To Members and Friends of the Ursinus College community:
This "virtual exhibit" in electronic form symbolizes an Ursinus College that from its start has valued the old while embracing the new.
In Spring 1966, the Ursinus magazine ran a piece about a 91-year-old alumnus, John O. Reagle, D.D., of the class of 1897. He was then our third-oldest living graduate. The interview of him revealed a man still preaching regularly and alert to the present no less than to the past.
"It was small," Dr. Reagle said of the Ursinus he first saw when he arrived as a freshman. He found only a few buildings, limited equipment, and just a handful of students and professors. "Even some very basic facilities were wanting," he added delicately. Only eleven students (ten men, one woman) made up his graduating class.
"But Ursinus was big," Dr. Reagle went on, "in purpose, in ideals, in aims. The whole thing evolved out of a lot of faith and entailed a lot of sacrifice."
He said elsewhere in his interview, "In these days of rapid change, we expect Ursinus to make adjustments, alterations, difficult decisions, but we do not expect it to lower its standard of excellence, to lose its reputation as a college of rare quality, where physical well-being and high scholarship are constantly sought, and where moral excellence is considered an asset, and therefore expected in each other, and practiced."
John O. Reagle would join us, I am sure, in applauding the library staff's initiative to give us a new kind of electronic ownership of Ursinus past. Through these digital images, we effortlessly find the shape and style of the College that he knew a century ago and that he loyally watched as its life unfolded in the twentieth century.
This electronic exhibit on the World Wide Web gives alumni and friends the ability to see and understand the College's educational heritage in an interesting and easily accessible form. It enriches the understanding already available to us in the centennial history of the College, written by the late Calvin D. Yost, Jr., class of '30, and in other printed records. And it lays a foundation for a richer kind of immersion in our history and a sharper vision of the College as it goes forward.
People in old campus photos often appear to us as merely quaint or even as absurd. They come to us as if through a window on a make-believe world. The testimony of people such as old John Reagle persuades us, however, of the reality and seriousness of their trials and triumphs on the same greensward we of later generations tread.
This exhibit allows us to enjoy the quaint appearances of the past previously stashed away in files. More important, it may allow us to understand better that, as fashions change and campus resources evolve, the educational driving force of Ursinus remains fairly constant over time. It will be fun and interesting to watch the exhibit deepen and broaden. It should become a familiar resource for all who care about the history and welfare of Ursinus College.
We all owe thanks to the Myrin library staff for taking this creative step forward into the College's past.
Richard P. Richter, '53
19 May 1997
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