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Maine Day is a beloved tradition at the University of Maine. Established by President Hauck in 1935, most classes are cancelled the Wednesday before finals to allow students a chance to “spring clean” the campus before enjoying BBQ, ooze ball, and music by the Stillwater. Of course, many students chose to “celebrate” Maine Day in other ways that are perhaps more representative of Maine Day’s beginnings. President Hauck created Maine Day in the 1930s a as substitute for the annual freshmen-sophomore class wars. The major events included campus improvement projects, a mayoral race, and a student-faculty skit. While work projects were always the heart of Maine Day, other traditions emerged, often bringing hilarity to what many have criticized as a day of free labor for the University. Examples from the 1960s mayoral races reveal the influence of that simultaneously careful and controversial decade in Maine:
From Caesar to the “Pocket-sized Playboy with his entourage of Playboy bunnies,” the costumes ran the gamut of imagination. Though the costumes were a bonus in the creative department, contenders garnered votes by getting in touch with their daredevil sides by swallowing goldfish or racing bicycles around the field house roof.
The highlight of the mayoralty races was in 1962 when “Nero the Zero,” Paul Graves, was the first freshman to ever be elected, riding circles around his competitors in a chariot drawn by two white horses and dressed in a toga. His campaign platform may have had something to do with his popularity in addition to the props. For the students of 1962, promises of mass orgies on the mall and a pipeline to be built between UMaine and the Carling Brewery in Massachusetts were too good to pass up.
In honor of Maine Day, we’ve collected several posts related to the history of the University of Maine. We hope you enjoy.
Known initially as the GI Wives Club, and later as “Mrs. Maine” club, a small group of mid-century student wives achieved remarkable improvements for all families at the University of Maine. What began as an organization for student wives evolved by the mid-1950s into a popular campus club, regularly featured in the yearbook, and open to all married women students or wives of students. Using records from the University archives, college yearbooks, and newspaper articles as by evidence, I argue they used their status as both veterans’ wives and mothers to push for long-term university support of their campus projects: a cooperative day care center and a children’s health clinic. Read More.
The Phi Gamma Delta House and the Movement toward Recognition of Campus Historical Resources at the University of Maine
The Maine Historic Preservation Commission (MHPC) announced recently that eight Maine structures were added to the National Register of Historic Places, including the Phi Gamma Delta House. According to the Bangor Daily News article, the Phi Gamma Delta House was added in recognition of its “architecture and its association with the educational programs” at the University of Maine. According to the MHPC, the Phi Gamma Delta House assists “the University of Maine in its mission to provide a college education in Orono,” by providing living space for fraternity brothers. Further, the structure is an example of a specific building style, it is the only Tudor-style building on campus, and a specific building type, fraternity house. The Omega chapter of Phi Gamma Delta International Fraternity was founded at the University of Maine in 1899 and is known on campus by the nickname FIJI. The fraternity financed the building in 1925 as a chapter house and it continues to serve in that capacity with dormitories, study rooms, public spaces, a kitchen, and meeting hall. Few interior or exterior renovations since 1925 leave this structure much in its original condition. Notable Maine architect firm, Crowell and Lancaster, designed the structure. The Phi Gamma Delta House joins several other properties on the University of Maine campus already listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Maine Experiment Station Barn (separately listed in 1990), the Edith Marion Patch House (separately listed in 2001), and the University of Maine at Orono Historic District established in 1978 which is comprised of the campus’ earliest buildings, Lord Hall (1904), Alumni Hall (1901), Holmes Hall (1888), Winslow (1909), the Pavilion Theatre (1908), Maples Hall (1877), Carnegie (1907), the President’s House (1873), Coburn Hall (1888), Fernald Hall (1870). Read More.
Little Hall was constructed during a period of dynamic growth, shifting identity, and changing priorities at the University of Maine. Drafted in 1960, A Growing University, 1960-1970: A Long Range Plan for the Campus of the University of Maine at Orono, a master plan for the campus’ physical plant by Alonzo J. Harriman Inc., suggests the difficulties of campus planning. Enrollment at the University was projected to double to approximately 8,000 undergraduate students by 1970. Administrators expected a greater demand for University resources from a “tremendous post-war crop of elementary school children,” than the immediate post-war enrollment boom spurred by the G.I. Bill. The 1960 Master Plan suggests administers and planners were narrowly focused on the projected expansion of enrollment and the growth necessary to accommodate an increasing student body. Growth appears in the plan as the focus and today’s concerns for environmental and economic sustainability, care for historical resources, and the creation of a living and learning community were largely subsumed to the need to expand, “If the expansion of the University is to be accomplished in a logical manner, it is necessary to develop a long range plan of growth . . . Care must be taken that long term growth is in no way hampered.” Read More.
More information about Maine Day available here.
 Khela Kupiec, “Maine Day enriched in university tradition,” The Maine Campus (1 May 2006), http://mainecampus.com/2006/05/01/maine-day-enriched-in-university-tradition/.
Image Credit: http://www.umainealumni.com/