Public Relations and Hugh Scott Cameron, 1949

Sometimes you can feel someone’s personality from just a few words. This short note from Rice’s Dean of Student Activities, Hugh Scott Cameron, is, I think, an example. Trying to respond to a request for information that makes absolutely no sense in the context of the Rice Institute in 1949, his openly acknowledged inability to help and the gentleness of his poking just a tiny bit of fun at his own institution makes me like him very much.

This is the only photograph I have of Dean Cameron, and his face too seems immediately likeable:

This 1948 Thresher article paints a picture of a pretty interesting guy, although I can’t help but wonder what his nickname was (and bonus points to the author for the use  of “sacerdotalism”):

Sadly, this kind and thoughtful man died very young. He was only 45 when he passed from a heart attack in the summer of 1950 and the reaction of the student body was telling:

The Hugh Scott Cameron Award is still given every Spring to a graduating senior who has given outstanding service to the student body.

I was a bit surprised to learn that there is a second Hugh Scott Cameron Award that is not specific to Rice. In 1951 the South Texas Section of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers began giving that award to the Mechanical Engineering student from a school in the section who shows the most promise for advanced engineering education.

Bonus: Found on the sidewalk behind Fondren.

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12 Responses to Public Relations and Hugh Scott Cameron, 1949

  1. William A. Wheatley says:

    Melissa, I had heard of Professor (Dean) Cameron when I was a Rice student, but I knew so little about him. Your name having been littered on concrete, you are now immortal – until the paper dissolves. You make a GREAT contribution to Rice history.

  2. grungy1973 says:

    Nancy Boothe on that committee…

  3. Mike Ross says:

    Robert Flagg’s article about Dean Cameron appeared in both the March 30, 1949, Thresher (p. 1; and in the April 1949 Sallyport (p 4; Both used the same photo, which shows Deam Cameron sitting in front of a brick wall.

  4. Deborah (she/her) Bennett says:

    Is the piano or the plaque still around?

  5. And what/where was the “Examination Room”?

    • Melissa Kean says:

      I have no idea – – but I do have a couple ideas of where to look for an answer.

      • Mike Ross says:

        An article on page 3 of the November 1948 Sallyport indicates that the Exam Room was in new Fondren Library’s south basement:

        Fondren Library is at last a reality—at least as far as the student lounge, snack bar and cooperative store are concerned. They are to be open for business in their new location in the south basement of the library during the first week of November.

        Long a dream in the minds of the alumni and the students, there will at last be a place on the campus where the student body may gather for their meetings, for a bite to eat, for their dances.

        The south basement, called the student lounge, includes a snack bar, a greatly enlarged cooperative store, offices for the Thresher and Campanile, an examination room, a student association committee room and huge lounging area. This space, extending from the east side entrance to the front entrance, has an area for card sized tables for eating or for bridge playing. This graduates into a lounging area furnished with leather easy chairs and reading lamps. The interior decoration was done by Walter Farmer.

        An added feature of the south basement is the fact that it may be used for school dances. In the two large areas, the examination room and the lounging-eating room, there is enough green asphalt tiled space to put the whole student body.

        Like the rest of Fondren Library, the area is air-conditioned throughout.

        An article on page 6 of the March 11, 1955, Thresher said the Rice Players production of Frank Wedekind’s Earth-Spirit would open its three-night run on Sunday, March 20 in the
        Exam room of the Fondren Library … with the late/great Sandy Havens playing Dr. Schon.

        BTW, this item on page 6 of the Sept. 19, 1958, Thresher said:

        No doubt many many Rice students students have been surprised to see the Exam Room turned into what what looks like a restaurant. The explanation, however, is that members of the Rice faculty are eating there during remodeling of Cohen House.

  6. marmer01 says:

    A quick search of the Houston newspaper archives reveals some of the challenges facing Dean Cameron in the late 1940’s. These all made the Houston newspapers, not just the Thresher. They remind us that Rice is very, very different now:
    • There was a lot of controversy about free tickets for football games for students, and for those military veteran students who were married, for their wives.
    • There were a few trouble-making students who set off bombs on campus and at the homes of student leaders off campus. These same scoundrels were on sco-pro and were later arrested by HPD for breaking street lights in River Oaks.
    • There were negotiations between Rice student leaders and Dean Cameron and their counterparts at Texas A&M to put an end to the pranks and vandalism that were being done around the Rice-A&M football games, especially at Rice by Aggies. At one point there was a volunteer guard of Rice men around the entire campus, and Dean Cameron asked the faculty to avoid giving exams on that weekend because so many students were involved in guarding the campus that they couldn’t prepare well for exams.
    • There were kidnappings of class leaders by lower class leaders, who were then incarcerated in squalid environs such as beach houses at Surfside.
    • There was apparently a planned student protest before Houston City Council about the pollution from Houston sewers that was getting into Harris Gully on campus. Dean Cameron found out about it and put a stop to it.

  7. Mike Ross says:

    Regarding Dean Cameron’s nickname, perhaps a pair of articles on the front page of the April 29, 1948, Thresher gives an indication.

    One article gives the results of a presidential preference poll of Rice students. Only 100 votes were tallied (before a ballot stuffing episode raised validity concerns). Harold Stassen, Dwight Eisenhower & Henry Wallace got the most votes, with 30, 15 & 13, respectively. In all 11 candidates received votes, and two others were written in, most notably Dean Cameron, who was on five ballots!

    The second article ran with this, in surely a fanciful manner, under the headline “Cameron Looms As Dark Horse” and subhead “Unheralded Support May Spread Over U. S., But Cameron Is Silent”

    The feeling in the THRESHER office is that a well-organized, however small, organization is behind Cameron, and is pushing his Candidacy to the limit. This preliminary showing of strength is regarded by political dopesters, and campus agitators, as an indication of a nation-wide ‘spontaneous’ drive to Draft Cameron.’

    … At latest reports Dean Cameron is remaining aloof from this movement. He has not made any attempt to make clear his stand on the issues of the day. However, in what is regarded as an attempt to swing religious votes, Cameron has recently announced his opposition to liquor being served by Rice student organizations.

    … According to one Joe Blow, a junior M.E., a rally will be held today at: noon in front of M.L. building. Students will parade with signs bearing the call of the Cameron party. “STUDENTS, YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE BUT YOUR DEAN, A WORLD TO GAIN, AND A COURSE TO PASS — SEND CAMERON TO THE WHITE HOUSE.”

    Student Blow was confident of victory – “All us Joe Blows is a’goin’ to vote for old Wry Nose.”

    – – – – –

    So was "Wry Nose" Dean Cameron's nickname?

    If so, it seems to be an odd one, even cruel, however, given the meaning of 'wry nose': a congenital abnormality that results in a exaggerated deviated nasal septum. The condition is most obvious in species with long faces, such as horses and cattle.

  8. marmer01 says:

    I suspect the piano is still around somewhere just because it’s hard to get rid of a piano unless it is in unsalvageable condition. It’s not clear from the article if it was a grand or an upright, although the price of $800 seems to indicate an upright. It probably moved to one of the new residential colleges when the college system really got underway. Hanszen, for one, had a beat-up old piano in the new section basement little “coffeehouse” called the B&P. I think all the other colleges have pianos for theatre and other things.

    • grungy1973 says:

      The MOB’s flooded (15 June 1976) upright piano was moved to one or several of my storage spaces, until it was finally reduced to just a cabinet for use in a stage presentation of “Grease!”. It is rather difficult to remove the cast iron frame without destroying the cabinet.

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