"Protest marked Kuhn years"

Fifth in a series
Retriever (Volume 16, Number 9)
October 25, 1981
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UMBC opened its doors to 700 students in September of 1966. Dr. Albin O. Kuhn, who was then vice president of the University of Maryland, was given direction of the campus and had high hopes for its success. In a Retriever article published September 19, 1966, Dr. Kuhn welcomed students, "Teamwork has marked the development of this new campus and we believe you will find it a contiguous part of campus life."

On opening day, UMBC boasted a three building campus and a 37 member faculty. During the first year, only freshman level courses were offered, and tuition was a staggering $142 per semester.

Academic requirements included a minimum of 0.35 grade point average for the privilege of continuing as a student, and a 1.35 cumulative average after a second semester of attendance.

Student activities include a student government association, a student newspaper, a literary magazine. and a soccer team.

In March of 1967, UMBC disclosed plans for a $125,000 activities building. The plans called for construction of the building during spring and summer of 1967 for a possible September 1967 opening. That building, which is now houses UMBC's bookcenter, was them planned to "provide space for general student recreation, for the Student Health Services and for the Bookstore."

There were also other logistic differences at UMBC during that time. The Hillcrest building was the Administration building, the Academic building, which is now the Biology building, housed two floors of a very limited library, and what is now known as Gym I was then simply referred to as, "The Multipurpose Building." Plans for a triple decker library had been made but it was expected to be several years before those plans materialized.

UMBC's first year was a rather low-key, settling year. Faculty were busy getting used to their new jobs, students were getting used to their new school.

Soccer, basketball, lacrosse and baseball kept a few student athletes busy and a few fans entertained, while the Otis Redding concert held during Spring Week captivated others. The school year ended on an official note May 8, 1967 by a convocation over which University of Maryland President Wilson Elkins presided.

In his message, Elkins recognized that never ending changes would be associated with UMBC, and that progress had been made.

In fall of 1967 UMBC opened its doors to 900 new students, almost double 1966's opening day enrollment. On opening day of classes Dr. Albin Kuhn, the chancellor of the campus, gave his address as he did during the fall of 1966. In his address, Kuhn discussed the university, its role, and its students:

"Our enrollment will be in the neighborhood of 1500 students, which is double that of the first year. The campus will be crowded during the first semester. This will make it a little more difficult for all of us to proceed with academic and extra curricular activities," commented Dr. Kuhn, "it will require greater patience on the part of each person on campus."

Dr. Kuhn also addressed objectives of universities in general and UMBC in specific. He commented directly on that role. "The primary objective that dominated the development of this campus was the offering of educational opportunity for students who seriously wish to pursue a university education and the development of new knowledge to serve mankind."

Dr. Kuhn further extended his ideas and views on the improvement of extra curricular activities, the importance of them to the college experience and their growth at UMBC. "We will work with you toward further development of extra curricular activities that will add to your enjoyment and growth as individuals. Such activities have first priority of your time and energy."

With these comments, the new school year was underway. Students were actively in gear at UMBC, as the SGA elections, student concerts and dances were in the vigorous planning stages. The student government elections were planned for October 4, 1967 with candidates anxious to file.

After a fall semester filled with student government controversy over rules and procedures. UMBC students staged their first major protest. On the first Tuesday of December 1967, Marine recruiters, with the permission of the administration, stationed themselves in the UMBC cafeteria lobby to present to the students a program of Marine Corps officer training, and answered questions for students.

Shortly after the program began, eight UMBC students positioned themselves across from the recruiters with the aid of a PA system and leaflets began protesting the presence of the Marines at the university. The anti-war demonstration was characterized by a noisy crowd that at times exceeded 100 people. A representative from the Corps stated that these protests were common occurences at all campuses and were only somewhat inhibiting.

Another controversial student issue arose when in early March of 1968 the Student Life Office of UMBC cancelled all campus social functions. The reason given for the move was "student conduct at an SGA sponsored mixer where no chaperones were used and outside guests entered the event, unescorted by UMBC students." There were several incidents of misconduct at the affair and Art Libby, the Student Life Office director, decided this measure should be taken. However, two weeks later Libby restored student activities after a meeting with the SGA Executive Board. At the meeting Libby was "assured that the Board would accept authority and responsibility granted to it for the proper conduct and administration of future student social and cultural events."


Continue to part six, "Campus plans overlooked blacks"
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