Phi Kappa Upsilon: Origins

A Narrative By Gary Lowell - Pledged Spring 1964

only beginning to feel financial pressure, the cost of supporting 550 students rather than 250 figure that sold the program to the administration is not welcome news but also not yet an overwhelming burden.

All the while, the whole Engineering Department continues to be praised.7

With the “foreman’s classes” underway, in the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Dean Lawrence announces he wants to hold a “foreman’s employment conference” calling upon the large industry officials who have in the past employed the regular engineering co-op students. The desired result of this conference is to determine what adjustments should be made in the “foreman’s classes” curriculum. The character of this advisory board is to be “interesting and informal.8 I believe this advisory board meeting is the seed that will grow into the Dynamic Club and eventually into the Phi Kappa Upsilon fraternity.

The advisory board meeting is at the Engineering building on December 10, 1930. Thirty-eight industrial executives meet to draw up a standard curriculum for the foreman’s classes with an eye to serving the employment needs industries of those in attendance.9

A post-meeting report states that the enrollment for the “foreman’s classes” would be expanded to 2000 students, a formal and ongoing advisory board comprised of these industry leaders in attendance is established, and the seeds of “Theory and Practice” are planted.10

A month later, on January 14, 1931, the committee’s work results in new detailed curriculum for the foreman’s classes. In completing this work, there continues to grow a closer relationship between Dean Lawrence and Detroit’s industrial leaders.11

On February 11, 1931 Dean Lawrence announces that the co-op arrangement is now to be joined by an option for students to attend classes without the working co-op side. The stated reason is, because of the growing unemployment problem, students could graduate a little earlier and therefore beat other university’s students to a job opportunity. On February 5, 1931, the advisory board meets and works out a plan of classes and, among other things, discusses having regular engineering seniors teach various foremen’s classes.12

On April 15, 1931, as Dean Lawrence copes with the deteriorating economic realities, he takes several steps to make sure all understand the direction he is taking with the Engineering Department.

Dean Lawrence gives a spirited 5-point defense of his free “foremen’s classes” in

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April 3, 2016

Page 3 of 11

US Unemployment rate is 2.9%


Detroit is the 4th largest city in the USA

New University of Detroit

High School facility is opens

Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act is passed by Congress and brings increased tariffs. U.S. foreign trade declines sharply, and the depression intensifies.

Grant Wood paints American Gothic.

Turkey renames Constantinople as Istanbul and Angora to Ankara.

President Hoover says that the stock market crash last year is just a temporary setback, would soon pass, and that the economy would soon bounce back

Chrysler Building in New York is completed. Costing $15,000,000 and shows the world that the American auto industry is the best in the world.

Radio is introduced as a $130 automobile accessory. The cost of the average new car in 1930 is $640.

Forty percent of the workers in Michigan's major cities are unemployed. Michigan's population falls by almost 30 percent.