Monday, March 7, 2011

7 March 1951: Robert Frost Speaks at UGA Chapel

On this day in 1951, at 11 o'clock in the morning, Pulitzer prize-winning poet Robert Frost spoke to an overflowing crowd of students and faculty at the University of Georgia Chapel. This visit to the campus, Frost's seventh in as many years according to the Athens Banner-Herald, was part of the University's Sesquicentennial lecture series.

Frost was introduced by Hugh Hodgson, then head of the UGA music department. In his lecture, Frost pointed out that "books played a dominant role" for "every profession and science," and yet he believed colleges were neglecting such basics in the instruction of their students. He also read several poems, including Birches, Mending Wall, and Death of the Hired Man.

After the lecture, the Red and Black student newspaper, then a weekly, ran an editorial asking "why such dignitaries should be forced to speak in the cramped quarters of the Chapel while the Fine Arts auditorium is not in use."  The paper cited "countless students turned away in disgust" in January from an overcrowded Chapel lecture by Atlanta journalist Jack Tarver as evidence of the on-going problem. 

For Frost's lecture, they noted that of the mere handful of students able to fit  into the building that morning, many could not see Frost as they were positioned behind columns and just outside the doorways. The editorial ended with a warning that students would lose interest in these events "because they know seats will be virtually unattainable." However, speakers continued to be scheduled for the Chapel and artistic performances in the Fine Arts auditorium for the rest of the Sesquicentennial Year.

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1 comment:

  1. Sent to us via email:
    "I, and my girl friend (now my wife of 55 years) saw Frost in 1953/54 school year in the Chapel; packed as in '51.. He spoke through the class bell and some got up to leave for classes - he became very upset and quit speaking until it was explained to him why they had to leave. He then finished his addresss. I will always remember that speech from such a great man,
    Dave Dreesen ('56, & '60)."