Putting it in perspective: Erskine anniversaries past

Posted on September 1, 2014

Haldeman crop 2

Richard Haldeman

Richard Haldeman offered dedicated service to Erskine under five presidents, teaching journalism, producing press releases, editing the alumni magazine and other publications, covering sports events, and much more. An honorary alumnus, he retired as Director of Public Relations in 1995 and was recognized that year by the College News Association. He received the Erskine Service Award in 2012. He is married to Professor Emerita of Biology Dr. Janice Haldeman, who joined the faculty in 1967-68. As we move closer to the 175th anniversary celebration planned for Oct. 17, he recalls Erskine anniversary celebrations and associated events over the course of his long career.

I feel fortunate to have been part of three anniversary celebrations at Erskine College, each occurring during a critical time in its history.

The “Double A” observance of 1963-64 celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Living Endowment (annual fund) and the 125th anniversary of Erskine College. It also launched a financial campaign leading to the construction of Watkins Student Center, Lesesne Auditorium, and Belk Hall.

Special brochures were produced, including “Anniversary Review Preview” on Erskine’s ARP heritage. The year ended with a pageant by the Erskine Players. Honorary campaign co-chairs were Dr. R.C. Grier ’10, Erskine president from 1921-54, and distinguished physician Dr. J.R. Young ’01, whose friendship with Homozel Mickel Daniel later led to the largest bequest ever received by Erskine. The campaign’s success owed much to Alumni Director Winnie Phillips ’41.

While the 125th Anniversary in 1963-64 was a yearlong celebration, Erskine’s 150th Anniversary Sesquicentennial featured dozens of events packed into the spring of 1989. These culminated in an Alumni Day program with a crowd overflowing Galloway Center and the 1989 commencement featuring a speech by retired U.S. Chief Justice Warren Burger. Russell Harris ’67 chaired the Sesquicentennial Commission, while U.S. Appeals Court Judge Jean Galloway Bissell ’56 organized activities and invited Burger to speak.

Opening Sesquicentennial events was a “Back to Our Roots” Choraleers tour of Scotland in March, accompanied by many alumni, faculty, and staff. In April, focus on ARP roots continued with “A Service of Psalms” led by the Choraleers and ARP church choirs. The Student Christian Association hosted a 150th birthday party during which a time capsule was buried beside the Erskine Building.

The Euphemian Literary Society also celebrated its 150th anniversary in April with a banquet at which a Euphemian Hall of Fame was established. The youngest inductee was pianist Mac Frampton ’66, who later performed a Sesquicentennial Concert. (It seems fitting that Mac’s son, Will Frampton ’03, is playing a role in the 175th celebration with his work on a documentary about Erskine.)

The Board of Counselors spring meeting in 1989 introduced the Academic Hall of Fame, a recognition of academic achievements by alumni.

Dot wise outside for news site

Dot Wise ’39

The Centennial Class of 1939, celebrating its 50th reunion on Alumni Day, presented a $30,000 gift for its Centennial Scholarship program. Dot Simpson Wise, a member of that class, recently brought her Erskine days to life for current students when she was interviewed by Will Frampton at a convocation in the fall of 2013.

At an Alumni Day program attended by more than 1,400 alumni and friends, Bissell and Laurie Brice, retired superintendent of John de la Howe School, received Sullivan Awards. Wofford College President Dr. J.M. (Joe) Lesesne ’59 and retiring Erskine professor and administrator Dr. Charles H. Carlisle spoke about Erskine’s history.

An alumni concert, a balloon launch, tributes to Due West and the ARP Church, and a Sesquicentennial Prayer of Dedication by Dr. W.C. (Chap) Lauderdale ’49 concluded the day. The oldest participant at Alumni Day 1989 was the Rev. Dr. Roscoe T. Nelson ’15 of Lake Wales, Fla.

The next day, Chief Justice Burger addressed 110 graduates. The Sesquicentennial Year was chronicled in four issues of Erskine Is…. covering Erskine’s 150-year history.

Casting a shadow over Alumni Day and commencement was the resignation May 19 of Erskine President Dr. William Bruce Ezell. Dr. Henry G. Hollingsworth, Jr. became acting president, bringing the Sesquicentennial to a close with a fall convocation and doing a superb job of leading Erskine in 1989-90.

Looking back over 50 years, I grieve the loss of a generation with deep connections to the heritage of Erskine College and the ARP Church. Perhaps the greatest loss occurred with the death of Judge Bissell in 1990.

I pray that the 175th Anniversary celebration will bring Erskine’s constituencies together in the common cause of providing Christian higher education for future generations.