University of Connecticut, President's Office Records [Albert N. Jorgensen, 1935-1962]
Scope and Content
These records consist of the general correspondence of Albert N. Jorgensen, who was President of the University of Connecticut from 1935 to 1962. The correspondence is arranged alphabetically by topic within each academic year in one series. Because some of the Jorgensen papers were apparently inadvertently destroyed before they reached the University Archvies, there is correspondence missing for the years 1942-1943, 1943-1944, 1945-1946, 1946-1947, and 1951-1952.
- undated, 1935-1962
The collection is open and available for research.
Restrictions on Use
Permission to publish from these Papers must be obtained in writing from both the University of Connecticut Libraries and the owner(s) of the copyright.
Like some of his predecessors, Albert Nels Jorgensen was born and educated in the Midwest, where the tradition of land-grant higher education his historically strong. He attended Coe College in Iowa and took a Ph.D. in Educational Administration at Eastern Michigan College and at the University of Buffalo, he did important scholarly work in the field of educational measurement and evaluation. In 1935, at the relatively young age of 36, he was appointed the seventh president of Connecticut State College, succeeding Charles C. McCracken.
Despite the hard economic circumstance of those times, Dr. Jorgensen brought to this office a far-sighted vision of a great public institution at Storrs. He immediately launched a vigorous campaign to persuade state agencies and civic organizations of the value of the College to the state, and of its need for more adequate support. In 1938, he presented an ambitions long-range plan for the physical development of the College, asking 23 million dollars from an historically resistant state legislature for the construction of a library, dormitories, and other needed facilities. In justifying his request, Dr. Joegensen pointed to the 31% increase in enrollment since he had taken office in 1935. Due in part to the President's persuasiveness and prestige, and in part to the changing climate of opinion, he was able to win support for his building program. The progress made by the institution in Dr. Jorgensen's first years was ratified by the changing of its name to the University of Connecticut in 1939. The Wilbur L. Cross Library, and impressive symbol of the institution's new status, was also built in 1939. President Jorgensen succeeded in maintaining his program for the physical development of the University during World War II by taking advantage of federal funds available through New Deal programs, although some major projects had to be put off because of wartime shortages of materials.
When the nation returned to peacetime, its colleges and universities were faced with the formidable task of meeting the demands for higher education made by the wave of veterans returning with the new GI Bill in hand. Under the imaginative leadership of President Jorgensen, the University of Connecticut became a leader in this work, establishing new University branches in Hartford, Waterbury and Fort Trumbull (New London), and increasing its enrollment from 1200 in 1939 to more than 7500 by 1947. While the effects of the veterans' wave were still being felt, other important needs in the University's physical plant were filled. President Jorgensen, a strong proponent of college athletics, vastly improved the University's facilities with the construction of the Physical Education Building in 1950, and its later addition, and Memorial Stadium in 1953. The North Campus dormitories relieved a great shortage of housing in 1950, and the long-awaited Student Union opened in 1953.
While the needs for the physical development of the campus might have been most pressing, and the accomplishments in this area most evident, President Jorgensen was equally concerned with maintaining and upgrading the quality of the University's academic programs. The most important academic changes during his administration were in the development and strengthening of graduate work and research. The Graduate School was founded in 1940, and the University awarded its first Ph.D. in 1949. By the end of the Jorgensen era in 1962, doctoral programs were being offered in more than sixty fields. In another measure of the improvement in the academic standing of the institution, there was but one national honorary society represented on the campus in 1935. By 1960, the Silver Anniversary of the Jorgensen Presidency, twenty-six national honorary societies had established chapters at the University, including Phi Beta Kappa in 1956.
President Jorgensen also helped the University of Connecticut to establish a strong reputation as a defender of academic freedom. He insisted as a prerequisite for his acceptance of the position her in 1935 that the Trustees suspend a rule prohibiting discussion of the issue of compulsory military training on the campus. During World War II he defended the right to due process of a member of the University staff of foreign origin who was accused of disloyal acts. He also resisted outside pressure to dismiss a staff member who had come under suspicion during the McCarthy era.
During the last decade of his administration, President Jorgensen continued the development of the University and the advancement of its academic standards. New academic buildings and dormitories were built to meet the steadily increasing enrollment. New University branches were opened in Stamford and Torrington. The University also began to build an enviable reputation as a center for research financed by grants from the federal government and private foundations. The campus' social and cultural life was enhanced by the opening of Jorgensen Auditorium in 1956, which has brought numerous fine artistic productions to the campus in years since.
Dr. Jorgensen retired in 1962 after 27 years in office, one of the longest tenures of any American university president. His years of service as President are coincided with the rise of the University of Connecticut from a small, even obscure, college of 800 students to the great public institution that it is today. He is perhaps best remembered as the architect of the University campus. Most of the permanent buildings on the campus today are monuments to the energy, ability and vision of President Jorgensen. But he was more than just a “bricks and mortar man.” As President Glenn W. Ferguson said at the passing of Dr. Jorgensen in 1978, he was also “a 'builder' in the philosophical sense; a champion of academic freedom, a person who recognized that excellence is the critical quest for a university, who created this university from a state college, and who built an institution that cared about its future and cared about that quest for excellence.”
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Language of Materials
When Connecticut State College became the University of Connecticut in 1939, the new laws and By-laws stated that, “the President of the University is the executive and administrative officer of the Board [of Trustees]. In this capacity he is responsible for the operations of the University and is given authority requisite to that end.” This is the mandate under which President Jorgensen worked throughout his long service as President of the University. The President was also designated as “chairman of the University Senate and of the several schools and colleges.” ” The administrative reorganization authorized by President Jorgensen for the University in 1939 placed direct responsibility for the schools and colleges. President Jorgensen was thus able to devote all his energies chiefly to the fulfillment of his plans for the overall development of the University.
The Free Speech Issue concerns the Trustees statement forbidding students from public agitation or discussion of military training on campus. This subseries contains letter, telegrams, and petitions addressed to Jorgensen, his predecessor President McCracken, Trustee Arthur Greene, the Governor Wilbur Cross.
Regulations and Policies contains a number of administrative policy statements of President Jorgensen's tenure ranging from teaching loads to athletics to grievances. This subseries supplements the policy statements found in Series I; it is not complete in itself. The material is arranged alphabetically by topic.
75th Anniversary contains some of the correspondence, planning documents and programs associated with the 1956-1957 celebration of the University's 75th anniversary.
Jorgensen Speeches delivered by the President are arranged chronologically by date of delivery. This subseries includes many convocation and commencement addresses.
Series I: Correspondence (1935-1962)folder titles generally refer to the subject of the correspondence or to the individual or agency with whom the correspondence is concerned.
Series II: Subject Files (1935-1962) are further subdivided by topic: Free Speech Issue (1935), Regulations and Policies (1935-1962), the 75th Anniversary (1956-1957), and Speeches (1935-1959). This series constitutes a later addition to the records.
The records of President Albert N. Jorgensen (1935-62) were stored in Gulley Hall until 1962, when they were moved to the attic of Beach Hall. During the time they were there, some of the Jorgensen papers apparently were inadvertently destroyed.
In 1968, the records were brought to the Special Collections Department of the Wilbur Cross Library. They were transferred to the Historical Manuscripts and Archives Division of the University of Connecticut Library in August 1979, and were arranged and described in the summer of 1980. Materials filed in Series II were received between 1983 and 1985.
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- University of Connecticut, President's Office Records [Albert N. Jorgensen, 1935-1962]
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