The College evolved from Woodrow Wilson Lodge, which was founded in 1957 by a dozen members of the Class of 1959 ``to provide a place where individuals . . . could be accepted for what they are and not forced to conform to the narrow specifications of Bicker [eating club elections]. . . .'' Membership burgeoned several years later when Darwin R. Labarth '61, a class officer led a large group of his classmates into its ranks. Madison Hall, one of the University's dining halls, served as the common dining and social facility until 1961, when the organization moved to the newly completed Wilcox Hall. It thereupon changed its name to the Woodrow Wilson Society to reflect the wider objectives and diversity made possible by its new facilities and by the inclusion of sophomores in its membership.
In these early years, social activities -- hayrides in horse-drawn wagons, rock bands, dances, and the lik~e -- were made possible by fees paid voluntarily by members who wished to participate. The University provided money for educational purposes, spent with the advice and consent of the Master-in-Residence. As part of its effort to integrate the social and intellectual sides of undergraduate life, the Society sponsored foreign-language tables, evening lectures, art exhibits, music recitals, film series, and poetry and informal play readings. These activities were strengthened by the faculty fellow program, which brought faculty members into the life of the Society and enhanced informal contacts between faculty and students.
In 1967, Julian Jaynes, then master-in-residence, proposed to the University that the Society become a truly residential entity. Accordingly, Woodrow Wilson College was created the following spring, with membership open to all four classes. Whereas previously members had lived in scattered dormitories, they were now required not only to eat at Wilcox but also to reside in the six dormitories in the surrounding quadrangle. In addition to the master, an associate master and two assistant masters-in-residence were named. Apartments in the dormitories were set aside for eight resident faculty fellows; the number of associate fellows swelled to nearly a hundred. Resident advisers were appointed among the junior, senior, and graduate student members to advise incoming freshmen, and a faculty member was named academic adviser. The College itself continued to be directed by student officers and committees chosen by the membership.
Wilcox Hall was remodeled to provide study carrels, seminar rooms, an art studio, a coffee shop, a darkroom, and a small theater in the basement. A successful drama program, which produced several plays each year, a weekly film series, and a literary magazine, the Catalyst, were among the tangible results of this reorganization.
From 1966 to 1968, student-initiated seminars were offered in an experimental college, founded under the leadership of Daniel Altman '67. In the early 1970s, the Woodrow Wilson ``Knight'' School provided training in such areas as auto mechanics, bartending, drawing, music theory, baking, foreign languages, bicycle repair and maintenance, and bridge.
Masters-in-residence have greatly contributed to Wilson's success since its inception: James Ward Smith, Professor of Philosophy, 1963-1965; Julian Jaynes, Lecturer in Psychology, 1966-1969; John V. Fleming, Professor of English, 1969-1972; Henry N. Drewry, Lecturer in History, 1972-1975; and Norman Itzkowitz, Professor of Near Eastern Studies, 1975-.
Mark I. Davies
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