Heroine arrives for speech program

Editor’s note: This is a series of columns by John Malcolm on his “50 years at Fredonia.” Retired, he is a professor emeritus at Fredonia State.

Henry Youngerman continued building the speech science program, which grew to its current prominence and importance under his kind and wise leadership. He, too, is one of my heroes.

Debate as a co or extracurricular activity continued under Dr. Alan McLeod but ended with his leaving. The debate program had been a good one. In one year the debate team defeated one of national champion Cornell University’s teams. It had also participated in many national debates, including the Harvard tournament.

Radio, television and film continued to be taught, but for a time, film appreciation, not production, was given the greatest attention because of the interest of the incumbent faculty member Eugene Klimek. A “Film Guild” was supported with an astounding for the time annual budget of $9,000 and ran films to packed houses until the late sixties. (Mason-Diers and Jewett-101.)

The campus radio station, WCVF, gained more members and expanded programming hours but lost some of its discipline without the formal departmental guidance as a co-curricular activity. The expanded hours led to the necessity for separate quarters for teaching and extracurricular activity – it has remained separate but now does share the same building, McEwen Hall, in the former graphics, photography, and film area.

In the early ’60s there was pressure by the new President Oscar Lanford, to get rid of the major. In defense a questionnaire was circulated by the faculty to “old” grads asking for support. Perhaps this had its effect. The returned letters pointed out that students had obtained jobs; many in teaching, and a significant number had gone on to graduate work. As noted previously still more had found careers in broadcasting, theatre and allied fields.

At this point our story has a heroine. (I’ve already listed some heroes.) Dr. Nancy Libby became chairman of English. She had been active in the old speech program teaching a composition course emphasizing script and scenario writing.

While the speech program did not grow above four faculty members (not counting speech science), it was supported adequately. The four all taught basic speech but were divided into specialties of theatre directing and acting, technical theatre, oral-interpretation-education and radio-TV.

John Malcolm is a Fredonia resident.