Viewing category '1950s'
1950s as told by a 1981 history written for the School’s 20th Anniversary and the University’s Centennial.
The School of Fine Arts did its first comprehensive retrospective essay in observance of its 20th Anniversary in 1981. We will present the bulk of the text of “The School of Fine Arts: A Space Odyssey 1961-1981” divided into the decades it chronicled, at the beginning of each of the decades of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s so the reader can see firsthand the perspective of some thirty years ago. Hereafter, the document will be cited as “Space Odyssey, 1961-1981.” Page numbers, absent from the original document, are supplied in [square brackets].
Provost Albert E. Waugh called for creation of a School of Fine Arts
In 1950, Albert E. Waugh was appointed University Provost by President Albert Jorgensen. Combining high hopes for UConn’s future with high standards of excellence, Waugh was a significant force in the process which led to the founding of a School of Fine Arts. Pointing to the contributions the School would make to the cultural, educational, and artistic dynamics of the campus, the region, and the State, he wrote, “I am convinced that the establishment of a separate School of Fine Arts would be a step toward better understanding and awareness of the nature of our institution, and that it would result in more effective uses by our young people of the facilities which have been provided for them.”
Art Department formed in the College of Arts and Sciences
Upon its creation in 1951, the newly formed Art Department opened office, classroom, and other spaces in temporary, military-styled buildings in South Campus. In 1955, the construction of the Albert N. Jorgensen Auditorium provided the Art Department and its patrons with a modern gallery space for exhibits of all kinds. In 1959, The Art Department moved its quarters to the new Fine Arts Building (now known as Drama/Music Building) which replaced the temporary South Campus buildings known as ”Siberia.”
Student Union home to Drama productions
The newly constructed Student Union Building joined Hawley Armory is a site for numerous dramatic productions and performance events.
“Life with Mother,” based on the stories of Clarence Day Howard, and presented by Speech and Drama, was the first arena style production to be done in the Student Union Ballroom.
Fine Arts Festival an annual event during the 1950s
The Fine Arts Festival was an annual event on campus beginning in 1953. It signaled that a newly enlivened atmosphere for campus fine arts activities had been generated by the addition to the faculty of new leaders in the arts and by the construction of the new Student Union Building and, later, the Jorgensen Auditorium. Such robust growth of activity in the arts propelled the University toward the official founding of the School of Fine Arts in 1961.
Walter Meigs appointed Head of Art Department
Walter Meigs appointed Head of Art Department, served 1953-1961.
Fight song published
“UConn Husky” was written by Herbert France and first published in the second edition (1954) of “UConn Songs.” Huskies of today know at least the version for band.
Both first (1940) and second (1954) editions include a notworthy foreword by President Jorgensen.
Ihrke Leads University Convocation Committee, Initiates a new Arts Series
Like the Fine Arts Festival before it, the newly appointed University Convocation Committee’s Arts Series was a welcomed sign of an increased interest in fine arts activities on campus. It was also the precursor to the many fine series offered today by the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts, as well as yet another sign that a School of Fine Arts was in UConn’s future. The strong leadership and vision of Walter Ihrke at this juncture represented a vital and necessary counterpart and reinforcement to those of President Jorgensen. Ihrke was a significant transitional figure between the initiatives of President Jorgensen, and those of President Homer Babbidge, Jr. who would soon assume the Presidency of the University.
Jorgensen Auditorium opened
A modern, spacious and well-equipped hall with outstanding acoustics for musical and dramatic performances of all kinds, the newly created Auditorium was initially known as the “University Auditorium.” Beneath the Auditorium is a comfortably spacious art gallery.
Early performers at the Auditorium
Performers at Jorgensen during the Auditorium’s third season, 1957.