Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Seventy Years

that the faculty opposition to granting the bachelor and master degrees out of course was sound, and that the full requirements for these degrees should be maintained. There was still a strong opinion, however, that the Institute might well follow the lead of other colleges in awarding the doctor's degree honoris causa. In 1921, the Corporation broke its fifty-year precedent by selecting a member of the first class, Dr. Henry Prentiss Armsby, '71, director of the Institute of Animal Nutrition, Pennsylvania State College, to receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Science. Four months later the college mourned the death of this distinguished scientist.

Undergraduate enrollment in the fall of 1920 was 545; the following year it dropped to 475. This drop was caused partly by a smaller freshman enrollment, partly by an excessive number of scholastic failures during the year 1920-21. Both called for serious reflections by the faculty. A study of causes of failures produced numerous factors that might have conspired to reduce enrollment more than twenty per cent by dismissals or voluntary withdrawals. Chief among these were: lower teaching standards in preparatory schools during the war, a loss of student morale, the inexperience and low salaries of some college teachers. Reductions in entering classes were attributed to the increase in the number of colleges offering engineering courses, and to the financial difficulties caused by the minor depression following the war.

Undergraduate activities were somewhat desultory in the years 1919 to 1921, due probably to the rather low student morale noted by the faculty. In the fall of 1919 Dr. Hollis introduced a program of monthly assemblies, at which outside speakers gave talks on non-technical subjects and students conducted whatever business might be of interest to the whole college. Attendance was compulsory and often reluctant. The faculty, for its own amusement, also started a program of social assemblies, featured by one-act plays and games. The Wireless Association was reorganized, and the Musical Clubs introduced the custom of conducting an annual dance.


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