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Hart Rembembers Gemmell Years


Walter L. Hart retired in 1977 as admissions director at Clarion State College and took a brief look back at his years at Clarion since 1940, covering the Chandler and Gemmell years.

  • In September 1940 when there were 20 teachers, seven buildings, and only 300 students. Now, there are 27 buildings, 300 teachers and 5,000 students.
  • In September 1943, during the war, there were only 125 students — 100 women and 25 men. Some teachers had teaching schedules of 25 hours.
  • My salary offer of $1,990 when I first visited Clarion.
  • Snows stayed longer, except in 1976. Fraternities had snow-sculpturing contests. Some sculptures were two stories high.
  • I served as first proctor of the first men’s residence hall, Egbert Hall, built by WPA labor. I could identify every student who lived there by his steps in the hallway.
  • All freshman girls had to observe a 7 pm curfew.
  • Clarion’s first All-American football player, Bill Sheridan, in 1941.
  • The choir’s budget In 1940-41. Sixty students had to tour and buy music on a budget of $90.
  • President Chandler reimbursing faculty out of his own pocket at the rate of two cents a mile when faculty went on recruiting trips.
  • The aircrew of 300 men stationed on our campus for a year in 1943. They were mostly southern fellows who had never experienced a Yankee winter. I taught air regulations to all as they received their first six hours of flight instruction at Parker Cramer airfield. A half dozen of these men married Clarion girls, including Johnny Garneau and Dr. Polatty.
  • The first Clarion College band originated in 1948 with only 35 musicians. The band did not have uniforms for four or five years. When uniforms were awarded, they marched with five sousaphones, but only one player had a mouthpiece —- the other four marchers couldn’t play. Sousaphones were purchased from Army surplus at the rate of five cents a pound.
  • Dr. Gemmell replaced Dr. Chandler, who retired in 1960. At that time, we had a faculty of 66 and an enrollment of 1,000.
  • I remember the first director of admissions. He took office in 1957, when enrollment was 764, and retired in 1977. Enrollment at time of retirement was 5,000.
  • Clarion’s first wrestling team in l957-58. Record was 4-3. The team became an instant success.
  • I remember when Clarion became a multi-purpose school by increasing undergraduate degrees from one to rune and adding 15 graduate programs.
  • I remember the first swim team which was an instant success — then came gymnastics.
  • The first gymnastics team which was an instant success. No school in the nation can boast a total athletic success as can Clarion in the last five years. We are also equally good in forensic competition (debate and singles events at the national level).
  • I remember Dr. (Clayton) Sommers who succeeded Dr. Gemmell, who retired in 1976. After spanning the tenures of Dr. Chandler and Dr. Gemmell (37 years), I have decided that Dr. Sommers could not reasonably expect me to do the same for him.