Veteran’s Day, UConn style

Veteran's barracks, 1946

More than 2000 UConn alumni served in World War II; 114 of them lost their lives in the conflict. After the war the Veteran’s Administration requested that the university accept between 3000 and 4000 returning soldiers as students. In 1946 the campus had 792 veterans enrolled as students (11 of them were women) with another 300 at the Hartford and Waterbury extension campuses and 154 are enrolled in the Law, Insurance and Pharmacy schools. Eleven temporary barracks, nicknamed “Siberia” because of their distance from the main campus, were built on “the site of the former agronomy plots bordering the main road to Willimantic.” This site is now the Fine Arts Complex and E.O. Smith High School.  As more veterans were accepted to UConn more housing was built or found in nearby Willimantic.

More information about the expansion of the campus for returning World War II veterans can be found in the UConn Chronology at http://doddcenter.uconn.edu/asc/collections/chronology/index.cfm and photographs of scenes such as the one above, of “Agronomy Field” can be found on the Digital Repository.

UConn’s mascot — a ram?

UConn mascot

It’s a little known historical fact that in the mid-1930s, when the Connecticut State College (an earlier name for what became the University of Connecticut) was pondering what would be its mascot, the ram shown above, named Sir Ram-a-lot, was seriously considered, edging out in student polling over the next most likely mascot, the Eskimo husky dog known as Jonathan.  The student newspaper quoted freshman Francis Pickering as saying “What kind of stupid name is Jonathan for a dog?  I think Sir Ram-a-lot would invoke the kind of fear and respect we need on the football field against opposing teams.”  Fortunately the students’s preference for the ram was contested by the new college president, Albert N. Jorgensen, who made the decision to allow the animals to decide between themselves with a vigorous game of rock/paper/scissors.  Jonathan was victorious, thus beginning his eighty year reign as UConn’s beloved mascot.

[We hope you enjoyed this April Fool’s Day post.  For the real story of what’s going on in this photo, visit our digital repository and see the photo at http://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002%3A199722613]

Alan Thacker Busby, the university’s first African-American student

Alan Thacker Busby, the university's first African-American student, 1990

In 1914 Alan Thacker Busby of Worcester, Massachusetts, enrolled at the Connecticut Agricultural College, the first African-American student to attend what would become the University of Connecticut.  He worked his way through college by milking cows, feeding hogs and cutting ice from the campus pond and was an honor student and a member of the football team his Junior year.  In 1918 became the college’s first African-American graduate. After he graduated from college he served in World War I as a member of the Army’s all-black Field Artillery Unit, which stayed in France months after the war ended. After his military service he was an Animal Husbandry professor at Bordentown Industrial School in New Jersey, Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College in Alcorn, Mississippi, and Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri.

Busby Suites, a dormitory on the Storrs campus, was named in his honor.

This photograph shows Prof. Busby back at the University of Connecticut, when he returned to his alma mater in Fall 1990 to act as Grand Marshall of the Homecoming Parade.

Congratulations to the 2013 National Champions…

from those who played before.  The University of Connecticut field hockey team defeated Duke by a score of 2-0 to earn the program’s third National Championship at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va.  The program also won championships in 1981 and 1985.  Women’s athletic teams in the early years of the institution established the foundation  on which today’s champions have continued to build.  Congratulations to all and Go Huskies!

Winter Wonderland

Winter in Storrs can be quiet and tempestuous, sparkling and drab, fun and dangerous, in turn or all at once.  In all its phases, winter has a beauty all its own, despite the many inconveniences it may bring.  Images from the University Photograph Collection illustrate Winter in Storrs in all its glory.

 

A hearty welcome to Coach Diaco…

…from the football coaches of 1934!

Football coaching staff, 1934

Football coaching staff, 1934

In 1934, Connecticut State College welcomed J. O. Christian as the new football coach.  The team was small and it’s record unremarkable.  The Nutmeg [yearbook] saw hope for for the struggling team and its new coach which saw a string of losses but still fighting to win with no serious injuries.  The season ended with only one win (against Coast Guard) and the now infamous ram-napping of the Rhody Ram (URI mascot)!  Although unidentified in the photograph, the Nutmeg identifies four coaches and a manager in the team photograph–Coaches Fisher, Christian, Moore, and Heldman and Manager Gilman can be seen on page 190 of the 1935 issue of the Nutmeg (http://doddcenter.uconn.edu/asc/collections/nutmeg/1935.pdf).