Midyear graduations not forgotten Colleges: Usually obscure, midyear commencement ceremonies get the spotlight for a change.

The Education Beat

January 04, 1998|By Mike Bowler | Mike Bowler,SUN STAFF

COMMENCEMENT today at Towson University completes this academic year's round of midyear graduations at Maryland's major public universities.

These are the forgotten commencements, lost in the holiday bustle and all but ignored by the news media. But although few midterm graduates wear bathing suits under their robes, winter's chill doesn't dim the enthusiasm.

Here are a few highlights:

Towson's first graduation since it dumped "State" from its name last summer takes place this afternoon for 1,199 bachelor's and 248 master's degree recipients.

Towson will give honorary degrees to entrepreneur John C. Erickson, the man behind Charlestown Retirement Community and other "senior campuses," and to George T. Jochum, who overcame illiteracy as a youngster to head a group of Maryland-based companies in the managed health care and insurance fields.

Michael T. O'Pecko, a professor of German, will receive an award for distinguished service to the university.

Towson's commencement is so big it requires two sessions, at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., both in the Towson Center.

The University of Maryland, College Park graduated 4,877 at its winter commencement Dec. 21 at Cole Field House. Leonard Elmore, a Harvard-trained lawyer best known for his graceful play on the Cole basketball court two decades ago, delivered the main speech.

The student speaker, anthropology major Raymond Peters, wrote his senior thesis on kinship and culture change among resettled Vietnamese.

Peggy Schaum, 44, the valedictorian and speaker at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County midyear commencement Dec. 19, launched her college career six years ago with a single evening course in beginning computers at Anne Arundel Community College. She was 20 years out of high school and raising three children.

With a proud family looking on, Schaum, who transferred to UMBC as a junior, picked up a bachelor of arts degree in social work. She read from Dr. Seuss' "Oh! The Places You'll Go" and talked about her internship with families in crisis and bereaved children.

"If you do something you really like, and if you really want to learn, age is no limit at all," Schaum said Friday.

UMBC gave out 650 undergraduate degrees, 145 master's and 46 doctoral degrees.

Teachers of the 1930s were held to high standard

Among the highlights of Rebecca Carroll's autobiography, "Snapshots From the Life of an African-American Woman" (C. H. Fairfax Co., $20), are her memories of the demanding professional entrance requirements for Baltimore teachers in the During her senior year at Coppin Normal School, Carroll, now 79, had to do practice teaching in grades one and five under the watchful eyes of seasoned supervisors.

Her behavior in the classroom was closely monitored, she writes. "At the critique of a lesson, I was to evaluate whether or not the students displayed interest and what the quality of their participation was."

One of her supervisors, Viola C. Jackson, "taught me to refrain from blaming children for not learning and to evaluate myself and the teaching act to help students improve," Carroll writes.

In the last term of her three years of training at Coppin, Carroll (then Rebecca Evans) had to take a tough three-day examination, after which she was called to the office of Elmer Henderson, supervisor of "colored" schools.

"When my turn came, I entered the office gingerly, hoping to hear good news, and I did. My score on the test was 94.6, a standing of number two on the eligibility list."

In those days, Carroll said last week, "teaching was considered a professional art. You didn't get into a classroom until you knew what you were doing."

What happened in the ensuing six decades?

"The teachers colleges changed. They added more subjects and became more like universities. some of the professional aspects of teaching were de-emphasized. That's too bad, because the population changed, and there's more need than ever for excellent teachers."

Carroll was honored Dec. 27 at a reception at the Enoch Pratt central library.

Quest for name change explains largess

Catching up:

The Dec. 10 Education Beat posed the Mystery of the Hodson Trust: Why did Col. Clarence Hodson, in establishing a family trust in the 1920s, choose St. John's, Johns Hopkins, Hood and Washington as the only beneficiaries? He had no connection with three of the colleges -- he was a Washington trustee -- never graduated from college and had Delaware ties as strong as those in Maryland.

Part of the answer comes in a delightful letter from a cousin of Hodson's, Margaret Hodson Black of Cecilton. Hodson's father was her grandmother's first cousin.

"A relatively obscure college in North Carolina had changed its name and profited by becoming Duke," Black writes. " 'Cousin' Clarence hoped to find a college that would perpetuate his family name. Davidson, in North Carolina, was considered, but he hoped for a Maryland institution. (His father was living in Crisfield.)

"In 1926-1929, I was teaching at Frederick High School and at Hood College. 'Cousin' Clarence asked me to make an appointment for him to meet the president, saying that, if the college would change its name, I would be dean of women.

"The idea was intoxicating, although I had no training and only a dim idea of the duties of such an office.

"The meeting was held. Hodson Outdoor Theatre and other buildings followed, but the name remained Hood, and I was never a dean of women."

The rest of the story:

Hodson founded Beneficial Finance, now Beneficial Corp., one of the world's largest financial-services companies.

The four colleges have reaped $77 million from the Hodson Trust. Black had four careers before retiring in 1969 from the University of Delaware. Now 94, she teaches piano and writes letters in longhand!

Pub Date: 1/04/98

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