University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The University of Wisconsin Collection

Page View

Schoenfeld, Clay (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 48, Number 9 (June 1947)

Frautschi, Lowell
Unifying a university eduation,   p. 15

Page 15

  WELL, HOW does it look now, in
  Without any hesitation, I say the
Memorial Union is better than any-
thing we students of 20 years ago
hoped for. It is no detraction from
the achievement of those who
brought this building into being, and
is only decent recognition of those
responsible for later developments,
to say that no one originally planned
it this way. Some very valuable as-
pects of the Union program have
beento-me at-least, -totally -unex-
pected. I don't recall that the rosiest
advance publicity during any of our
building campaigns had a word to
say about them.
  Equally unexpected, but indicative
of the scope and maturity of the
program offered here, was the desig-
nation of the Union as a department
of instruction in the University, with
faculty status for members of its
staff, and courses offered for credit,
especially in the department of
  The list could be extended, but
these examples serve to illustrate
major developments which as far as
I know were unanticipated in 1927.
They   underscore a   principle of
growth which has been inherent in
the idea of the Union, both before
there was a building and since. The
capacity to grow, not only in the
numbers served but in the very
nature of the services rendered, is
a proof of great vitality and a
source of gratification.
  But especially I would like to
speak of the element of variety in
   * "The Memorial
   Union," says the writer,
   "%makes a qualitative
   difference in the edu-
   cation which Wiscon-
   sin students receive."
 quality. Although the program we
-conducted then, without a building,
was as varied as the-,means at our
disposal would permit, I recall feel-
ing that the Union of Wisconsin
Men, as we then conceived it to be,
should be a real fellowship, with
bonds of common experience and
loyalty which would stamp a Wis-
consin man for life, so that even as
an alumnus he would retain a unique
and abiding relationship to his Alma
Mater and to Wisconsin men Wher-
ever they might be. This was the
dream that was to be realized with
the opening of the Memorial Union.
   If my perspective has changed in
 20 years, I don't think it is for the
 worse. in the first place, the build-
 ing itself isn't as important as the
 program which is offered within it,
 and I have already related some of
 the changes that have taken place
 in the scope and nature of that pro-
   Secondly, you can't, and shouldn't
 try, to pour everyone into a common
 mold. Many of you have been off
 fighting a war against a way of life
 which wanted to do just that, and
 your victory permits us to think as
women, unless there is something in
the quality of the education we re-
ceive here which everyone must an-
swer for himself, and perhaps he
never can know.
   But I like to think that in addition
 to all other factors on the campus,
 this Union, which undoubtedly is one
 of the finest in the country for its
 physical facilities, and which is re-
 garded as the leader of them all in
 the scope of its program, does make
 a qualitative difference in the educa-
--tion--that-our-stiidents -receive.-That-
difference can be viewed in personal
terms by those who take advantage
of the program here, and especially
by those who win the greatest ad-
vantage of all by working on its
committees and in its government.
It can also be viewed in the larger
terms of what our education is for.
   It is a commonplace thing to say
 that modern education has no all-
 embracing purpose or objective. It is
 equally commonplace to say that
 modern civilization has no central
 core of assumptions to which all
 mankind adheres. But at least man-
 kind keeps struggling to learn how
 to live together, without self de-
 struction at the minimum, and with
 reasonable well being for all as a
 more positive goal.
   Whether we settle for the mini-
 mum objective, or reach out for the
 more generous one, education is an
 important tool at hand. Perhaps the
 colleges of a hundred years ago pre-
 sented a more well-rounded picture
 of the world than can be done now,
 but it may be doubted whether they
other factors, here is the key to the
importance of the Union idea on the
Wisconsin campus.
  The building is primarily a place
for social intercourse. No student
need feel lonely, or fail to share in
the life of the campus, as long as
the Union is open. "Nothing that the
professor or laboratory can do for
the student," said President Van
Hise, "can take the place of daily
close companionship with hundreds
of his fellows."
  Beyond this casual sort of experi-
ence, which is perhaps the most
necessary of all in our highly organ-
ized society, the rich variety of the
more formal activities is sufficiently
broad to hold something to attract
everyone, and there must be many
students who have. latent interests
that receive their first stimulus from
something they see or do or take
part in at the Union. This reaching
out and catering to the diverse
tastes of all students not only makes
their years at the University more
pleasant, but it makes a positive
contribution to their education.
  In retrospect, it seems to me now
that the conception of the Union
which I had as an undergraduate
was naive, and had a rather mystic
free society. Being Wisconsin men
and women probably means very
little beyond being educated men and
relleewd trie .-Le, _Z~x   V~  Iz J. VAL-
temporary world as well as do the
universities today. Then colleges did
send out graduates with the stamp
of a Harvard man, or a Princeton
man. For Wisconsin in 1947 that
won't do at all.
  We need, not Wisconsin men with
a single outlook and a single loyalty,
but men and women stimulated and
trained to develop the best that is
within them, in all the rich variety
of which    human   personality  is
capable. If such stimulation and
training are accompanied by experi-
ence in working together harmoni-
ously, of subjecting their highly
varied interests to the discipline im-
posed by large numbers and neces-
sity, our graduates will become use-
ful citizens indeed.
  It seems to me that the Union has
become a wonderful instrument for
achieving this result. The words
"university" and "union" both have
in them the idea of oneness; yet
both embrace a world of diversity.
In the Memorial Union, which caters
to such varied interests among the
students, and at the same time dem-
onstrates the mechanics of harmo-
nizing so diverse a program, we are
perhaps coming as close as anyone
can come in our time to supplying a
unity to university education.

Go up to Top of Page