September 21, 1940
The college opened with 1,226 students in residence, drawn from 38 states, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, England, Poland, Switzerland, Canada, Colombia, Chile and Argentina. 370 of them were freshmen, and eight were postgraduate students.
In an address at Convocation, President MacCracken urged upon the college community its responsibility—in the face of the closing of European universities, the exiling of their scholars and the destruction of their libraries—for maintaining its integrity. He pressed the necessity of maintaining “personal self-restraint in spite of emotional stresses and maintaining friendships strong and unimpaired among teachers and students, between the academic body and the staff of the college, especially with those whose opinions differ from our own, in order that we may do our part here on this campus in defense against the forces of disintegration.”
“We have become more conscious,” Professor of Chemistry Mary Landon Sague ’05 told the assembly, “than ever before that the care of our democracy is that concept of freedom which emphasizes obligation and responsibility as well as privilege…. We know that on this concept depends all that is best in our national life. To maintain it in strength and vigor on this campus and throughout the nation, is surely worth the most enlightened and the most strenuous effort each of us is capable of putting forth.” The New York Times