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President Murlin set the tone for his administration by canvassing students, faculty, alumni, and others to obtain suggestions concerning the university's needs. In an attempt to strengthen the academic program he established faculty committees dealing with educational policy and the curriculum. A new statement of purpose that stood unchanged for decades was adopted. In it the university's intellectual aim was described as "to encourage the search for truth, to develop the ability to think clearly, accurately, constructively, and fearlessly on all subjects, and to express (one's) thoughts effectively." On Murlin's recommendation the faculty also voted to restrict admission to the university to those graduating in the upper two-thirds of their high school class.





Ermina Fallass was one of three who earned a
Ph.D degree from DePauw (1888).  She then
taught history and mathematics in the
preparatory department from 1888 to 1891.
She became the wife of President Lemuel H.
Murlin (1925-1928) and left a bequest to
endow the President's office.


One of Murlin's first steps was to deal with the athletic situation at DePauw. Dissatisfaction had been mounting with the alumni-controlled Athletic Board, which managed all intercollegiate sports, hiring and firing coaches, recruiting athletes, and handling financing. Persuading the trustees to eliminate the Athletic Board, he restored control of intercollegiate sports to a committee composed of members of the faculty and administration and named William L. Hughes to the dual position of professor of physical education and director of athletics. For the first time all athletic activities, both intercollegiate and intramural, as well as the required physical education work, came under the authority of a regular department of the university. Besides Hughes the physical education department gained the services of William E. Search, Donavan C. Moffett, and Catherine Riggs, who joined Leroy C. Buchheit, Rachel J. Benton, and Lucy T. Bowen.

Under the new system interest in athletics rose to greater heights. Hundreds of students, both men and women, participated actively in intramural sports, while varsity teams chalked up winning seasons in baseball, football, basketball, and track. A disproportionately large number of the first persons named to DePauw's Athletic Hall of Fame came from this period, including John W. Ward '27, Andrew J. Ramsey '30, Marion L. Crawley '30, and Mary Washburn (Conklin) '28. The last went on to become the only DePauw athlete to win a medal in the Olympic Games, when she competed in the women's 400 meter relay race in Amsterdam in the year of her graduation.




To strengthen the administration, Dean Edwin Post was joined in 1926 by an associate dean who was placed in charge of academic affairs. The first incumbent of this office, Professor William W. Sweet of the history department, resigned the next year to accept a position at the University of Chicago. He was succeeded by Professor William M. Blanchard of the chemistry department, who was to have a long tenure in the deanship. Moreover, two decades after the naming of a dean of women, the post of dean of men was created in 1926. Named to that position was Louis H. Dirks, an experienced school administrator from Indianapolis, who was also appointed professor of secondary education. It is noteworthy, however, that all these administrators, as well as the dean of women and the dean of freshman men, remained part-time members of the teaching faculty.

The growing student body, which neared 2,000 by the mid-1920s, created a demand for an expansion of the faculty. Among those added to the teaching staff in the Murlin administration were Coen G. Pierson and William A. Russ in history; Mary G. Hamilton and Jarvis C. Davis in English; Ermina M. Mills in comparative literature; Harold Zink and Harry W. Voltmer in political science; Orrin H. Smith in physics; Grace Barkley in botany; Lester M. Jones in sociology; Carroll D. W. Hildebrand, another Boston Personalist, in philosophy; W. Vernon Lytle and Warren C. Middleton in the newly independent department of psychology; Waldo F. Mitchell in economics; Herold T. Ross in speech; Earl C. Bowman in education; Benjamin H. Grave in zoology; and William S. Martin in Romance languages. The School of Music added Kenneth P. Umfleet, Edna T. Bowles, Rowland Leach, and Marjorie Lower.

Murlin was also able to raise faculty compensation slightly, though the average full professor's salary remained below $3,500 a year. To meet the increasing
financial needs of the university he attempted to raise student fees but ran into the opposition of those who argued that DePauw would become a rich man's school. The board of trustees originally complied with his request by increasing the so-called incidental fee from a modest $85 to $125 per semester but rescinded it a year later.

As an experienced administrator, Murlin refused to be intimidated by outside attacks on the academic freedom of the faculty. When members of the North Indiana Methodist Conference circulated reports about the alleged lack of orthodoxy in the teaching of the English Bible at DePauw, he stood firmly by the professor involved. While urging the teacher to adopt a "better pedagogical method," he asked for "the broad, tolerant spirit and open mindedness of Gamaliel and of John Wesley" in his annual report to the Methodist Annual Conferences.




Perhaps the most significant accomplishments of the short Murlin presidency lay in the administration of student affairs. DePauw students had long chafed against the university's ban on social dancing (born of the traditional Methodist view that it was immoral, along with card-playing, theatre-going and the like). Increasing numbers of students were coming from homes where dancing was permitted, and it was becoming more and more difficult to enforce the unpopular prohibition.

When President Murlin arrived at DePauw in the fall of 1925 he found overwhelming student sentiment in favor of lifting the ban but a divided faculty on this issue. Seizing upon the fact that the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church had slightly relaxed its stand on the question in 1924, Murlin initiated an experimental program. Social organizations would be permitted upon special request to include dancing as part of the entertainment at one formal party each year. Official chaperones were required, as well as written permission from parents of those who participated in such dancing.

This new policy was incorporated in the 1926 Student Handbook, along with an excerpt from the Methodist Discipline warning against the evils of dancing and similar amusements. The die was cast, and, despite vehement opposition from some church quarters, social dancing soon became a recognized part of DePauw's campus activities. It has been suggested that the venerable president was able to defy conservative Methodist opinion in this matter because at his age he had no ambition for a bishopric.

Murlin also attempted to regulate such matters as fraternity rush and hazing. The introduction of house mothers - required in sorority houses since 1919 - into fraternity houses in 1926 undoubtedly served to ameliorate the sometimes rowdy behavior of their residents. A most important innovation was the creation of Freshman Week at the beginning of the fall semester as a period of orientation for new students conducted by members of the teaching faculty.

The mid-1920s was a period of intense activity in the remodeling of old and the construction of new chapter houses for the social fraternities. Nine fraternities erected rather large houses and five sororities somewhat smaller ones. Other organizations were content with the refurbishing of existing structures: Delta Upsilon in The Towers after it ceased to be used as the presidential home, and Kappa Alpha Theta in Beechcroft, the former home of Professor James Riley Weaver on South College Avenue. Some of the new residences, described by President Murlin as "large and expensive houses (covered with large, elegant, and gilt-edged mortgages)," would become a financial burden to later generations of students.

The desire to provide residential facilities for non-affiliated men and women at least equal in comfort to the best chapter houses was brought to fruition by the final gifts of Edward and Lucy Rector. At his death in 1925 Edward Rector bequeathed $500,000 to the university for the construction of two dormitories. Longden Hall, erected in 1927 and named for Professor Henry B. Longden, secretary of the Rector Scholarship Fund, offered male residents the same modern features as Rector Hall had furnished women 10 years before.

This group picture of faculty on the East College
steps appeared in the 1924 Mirage.




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