Phi Kappa Upsilon: Origins

A Narrative By Gary Lowell - Pledged Spring 1964

At the end of the 1929-1930 school year,

Detroit cannot escape the downward momentum of the national economy. Many businesses are downsizing or closing.

U of D has not announced any changes as many believe the downturn is only temporary.

Students at U of D are hearing rumors that the job part of their co-op education is in jeopardy and there may be changes to their classes as well.

Dean Lawrence assures the students that the co-op program is healthy and their education will not be affected by the economy.

Over the summer Dean Lawrence continues to have conversations with the leaders and middle managers in industry where his students do their co-op work.

1930-1931 School Year

In the fall of 1930, as the new school year begins and, in response to both the continuing-to-deteriorate economy and ongoing meetings with his industry middle manager contacts, Dean Lawrence announces the creation of free classes for industry foremen – two three-hour classes each week for each of three school years. Students will be nominated for these classes by their middle managers.3 This program is separate from the regular tuition-paying co-op engineering students and, despite reservations from the administration, is allowed to proceed. It fits the church run college’s mission, does not seem a burden, and is a way to address the current economic conditions. As the fall enrollment figures come in, while the University as a whole sees a drop in enrollment, the Engineering Department shows a small increase.4

While the free classes were initially designed to accommodate 250 students, many more apply. To formally welcome the selected students, now referred to interchangeably as “foremen” or “middle managers” and characterized as “ideal students [ ] hungry for knowledge to this new system of education”, Dean Lawrence convenes an initial meeting at the U. of D. Engineering Department. Four hundred thirty five “middle manager” students attend.5 By the end of the month, there are 550 students in this new foreman’s course. These foremen/students come from 150 different Detroit industrial concerns. It is noted that these tuition-free students get the same education as tuition-paying students minus the “theory”. 6 At a time where U. of D., like all institutions, is

April 3, 2016

Page 2 of 11

Charles Lindbergh makes the first nonstop solo transatlantic flight.

Popular vaudevillian Al Jolson is in The Jazz Singer, the first feature-length talkie.

Philo T. Farnsworth demonstrates the first all- electronic television.

Ford’s Model T production ends in Highland Park. Model A begins at River Rouge.


Stock market prices plummet. U.S. securities lose $26 billion, marking the first financial disaster of the Great Depression.

St. Valentine's Day

gangland massacre in


The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI opens. President & Mrs. Hoover and Thomas Edison are here for the event.

Ambassador Bridge opened between Detroit and Windsor – the longest suspension bridge in world when built.

William S. Paley founds CBS.

Penicillin is first used to fight an infection.

Wyatt Earp dies in his sleep at 80.