Author Archives: Pat Higo

Buckminster Fuller and World Game at University of Detroit 1970

“the most important fact about spaceship earth: an instruction book didn’t come with it.” R. Buckminster Fuller

The World Game was an educational exercise in planning a more equitable and efficient  distribution of the worlds resources among all people. It was conceived and designed by Buckminster Fuller, who served as a visiting professor at U. of D.  for a year in the School of Architecture. Students could could earn up to eight credits as a graduate or undergraduate in the biology, sociology and education departments. At U. of D. the students centered their efforts in solving pollution and urban problems facing the universe. As part of a freshman semester project, U. of D. architecture students constructed a geodesic dome which was then turned into a World Game center.

Students used research materials that Buckminster Fuller had been gathering for 50 years.  The players accessed the World Resource Inventory at a computerized facility at the Edwardsville campus of Southern Illinois University. It included information from geography, meteorology, minerology, physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, sociology, anthropology, and ecology. (You have to remember-there was no such thing as the internet to use at this time)

Buckminster Fuller answers a student’s question on the implications of design.

In spite of the initial enthusiasm for the program, it did not survive after the first year at the University of Detroit. Plans to have a summer course failed-no students signed up. In addition to financial problems, there was a debate over the academic value of the course. When the World Game course was cancelled in 1971,  it was moved to Duns Scotus, a very small college of about 60 students, run for primarily Franciscan brothers and priests. The geodesic dome was demolished.

From Wikipedia: In 2001, a for-profit educational company named o.s. Earth, Inc. purchased the principal assets of the World Game Institute and has been offering a Global Simulation Workshop that is a ‘direct descendant of Buckminster Fuller’s famous World Game.

“Be sure you have a comfortable cup of tea” Catherine McAuley

As I was searching around the web looking for special days in January, I came across a page that had January as “Hot Tea Month“. It reminded me of a quote that  Catherine McAuley, the founder of the Religious Sisters of Mercy (RSM), said to one of her sisters on her deathbed: “Be sure you have a comfortable cup of tea for them when I am gone.” Since then a tea cup has become the symbol of Mercy hospitality.

From those early days in 1830′s in Ireland, the Sisters of Mercy spread their mission to help the poor, sick and unschooled throughout the world. The first Sisters of Mercy arrived in the United States from Ireland in 1843 and soon established hospitals and schools from coast to coast.

From about 1934 there has been a Mercy College of Nursing in the Detroit area which was originally based in a multi-story building on East Grand Boulevard, across the street from St. Joseph Mercy Hospital. Even though there were some debates and conflicts with other nearby Catholic Colleges when the Nursing School decided to build a new motherhouse, novitiate and college, Mother Carmelita persevered and found 40 acres for sale on Outer Drive and Southfield. Mercy College of Detroit opened in its newly constructed building one year later on September 8, 1941.

In 1990 Mercy College of Detroit would consolidate with the University of Detroit to become the University of Detroit Mercy. The land for the Outer Drive Campus was later sold to be a campus for Wayne County Community College

On that note: its January in Michigan-I’m going to make myself comfortable with a cup of tea.


Snow scenes at the University of Detroit Mercy

Well we got our white Christmas in 2012. There was not much snow last January, but looks like this year we may have a few more snowflakes to shovel. Whether or not global warming will produce much snow on campus this year, here are a few snow memories from the past of Mercy College of Detroit and the University of Detroit:

A Christmas Concert by the University of Detroit Madrigal Singers

The Madrigal Dinners (1964-1966) were sponsored by the University of Detroit Chorus and the Student Union. Members of the Chorus in full medieval costume, welcomed the diners at the door of the student union decorated in middle English ‘Great Hall’ trappings.

Guests are called to the table by heralds playing fanfares and a processional of tasseled trumpets, which also hail the arrival of each course on the menu.

The traditional Yuletide meal of Old England consisted of traditional roast sirloin of beef with Yorkshire pudding, wassail, and flaming pudding.

A recording of the Songs by the University of Detroit Madrigal Singers is available on CD at the library.

Registering for class-before computers!

Once upon a time, before online registration was available, thousands of university students had to fill out all kinds of forms and stand in line to register for a class. Sometime in the early 1960′s they moved from the long form to keypunch cards.

There was some organization to the chaos of registration. Students were given specific dates when they could register depending on your last name, day or evening student, graduate or undergraduate level. So for example here is what the schedule would look like:

There was of course the possibility that by the time you got to register, the course would be full or the time you wanted to take to class was no longer available. Somehow things got worked out so the student could graduate in a timely manner.

Football at Mercy College of Detroit

Did you know Mercy College of Detroit had a football team? It was only around from 1967 to 1971, but there was a team! Ok- so it was a flag football team, no helmets or padding as part of the uniform-but still it was a football team!

Mercy College of Detroit Football Team 1968Left to right, bottom row: Mark Livingston, Leo Compliment, Tom Eansor, Bob Perry, Stu Griswold, Alex Bardoni, Ed Williams.Top row: Bill Leddy, John Hammang, Mike Peitrzyk, Jay Deering, Mick McCabe, George Marchinkowski

The teams they played: Detroit College of Business, Midwestern Baptist, Detroit Institute of Technology, Shaw College (formerly Michigan Lutheran College), and Detroit Bible College. Their first game was with the University of Detroit Bulkers on September 22, 1966, which they lost 26 to 0. As far as I can tell the last scheduled game was November 13, 1971 against Midwestern Baptist College but I can find no news reports of the final score if it was played at all. The previous scheduled game with Detroit Institute of Technology was not played because D.I.T. did not show up for the game until 35 minutes after the scheduled kick-off time and Mercy was awarded a forfeit.

All the home games were played  at Peterson Field at the corner of Greenfield and Curtis. Not counting the first game with the U of D Bulkers, the Mercy College Crusaders had a record of 19 wins and 12 losses (pending whatever happened to the last scheduled game).

The Flag Football Program came to an end for a number of reasons as cited by the  1970-71 Athletic Annual Report: ” injuries which occur (because proper padding and helmets are prohibited by the league), a lack of qualified referee assignments and a lack of commitment on the part of the other colleges who run their programs in a slip-shod manner.”

University of Detroit Marching Band

The University of Detroit had a marching band to go along with some of their football games. The first student band were engineers dressed as clowns, played at a football game in which U of M defeated U of D, 39-6 on November 1, 1913.

The first organized band was formed in September of 1919 when a call went out for volunteers and twenty-five musician showed up. The first appearance was for a performance of As You Like It by the Thespians in April 31, 1920 at Orchestra Hall. The band was supposed to make its debut at a St. Patrick’s Day dance, but due to the fact that a local fraternity held a party on that date, it was postponed. After practicing all summer, the band was ready to perform for the football season of 1920. The band got new uniforms in November  1920 as a result of an interested alumni, Tom Chawke, who raised $1,000 in three days. Although the school colors of red and white was adopted back in 1892, these uniforms were blue and black. In October of 1925 a student band of 45 pieces made its first appearance in new red and white uniforms.

During WWII, the band had been disbanded in 1941 and university football games were suspended from 1943 to 1944. The first all university marching band was reorganized in 1947. Prior to 1947, a majority of the band members were recruited from the local high school or from professional musicians in the city. The new group had five women including Phyllis Gibson who brought her own tuba.

The band played their last concert in April 7, 1962. The university could no longer support the expense of personnel salaries and instrument and uniform repair and upkeep. In the fall of 1963, the students formed a “pep-band” that continues to play at basketball and other student activities.

Robert Frost: Poetry reading and informal talk at University of Detroit, Nov. 14, 1962

Robert Frost gave one his last public readings of his poetry at the University of Detroit on November 14, 1962. (He died January 29, 1963, at the age of 88.) He was also awarded an honorary degree form the university in “recognition of the achievements of Robert Frost as a poet and humanist, who has advanced permanently the art of poetry and the importance of the liberal arts in our national life.” (part of the citation read conferring the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters upon Robert Frost by the University of Detroit, November 13, 1962). He spoke for over an hour before a sell-out audience of 9,000 people in the Memorial Building (now known as Calihan Hall),  reciting and discussing his poetry as well as commenting on a variety of subjects. Some of his quotes:  “I count cities as trophies of my life, especially if I’ve slept in them-alone. These big cities give me confidence. They hold the continent down.”, and “I never dared be radical when I was young for fear I would be conservative when old”. He even gave his version of the Mother Goose rhyme “Humpty Dumpty”: “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall, and not all the psychiatrists nor all the psychologists could put Humpty Dumpty together again.”

A video of Robert Frost’s address and poetry reading at the University of Detroit is available at the library.

While Frost was in Detroit for his address, he stopped by the Fisher Theater the night before, noting its beauty remarked: “You should have a beautiful place in which to say beautiful things.” The theater manager, Joe Nederlander, invited him to watch the current attraction “Lord Pengo”, but Frost graciously declined. “If I was only 85, I might; but I have to get my sleep.”

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