History of SMU


Humanities And Science School

This page discusses the Humanities  and  Science School of  Southern Methodist University


Between 1910 and 1930 the University established the following departments in the Arts and Science School: Geology, German, Government, Classical Languages Greek and Latin, History, Home Economics, Journalism, Mathematics, Philosophy and Psychology, Physical Education, Physics, Public Speaking, Religion, Sociology, Spanish, English, French, Art, Biology, Chemistry, and General Literature.


Between the years 1925 to 1940 the atmosphere at SMU was not helpful for any activities other than teaching. The hours were long, 15 hours a day, and the President Selectman discouraged the faculty from using their offices a night to conserve on electricity.

Never the less some writings a publications occurred. A literary magazine, The Southwest Review was acquired by the University in 1924 and it continued publishing even through the depression years. Other publications were Field and Laboratory, Studies in Public Affairs, the Proceedings of its Institute of Public Laboratory, Studies in Sociology and the university established its own press.  The faculty members who contributed need to be given a lot of credit.

The Southwest Review magazine was acquired from  the University of Texas in 1924 through the efforts of Jay B. Hubbell chairman of the English department who was its editor from 1924 to 1927. George Bond of the English department and Herbert Gambrell of the History department helped him. Hubbell wanted to cover the southwest, other areas, including some with national reputation. Hubbell and Bond got the project going well and discovered a number of capable writers.

Unfortunately both Bond and Gambrell left the university in 1927 creating a crisis for the magazine. John McGinnis Chairman of the English department reluctantly agreed to carry on with the magazine. Henry Nash of the English evaluated the experience later.

"..... it may well turn out that the Review's greatest importance during McGinnis's editorship lay in the fact that it was a sort of super-graduate seminar, an Institute of Higher Learning, in which were enrolled his older students, younger colleagues, and even contemporaries, on faculty or not, who were writing or reading proof or merely running errands for the Southwest Review. Certainly the University received its money's worth from the project in this fashion alone. At least three members of its faculty came up through this curriculum, besides others who later went into journalism, publishing, reaching elsewhere, or writing. "

The magazine from the beginning had financial problems. In 1920 the Review was given annual amount of $1100 by the University to help, and by 1932, it went from 16 to 937 paid subscriptions. Despite this the magazine almost folded during the depression until they came up with a plan to save it.

Between the autumn of 1932 and through the Summer of 1935 SMU worked with Louisiana State University in publishing the magazine jointly. Some controversy arose between the two schools editors, but it was settled to everyone satisfaction. LSU was given a subsidy to publish its own magazine through the efforts of the Baton Rouge people. After this SMU doubled its contribution to the magazine and the Review continued. McGinnis was the editor until 1943. Much of the hard work was handled by Henry Nash Smith, Lon Tinkle, and John Chapman. It was due to Nash's efforts that the magazine survived the depression. I his later career Chapman most of this time was spent on the faculty of Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, but Tinkle became a faculty member to teach French and comparative literature  at SMU, and took over as literary editor of the Dallas Morning News from McGinnis. Tinkle also went on to write eight books on a wide variety of subjects as well as stimulating his students to appreciate good writing, good literature, and good taste.

A series entitled " Naturalists of the Frontier" by Samuel Geiser, appeared in the Review in 1929.  Geiser was professor of biology at SMU with a doctor's degree from John Hopkins (192). He bacame interested in a man named John Boll who was a little known expert that  collected snakes and butterflies   before his death in 1880. Boll's writings were published in 1937 as Naturalists of the Frontier  by the SMU Press. The Press was founded in 1937 with no money available even for secretarial services. Using some of the funds from the Review they were able to publish a second book in 1939. This book was J. Fran Dobie's " John Duval: First Texas Man of Letters. Donald Day was the first full time director of the Press serving from 1942 to 1945 at which time Allen Maxwell starting serving as the Press and the Southwest Review editor.

Frequent contributors to both the Press and the Review were Herbert Granville of the history department, H. A. Trexler chairman of the history department, Jerry Bywaters of the art department, Ernest E. Leisy of the english department, and  I. K. Stephens of the philosophy department. Each of these men contributed lasting historical records and were leading scholars in their fields.

" The efforts of the Review and its numerous writers all add up to a rediscovery of the southwest as a region, a recognition that it made a contribution to the fields of literature, history, philosophy, and science. With its emphasis on regionalism (hopefully balanced by national interest), the magazine as well as the university played a role in developing knowledge of and pride in a region that  had a substantial history."

Field and Laboratory, a small journal published by the science division was also a  contributor during this time. The science division consisted of the department s of geology, geography, physics, biology, and chemistry, and it was intended that there be at least one article from each department in each issue. It was also intended to emphasize the Southwestern region because of the few articles being written on this region in scientific journals.

The first editor of the magazine during the period from 1932 to 1943 was Edwin J. Foscue, a young geographer. He was ably assisted by Mayne Longnecker, a young biology teacher, and Frank C. McDonald of the physics department.

Student participation was high in this era with 26 percent of the articles coming from students from 1932 to 1937. in the first five volumes. Fifty nine percent contributed in the next five volumes. Most articles were related  to  master's degrees. The faculty of course contributed the largest percent of the articles with Geiser and Boon contributing the most.

The Institutes of Public Affairs was started in the 1930s with a grand of $120,000 from the Arnold Foundation of Houston founded by Mrs. Arnolds in memory of her husband George F. Arnold.. Using this money the political science department became the department of government. By 1929 it was called the Arnold School of Government with Horace Guice as director. The Institute sponsored a series of conferences yearly between 191934 and 1939 on various topics of interest. The majority of these papers were written by various experts throughout the state. Only a small number were written by the faculty of SMU. There was one frequent contributor to the Institute from SMU, J. Linus Glanville of the history department.

The sociology department sponsored a series entitled Studies in Sociology between 1936 and 1940. The driving force behind  this was Walter T. Watson, Phd. from the University of Chicago.

During the 1930s a major incident occurred in the arts department that turned out to be very embarrassing to the university. This controversy result of the actions of  the chairman of the department John O. Beaty. It started out when Beaty tried to fire Henry Nash Smith. He wanted to fire Smith because he had written the preface to a short story, Miss Zilphia Gant by William Faulkner at that time  an unknown author.  Beaty described the short story as "the foulest book I ever read---, a book which parades sex abnormalities in a hideous way and also contains a scurrilous attack on Jesus Christ". Smith refused to resign and his friends gathered around him one of whom was Edwin D. Mouzon, Jr. who took the problem it to his friend Bishop John Moore. He convinced the Bishop that Smith should remain with the school. By this time President Selecman had also come to the same conclusion.

A compromise was finally reached when Smith was assigned to the comparative literature department.

Beaty, however was not satisfied and wrote a letter all of the board of trustees protesting the compromise. The Board responded by amending its bylaws to state that any member of the faculty going over the head of the president of the university was to be dismissed. For some reason they did not make it retroactive and Beaty was not fired.  In 1951 Beaty was censured by the board for his witch hunting during the McCarthy era. It is a surprise that Beaty was not fired, since he had gone over the heads of administration officials. This type of subordination is a danger to any organization, but Selecman did not fire him because he believed in high ideals in teaching. Both Selecman and Beaty were stern moralists.

Before the depression SMU was characterized by a significant amount of inbreeding, the habit of hiring its own graduates for its faculty. This is a common policy of new universities. Whether it was wise or not the students who later served as faculty, did so with loyalty and quality.

As soon as World War II was over SMU, to their credit, begin hiring faculty from different universities and different parts of the country.

In 1981 this school was renamed Dedman College. Click on the SMU Web Site Link  below to see the current details of the structure and activities of Dedman College.









** The Story of Southern Methodist University 1910 to 1930 Volumes One and Two, compiled by A. F. Henning, March 1930.

*** Southern Methodist University, Founding and Early Years by Mary Martha Hosford Thomas. SMU Press, Dallas published 1974.


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