Away in the rolling hills of Upper New York State, tucked snug in an atmosphere of Republican politics and masculine comeradie, is Colgate University.
With the nearest big city distraction forty miles away, Colgate can concentrate on its task of producing each year the well-rounded fathers and husbands for 1300 families of tomorrow. Drawing heavily on Westchester Country, Long Island, and suburban Connecticut for its students, the college is oriented toward the development of a typed family man. That type is the upper middle class.
Not that the average Colgate man is a child of moderate luxury, biding the time between high school and a nepotistic vice-presidency in daddy's firm. Over 30% either work or receive financial aid. In addition to partial stipends, 24 Colgate War Memorial four-year scholarships are awarded annually. It is rather the atmosphere and direction of the courses that set the aims of Colgate's graduates.
College authorities pay homage to the well-publicized Whole Man, and says unabashedly that Colgate is primarily interested in teaching the duties of responsible citizenship. This spirit carries over to the students who revere competence in many fields above unlimited excellence in only one. Since fraternities are clearing houses for social attitudes, it is significant that the mentally hulking football recruit is not overwhelmed with pledge bids come rushing time. But, on the other hand, the pure intellect gets even fewer.
True to the task of molding the complete man of suburban society, Colgate demands certain skills in exchange for a degree. There are, naturally, the usual swimming and language requirements. But the Colgate graduate must go beyond these bare essentials for civilized living; he must play a decent game of golf and tennis. Accordingly, those who cannot pass an initial test, spend a part of their time on the college's links and courts until they are skilled enough in the sports to sell insurance, or even bonds.
Stolld and Well-paying
Upon graduation, about 35 percent of the class goes on to some form of graduate work--mostly medicine or law. A sprinkling finds its way to Business School, and a few eyeing a university teaching post, attack an MA degree. One or two still enter theological seminary, harkening back to the days before 1928 when there was still a Colgate Divinity School and the college was a sort of ecclesiastic prep school. The 65 per cent majority stolidly settles in well-paying jobs, generally in the non-technical end of business and industry.
The college so zealously prepares its students for a life of useful industry that it is loathe to let them wander about in search of the proper place to start employment. So in their senior year, about one half of each class enters a course in Industrial Psychology taught by George H. Estabrooks, a well-known psychologist and Colgate legend. "I explain the bases of industry and hope they'll absorb some Industrial Psychology. And, oh yes, I run the New York Placement office," says Dr. Estabrooks.
The office, located in the Colgate, Palmolive-Peet office building places students and graduates of Colgate in suitable business position. "Three-fourths of my boys couldn't take, say Oxford, "but then, Oxford couldn't train men for the lives they lead. And its funny: Oxford men have troubling breaking into industry, but I can generally place my boys starting between three and four thousand."
Naturally, a college group which, in a few years, will be concentrating on the care and maintenance of expensive suburban children and station wagons does not go in for radical thought or action. From the first orientation week, freshmen learn the value of conformity. They dress in T shirts and zippered jackets, always wearing a required black tie and maroon beanie, and together they develop the cherished and much-vaunted Colgate spirit.
Despite periodically-despondent editorials in the college weekly. The Maroon, this spirit is quite evident to visitors. The stranger to Colgate is dazed by the steady stream of "hellos" he receives from men who, as freshmen, greeted everyone under threat of a padding by Konosioni, the senior honor society. What started as a forced mutter from bewildered freshmen grows to a ready habit and finally becomes a matter of pride, until much genuine warmth is in every salutation.
Few Colgates in the Arts
But the warmth and friendliness are seldom tried by any contact with surly individualism. Non-conformists don't seem to choose Colgate, and there is no little band of intellectuals to introduce an air of apathetic bohemianism. The students place little emphasis on the arts, prefering such solids as Economics and Psychology for their majors. If the administration is at times a bit wistful over the scarcity of Colgate graduates in the arts, there is solace in pointing to the fine record of Colgate men in the more practical graduate work. Especially proud is Colgate of being the only school to have two men in one year win Root-Tilden scholarships to NYU Law School.
But intense intellectualism which excludes the finer points of gracious living has little place in Colgate's easy-going atmosphere. Only the Young Democrat's club, a stripling organization, takes up the engaging business of steadily dissenting from most widely held opinions. These conservative left-wingers pass ringing resolutions, hold sparsely attended forums condemning the Administration, and generally have no effect on the political climate. There is, in fact, little concern with any but local politics, and the Young Republicans hold more dances than debates.
The faculty, according to one department director, makes periodic attempts to "develop a more studious atmosphere." But the Core system, which is the apple of Colgate's academic eye, and is like an intensive composite of Harvard's General Education program combined with the preceding Rules of Distribution precludes the picayune study that is the basis for intense scholarship Rather, most courses at Colgate are of the survey variety, aimed at a smattering of culture in many times and lands.
Starting with a required course in Philosophy and Religion, Freshmen are whisked through the great books and ideas of western man. Lighting on original texts, the student has just begun to sip the nectar when he is driven off on a different track. Anticipating the probable requirements of an educated business man in a literate world, the Core courses prepare Colgate men for cocktail party chatter, arming them with a general knowledge of comprehensive fields. For instance, the catalogue lists Core 10, the literature course prescribed for Juniors, as seeking "primarily to develop in the student the intelligent enjoyment of literature.
And as the administration provides for a common base of knowledge, so does it insist on close attendance for those whose grades are not distinguished. More than three unexcused absences in any course for a student whose average is below 2.6 (C plus) means failure in that course.
Ties for Sunday
Also, certain standards of conduct are formally required. Enforced mostly by public opinion, such rules as a car ban for underclassmen, parietal rules for fraternitay houses and dormitories, and the wearing of jacket and tie for Sunday dinner in the Student Union are the responsibility of the newly-appointed "campus protor."
Admitting that the proctor had several year's experience as police chief in a neighboring town, officials hasten to point out that he is ununiformed. But when asked about the "campus proctor," many Colgate men answer. "Oh, you mean the cop."
As in its academic and social aspects, the keynote of the college's religious life is moderation.
Religion in a Quiet Way
Continuing chapel services in what the catalogue describes as "the Protestant tradition," the college demands attendance at two student meetings per week. But since this requirement can be filled by auditing student government meetings, there is no religious compulsion. In this tolerant, pray-as-you-go condition, religion flourishes in a quiet way, and Sunday services are well attended even after party week-ends. Moreover, Kenneth Morgan, the college chaplain (a post created in 1946) is highly spoken of by the student body. He is, incidently, no Baptist, but a Friend.
Colgate, then, is a non-vocational business school. There, men prepare themselves for jobs by learning the thought process rather than concentrating on such mechanical skills as accounting. More important, by the social training of fraternity life, they develop a keen preception of the requirements for a happy life in the communities to which they will return. Delving into the sciences and the arts, Colgate men build up a fund of interests to serve them in their future lives.