NOTHING MEDIOCRE ABOUT THIS MAN
by William Urban
It is a daunting task to sum up a significant portion of anyone's career. It is especially so in the case of Bruce Haywood. His fourteen years at Monmouth College were only the culmination of an active life which began in rural Yorkshire, then service in the British Army at the close of World War Two, study at distinguished universities in Canada and New England, teaching German literature at a very small mid-western liberal arts college, followed by increasingly responsible administrative positions at that college during the years it acquired a reputation for academic excellence. We are familiar with episodes of his curriculum vitae through his many speeches over the years to faculty and students, alumni and friends of the College, and to local service clubs; also through his editorials in College publications and local newspapers. Like any good rhetorician, he illustrated his message with concrete examples from life--often his own experiences in rising above a rigid class system in Britain, learning first-hand about Nazism, and in becoming an American.
Bruce Haywood's years at Monmouth have seen good periods and difficult ones. Those here at the time of his retirement may, being human, remember the more recent moments better than those further removed (or, for those new to the College community, who have no memory at all of those early days when Bruce Haywood seemed to possess a "golden touch" in terms of fund raising, balancing the budget and the associated salary increases). There were, certainly, very good days: Old-timers may remember the day we gathered in the gym to hear, almost unbelieving, Bruce Haywood announce Walter Huff's $5,000,000 gift.
Of course, we cannot simply list the accomplishments of the fourteen years and assume that nothing at all would have happened if someone else had sat in the president's chair during that period. Good times tend to spread their bounty even to the undeserving, and hard times often strike down the virtuous and hard-working along with those who refuse to work and to adapt to the changing times. However, if we reflect on what has been accomplished between 1980 and 1994 just in terms of the campus, we can individually decide the degree of success the Haywood administration enjoyed. In those years the College built an addition to the gymnasium which provided a large multi-use space, offices, dressing rooms, weight-lifting and racquetball facilities, a renovated swimming pool; a renovation of Wallace Hall, including the preparation of two rooms for audio-visual instruction; the construction of the Wells Theater, replacing the long-outmoded former gymnasium which had become the Little Theater in 1927; renovations in McMichael Academic to make it suitable for Art, Political Economy, and Career Development, including most recently the new equipment in the Poling Room; new computer facilities in Haldeman-Thiesen; opening up the top floor of the Hewes Library, repeated updating of the computer center's facilities and equipment, computerization of the library holdings and conversion to the Library of Congress system; renovating and renaming the Student Center, giving access to the Highlander Room via the new staircase, handicapped access, and a new dining area. The dormitories have all been modernized, the flood danger to the campus removed, and evening lighting improved. Parking spaces have been added, satisfying about as well as can be expected the ever-growing student demand (especially for places right next to the dining room entrance). The bookstore is more accessible to students. Every visitor remarks on the campus' beauty. Whatever the season, this is a beautiful campus.
What type of faculty did Bruce Haywood create? This is a very basic question, because the faculty of 1994 is a far different group than that which he inherited. The retirement of the World War Two generation gave him the opportunity to design a faculty which could carry out his liberal arts vision, and especially in his early years perhaps nothing interested him as much as recruiting and training new faculty. How well did he succeed? Well, we perhaps each have our own judgments on this. No one can escape national trends completely; and national trends of recent years have not favored the liberal arts philosophy, good manners, or salary increases. Higher marks in teaching excellence might go to Tom McMichael's faculty of the 1920's and perhaps Grier and Gibson's GI Bill crop, but on terms of feeling free to speak out, Bruce Haywood's faculty was in a class by itself.
What type of curriculum did this faculty develop during Bruce Haywood's tenure? It was innovative, exciting, demanding. It won national attention. Tremendous credit for its inception has to go to Bill Amy, who was dean, then acting president, when the broad outlines of the new curriculum were proposed; but it was Bruce Haywood's enthusiasm and eloquence which carried the course proposals and catalog language through the committee structure and the faculty meeting, which made us believe that we were in the vanguard of academic reform, and which persuaded our ACM sister colleges for the first time to take Monmouth College seriously. We knew that academic respectability had arrived, not when the US News and World Report began to list Monmouth College high on the list of outstanding regional colleges, but when ACM faculty members began to send their children here on tuition exchange.
Every successful chief executive stamps his personality upon an institution in a manner which lasts far longer than bricks. Since all educational institutions are given to the care of faculty and administrators only for a short time to operate on behalf of the alumni, the Senate and trustees, and the current students, it is not easy to make significant changes. We still sense the influence of David Wallace and Tom McMichael; the personalities of those great men loom larger than life, certainly larger than the memory of most of their successors, worthy men though they were, because the foundations they laid have proven so enduring and so laudable that their successors have not seen it necessary to do more structurally than repair the roof after storms, paint the exterior in contemporary colors, and add furnishings. On the other hand, each successive president has had to decide alone how many workmen and servants to hire and how to train them in their household duties. It is certainly too early to state definitely how in this context Bruce Haywood will be remembered, but certainly the vastly increased endowment, the greater level of alumni support, the four new academic chairs, the reputation for academic excellence, and the obviously attractive teaching and residence facilities will not be forgotten.
Old-timers will recall how he brought a renewed sense of dynamism and confidence to the College. Bruce Haywood had a way of making his presence felt in even the most crowded room: his deep, resonant voice; his physical size--his height, his rugby-player solidity and determination; and especially his total commitment to creating a true liberal arts educational experience for students here in western Illinois. Bruce Haywood impressed everyone in these years--faculty, Senate, politicians, ACM presidents, foundation heads, millionaires--and the impact of his personality carried over into favorable attitudes toward Monmouth College. There can be no doubt that the speeches he gave, and the essays he wrote, earned us the favorable comments by college presidents on which the first US News and World Report rating was based. Bruce Haywood did not seek to educate an elite. His personal experience with the rigid class system of Britain dissuaded him from that. He loved America for its democratic ideals and practices, for its providing opportunities to everyone who is willing and able to reach out and grasp them. Bruce Haywood believed, and eloquently persuaded us and many others to believe, that the liberal arts experience could provide ordinary students with the will and the ability to succeed personally in the world of work and, moreover, an understanding of their moral and civic duty to enjoy the good life and to make important contributions to their society.
In this sampling of his essays we see Bruce Haywood looking back on a career that few Yorkshire working class lads could have imagined. He reached maturity just as the Great Depression passed into the Second World War, his military service led him into literature, literature into the liberal arts, and the liberal arts brought him to Harvard. Had he been a typical faculty careerist, he would have sought an Ivy League appointment; instead, he went to Kenyon College in Ohio. There he became aware that administrators can do more to advance ideas than can language professors. Had he been an administrative careerist, he would probably not have become president of a small, relatively obscure college on the Illinois prairie; certainly, after achieving national recognition, he would not have stayed.
There have been strains in the faculty-administration relationship in recent years--in every way these were difficult years for higher education everywhere--but however we feel individually about Bruce Haywood's stewardship in this stressful period, anyone who reads this collection of essays is sure to agree that there was nothing mediocre about this man.