Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Seventy Years

Alumni interest and activity in behalf of the Institute expanded with the growth in the number of graduates. By 1901 there were over 900 on the rolls, many of whom had achieved positions of responsibiltly and some measure of affluence. The matriculation of the first son of a graduate, in 1896, was evidence that the alumni body was reaching maturity. This first grandson was Ernest N. Jennison, whose father, Samuel S. Jennison, '71, was the first secretary of the Alumni Association. A year later came Merton G. White, son of Edward R. White, '72, and Arthur L. Cook, son of Leroy Cook, '75. From then on the stream of alumni sons was unbroken.

It was a reasonable assumption that as the graduate body grew in numbers and wealth, an increasing amount of financial support might be excepted from this source. Dr. Mendenhall endeavored to enlist such support soon after he took office. At the Alumni Association meeting in 1895 he outlined plans for a new building which, he felt sure, would arouse enthusiasm among the graduates. This structure, to be built on the slope to the south of Boynton Hall, was to contain a library, an assembly hall, and a gymnasium. Charles G. Washburn immediately proposed that the alumni raise $50,000 for this purpose. His personal pledge of $1,000 toward such a fund was greeted by much cheering, as were the pledges of equal amounts by James Logan, Elmer P. Howe, '71, H. Winfield Wyman, '82, and the Class of 1887. Plans were developed for raising the balance, and the first alumni campaign was under way. Nothing much came of it for another ten years.

Annual alumni dinners, held in the Mechanical Laboratories, and presided over by such caterers as Rebboli and Brigham, were scenes of much merriment and prolonged speechmaking. The meeting in 1900 was particularly enthusiastic and well attended, partly because the diners were guests of the Institute trustees, a gracious custom that continued for five years thereafter. The decision at that meeting to assess


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Last Modified: Fri Jul 30 11:15:25 EDT 1999