“B” comes before “W” (and “H” for that matter) if you’re simply arranging things in alphabetical order but if you want to know which residential college was actually the first to open, the answer is Will Rice. Baker was in fact the last of the original four to begin operation.
It was a logistical problem that produced this result, an obvious one at that. But it’s exactly the sort of thing people don’t enjoy or don’t bother thinking about. The problem was this: when the switch was made to the college system there was only one operational commons on campus, the one that had always been there. Carl Wischmeyer, the first master of Baker College, explains in this letter, which invites English Professor Will Dowden and his wife to the inaugural celebration:
This Thresher article from the end of March, 1957 explains the complicated sequencing in detail:
Bonus: Rice fight never dies! (With thanks to David Pillen, Assistant AD for Marketing, who gets things done.)
As a freshman in the spring of 1957, I remember that “fruit basket turnover” well. One could either select a college or select a roommate. West Hall became Hanszen, North Hall was already Wiess Hall, East Hall became Baker, and South Hall became Will Rice. My selected roommate, Ramil Wright, and I lived on the third floor of West Hall, but we were assigned to Wiess (lucky us!). For the remainder of that semester, we were slotted in with existing Wiess residents. I roomed with Bart Meharg, a sophomore. Our suitemates were sophomores Buddy Dial and E. J. McIlvaine. Ramil and I became roommates in the fall of 1958.
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