Monmouth’s Student Life Through the 1960s

The 1960s was an amazing time for Monmouth students as they showed off their Hawk pride with fun filled events throughout the semester. Student life thrived with an increased interest in clubs and Greek life, more social events, like prom, and popular speakers like Martin Luther King, Jr. and a performance by Ray Charles.

To kick off the 60s, the Murry and Leonie Guggenheim Foundation transferred ownership of their property, the Guggenheim Mansion, to Monmouth. The Guggenheim library would be utilized for students to study or have a class.

Also in 1960, the class of 1961 hosted a prom in the Great Hall on Friday, Apr. 29. During this prom, to celebrate and look back on the past academic year, students would rejoice with live music and dancing. The Charlie Barnet orchestra, a well-known jazz bandleader at the time, played at the prom. To get students eager to attend, the class of 1961 organized an election for Prom Queen, which consisted of five possible upperclassmen candidates. The Prom Committee encouraged student attendance through advertisements as well, eventually making their event known in the Apr. 7, 1960 issue of “The Outlook.”
180 couples attended the prom, making it a huge success. As students danced and electrified the Great Hall the anticipated crowning of the Queen was soon to come in the night. Marillywn Gaskill, a junior, was announced as Queen. Junior class president, Ernie Dragos, presented a bouquet of flowers and a crown to her, and a chance to sit on her own throne.

For the 1961-1962 academic year, the Guggenheim library finally opened for students after a yearlong transformation from a residence to a college library. Students began to utilize the space more for studying and forming study groups.

1962 was another great year for Monmouth. They announced their third president, Dr. William G. Van Note, who served from 1962 to 1971. Students were heavily involved with activities like the Sailing Team, Drum Majorettes, and cheerleading during this time. On Dec. 13, the mascot, Phoenix the Hawk, passed away, “The Outlook” reported. The mascot served as inspiration to many students, seen as an “emblem of immortality.”

Monmouth saw major changes to student life in 1963. The first-ever residence halls opened, Elmwood and Pinewood. The ability to dorm gave students the opportunity for a different college experience, as well as opened doors to those who lived too far to commute.

In 1964, the Monmouth band performed at the World Fair in New York City, New York. The theme was “Peace through Understanding,” and “hosted over 80 countries, the United States government, 24 states, and the City of New York,” according to New York City’s government website.

Toward the end of the 1965 fall semester, the then Inter-class Council planned, sponsored, and ran a Winter Carnival from Friday, Dec. 3 to Saturday, Dec. 4. This indoor festival took the entire semester to plan. They decided that Friday would consist of a concert in the new gymnasium and Saturday would host the Float Parade, football game, and Coronation Ball.

On Friday, Lloyd Price and his band entertained Monmouth students until about 11:00 p.m. During the intermission, Dean Martha and Dean Krantz presented the “Most Outstanding Greek Organization” award, and Zeta Upsilon Sigma presented the John F. Kennedy Memorial award to the Greek organization with the best athletic record.

On Saturday, the Float Parade began at 1:30 p.m. The theme for each of the thirteen floats was “Songs of Christmas,” all built and designed by fraternities, sororities, and other non-Greek student organizations. The Winter Carnival Queen candidates and Fort Monmouth Band also participated in the parade. The parade made its way from Broadway to Norwood Ave. in Long Branch, NJ, finishing at Monmouth’s parking lot. The parade goers were able to follow the parade into the football game, which started at 3:00 p.m. The Winter Carnival Queen Coronation Ball brought closed out the weekend’s festivities. The new queen, Lynn Sherlock, was announced by the reigning queen, Pat Murphy.

The spring of 1966 welcomed Sammy Davis Jr., a singer who performed at the Spring Weekend festival on Apr. 29. This festival wrapped up the semester, inviting all campus members to celebrate the end of the academic year. Tickets sold for just $4.00!

To close out the weekend, the Annual Spring Weekend Prom was held in the Great Hall. The Ray Bloch Orchestra and the 3 D’s, a comedy group, transformed the night.

The Fall 1966 semester opened with the Student Union Lecture Series as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. kicked it off on Oct. 6, 1966. Students crowded the gymnasium for his speech regarding racism, diversity, and civil rights for all. When Dr. King visited Monmouth, the college was predominantly white and located in a more conservative county, according to Monmouth’s website. Dr. King promoted equity and the urgency for justice in our community.

In 1967, Monmouth began offering graduate programs and awarding master’s degrees. This helped put Monmouth on the map as a leading, private institution for students looking to pursue more advanced degrees and professions.

In Oct. of 1968, 20 student leaders joined President Dr. William G. Van Note for an informal lunch to discuss issues pertinent to Monmouth’s campus. This discussion highlighted problems, like campus safety, fraternity issues, and campus library hours. Van Note emphasized how students and faculty deserve to have a voice.

Because of this meeting, the Student Government Association (SGA) worked continuously to improve the communication between students and administrations. SGA, the representative of the student body, ensured student concerns and problems were properly addressed.

In the spring of 1968, The Outlook advertised an international trip to students. Sponsored by the then Student Activities Office, 88 students would spend spring break in Palma de Majorca, Spain for $285. Students stayed in a deluxe, oceanfront resort with means included. Originally, there was a trip scheduled for the Bahamas, but that was canceled due to flight arrangements and the potential of increased costs.
To round off the decade, 1969 was another year full of events and changes at Monmouth. In the beginning of the year, it was announced that Monmouth was going to take part in the “Top Ten College Girls in America” contest, run by the local chairman, Mignon Godwin, a senior at the time. The contest focused on glamorous looks and leadership within the community. The winner would represent Monmouth at the larger national competition.

Later that Spring, SGA would host a Rock Festival in May. Five groups performed: Track, Brother Duck, Southern Conspiracy, Child, and Monmouth College Workshop. Students gathered on the Great Lawn to watch these bands perform.

The 1960s proved formative for Monmouth, helping shape the campus community we see today. Hawk pride existed yesterday, exists today, and will exist tomorrow!