The Catholic University of America

Jan. 13, 2012

Exhibit Highlights Student Experience at CUA

When Catholic University Records Management Archivist Leslie Knoblauch was looking for an overarching theme for a new exhibit about the student experience at CUA, she found inspiration from none other than a recent student.

While reading a story about a 2011 graduate, she was struck by how he referred to Catholic University's "sense of community," the friends he made on campus as his "second family," and the campus as “home.”

The exhibit, titled "A Home Away from Home: 125 Years of the Student Experience at Catholic University," is now open in the May Gallery of the John K. Mullen of Denver Memorial Library. It is part of the University’s 125th anniversary celebration. The exhibit will be open between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday until May 18. It is free and open to the public.

The exhibit features items related to student life and culture, academics, campus buildings, and athletics. Several of the items, such as certain athletics trophies and a clarinet used in the first school band, have not been publicly displayed before.
“At the University Archives, we want to protect the values of student life,” says Knoblauch, who set up the exhibit. “All these items in some way represent the bonds student create and the experiences they have at Catholic University.”

To highlight the exhibit, the Office of Campus Activities and the 125th Anniversary Committee will sponsor a scavenger hunt for students at 7 p.m. on Jan. 24. Student organizations will be eligible to enter teams of students who will use cell phones to receive clues and submit answers. The hunt will begin and end at the exhibit.

Below are some pieces from the exhibit.

The graduation gown on the left was a gift from Mary Thibeau of the Class of 1918. The green academic hood, a gift from Sister Helen Margaret Hierholzer, was recently discovered by Knoblauch in the University Archives. It has never been displayed before. Sister Hierholzer, who graduated from CUA in 1927, donated the hood to the University in the 1980s. On the right is a diploma holder from 2010.   
  This pipe stand belonged to Rev. Gilbert H. Hartke. Father Hartke helped create the Department of Speech and Drama and worked at the University for more than 30 years. The pipe stand is inscribed with a commemoration of his ordination. Father Hartke was known for being dedicated to his students, who called themselves "Father's kids." 
Facilities, which Knoblauch describes as the "infrastructure of social life," are another part of the exhibit. Some of the items included are a helmet from the Monroe Street Market groundbreaking in fall 2011, an architectural drawing of Caldwell Hall (the University's first building), and a T-shirt from the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center groundbreaking.  
  Knoblauch notes that students formed their own sports teams and clubs before such teams were an official part of the University. CUA's athletics department recently turned over several trophies to the University Archives. The trophy in the front row, on the right, is the oldest trophy in the collection, dating to 1914.
From the late 1940s to the late 1960s, freshmen were given special hats (called "dinks") and badges to wear during their first week on campus. They were also given a booklet detailing the rules they had to follow, such as the requirement to carry a sophomore's books if they were asked. Knoblauch notes that she often hears from alumni who fondly remember this introduction to CUA. One of the dinks and badges are attached to this varsity sweater.  





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