Paul, Justus F. / The world is ours: a history of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, 1894-1994
Chapter 5. The Normal becomes a state teachers college, 1926-1930, pp. 59-66
The World Is Ours: The History of UWSP 1894-1994 After a brief period of adjustment to the new position, Baldwin turned to the tasks at hand. He correctly viewed his major challenge to be the preparation of the school and its faculty for its new role as a four-year college. He noted that he saw the change as the "beginning of a new era in the history of our school, [one which] calls for many new adjustments and changes if we are to function to the highest degree in our new status." The requirements which were established for obtaining a degree included a minimum of 128 hours and a maximum of 144 hours. Stevens Point decided initially to grant degrees in education in the fields of home economics and rural education, and to add a degree in secondary education the following year. Diploma courses in primary, inter- mediate, and junior high school education were continued, as was the one-year course that prepared students to teach in a one- room school. To give incoming freshmen a better oppor- tunity to experience all of the four-year courses, Baldwin and the faculty developed a new program. Beginning in September, 1928, incoming freshmen were given the oppor- tunity to survey all of the fields in which teaching programs were available at the campus. The program was intended not to be just a brief review, but a "birdseye view of the whole field in each particular branch." Baldwin did have a concern about the possi- bility of setting limits on granting degrees, especially in the area of junior high education. He observed the trend developing that would join the junior and senior high school courses into a single Secondary Education Depart- ment, and in a letter to his counterpart at River Falls, he expressed his belief that the presidents should consider "abandoning the distinction between the junior and senior high schools in preparation for this movement within the public schools themselves." He also advocated two other points: the schools must maintain a very high standard in all courses, and they must guard against what he called "flimsy majors." Funding remained another area of par- ticular concern by 1927. State resources, hurt by the agricultural depression in progress since the early 1920s, were not being provided 60 to the normal schools in adequate amounts. Baldwin received a letter from President Brown of Oshkosh in which Brown lamented the lack of funding support by the state and he appeared to attribute the low level at least in part to the lack of commitment to teacher training by the legislature. He noted that while the university received the best budget in its history, "we are flat on our backs in the teachers colleges with meager funds for oper- ation and nothing at all for maintenance or capital." Baldwin agreed that it appeared to be easier to get funding for a liberal arts education than for teacher training, but indi- cated his belief that the "reincarnation of the college course" would not be the best route to go for the teachers colleges. Instead, he urged that the emphasis be placed on convincing the board that quality counted, and that it was the board "which has been growing restive with the lessened enrolment [sic] even more than the legislature." Thus, he felt that the struggle was to get greater commitment first from the Board of Regents. This struggle over budget and state funding carried overtones of the long argument about the role of "college courses" in the state teachers colleges, and the budgetary struggle did not diminish through- out the course of Baldwin's presidency. In June of 1927, the first class to receive bachelor's degrees marched across the plat- form at the newly renamed Central State Teachers College in Stevens Point. A great deal of publicity preceded the event, but resistance from the faculty was not easily overcome. Only on a second vote did the faculty approve the plan to make this event a formal occasion, complete with caps and gowns. Genevieve and Mayme Cartmill of Plover received the first Bachelor of Education degrees granted by the school. Both specialized in domestic science. After the excitement of the graduation ceremony, thoughts returned to the needs of the school and the ever present problem of funding. Those seeking an increase in state support for the teachers colleges noted that the schools appeared to have been funded more adequately as normal schools. Despite the inadequate funding, Baldwin applauded the efforts of his campus to increase the standards for graduation and to raise the overall level of student achievement.
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