year and a half after the completion of the 
Massey House — Meredith College's first on-campus, 
presidential residence — over 100, 000 visitors passed 
through its welcoming doors. Everybody came and 
went, admiring the furnishings, remarking on the size 
of the rooms and the house's imposing situation at the 
rise of the hill. John Edgar Weems, the sixth president 
of Meredith and the first to live in this fine house, 
speaks wth warmth, humor, and enthusiasm of the 
years during which his family has called this house a 
home. Though the rooms are large and, at least in 
certain public areas of the house, quite formal. Dr. 
Weems applauds the comfort of his accommodations. 



the graceful traffic flow for entertaining, the beauty of 
the sunroom, the quietude of its location within a 
dappled wood on the back corner of the Meredith 
campus. "It's not a house you have to tiptoe through," 
he says. "It's beautiful over there. I'm dehghted." He 
and his wife, Frankie G. Weems, moved into the just- 
completed house in 1972, with their three children — 
John, then a senior in high school; David, a seventh 
grader; and Nancy, a fifth grader. Before the Massey 
House was built, Meredith College had housed its 
presidents off campus — Carlyle Campbell in a stone 
house on Furches Street, and Bruce Heilman in a house 
on Glen Eden Drive. Dr. Heilman resigned to become 
president of the University of Richmond in 1971, and, 
in January 1972, President Weems assumed office, 
after having served as a vice president for finance and 
administration at Middle Tennessee State University. 
The Massey House was dedicated on September 22, 
1972, and named in honor of Luther Malcus Massey 
and Vivian Dawson Massey, "in recognition of their 
generous investments and dedicated service to 
Meredith College." Dr. Massey, a Zebulon dentist, had 
been instrumental in acquiring the presidential home 



93 



on Glen Eden Drive before becoming involved in the 
construction of this house on campus. Cited as an 
outstanding alumnus of Wake Forest University, Dr. 
Massey had served as a Meredith trustee for more than 
twenty years and was chairman of the board when Dr. 
Heilman became president. 

At the time of the dedication, a booklet marked the 
ceremony, informing the audience of the names of 
each room as well as proviciing a photograph of the 
interior furnishings, for which Kay Covington 
Lambeth, '38, was responsible. Dr. Weems says that 
folks often ask how big the house is, imagining from its 
imposing exterior that it must have thirty or forty 
rooms. In fact, there are only about thirteen rooms, 
with three bedrooms upstairs, one bedroom down- 
stairs, and the typical array of rooms common to most 
houses: a living room, dining room, kitchen, front hall, 
den, and basement room for informal parties or meet- 
ings. The only rooms that are not, in Dr. Weems' view, 
"typical" are the Lawrence Library, given in memory 
of Sarah Evelyn Honeycutt Lawrence and Sexton 
Lawrence; and the Turner study, given in honor of Dr. 
J. Clyde Turner. Dr. Weems particularly enjoys the fact 



that in only one room is it necessary to leave by the 
same door one enters. "I never feel hemmed in," he 
says. Asked which are his favorite rooms, he defers to 
his wife's preference: "Without question, the sunroom 
was Frankie's favorite room. She loved nature." And 
he comments on the mood and atmosphere of the 
rooms as well. "The library looks like a movie set," he 
says. "It will calm you down. The sunroom will buoy 
you up." 

Nearly all the rooms in the Massey House were 
named for a number of staunch Meredith supporters, 
builders, and contributors: the Susan Harris Burton 
Room, presented in loving memory by Mr. and Mrs. 
William M. Burton and family; the Davidson Room, in 
appreciation for James A. Davidson's services as con- 
struction consultant; the Johnson Room, in memory of 
Margaret Louise Johnson, a friend of Meredith Col- 
lege; the Jones room, in honor of Christina B. Jones and 
Seby B. Jones, who served as member and chairman of 
the Board of Trustees and was the general contractor 
for the construction of the Massey House; the Lambeth 
Room, in honor of Kay Covington Lambeth, the deco- 
rator of the residence; the Sharpe Room, in honor of 




94 




Lawrence Library 

Homer Sharpe, a friend of Meredith College; the 
Vaughan Room, in honor of J. W. and Clara Vaughan, 
friends of Meredith College; the Vick Room, in honor 
of William C. Vick, friend of Meredith College; the 
Weems Room, in honor of John E. and Frankie G. 
Weems; the Williams Room, in honor of Jerry and 
Claude B. Wilhams, who ser\^ed as a trustee and 
associate of Meredith College; and the aforementioned 
Lawrence Library and Turner Study. 

Only one room — the Burton Room — has been re- 
decorated since the Weems family has inhabited the 
house. This area, designated for student activities, has 
never been used for that purpose, according to Dr. 
Weems. However, occasional meetings or special gath- 
erings are held in this room, as is the case with other 
rooms in the house. The Burton Room is now deco- 
rated in black and gray, and Dr. Weems calls it "the 
prettiest room in Raleigh." But all else in the comfort- 
ably furnished house has remained much the same, 
with the exception of some re-upholstering necessary 
in the sunroom because, according to President Weems, 



the sunlight is quite hard on the furniture. And Dr. 
Weems has added a personal touch of his own- 
moving out one bed in an upstairs room and installing 
his own computer, which is one of his passions. 

The decor is comfortable, classic, with only a touch 
of the extreme formality typical in homes used for 
official purposes. So lovely is the house that it was, a 
couple of years after its completion, selected to be on 
the annual garden tour of Raleigh. Dr. Weems laughs, 
recalling the bizarre chain of events that resulted from 
that agreement. There were six houses on the garden 
tour that year, all of them in the neighborhood border- 
ing Lassiter Mill Road, except, of course, for the Massey 
House on the Meredith Campus. Dr. Weems' wife, 
Frankie, had come back from a trip to the beach a day 
or two early, and found a guard sitting on the front 
porch with a gun across his lap. All the five houses on 
the garden tour in the Lassiter-Mill area had been 
robbed, and only the Massey House remained on the 
robbers' hit list. Ironically, the handsome publication 
distributed at the dedication ceremonv, complete with 



95 



photographs of the rooms and their expensive con- 
tents, had gotten into the hands of the criminals. "We 
had, in effect, given the robbers a handbook for com- 
mitting the perfect crime," President Weems recalls 
with great amusement. 

The rather isolated location of the Massey House 
has caused some other odd incidents. Once the police 
knocked on the front door to report that a bear was 
loose in the woods outside the house. Eight or ten 
policemen were trekking through the yard, trying to 
trap the bear. "Eventually, they caught the bear over in 
Pullen Park," President Weems says, adding that the 
bear must have crossed through the Meredith campus 
and lumbered down the railroad tracks to the park. 
Another time, a badly injured man came to the front 
door. Still very likely dazed from a traffic accident on 
the beltline, the man, who said he was a longshore- 
man, wandered down to Wade Avenue, somehow 
scaling the extremely high fence and sliding down to 
the Massey House, instead of going up on Ridge Road. 
Periodically, President Weems says that "the police 
will come to the door to report that there's an escaped 
convict loose in the woods." The gates automatically 
lock at precisely eleven o'clock at night. "If people are 
driving through at that time, they get trapped, and 
then I have to go down and let them through the 
gates" — a circumstance that could prove embarrass- 
ing to students and their dates who are taking the back 
road home. President Weems is good natured about 
the risks of living in a dark wood so far from the central 
buildings on campus. He likes the privacy, but he 
adds, "Living there has made for some interesting 
experiences." 



Obviously, this public house has an invaluable pri- 
vate dimension as well. Eleanor Roosevelt, in her book 
This I Remember, vividly records the personal habits of 
the inhabitants of the White House, the complications 
of housekeeping, the demands of entertaining, the 
periodic spells of redecorating, the difficulties of train- 
ing the staff and keeping the house running smoothly. 
She remembers President Franklin D. Roosevelt' s pref- 
erence for breakfast in bed, her habit of stopping by his 
room for a brief morning greeting, the noise and 
rambunctiousness of numerous grandchildren, the 
out-of-pocket expenses the first family endured, the 
demands of entertaining. But as with many people 
who live in highly public places, she is resigned, 
philosophical, never forgetting her obligation to the 
throngs of visitors. She writes, "1 soon discovered that, 
particularly to people from out of town, the White 
House has a very deep significance. I was orUy a 
sjrmbol. . . ." 

Certainly, the Massey House is both an embodiment 
of Meredith's symbolic importance as a place of strong 
tradition and cordiality, but it is, as the White House 
comes to be for all its residents, a real home — full of 
life, humor, conflict, crises, personal quirks, and pri- 
vate pleasures. The most attractive, inviting house is a 
stifling prison if nobody comes and goes, nobody at 
all. At the Massey House, the president and his family 
keep the tradition of hospitality alive, and with it, an 
abiding sense that this d\velUng is also a refuge where 
an individual family is given room to breathe and live. 



96 



Mr. Bulstrode's power was not due simply to his being a country 
banker who knew the financial secrets of most traders in the town 
and could touch the springs of their credit; it was fortified by a 
beneficence that was at once ready and severe — ready to confer 
obligations and severe in watching the result. 



George Eliot 

Middlemarch 



The business of America is business. 

— Calvin Coolidge 



I 



n George Eliot's densely detailed nineteenth cen- 
tury novel, the characters wrestle with the problems of 
being and remaining human in an inexorably advanc- 
ing modern world. The subtitle of the work — A Study 
of Provincial Life — is clearly ironic, at least in one sense. 
The problems of Middlemarch are hardly "provin- 
cial." They are the problems of urban society. No 
longer can the small town or the green countryside 
imagine itself exempt from the ethical, technological, 
scientific, spiritual, economic, and philosophical cri- 
ses and complications of life in any grand metropolis, 
whether London or New York or Moscow. In the 
village of Middlemarch, all the elements of tradition 
collide with the pressures of progress. The vicar, the 
banker, the doctor, the scholar, the housewife, the 
shopkeeper, the aristocrat, and the farmer must recon- 
cile their fixed beliefs and prejudices with a society 
that refuses to wait, refuses to stand still. In another 
sense, the subtitle is deadly earnest. Middlemarch is, 
indeed, a "study" — every bit as analytical and cruelly 
detailed as a banker's ledger, a physician's case study. 

Meredith College — seat of revered tradition, reposi- 
tory of timeless wisdom, bucolic setting of 
Wordsworthian scope and design — is likewise a savvy 
and bustling world of urbane sophistication, of fear- 
less progress. The founders of the original Baptist 
Female University were wise in wishing for their 
"daughters" an education of high quality and serious 
purpose. And "business" was not omitted from the 
earliest curriculum of this institution. Even in 1899, 
Miss Hatiie Farrior was listed in the First Annual 
Announcement of the Baptist Female University as teach- 
ing "Stenography, Typewriting, and Bookkeeping." 



But the founders surely did not reckon with the com- 
plications and crises of being a woman in the twentieth 
century. The women of earlier eras — with the excep- 
tion perhaps of shrewd businesswomen like the Wife 
of Bath in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, or canny ma- 
nipulators like Becky Sharp in Thackeray's Vanity 
Fair — were often groomed and educated for orna- 
mental or, in the modern vernacular, "supportive" 
roles. These women were not expected to function, 
even when safely married, as if their welfare de- 
pended on themselves alone. Even the fiercely inde- 
pendent Wife of Bath is looking for her sixth hus- 
band — though her search is a matter of personal pref- 
erence, not need. Women might control the family 
budget, count the family pennies, keep the family 
coffers safely under lock and key. But they did not 
build the family fortune. They were managers, not 
magnates; caretakers, not captains of industry. If they 
had vast fortunes, they "earned" them by default. 




Lois Frazier, former head of the Department of Business and Economics 



97 




perhaps finding themselves wealthy in the absence of 
legitimate male heirs or unexpectedly widowed. Even 
if women excelled in particular fields such as litera- 
ture, they did so under cover of male pseudonyms, an 
obvious case in point being Mary Ann Evans, whose 
pen name was George Eliot. And of course the famous 
Bronte sisters — Charlotte, Emily, and Ann — adopted 
the names of Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell to disguise 
their genders. 

Though Meredith College has, from its inception, 
trained and educated women in the skills of office 
work and bookkeeping, only in the last two decades 
has this institution forthrightly claimed for women 
full status in the traditionally male-dominated worlds 
of finance and computer technology. Dr. Knight says, 
"Dr. Campbell put business back in the curriculum." 
The groundbreaking of the Shearon Harris Building 
for Business Administration on September 25, 1981, 
offered proof that Meredith trustees and administra- 
tors were ready to accept the call for new freedom and 
choice for women, a movement that had begun in the 
late sixties and early seventies. Shearon Harris, a 
Meredith trustee for ten years and chairman of the 



board for four years, was himself a businessperson — 
the chief executive officer, president, and chairman of 
the board of Carolina Power and Light. The building, 
located west of Joyner and south of the Carlvle 
Campbell Library, gave a sense of completion and 
fullness to the professional and educational opportu- 
nities for women at Meredith. Around the library, the 
hub of all learning, were now ranged the humanities 
building, the science building, and the business build- 
ing. 

Constructed in 1982 at a cost of 1.3 million dollars, 
the Harris building was and is a testament to the 
changing directions in women's lives and choices. The 
building houses the Departments of Business Admin- 
istration and Economics, Mathematics, and Computer 
Science. Lois Frazier, then head of the Department of 
Business and Economics and the first VVainwright 
Professor of Business and Economics, said of the new 
building that it had a feeling of "brightness and airi- 
ness." She added, "It's not the typical school house 
green." Perhaps the bold design and colors under- 
scored the bold choices Meredith was then making 
about the direction and emphasis of women's voca- 



98 




tions and avocations. Dr. Frazier was quoted in a 1982 
issue of the Twig as saying, "Business is a viable, 
changing, dynamic field," reniinding naysayers and 
doubters that Meredith had to progress even as it 
adhered to a rigorous commitment to the liberal arts. 
In 1 982, there were two-hundred business majors, and 
1,226 students at Meredith were enrolled in some sort 
of business course. According to Donald Spanton, 
head of the department since 1986, each year the 
department graduates aii average of 140 to 160 women 
with B.S. degrees in Business Administration; and, in 
the spring of 1990, there were 192 graduate students 
enrolled in the M.B.A. graduate program. The depart- 
ment operates at nearly maximum capacity and is no-w 
the largest department on campus. The undergradu- 
ate students have a choice among four concentrations: 
accounting, economics, marketing, and management. 
"Marketing," he says, "is very much the 'in' thing. 
Office administration has been dropped from the cur- 
riculum." He adds, "We no longer train secretaries." 
In an issue of the Twig, February 13, 1984, the 
headhne read, "New Computer Opportunities Open 
to Meredith Students." Certainly the headline was 
more than prophetic of what has happened at Meredith. 



Ms. Ruth BaUa came to Meredith in 1987 as an instruc- 
tor in computer science and became, in 1988, Director 
of Academic Computing — a newly created position. 
She says, "It's a great time to be in education because 
Meredith is truly integrating computer use into every 
field. It's very exciting." The Harris Building contains 
both a computer laboratory and a computer class- 
room, -which facultv members can reserv^e for class- 
room instruction. "Every student at Meredith wUl 
have exposure to a computer," says Ms. Balla, thanks 
to the English department requirement that all stu- 
dents in English 111, the freshman-level composition 
course, be introduced to computers. Course work — 
papers, tests, grading — is routinely done on faculty 
and student computers. "Satellite labs are spread across 
the campus," Ms. Balla says. In her job as Director of 
Academic Computing, Ms. Balla is the systems man- 
ager. She does all the svstem maintenance for comput- 
ers used by students, faculty, and faculty secretaries, 
as well as offering non-credit classes to the faculty and 
staff. 

Ms. Balla agrees that computers have revolution- 
ized education. Computers are used for graphics by 
the art department, for statistics in sociology, for inte- 
rior design in home economics, for nutritional analy- 
sis in physical education, and for synthesized music in 
the music department. Obviously pleased with the 
variety and scope of computer use in all departments 
and majors, Ms. Balla says, "We really do all these 
things on campus." In the Harris Building, for ex- 
ample, "one classroom has a computer with four large 
monitors attached, making it possible for math profes- 
sors to reproduce graphs electronically rather than 
drawing the graphs on the board." 



BLOUNT NATIO 




99 




Certainly, the notion that the worlds of business, 
math, economics, and computer science could attract 
record numbers of interested females was unsettling 
to some, luirealistic to others. Some fears very likely 
existed that women would not pursue such fields with 
the diligence, enthusiasm, and capability alleged to be 
more natural and suitable to men. But the fears have 
proved unfounded. Students at Meredith are operat- 
ing computers, experimenting with advanced tech- 
nologies, and choosing careers in business and com- 
puter science with all the analytical calm George Eliot 
once gave to the construction of her novel Middlenmrch. 
Meredith women are neither intimidated by the ma- 
chinery of the twentieth century nor self-effacing and 
shy about their abilities to adapt to the changing 
demands of technology and education both in and out 
of the classroom. They are daring to claim for them- 
selves direct control over their personal and profes- 
sional "fortunes," in every sense of that potent, allur- 
ing word. As Dr. Spanton suggested, Meredith is 
educating businesswomen, not training secretaries. 



And these women have the equipment and the exper- 
tise to pursue their vocations and avocations with the 
singleminded confidence and ease of clever entrepre- 
neurs and seasoned corporate executives. 




100 



still I admit that Plato's world was not ours, that his scorn of trade 
and handicraft is fantastic, that he had no conception of a great 
industrial community such as that of the United States, and that 
such a community must and will shape its education to suit its own 
needs. If the usual education handed down to it from the past does 
not suit it, it will certainly before long drop this and try another. 

— Matthew Arnold 
Literature and Science 



X 



eaching is not and never has been a matter, sim- 
ply, of giving lectures and grading papers. To be an 
educator is also to accept the responsibility of con- 
stantly reexamining and redefining what the word 
"education" means. What are its boundaries? Where is 
the emphasis properly to be placed from age to age? 
How does it reflect changes in the culture? Where does 
it begin and end? Whom does it serve? These are good 
questions, reasonable questions, and the asking of 
them inevitably leads to controversy, compromise. 




and change. Education is — like language, morals, and 
people — organic. Never static and tidy, it flows 
through, in, and around society, giving Ufe and breath 
to all the activities and pursuits of humankind. 

Meredith College has seldom for long been able to 
avoid facing serious questions about its educational 
purposes. During the last hundred years, administra- 
tors, faculty, and trustees have thoughtfully, and some- 
times vehemently, debated the scope and substance of 
what it could offer women in terms of what women 
have needed in particular times and places. Meredith 
has even, at times, been pushed by economic necessity 
or community expectations, to redefine what it means 
to be a college. Allen Burris, Dean of the College, takes 
a sane, pragmatic position with regard to such dis- 
putes about the purposes of education in general and 
of colleges in particular. He says of Meredith's history 
as an institution of higher learning: "Vocational con- 
cerns have been around all along." Even when Meredith 
was called the Baptist Female University, this institu- 
tion boldly addressed and reconciled the so-called 
conflict between the commitment to liberal arts educa- 
tion and the very real need for specific, practical train- 
ing in particular jobs or careers. From 1902 until 1911, 
Meredith offered the master's degree, as well as 
career-oriented education. 

Debates about Meredith's purposes resurfaced in 
1983, when a graduate program in business, educa- 
tion, and music was introduced. The concept of offer- 
ing the master's degree in these particular fields was 
welcomed by some and viewed with suspicion by 
others. Dean Burris recalls that critics of the decision 
feared an over-emphasis on vocational education and 
others imagined that such graduate programs would 
be a drain on the economic and academic resources of 



101 




Finl kiidf of John £. IVvi'iHs Graduate School at dinner celebrating the naming of the school, 



the college. Those who like their definitions and delin- 
eations clear and sharp as Kodak snapshots feared 
that Meredith was also blurring the distinction be- 
tween the role of a college versus the role of a univer- 
sity. But the graduate program, according to Dr. Burris, 
has proved to be a very real asset both to the commu- 
nity-at-large and to Meredith College. The attitude 
among critics of graduate studies at Meredith has 
mellowed in recent years. Dean Burris says, "The 
vocal spirit has changed about the graduate school. It's 
much more positive now." 

The graduate program was first headed by Dr. Clara 
Bunn, who served as its dean and coordinator begin- 
ning in 1 983, but in 1 988 the program was renamed the 
John E. Weems Graduate School of Business Adminis- 
tration, Education, and Music. Dean Burris says, "It's 
fair to say that John Weems took the initiative on the 
graduate program. It was his vision, his dream." In the 
catalogue for 1989-1991, President Weems writes, "As 
the program gains strength and vitality, it will likely 
attract other departments to the opportunity of offer- 
ing graduate work to women in the Research Triangle 
Park area of North Carolina, where Meredith's reputa- 
tion as a service institution is so well known." 



; (from left) David Lynch, Loif Fi^rjcr. Fn-fident Weems, Mary Johnson, and Dean Burris 

The John E. Weems Graduate School was created in 
the spirit of adjustment and change Matthew Arnold 
acknowledges in one of three lectures he delivered in 
1883-84 and later published in a work entitled Dis- 
courses in America. The choices of business, education, 
and music were based, according to Dean Burris, on an 
initiative from each department. "We looked for a long 
reputation of strength and quality," Dean Burris says. 
Mary Johnson, who became dean of the graduate 
school in 1990, says the graduate school was created, at 
least in part, as a "service to the community. " She adds, 
"There was a real need for graduate-le\'el work for 
women in the communitv." The success of the gradu- 




102 




ate school is evident both in its enrollment levels and 
in its financial vigor. "There was a strong potential 
market in education," Dean Burris says. And certainly, 
the Meredith M.B.A. program has been a resounding 
success, operating, according to Donald Spanton, head 
of the Business and Economics Department, at "nearly 
maximum capacity." Dean Burris predicts that "a 
number of other master's degree programs will come 
along." 

The graduate school is designed and organized with 
the student in mind. Dr. Spanton says that all classes 
for the M.B.A. program, for example, are offered on 
Tuesday and Thursday evenings, making it possible 
for women who aspire to management or administra- 
tive positions or are already in the work force to 
pursue this graduate degree without interruption. 
With its own M.B.A. program, Meredith is certainly 
competitive with similar programs at Duke Univer- 
sity, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 
and Campbell University. Dr. Spanton says, "There is 
no M.B.A. program at State." 

Both the Dean of the College and the Dean of the 
Graduate School agree that the John E. Weems Gradu- 
ate School has potential for even greater growth and 



success. Dean Johnson, who has been Director of In- 
struction for the Wake County school system and who 
served as head of the Department of Education at 
Meredith, is excited about the future of the graduate 
school. She accepted the position of dean because she 
looked for "different challenges, different experiences." 
She hopes to "clarify the mission, goals, and objec- 
tives" of the graduate program and "to give identity to 
the graduate school." Dean Johnson wants the women 
in this community to know what Meredith has to offer 
in the way of graduate studies and to take advantage 
of this convenient, affordable, and high-quality alter- 
native to full-time graduate studies at other academic 
institutions. 

Even Matthew Arnold, who resolutely argued in 
favor of a strong emphasis on the enduring truths and 
wisdom offered in the humanities, could not deny or 
ignore the cultural influences on static concepts of 
education. He dared to dispute Plato, however gently. 
And the faculty and administrators at Meredith have 
challenged and will continue to challenge the accepted 
or conventional notions about what a college can be 
and do for its changing population. 



103 




1990 graduates of John E. Weems Graduate School 




John E. Weems Graduate School Coiinneuceiiieiil, 1990 



104 



O, about flunking my exams, — 1 shall flunk History & probably 
Geometry, and I may pass German and possibly Old English. That's 
the way I stand at present. I'm going to cram some, hut darn it, I'm 
tired. If I flunk 'em all they won't send me home, because two of 'em 
are Sophomore courses and oh, well, they wouldn't. 

God help me in my exams. I haven't opened a book since My 
Freshman Year. 

— Edna St. Vincent Millay 

Letters 

"Girl," I says, "come help me haul these things down the hill, I'm 
going to live at the post office." 

— Eudora Welty 
W7ji/ I Live at the P.O. 



I 



n a December 1972 issue of the Tioig, Bill Norton 
wrote, "For nearly half a century, Meredith students 
studied in a temporary library, and they used wooden 
frame buildings for a gymnasium and a student cen- 
ter." Dru Morgan Hinsley doubled, during many of 




those years, both as manager of the Bee Hive and as 
"postmistress" for Meredith, until she asked, as she 
puts it, that "the burden of handling the mail be lifted 
from me." Mrs. Hinsley says, "The post office was 
originally located where Dean Burris' office is, and 
then it was added to the Bee Hive." But a five-million 
dollar Meredith College Advancement Program ulti- 
mately resulted in the construction of several long- 
awaited facilities, including two residence halls, a 
gymnasium, a library, and a dramatically designed 
and decorated "college center." Originally called the 
College and Continuing Education Center, the build- 
ing was dedicated in 1974 and named the Cate Center, 
in honor of Kemp Shields Cate. The building, which 
has been renovated numerous times, now houses the 
college supply store, the 140-seat Kresge Auditorium, 
counseling offices, student government and publica- 
tions offices, the college post office, game rooms, 
lounges, and Le Greenhouse Cafe. 

But many years passed before this sleek building 
with trapezoid-shaped windows and contemporary 
decor became a haven for students to study and moan, 
students who might be as hopelessly behind in their 
studies as the young Edna St. Vincent Millay. The Cate 
Center, in those early years, was neither as friendly 
nor as homey as Sister's butter-bean vines and ironing 
board at the local P.O. in China Grove. At first the 
students were unwilling to trek down to the Cate 
Center because it seemed miles farther than the old 



105 




Cate Center 

and much more convenient Bee Hive. Mrs. Hinsley 
recalls that the Cate Center seemed to be stuck out in 
a field on the very edge of the campus complex. "A 
whole generation of students had to pass through here 
and graduate before the student center became popu- 
lar," Mrs. Hinsley says. She recalls that the move from 
the Bee Hive was a massive effort. "Everybody helped 
us move in one day, and then we had only two weeks 
to get the store ready for the students." The new 
student center had a faculty lounge, but the faculty 
never used it and so it was eventually converted to a 
counseling center. Until October of that year, the only 
facility open and ready for use in the student center 
was the supply store. The soda fountain was still 
operating in the Bee Hive. Mrs. Hinsley says, "We 
liked to have died the first four years we were down 
there. The students refused to walk that far." She adds, 
"We suffered. It was the loneliest place in the world." 
The only attractions at the Cate Center in those early 
years were the supply store and the post office; other- 
wise, the students had not much use for it, despite the 
fancy lounges, television set, snack bar, and vending 
machines. 




Only after the students 
who remembered the 
Bee Hive left and a new 
group came in did the 
student center catch on. 
But even as late as 1980, 
issues of the Twig prove 
that the struggle to make 
the center appealing to 
students was ongoing. In January of 1980, ser\-ices at 
the Cate Center were expanded to include the hiring of 
six student workers for ticket sales and the checking- 
out of recreational equipment. Macrame courses were 
offered, a pinball machine was installed, and pool and 
ping-pong tournaments were held. Apparently these 
efforts to lure students to the center were unsuccessful 
because the ping-pong room was con\'erted to a 
study-career intervie\v room, \vith four small study 
rooms, new carpeting, and a day-student room as 
well. The College Center Association also offered 
movies, pizza parties, and art exhibits. 

Fortunately, time has altered the entrenched habits 
of earlier generations of students. Now, Mrs. Hinsley 



106 







m^^i^,>^^^^i^ii^^^^^x 



is happy in the Gate Center because it is at last a 
bustUng center of student and faculty activities. She 
says, "What has helped us so much is the other build- 
ings that have gone up around us." The Gaddy- 
Hamrick Art Genter and the Harris Building are now 
quite near the Gate Genter, and students have long 
since forgotten the old convenience and accessibility 
of the Bee Hive. "But I still miss the old Bee Hive," she 
says. "We don't have the intermingling of faculty and 
students we used to have." The only time she and 
others who work in the Gate Genter get to meet or chat 
with the faculty members is when a professor comes 
down to buy something at the snack bar or at the 
supply store. Faculty meetings are regularly held in 
the Kresge Auditorium, but, again, the faculty mem- 
bers don't linger after the meeting. 

But the Gate Genter is nonetheless an important hub 
of student activities. When anyone passes through the 
lounge on the second floor, she is likely to be forced to 
step over students sprawled on the sofas, chairs, and 
floors. And the overheard conversations have exactly 



the same tone and style of Edna St. Vincent's epistolary 
laments during her years at Barnard and Vassar. The 
talk is of papers due, upcoming tests, hard professors, 
the chances of passing the course or squeezing an A 
out of what is clearly a B average. And some students 
are intently studying, whether in groups or alone, 
cramming for exams just as students have always 
done in every generation. And of course the path to the 
P.O. is well worn with the daily progress of students 
marching in and out the doors of the Gate Genter, filled 
with ardent expectations of letters from faraway boy- 
friends or packages from home. Some students, per- 
haps already engaged or "deeply committed," as they 
put it these days, might as well live at the P.O., so 
carefully do they monitor their mailboxes. A solitary 
faculty member sitting on the bench just outside Joyner 
Hall puffs her cigarette and smiles at the parade of 
letter-readers passing by. These young women hardly 
know where their feet are. The students are floating. 
They have been to the P.O. and are as thoroughly 
triumphant in their quest for written affirmations of 
undying love as is Sister in her defiance of mean old 
Stella Rondo and the rest of her hopelessly unjust 
family. Like Sister, who, in Eudora Welty's amusing 
tale, moves to the P.O. as a refuge from her irritating 
relatives, some young women practically live at the 
Gate Genter, hovering around the television set, re- 
reading the same sentence from The Odyssey in hope- 
less non-comprehension, and waiting for "the" letter 
that, in the way of this sometimes cruel world, may or 
may not be coming. 




107 




108 



And the sight of a white church above thin trees in a city. . . 

Amazes my eyes as though it were the Parthenon. 

Clear, reticent, superbly final. 

With the pillars of its portico refined to a cautious elegance, 

It dominates the weak trees, 

And the shot of its spire 

Is cool and candid, 

Rising into an unresisting sky. 

— Amy Lowell 
Meeting-House Hill 



M. 



.audlin sentimentality and hazy mysticism have 
no place in this poet's vision of a church emphatically 
and implacably rendering all aspects of nature — even 
the "unresisting sky" — ephemeral and weak. Lowell 
has no illusions about where power, strength, and 
immortality reside. This meeting-house makes even 
the hill-top "squalid." The image is apt, even for the 
chapel at Meredith College. It claims no hill-top, but its 
carefully chosen site, facing east toward the double 
drive leading into the campus, and its traditional 
architectural design reflect an attitude and emphasis 
that is, if not rigid, then certainly weighty and endur- 
ing. Alumnae who vigorously applied their consider- 
able energies and opinions to the design and place- 
ment of this chapel were not given to tiendy ap- 
proaches and watered-down theologies. Referring to 
the adamant stance taken by the alumnae, Carolyn 
Robinson gently hinted at the architectural deadlock 
in a 1981 issue oi Meredith magazine: "In fact, it may be 
safe to say that no other structure on campus has 
elicited so much interest and so many deeply felt and 
openly expressed opinions." And campus minister 
Sam Carothers said of the debate, "Everybody was 
surveyed from the custodian to the president." The 
alumnae wanted a church that looked like a church — 
a church that would be the figurative symbol of a 
measured orthodoxy, of an abiding faith. 

Of course, Christ's heretical stance on the relative 
importance of mere structures — He had little patience 
with the cornerstones and foundations of mighty 
temples — is likewise evident in Meredith's history. 
Oddly, among the last of the imposing buildings to be 
erected on Meredith College's campus in its first cen- 



tury was the Christina and Seby Jones Chapel. Not 
until September of 1982 was the chapel dedicated, 
providing for the first time since the move to the 
Hillsborough Street site fifty-five years earlier a tan- 
gible structure for worship, meditation, prayer, and 
spiritual regeneration. One might say that Meredith's 
priorities were skewed, but a better explanation can be 
found in Meredith College's sound belief in Christ's 
emphasis on private and inner spirituality, not public 
and external trappings. But though Christ disdained 
showy displays and massive edifices of hypocrisy, it 
nonetheless became clear to the class of 1928 that a 
chapel was long overdue. After all, Meredith had been 
founded on "strictly religious principles," according 
to Thomas Meredith's resolution presented to the 
Convention in 1838. But even more important to the 
growth and scope of the spiritual life of the campus, 
this institution was to be "as far as possible, free from 
sectarian influences." Bigotry and narrow-mindedness 
would have no place in this chapel, which would serve 
the spiritual needs of all the Meredith faculty, stu- 
dents, and staff. Thus, in 1978, the class of 1928, 
gathering for its fiftieth reunion, set in motion plans 
for the funding of a campus chapel. In these 70-year- 
old women. President John Weems met formidable 
insistencies and expectations, and he graciously and 
immediately gave his support to their effort. 

Every financial and aesthetic obstacle was eventu- 
ally faced and overcome, and the new chapel became 
a spiritual center for the campus within three years 
and four months of the date of the launching of the 
fund-raising effort. The result of these years of struggle 
and debate is not evident in the placid, dignified 



109 







Jones Chapel 



110 




structure that now graces the front drive at Meredith. 
The chapel became much more than the modest facil- 
ity originally intended. It contains offices for the cam- 
pus minister and the secretary /receptionist; a com- 
mons room; a reading room; a visiting speaker's office; 
a bride's room; and a kitchen. The chapel itself seats 
450 people and is used for services, weddings, and 
other church-related activities. Women wishing to be 
married in the chapel get a discount if they have 
official Meredith ties. So popular is the chapel as a 
setting for weddings that couples often book the place 
a year in advance. Here, Meredith students gather for 
Wednesday worship, special lectures, a Moravian Love 
Feast, and organ and choral performances. Dr. David 
Lynch, who worked with the Andover Organ Com- 
pany in designing the Estelle Johnson Memorial Or- 
gan, calls Jones Chapel "the best performance hall" in 
the Raleigh area, though the acoustics, according to 
one mildly disgruntled faculty member, are not good 
for listening to speakers. He praises as well the coop- 
eration he eiTJoyed in working with architect Carter 
Williams to perfect the acoustics, an excellent compen- 
sation for the lamentable acoustics in the Jones audito- 
rium. Dr. Lynch, head of the Department of Music, 



Speech, and Theatre, gives private organ instruction in 
the chapel as well. He is relieved that the overburdened 
performance schedule in Jones auditorium has been 
considerably eased by the building of the chapel. 

Naturally, the chapel has served to focus disparate 
elements of religious activities on campus, but not 
without some controversy and debate. Sam Carothers, 
who majored in political science at Western Carolina 
(very useful, he says, in these politically volatile days 
of religious conflict) and received a Master of Divinity 
degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 
Louisville, is the current campus minister. He came to 
Meredith just as the chapel was being completed, 
succeeding former campus minister Larry Williams. 
Asked if Meredith has ever had a female campus 
minister, the Rev. Sam Carothers has to confess, some- 
what sheepishly perhaps, that no female has ever held 
this position. The first official, full-time campus min- 
ister was named in the sixties, and prior to that time, 
John Lewis, a member of the religion department 
before taking the position of senior minister at First 
Baptist Church, served as advisor to the now-defunct 
Baptist Student Union and as part-time campus min- 
ister. The students themselves were anxious to replace 
the B.S.U. with a new campus organization — the 
Meredith Christian Association — which would be, in 
Sam Carothers' words, "more inclusive" and inter- 
denominational. In fact, the preamble to the M.C.A.'s 
constitution cites as one of its purposes that this orga- 
nization wishes "to encourage each student in appre- 
ciation of her particular denominational heritage." 
And those who hold religious beliefs not expressly 
"Christian" are likewise encouraged to participate in 
religious activities on campus. Such changes reflect a 
healthier, more tolerant attitude toward the diversity 
within Meredith's student body. 

But much as the new chapel has been admired, used, 
and loved, its function has not escaped criticism. Some 
students have called it a "dust collector" and urged 
that it be used for regular Sunday services as well as 
occasional campus events. Mr. Carothers disagrees. 
He says, "That comes up about every two or three 
years. Philosophically, I would rather students be in a 
'real' church. I worry about the artificial atmosphere." 
He believes that the homogeneity of "membership" in 
a campus church consisting primarily of female col- 
lege students would be potentially harmful to the 



111 




112 




spiritual lives of those students, insisting that Meredith 
students need strong ties to neighborhood churches 
with members of all ages. 

Of course, some might assume that the campus 
minister's duties should include the preparation of 
weekly Sunday sermons and services, but Mr. 
Carothers' job description does not leave much room 
for such an additional load of Sunday responsibilities. 
In addition to serving as advisor to the Meredith 
Cliristian Association, he hosts groups of visiting clergy 
and theologians, is responsible for the spiritual devel- 
opment of faculty and students, plans lectures, con- 
ducts worship services, serves as a liaison between the 
campus and the community, and handles matters of 
urgency or import with the Baptist State Convention. 
Often he is invited to speak to local groups, both in 
churches and in civic organizations. 

In the last several years, the chapel has been a useful 
adjunct to both sacred and secular activities on cam- 



pus. The commons room, well appointed and exceed- 
ingly comfortable, has been the setting for literary 
events sponsored by the Colton English Club, and the 
sanctuary has proved an invaluable addition to the 
space available to the music department for perfor- 
mances. The chapel fulfills the wishes of the alumnae 
who fought for its "cool and candid" spire and its 
"portico refined to a cautious elegance." But it has also 
been a vital part of an eclectic array of campus events, 
from incisive intellectual debate on the ethics of the 
death penalty to impassioned readings and insightful 
discussion of Browning's poetry by one of Browning's 
most ardent advocates. Professor lone Kemp Knight. 
Even a committee meeting seems to go unusually 
smoothly here, perhaps because the spirit of the place 
soothes frayed nerves and transforms petty, personal 
grievances into genuinely universal impulses toward 
truth, justice, mercy, and love. 



113 




114 



Just as my fingers on these keys 
Make music, so the self-same sounds 

On my spirit make a nuisic, too. 

— Wallace Stevens 

Peter Quince at the Clavier 



o. 



nly a poet like Wallace Stevens could know that 
music is "feeling, then, not sound" — a pulsing \'ibra- 
tion of the soul, not some technical exercise of the mind 
or hand. E\en in the days of Meredith's begirmings as 
the Baptist Female University, faculty and students 
alike felt the charms and passions of music. As earlv as 
1902, Wade R. Bro^vn, who studied in Germany and at 
the New England Conser\'atorv, ably directed the 
School of Music. Violin, piano, music theorv, voice, 
and organ were among the courses offered, and audi- 
ences enjoyed frequent recitals and concerts on the old 
campus. The University also hosted several illustrious 
visitors, among them the ^"e^v York Symphonv Or- 



chestra, which performed twice, and the Pittsburgh 
Festival Orchestra, which, in 1908, gave the first per- 
formance in North CaroUna of Handel's Messiah. 

In fact, according to Professor Mary Lynch Johnson, 
the music department far outstripped the "literary" 
disciplines in numbers of students and popularit^^ In 
1908, President Richard T. Vann expressed some anxi- 
ety that the "excellent school of music" would become 
"so noted and so popular" that the "work done in arts 
and sciences" would be "overshadowed." But though 
attention was emphatically directed toward other 
disciplines, especially literature, the music depart- 
ment continued to thri\'e throughout the ensuing vears. 




Harriet Mardre Wainwright Music Building 



115 




and the music faculty proved to be in "wide demand 
in Raleigh and elsewhere as recitalists and directors of 
music in churches." In 1938, students could earn a 
Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in music, and in 
1971, the Bachelor of Music degree was first offered. 
The B.A. in music was described as "a non-profes- 
sional, non-performance degree," whereas the Bach- 
elor of Music degree offered a major in "either Music 
Education or Applied Music" and was intended to 
"produce competent, practical musicians . . . well 
versed in the liberal arts." 

But despite the music's popularity among students, 
a music building was yet to be built. On Founders' Day 
in 1977, however, the Harriet Mardre Wainwright 
Music Building was dedicated, approximately one 
month after the dedication of the Clara Carswell Con- 
cert Hall. The building was made possible by a gift 
from a Meredith alumna — Harriet Mardre 
Wainwright's bequest being, according to President 
John Weems, "the largest gift from a family or indi- 
vidual in the history of the College"; and the concert 
hall was made possible by a gift of $100,000 from Mrs. 
Guy T. Carswell, thus initiating a fund-raising drive 
for the long-awaited facility. At the dedication of the 



Wainwright Building, Harriet Wain^vright's husband, 
Irving Hudgins Wainwright, said, "Harriet came to 
the conclusion that by helping her college, which had 
meant so much to her, she would provide a means 
through which those receiving knowledge could ben- 
efit." Mrs. Wainwright, who had graduated from 
Meredith in 1932, had earned her M.A. in social work 
at what is now Virginia Common-wealth University. 
The Wainwright Building is located on the east side 
of the campus, overlooking the lake and the Mclver 
Amphitheater. The two-story brick building contains 
twenty-two teaching studios, eight practice rooms. 




116 



three classrooms, a music library, and, of course, the 
Carswell Concert Hall, which seats 175 people. Ac- 
cording to Lou Anne Strickland, writing in the spring 
1977 issue of Meredith, the Hall is in "constant use by 
Meredith students and faculty members" and is ad- 
mired "by visitors throughout the area as an outstand- 
ing setting for musical performances." She added, 
"Under the guidance of David Lynch, chairman, the 
department of music has acquired an outstanding and 
talented faculty." 

Dr. Lynch, who studied in Salzburg and Paris and 
earned his D.M.A. from the Eastman School of Music, 
is still passionate about music at Meredith, even after 
being department head for o\'er twenty years. "1 feel 
so committed to this place," he says. In the years since 
he first was appointed chair of the Department of 
Music, Speech, and Theatre, he has seen the addition of 
a graduate school, which offers a Master of Music 
degree and which included, in 1991, approximately 
twenty-five students. He applauds the combining of 
speech and theatre with music, sa3rLng, "We work 
closely with them. We have a congenial relationship." 




But though the department has grown and changed, 
with ten full-time faculty members and approximately 
35 adjunct faculty, he says, "There's still a lot of tradi- 
tion. We still offer the same degrees in the same 
disciplines. And the building is pretty much the same." 
Because the faculty has grown. Dr. Lynch has had to 
turn some practice rooms into teaching studios. Music 
students can study voice, piano, organ, viohn, flute. 




117 




Meredith students performing in 1963 

cello, double bass, trumpet, clarinet, and even guitar. 
"Actually," says Dr. Lynch, "we teach quite a lot of 
guitar." The emphasis remains on classical music, but 
Dr. Lynch says that he would welcome more instruc- 
tion in jazz and other kinds of music if the necessary 
staff were available. The biggest area in the depart- 
ment is music education, and such students often 
study folk music to be used in the classrooms. 

The days of anxiety and concern about large num- 
bers of students pursuing a music curriculum are over, 
however. Dr. Lynch says, "The number of music ma- 
jors has decreased iiationwide in the last fifteen years." 
In 1977, there were 130 music majors, and in 1991 there 
were 100. But Dr. Lynch says, "We've been lucky at 
Meredith. A lot of places have had to phase out their 
music majors. And the graduate school has certainly 
helped us." 



Of the Harriet Mardre Wainwright Building, Dr. 
Lynch says, "The building has served us well. We just 
wish there were a little bit more of it at times." But 
never mind. Music is about feelings and souls, as 
Wallace Stevens points out — not about buildings and 
bodies and career trends. When faculty, students, and 
staff strike out around the campus for a bit of fresh air 
and fitness, the music floats from the doors and win- 
dows of the Wainwright Building, reminding those 
who care to listen of the soul's true home. In the 
background, the con\'ersations of the birds, the wind 
in the pines, and the dull roar of cars across the 
meadow mingle with the notes and melodies of some 
Meredith student in her practice room. And we know 
what we have always kno^vn about songs and spir- 
its — that they never die, that thev endure fore\'er in 
the secret temple of the soul. 



118 



I spun, I wove, I kept the house, I nursed the sick, 

I made the garden, and for holiday 

Rambled over the fields where sang the larks, 

And by Spoon River gathering many a shell, 

And many a flower and medicinal weed — 

Shouting to the wooded hills, singing to the green valleys. 

At ninety-six, I had lived long enough, that is all. 

And passed to a sweet repose. 

— Edwin Arlington Robinson 

Lucinda Matlock 



R 



or centuries, women have spun, woven, swept, 
nursed, gardened, and cooked in the narrow confines 
of what was deemed appropriate and necessary for 
the perpetuation and nurture of the human race. Eve 
in Eden, Penelope in The Odyssey, the miller's daughter 
in the Grimms' fairy tale, the Wife of Bath in Chaucer's 
The Canterbury Tales — all have sat at their looms, giv- 




ing texture, pattern, color, shape, and sanity to a world 
where men went out to fight, conquer, carouse, philan- 
der, explore, and exploit. But underneath the lovely 
tapestries, familiar quilts, and serviceable fabrics of 
women's carefully constructed surfaces, an internal 
war has raged in their psyches and souls — something 
about destiny and vocation, something about revolu- 
tion and change. Often, this inner world is not a pretty 
sight — the fragmented, stormy, misguided and ut- 
terly unpredictable innards of an ordinary woman in 
search of an extraordinary vision and purpose. And so 
women learned to thread their dreams and sorrows 
through the needle's eye — to busy their nimble fingers 
and to quiet their yearning hearts by the simple, pri- 
meval device of producing something practical, warm, 
comforting as thick stews and fluffed pillows. Unable 
to "make" themselves, they "made" an image or an 
icon of home and hearth. And then they waited for 
something to happen — someone to rescue, shape, or 
create a self from the tattered scraps of their unused, 
secret fantasies, crazy quilts. 

Certainly, in the nineteenth century, the culture had 
little doubt as to how a woman should spend her time. 
In Mary Lynch Johnson's A History of Meredith College, 
she writes that the curricula at several female acad- 
emies were "considerably" altered from those of male 
institutions: "French was usually substituted for the 
ancient languages, and 'polite literature' for math- 
ematics. Music, drawing, and needle work were 
added." In the South, Dr. Johnson says, the superiority 
of males was "'chivalrously sugar-coated' ... by the 
idea that woman was too delicate a creature to un- 
dergo the rigor of a real education" and would be 



119 




Ellen Breu'cr House 

better served by pursuing "the ornamental branches 
of education." But surprisingly, at Meredith College 
there existed a vision for women that went beyond the 
domestic realm. In 1914, students were required to 
take fourteen hours of home economics and thirty-five 
hours in "the regular college literary course." In addi- 
tion, they could "elect eleven hours in the literary, art, 
and music courses." The domestic arts were strongly 
emphasized but not entirely at the expense of courses 
in other academic disciplines. Katherine Parker, '10, 
was the first head of the home economics department, 
and Laura Bailey became an instructor the next year. 
At that time, "four hours of textiles replaced four 
elective hours for students in home economics." After 
the home economics department was organized in 
1914 under the leadership of Katherine Parker, a series 
of several heads briefly held the position vmtil the 
arrival of Ellen Dozier Brewer, ' 1 8, who, a f ter complet- 
ing two years of graduate work at Colvmibia, assumed 
the headship in 1922. 

Miss Brewer was oddly but happily positioned to 
bring an unusual depth and vision to the home eco- 
nomics department. She had majored in Latin and 



Greek and, according to Dr. Johnson, "her rare quali- 
ties of character and personality" gave students "a 
pattern of gracious living." Marilyn Stuber, who 
became acting head of the department two years after 
Miss Brewer's retirement in 1966, says of her associa- 
tion with Ellen Brewer, "1 taught with her one year. She 
imparted a philosophy and feeling about Meredith — 
a wholesome role model. She gave me free rein." 




120 



But though Dr. Stuber was encouraged to be innova- 
tive, she recalls that the department was still devoted 
primarity to teaching students the traditional skills in 
"elegant entertaining" and sewing. She says, "When 1 
came, it was stitching and stirring. We've been work- 
ing hard to live down that stereotype for years. My 
goal has been to keep our program and curriculum up 
to date." 

The home economics department has changed dra- 
matically in recent decades. Dr. Stuber says, "In the 
past, the thrust was on preparing students to be home- 
makers. Now, home economics has differentiated into 
careers under the 'umbrella' of home economics." 
Students may specialize in child development, inte- 
rior design, clothing and fashion merchandising, and 
foods and nutrition. With these specialties, home eco- 
nomics majors are well able to find a variety of inter- 
esting, lucrative careers and work settings. For ex- 
ample, there are two concentrations in food and nutri- 
tion: institutional foods and restaurant management. 
And students majoring in interior design can look 
forward to working in commercial settings as design- 
ers and planners. Dr. Stuber adds, however, that 




"women still want it all — the home, the family, and 
careers." The numbers of students majoring in home 
economics has grown steadily, with the most popular 
areas being child development and interior design. In 
1990, there were approximately one-hundred gradu- 
ating seniors, more than in any other of the fifteen 
departments at Meredith. "We have flourished," Dr. 
Stuber says. 

Another significant change is the recent demise of 
home management residence at Meredith. In 1960, the 
Ellen Brewer House was completed, the result of a gift 




121 




of $62,000 from Talcott Wait Brewer, first cousin of 
Ellen Brewer. The gracious two-story house gave stu- 
dents majoring in home economics a chance to perfect 
their domestic skills in a "real" home setting. How- 
ever, new trends in the field have created a need for a 
major change in the function of the Ellen Brewer 
House. Students have lived in the house since its 
construction, but that practice ceased in 1991. Dr. 
Stuber says, "Nobody could have anticipated the day 
and time when home management residence would 
be discontinued." She suggests that in keeping with 
national trends away from home management resi- 
dence the Ellen Brewer House has been converted to a 
child-care facility. Dr. Stuber says, "Research points 
out that the best place to care for infants is in a home 
setting. We have made the Ellen Brewer House a 
demonstration home, staffed with professional child- 
development personnel." The facility is self-support- 
ing, with parents paying for the care of four infants and 
four toddlers. "It is a demonstration laboratorv for our 
students," Dr. Stuber adds. 



Though the Ellen Brewer House no longer serves as 
living quarters and training for home economics stu- 
dents. Hunter Hall remains an "excellent" classroom 
and laboratory facility. The only "problem" — certainly 
a happy one in times of shrinking student populations 
and rising costs of education — is lack of space. Per- 
haps the return to traditional values has influenced 
some students in their choice of a major in this bur- 
geoning field. And certainly the range of career possi- 
bilities is appealing — whether the student chooses to 
become a hospital dietitian, an elementary-school 
teacher, or a designer for a major corporation. Trends 
in health-conscious fitness, in more elegant and so- 
phisticated urban environments, and in psvchological 
emphasis on early education have made this depart- 
ment at Meredith a popular one. However, since 
change is more often cyclical than linear, the road to 
progress inevitably leads home again — back to the 
stove, the stew, the thimbled finger, and wispy nostal- 
gia of an earlier time. 



122 



Maybe so, Aunt Lily. But — and this is strange — I've 
almost felt called to something special, but I don't know what. 
You know how God spoke to Moses through the burning bush? 
Sometimes burning hushes and morning stars seem to fight for 
my attention. I have no idea what I'm supposed to do, but I know 
it starts with learning all I can. 

But carrying me all the way through to graduation 

was Papa's whisper 

as he boarded the trolley on Blount Street. 

'Jenny,' he said. 'You're still our morning star.' 

Next morning, 

before day, 

I slipped outside 

in my nightgown 

to find the star in the dawn-gray sky. 

— Carolyn Covington Robinson 
Parable of the Morning Star 



T 



o -commemorate the one-hundredth birthday of 
Meredith College's founding, Carolyn Covington 
Robinson, '50, wrote a play performed by Meredith 
students and faculty on the first day of the Centennial 
celebration. The central character is a mountain girl 
named Mar\' Jennifer Jordan — who dreams, reaches, 
and sighs for worlds beyond her knowing; glimmerings 
at the edges of her soul. Jennifer wants to go to college, 
a daring wash for a young North Carolina mountain 
child in the unenlightened days of 1897. Jennifer is 
restless with the same vague, unsatisfied longing that 
plagues other fictional heroines — and many "real" life 
heroines as well. Oliver Larkin Stringfield — tireless 
fund-raiser for the newly envisioned Baptist Female 
University to be built in Raleigh — spends the night 
with the Will Jordan family and changes Jennifer's life 
with his impassioned argument for the education of 
women. 

Stringfield' s \'isit gives shape and clarit}^ to the star 
of young Jennifer's imagination. She resolves to go to 
the universit}^, despite disgruntlement and discour- 
agem.ent from a father -svhose Avavs are the old ways, 
whose mind is closed to stars and burnina; bushes 




President John E. Weems 



123 



Johnson Hall 



124 




]ean Jackson, Director, Meredith College Centennial Commission 



125 



alike. She goes off to distant Raleigh, with a wardrobe 
of homemade clothes and a copy of Elizabeth Barrett 
Browning's poems — presented to her by the comically 
aphoristic Aunt Lily. And in 1902 — after four years of 
study, homesickness, fear, delight, and wonder — ^Jen- 
nifer at last takes her imaginary place among the 
"Immortal Ten" — the young women who comprised 
the first graduating class of the Baptist Female Univer- 
sity, which became, in 1904, the Baptist University for 
Women and, in 1909, Meredith College. Jennifer is 
symbolic, of course. Her passion for learning and her 
commitment to risk and challenge are characteristic of 
all Meredith women who have overcome obstacles to 
arrive at their own commencements. She is, as Richard 
Tilman Vann once wrote of this institution, "the incar- 
nation of an idea." 

So are we all ideas, dreams, longings made flesh. 
And, with poet Robert Browning, we celebrate the 
tangible world of bodies, roots, trees, stars by ac- 
knowledging the incorporeal souls, minds, and emo- 
tions that drive us to action and fulfillment. The word 
"commencement" is perhaps a misnomer. The cer- 
emonies on this important day are seldom either an 




end or a beginning, except in some crisply official 
sense. This ceremony is only a way station, a resting 
place between birth and forever. The graduating 
senior is on a continuum of experience that, if the light 
in her soul is right and real, will shine throughout 
eternity. And the seniors lined up in caps and gowns 
to listen to the invocation, prayers, and speeches of 
officialdom are wise to look higher and farther than 
this moment to the trees beyond, the skies above. What 
Shakespeare says of love could also be said of knowl- 
edge, of commitment, of truth: "... it is an ever-fixed 




Thelmmortnl Ten, first graduniing class of Baptist Female University, 1902 



126 



mark,/ That looks on tempests and is never shaken;/ 
It is the star to every wandering bark." 

Thus, to graduates gathered in the Mclver Amphi- 
theater for Meredith's armual Commencement, what 
seems like the first day of the rest of their lives is only 
another day — like all the miraculous days that have 
come before and will come again. Sunrises and sunsets 
are the measures of a life lived well, of a life lived in 
harmony with the cycles and rhythms of minutes, 
hours, days, seasons. The landmark ceremonies are 
essential but ultimately arbitrary — very like the pauses 
of sailors to check their compasses, to adjust their sails, 
to utter their fervent prayers for calm seas, for a 
benevolent Providence. And then, like the sailors, the 
graduates must move on — as mortals always have and 
always must — to the next star. 

As these graduating seniors move along the con- 
tinuum of their lives, a light — Meredith's cannily ap- 
propriate motto — remains to direct the paths of others. 
Poet Stephen Spender acknowledges the light the 
great ones leave behind as they press on toward the 
sun: "Born of the sun they traveled a short while 
towards the sun,/ And left the vivid air signed with 




their honor." After the campus empties, after the rela- 
tives and friends disperse, after the graduates move 
slowly out into the world — the air is indeed "vivid" 
with the spirits of those who have come before and will 
come again. This vital air is life and health to all who 
dare to breathe it. This particular light is a benediction 
on all who dare to stand within the circle of its radi- 
ance. 




127 





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iderson has 
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Big Click, a 
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nial fourney 



Raleigh, North Carolina 



IBSN 1-879635-00-3 



Printed in Canada 



MEREDITH COLLEGE 



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Native North Carolinian Chip Henderson has 
been photographing his home state for the last 
fifteen years. His professional career began with 
summer internships at the North Carolina De- 
partment of Commerce, and he is now president 
of Henderson, Collins and Muir, Inc., a Raleigh- 
based photography studio and publishing house. 

Official photographer and publishing con- 
sultant for Images: A Centennial Journey, Chip 
Henderson is known for the works he has pub- 
lished as well as for the photography he has 
produced. A recent project was The Big Click, a 
book which features scenes of North Carolina 
and its people in their daily activities during a 
specified 24-hour period in April 1989. More 
than 1,500 amateur and professional photogra- 
phers responded to the invitation to make this 
the largest photographic event in North Caro- 
lina history. 

Henderson's work is annually recognized by 
the Triangle and American Advertising Federa- 
tions. Industry-wide acclaim has come from 
Communications Arts, Print, and Art Direction 
magazines, from Printing Industries of America, 
and from the American Institute of Graphic 
Arts. 

Other photographers whose work appears in 
this book include Steve Wilson; Carolyn Hill; 
Wortham C. Lyon, Jr.; Jean Jackson; Bill Norton; 
Tory Chisholm; Bob Allen; and the late Harry E. 
Cooper. 



Additional' copies of Images: A Centennial journey 

should be ordered from the 

Meredith Supply Store 

Meredith College 

Raleigh, North Carolina 27607-5298 

MEREDITH COLLEGE PRESS 
Raleigh, North Carolina 

IBSN 1-879635-00-3 



Printed in Canada 



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