Majors Day, 1972

I’m not totally clear what Majors Day was (is?)–but I guess it must have been either a chance for students to explore possible majors or for faculty to meet informally with students who had already decided to major in their fields. I recently ran across several folders of photos taken at Majors Days across a couple of decades. This first batch really caught my eye.

First off, I don’t recognize the person who is giving the demonstration. Second, I don’t understand what he’s demonstrating–sure seems to be an engine, but it’s quite odd looking. Third, we’re clearly in Ryon Lab, but is that building behind it still here? I haven’t had a minute to go over and look. A little help? Anybody?


Bonus: Preparations are underway for the return of the Cohen House sundial, but I haven’t heard an ETA.

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8 Responses to Majors Day, 1972

  1. effegee says:

    The building in the background with the windows was a ROTC building (can’t recall whether it was Army or Navy). After the building was razed, the foundation was used as additional parking for a while and then became the parking lot for a huge dumpster. If this really is a picture from 1972, then it’s the ROTC building that didn’t burn itself down during a windstorm at a time of national unrest about military involvement on campuses.

    The flat roof in the further background at the left of the picture was then the Central Kitchen (now known as the Oshman Kitchen).

    Majors Day was a annual event for sophomores to see departments’ dog and pony shows to help them select a major.

    • Ron Ladd says:

      The building is the Army ROTC building, which was between the Central Kitchen and the Navy ROTC building. It was the building that did burn, as referred to above. When I arrived in 1968, on a Navy ROTC scholarship, I was told that both ROTC buildings were built during World War II as “temporary” buildings to house the ROTC programs. They looked to be temporary, as they did not match the architectural style or sturdiness of the other buildings on campus. However, they were still in use 30 years after being built.
      (Also, during World War II almost all the male students that were not physically disqualified were in ROTC, so I was told by an alumnus from that period. He ended up being commissioned after his junior year, all these new ships needing to be manned, although it was not his idea. He ended up coming back after the war and graduating in 1948.)

      • Grungy says:

        So there’s a history of using “temporary” buildings beyond their planned design longevity. The blueprints for the Media Center and what has been Continuing Studies (for some time now) call them “temporary structures to house ~”.

      • effegee says:

        The word was that the fire originated in the electrical system and, fanned by the winds of a cold front passing at the exact time, destroyed the entire building before HFD could respond. If memory serves, the fire occurred in early 1971. I had a part-time job at Shell’s data center on Murworth at the time and the Rice undergrad who relieved me at the end of my shift reported “the Rice ROTC building burned itself down”. (Continuing unrest on many other campuses at that time frequently targeted ROTC buildings and military-funded labs.) I stopped working for Shell in July 1971 and took a job on campus for the 1971-72 academic year.

        Perhaps the photo is misfiled as one from 1972? Or perhaps this is another memory glitch?

        BTW, there is another picture of this building in the June 2, 2011, entry for this blog.

        The foundation for the Army ROTC was used as an extension of the Facilities parking lot for most of the ’80s and into the ’90s. After that it was fenced into two compartments: one for storage of outdoor equipment, the other for a compacting trash dumpster.

  2. Pat Campbell says:

    Looking at the picture, there is definitie fire damage and – since it was a government building, it probably took some time before they could get permission to tear it down, so fire in ’71 and picture in spring ’72 are consistent.

  3. Melissa Kean says:

    Guys, this is hugely helpful. Thank you all very much.

  4. Melissa Kean says:

    Also, on further review, I’ve come to believe that the thing being demonstrated is a rotary engine.

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