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Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University > Alumni & Friends > Stay Connected > Millikin Quarterly > Posts > Millikin during the first Zemke years: 1962-66

by Amanda Pippitt and Todd Rudat, University Archivists

In fall 1962, a freshman class of 260 gathered at Allerton Park for freshman camp orientation. Among those freshmen was Douglas Zemke, retiring Millikin president, who would go on to be a star wrestler for the Big Blue before graduating with a business administration degree. During their time at Millikin, Zemke’s class of 1966 witnessed many small and large changes, including some nationally significant events:

They banded together
Fall 1962 saw the beginnings of Millikin’s Jazz Lab Band, and on March 8, 1963, they gave their first performance in a sold-out Albert Taylor Hall. Under the direction of the late Roger Schueler, the Jazz Lab Band quickly rose to national prominence, performing at the Chicagoland Jazz Festival in early 1966.

In October 1963, Millikin’s marching band had just six days notice to prepare and perform for a live crowd of 45,000 at half-time of a Chicago Bears football game – plus a nationwide television audience of approximately 2.5 million (photo above).
The attire was a changin'
Just as students in earlier classes, members of the class of ’66 also were required to wear their freshman beanies on campus. However, the “beanie question” emerged as a hot button issue during their time as students, and in 1967, the beanie tradition was abolished.

A year earlier, students had petitioned for a change in the campus dress code in order to wear Bermuda shorts in the cafeteria and library. The petition was approved for both men and women.

Do you copy me?
The library welcomed its first Xerox machine, a gift from the class of 1965. Copies could be made for just 10 cents a page – coincidentally the same fee that is charged today.

In 1965, student Mike Evans attempted to promote his new, more aggressive-looking rendition of a Millikin falcon mascot to symbolize the “fierceness” of MU sports teams. The staffers of the Decaturian covered that story as well as devoting heavy coverage to the burgeoning civil rights movement.

New places and faces
Blackburn Hall, a new women’s dormitory, was built and dedicated, and construction began on Hessler Hall, a new men’s residence hall, in April 1966.

A year earlier, Chaplain William G. Bodamer began his teaching career at MU and was described as “one of the most dynamic new additions to the Millikin faculty.” Dr. Bodamer taught at Millikin until his 1997 retirement as professor emeritus of religion.

The day they’ll never forget
In November 1963, the class of ’66 and the rest of campus were shocked by President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, and students, faculty and staff gathered in Albert Taylor Hall to mourn his loss. The Peace Corps, established by President Kennedy’s executive order in March 1961, advertised and recruited heavily on campus. Jack Kolb ’63 was one who answered the call, serving the Peace Corps in Nepal. 

These are just a few of the Millikin moments from the period of 1962 - 66, when future President Zemke walked the campus as a student, gathering experiences and skills that would one day aid him in his role as Millikin’s top administrator.


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Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL