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Student Traditions in the MSU Years

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					        The pageant underwent some changes in the 1950s and 1960s, and in some ways reverted

back to the original Desoto sponsorships. Female students now competed in the Desoto Beauty

Revue, and the winner had a special feature in the yearbook.1 Contestants still competed in the

usual criteria, such as talent and evening wear, but conducted the bathing suit section behind

closed doors, so to keep in line with appropriate modes of societal conduct at the time. Also,

each contestant had to obtain twenty five signatures on a petition in order to compete, resulting

in the increased competitiveness and elite quality of the beauty revue.2 The Miss Memphis title

was still alive, as winners were annually presented in the “Features” section of the Desoto, but

remained secondary to the Desoto Beauty Revue.3 In the 1960s the “Features” section evolved

into the “Personalities” aspect of the Desoto, and both titles were features as the most prominent

on campus. In fact, by 1968 the two titles had become indistinguishable, as the winner of the

Desoto Beauty Revue went on to compete in the Miss Tennessee pageant, and they bore the title

of “Miss Memphis State.”4The beauty revue returned to the Miss Memphis State Pageant by the

early 1970s, and was larger than ever, with as many as eighteen contestants competing for the

title.5 The prizes were also larger than ever. The winner of the 1973 Miss Memphis State

Pageant, Betty Ann Hunt, received several scholarships, a wardrobe, and the use of a car during

the week of the Miss Tennessee Pageant.6

        Although by the 1970s and 1980s the Miss Memphis State pageants were still sponsored

by the Desoto and occurring annually, many facets of the pageant had changed. Winners of the

pageant continued to represent the university at the Miss Tennessee competition, but the number


1
  1953 Desoto, p. 50. Mississippi Valley Collection, McWherter Library, The University of Memphis.
2
  Ibid.
3
  1953 Desoto, 51.
4
  1963 Desoto, 39, 1968 Desoto, 132. Mississippi Valley Collection, McWherter Library, The University of
Memphis.
5
  1976 Desoto, p. 58. Mississippi Valley Collection, McWherter Library, The University of Memphis.
6
  1973 Desoto, 29.
of competitors had changed to sixteen, each of which was sponsored by a Greek organization.7

The Student Activities Council’s special events committee put on the pageant, and scholarships

were given in amounts of $1,000, $500, and $250 to Miss Memphis State as well as the first and

second runners-up, respectively.8 Special awards were also awarded within the pageant. Miss

Memphis State 1985 Gelene Ayers also won Miss Congeniality, just one of the awards presented

based on morale and interviews.9

        Also, although other student run publications were often circulated on campus, such as

the literary magazine Transition, it was the Tiger Rag that was most popular. By the 1960s the

newspaper was also emerging as an award winning piece of journalism.10 In 1965 the Tiger Rag,

now a twice-weekly publication, had earned an All America Reporting award by the Associated

College Press Association in a competition with other college newspapers across the nation.11

The newspaper continued to also be a forum for student protest, both in terms of university

issues and broader societal problems. One major topic of protest revolved around education, and

things got especially heated at the Tiger Rag in the late 1960s, as students protested policies of

the Selective Service that could potentially draft graduate students.12 Students also wrote in to

discuss communication issues at the campus, especially in terms of the appropriateness of sit-ins

and peaceful protest marches around Memphis State University.13

        The Tiger Rag ended its run in 1972, as the Student Publications Committee had

approved a proposal to keep the campus newspaper running, but with a major change to its name.

7
  Memphis Press-Scimitar, “No Hard Feelings”, February 12, 1979, and “Miss Memphis State”, March 4, 1982.
Mississippi Valley Collection, McWherter Library, The University of Memphis.
8
  1985 Desoto, “Beauty Revue”, p. 58-59. Mississippi Valley Collection, McWherter Library, The University of
Memphis.
9
  Ibid.
10
   Jones, 312.
11
   William Sorrels, The Exciting Years: The Cecil C. Humphreys Presidency of Memphis State University, 1960-
1972 (Memphis: Memphis State University Press, 1987): 118.
12
   Bruce Williams, “Wait and Hope”, Tiger Rag, July 9, 1968.
13
   Morgan McCraw, “Readers Response”, Tiger Rag, October 18, 1968.
On Friday, April 14, 1972, the first issue of The Helmsman was run. The name change became

permanently effective during the Fall 1972 semester.14 The name “The Helmsman” was selected

due to the relationship between the university’s campus and the Mississippi River, as helmsman

is a nautical term.15It is interesting to note that this major change appeared to have occurred

seamlessly, as there is no evidence of protest regarding the name change in future issue of The

Helmsman. In 1981 the name changed again to The Daily Helmsman, which also marked a

change in the paper’s circulation from twice- weekly to four days a week.16 By the 1990s, The

Daily Helmsman was a daily publication that housed a staff of nine reporters, two photographers,

and seven editors who worked on the paper until at least midnight in order to have it printed in

New Albany, Mississippi and circulated on campus the next morning.17

        The Memphis State University Alumni Association was small and new in comparison to

other major alumni associations, yet by 1965 it had taken significant steps to formalize its goals

and contributions to the school.18 The Alumni Association formally stated its purpose, claiming

“We believe the total university is the proper interest of the Memphis State University Alumni

Association and the alumni program should be a total program that serves these interests best.”19

This purpose was broken down into specific articles that stated the association’s responsibilities

to Memphis State University, its current students, and, perhaps most importantly, to fellow

alumni. In the years since the charter the Alumni Association had grown upwards to 3500




14
   The Helmsman, vol.xxxv, no.52, Friday, April 14, 1972.
15
   Ibid.
16
   The University of Memphis, The Daily Helmsman Online (2009), https://umdrive.memphis.edu/g-
journalism/dh.html, [March 10, 2009].
17
   Kerry Avens, “One Night, Many Pages”, 1996 Desoto, 61. Mississippi Valley Collection, McWherter Library,
The University of Memphis.
18
   Memphis State University Alumni Association, “1965-1966 Alumni Membership Directory”, The Columns, 2.
Box 10/c/5, Vol. 1, Folder ACE/ALUMNI, Mississippi Valley Collection, The University of Memphis.
19
   Ibid.
members, and programs were presented to further increase this membership.20 The Alumni

Association also acknowledged The Columns as the major alumni publication for the university,

a fact that would remain for decades to come. The directory listed all alumni contact information

in hopes that programs held during Homecoming and the summer would thrive and expand as

the association grew.

        These hopes were indeed met, as the Alumni Association quickly expanded, both in

terms of membership and the programs it offered the university. The Student Ambassador Board

began in 1970 “as an outgrowth of the Mr. and Miss Memphis State Contest.”21 The board

served to strengthen the relationship between graduating seniors and the Alumni Association.

The Student Ambassador Board held several events such as the “Mudball Tournament”, a mud

filled volleyball game, and also published “Graduates’ Graffiti”, which provided graduation

information for seniors as well as introduced them to the Alumni Association’s procedures and

programs.22 In 1974 The Alumni Association founded and chartered the Emeriti Alumni Club,

which served retired faculty and staff as a branch of the larger association.23 Since its founding

the Emeriti Club has held special memorials and dedications for distinguished members of the

university’s community as well as provided a “social outlet” for retired faculty and staff to

communicate and serve the university as well as its student body. 24The Emeriti Club, which had

upwards of 450 members by the late 1990s, also supports large projects at the university, such as

the Memorial Garden project and histories of the school.25


20
   “1965-1966 Alumni Membership Directory”, 40.
21
   Memphis State University Alumni Directory (White Plains, NY: Bernard C. Harris Publishing Company, Inc.,
1992): ix.
22
   Ibid.
23
   Aleda M. Kelly and Fred K. Bellot, History of The University of Memphis Emeriti Club, 1974-1996. Memphis
State University archives, Box 10/c/5, Folder ACE/ALUMNI, Mississippi Valley Collection, The University of
Memphis.
24
   Ibid.
25
   Ibid.
        In October 1976 the new Alumni Center was created and the Alumni Association’s

headquarters established at 637 Normal Cove, once home to the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. The

house had been completely remodeled to serve alumni and host functions. The center also

housed the offices of the Highland Hundred and Rebounders, branch alumni organizations that

supported Memphis State University athletics.26 In 1977 the Distinguished Alumni Award was

established, with Ellen Davies-Rodgers being its first recipient. 27

        The Memphis State University National Alumni Association had specified its purpose to

“provide aid, assistance, and counsel to the University and the cause of education in general, and
                                                  28
to promote fellowship among its members.”              The Alumni Association was now governed by a

Board of Directors elected by the Association who organized monthly meetings as well as an

annual business meeting during Homecoming. Several alumni chapters had been organized by

1979, and the Association sponsored travel for these chapters as well as students. These trips

ranged from university events to travel abroad. Members of the Alumni Association were given

access to university facilities as well as tickets to university events. The Memphis State

University Alumni College was established in 1979 and was specifically oriented for young

alumni.29 The 1979 Memphis State University Alumni Directory also included a detailed

description of the Annual Fund to encourage alumni to continue funding many of these expanded

programs as well as other projects for the student body.

        It was clear that the Alumni Association had no intentions of slowing their rapid growth

in the 1980s and 1990s. Sponsorship of travel continued to bring alumni together. In the fall of

1981 the Travelin’ Tiger Tours, set up by the Alumni Association, organized a trip to the Soviet


26
   Memphis Press-Scimitar, “MSU Alumni Center to Give First ‘Home’ To Graduates”. October 1, 1976.
27
   Memphis State University Alumni Directory, 1979, vi.
28
   Ibid.
29
   Ibid.
Union for alumni as well as interested students.30 Along with the Student Ambassador Board, the

Women’s Advisory Council and Young Alumni Council had been organized to further address

the needs of students and alumni through the opportunities given by the Alumni Association.31 In

the 1990s The Alumni Association adapted their mission statement to “promote the general

welfare of Memphis State University” and “maintain a close bond between alumni and the

university” as well as to “serve as a liaison between the university and the community.” 32 By

establishing programs that responded to the student community as well as the outside

community, the Alumni Association became successful in facilitating as many relationships with

the university as possible. The organization changed their membership requirements so that any

graduate or student who had attended the institution for at least one semester could be eligible for

Alumni Association membership. As a direct result of this, in 1992 the Association boasted

membership totals upwards of 60,000 alumni and “friends”, special honorees of Memphis State

University.33

        The Alumni Association continued to be governed by a board that met three times a year

as well as during Homecoming. The Columns Alumni Review, the same publication that was

issued in the 1960s, also continued to reach alumni with information regarding alumni events as

well as “stories of interest”. Newsletters and other sources of information also circulated to
                                34
special branches of alumni.          The Golden Reunion was established as a special event honoring

the fiftieth anniversary of a graduating class. This reunion involves a weekend of activities

sponsored by the Alumni Association concluding in the induction into the Half Century Club.35



30
   Memphis Press-Scimitar, “Slots Open on Tiger Trip To USSR”, October 8, 1981.
31
   Memphis State University Alumni Directory 1992, viii.
32
   Memphis State University Alumni Directory 1992, vii.
33
   Ibid.
34
   Memphis State University Alumni Directory, 1992, viii.
35
   Ibid.
        Although the Distinguished Alumni Award had been established in 1977, the 1992

Alumni Directory detailed the characteristics and election processes of the honor. The award is

to be honored only to those who have brought “honor and distinction” to the university, and as a

result it is considered to be the highest honor an alumnus or “friend” can receive from the

university. The honor can be given to someone who has made a significant contribution to the

university in one of three areas: Distinguished Achievement, Distinguished Service, and

Distinguished Friends of the University, which is presented to non-alumni.36 There can be no

more than two of these awards given annually, and awards will only be given in years when a

deserving candidate is identified, which is not necessarily annually. 37 Some notable honorees if

the Distinguished Alumni and Friends Awards in the 1990s include Senator Fred Thompson,

Shelby County Mayor A.C. Wharton, and Dr. Benjamin L. Hooks. 38 In the late 1980s the Young

Alumni Council established the outstanding Young Alumni Award. This award is presented to

alumni younger than forty “for significant accomplishments in business or professional life or

service to Memphis State University, the community, state, or nation.”39 There can be no more

than one of these awards given annually, and, similarly to the Distinguished Alumni Award,

awards will only be given in years when a deserving candidate is identified.

        Various life forms pass through the halls of the classrooms and buildings at The

University of Memphis. Students, faculty, staff, and alumni young and old frequent these places

daily. Many believe that they share some of these places with ghosts or spirits. Building One,

located on South Campus, is one of these places. The 1986 Desoto reports that “if Memphis State


36
   Memphis State University Alumni Directory, 1992, x.
37
   The University of Memphis Alumni Directory (White Plains, NY: Bernard C. Harris Publishing Company, Inc,
2001): xii, xiii.
38
   Alumni Association, “Distinguished Alumni Awards” (2009) http://www.memphis.edu/alumni/daa.php [February
20, 2009]. A full list of honorees is located on this website.
39
   Memphis State University Alumni Directory, 1992, xi. For a full current list of honorees see
http://www.memphis.edu/alumni/daa.php .
owns a building that might look like home sweet home to a poltergeist, Building One is it.”40

Building One, which faces Getwell and was formerly a hospital, regularly creaks and moans,

according to its inhabitants. Both graduate students and staff who frequent the building claim

that they often hear strange noises that sound as though “someone is sweeping the floor.”41 Many

refuse to work in the building alone at night, and the custodian, who as of 1986 had worked in

the building for fifteen years, refuses to comment on the possibility of the paranormal.

        According to Physical Plant, Building One along with the rest of South Campus, has been

“plagued” by families of raccoons, which would explain the sounds that cause telephone

repairmen to come once and never return. Elizabeth Higginbotham of the Center for Research on

Women remembers a plumber who was attacked by the raccoons. The plumber fought for his

safety with a pipe, but many speculate about the fates of others.42

                                                Maybelline Forbes


        Many milestones have occurred over the course of The University of Memphis’ almost

one hundred year old life. Several of these milestones are in regards to race relations at the

university, and this milestone is no different. What is different about this milestone, however, is

its inclusion of an entire student body, one of many races, around the support of an individual.

        Homecoming 1970 saw a formidable football match-up between Memphis State and

Florida State, with the presentation of Homecoming Court during halftime. Maybelline Forbes

was a part of this court, the first black candidate to be on Homecoming court since 1966. Forbes

was among twelve other contestants. A senior biology major, she had been endorsed by several

white fraternities, something quite unusual for the time. Maybelline Forbes was eventually

40
   Rod S. Hagwood, “Looking For a Poltergeist”, 1986 Desoto, Vol. 74, p.46-47. Memphis: Memphis State
University. Mississippi Valley Collection, McWherter Library, The University of Memphis.
41
   Ibid.
42
   Ibid.
crowned Homecoming Queen, the first African American at Memphis State University to receive

the honor. The excitement surrounding the competition was so overwhelming that many believed

it led to the victory of Memphis State over Florida State in the last two minutes of the game, 16-

12. Forbes paved the way for other African American women to compete and win several

contests at The University of Memphis, including the Miss Memphis State, Typical Co-Ed, and

Queen of the May titles. 43




43
  William Sorrels, The Exciting Years: The Cecil C. Humphreys Presidency of Memphis State University, 1960-
1972 (Memphis: Memphis State University Press, 1987): 218.
                                         Bibliography

Alumni Association. “Distinguished Alumni Awards”. 2009.
      http://www.memphis.edu/alumni/daa.php [February 20, 2009].

“Alumni Want Funds to Fix U of M Home”, Memphis Business Journal, October 14-18, 1996.

Avens, Kerry. “One Night, Many Pages”, Desoto, 1996. Mississippi Valley Collection,
       McWherter Library, The University of Memphis.

Davis, Paul R. “Fight for State Teachers College”. Tiger Rag, vol. 2, no.16, February 17, 1933.

Devault, Darrin. The University of Memphis Alumni Association release, March 28, 1996.
      Mississippi Valley Collection, McWherter Library, The University of Memphis.

Devault, Darrin. The University of Memphis Alumni Association release, October 10, 1996.
      Mississippi Valley Collection, McWherter Library, The University of Memphis.


“Fete will Be Held at College May 19”, Tiger Rag, May 13, 1932.

Jones, Otis H. Memphis State University: First Half Century. Memphis, TN, 1970. Mississippi
       Valley Collection, McWherter Library, The University of Memphis.

Kelly, Aleda M., and Fred K. Bellot. History of the University of Memphis Emeriti Club, 1974-
       1996. Mississippi Valley Collection, McWherter Library, The University of Memphis.

Lamar, Lousie, ed. Tiger Rag Bulletin Board, 1943. Mississippi Valley Collection, McWherter
       Library, The University of Memphis.

McClain, Scott. The University of Memphis Alumni Association release, November 14, 1996.
      Mississippi Valley Collection, McWherter Library, The University of Memphis.

McCraw, Morgan. “Readers Response”. Tiger Rag, October 18, 1968.

Memphis State University Alumni Association. “1965-1966 Alumni Membership Directory”.
     The Columns. Mississippi Valley Collection, McWherter Library, The University of
     Memphis.

Memphis State University Alumni Directory. White Plains, NY: Bernard C. Harris Publishing
     Company, Inc., 1979.

Memphis State University Alumni Directory. White Plains, NY: Bernard C. Harris Publishing
     Company, Inc., 1992.

“Miss Memphis State”, Memphis Press-Scimitar, March 4, 1982.
“MSU Alumni Center to Give First ‘Home’ to Graduates”, Memphis Press-Scimitar, October 1,
     1976.

“No Hard Feelings”, Memphis Press-Scimitar, February 12, 1979.

Peterson, Glenn. “Their Costumes Aren’t Plain or Peanut”, Memphis Press-Scimitar, November
       1, 1980.

“Prettiest will Grace Feature of Desoto”, Tiger Rag, April 29, 1932.

“Slots Open on Tiger Trip to USSR”, Memphis Press-Scimitar, October 8, 1981.

Sorrels, William. The Exciting Years: The Cecil C. Humphreys Presidency of Memphis State
        University, 1960-1972. Memphis: Memphis State University Press, 1987.

Student Alumni Association. “Say SAA!”. Mississippi Valley Collection, McWherter Library,
       The University of Memphis.

Tech Yellowjacket. “Save the Peoples College”. Tiger Rag, vol.2, no.16, February 17, 1933.

The Helmsman, vol.xxxv, no.52, Friday, April 14, 1972.

The University of Memphis Alumni Directory. White Plains, NY: Bernard C. Harris Publishing
      Company, Inc., 2001.

The University of Memphis. Desoto yearbook, 1923. Mississippi Valley Collection, McWherter
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The University of Memphis. Desoto yearbook, 1933. Mississippi Valley Collection, McWherter
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The University of Memphis. Desoto yearbook, 1947. Mississippi Valley Collection, McWherter
      Library, The University of Memphis.

The University of Memphis. Desoto yearbook, 1948. Mississippi Valley Collection, McWherter
      Library, The University of Memphis.

The University of Memphis. Desoto yearbook, 1953. Mississippi Valley Collection, McWherter
      Library, The University of Memphis.

The University of Memphis. Desoto yearbook, 1963. Mississippi Valley Collection, McWherter
       Library, The University of Memphis.

The University of Memphis. Desoto yearbook, 1968. Mississippi Valley Collection, McWherter
       Library, The University of Memphis.

The University of Memphis. Desoto yearbook, 1973. Mississippi Valley Collection, McWherter
       Library, The University of Memphis.

The University of Memphis. Desoto yearbook, 1976. Mississippi Valley Collection, McWherter
       Library, The University of Memphis.

The University of Memphis. Desoto yearbook, 1985. Mississippi Valley Collection, McWherter
       Library, The University of Memphis.

The University of Memphis. Desoto yearbook, 1994. Mississippi Valley Collection, McWherter
       Library, The University of Memphis.

The University of Memphis. “History”. 2005. http://www.memphis.edu/history.php> [February
      16, 2009].

The University of Memphis. The Daily Helmsman Online. 2009.
      https://umdrive.memphis.edu/g-journalism/dh.html, [March 10, 2009].

The University of Memphis. “U of M’s Daily Helmsman Breaks Record at Southeast Journalism
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      http://www.memphis.edu/releases/feb09/helmsmanhonor.htm, [March 10, 2009].

Tiger Rag, April 22, 1932. Mississippi Valley Collection, McWherter Library, The University of
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Tiger Rag, December 11, 1941. Mississippi Valley Collection, McWherter Library, The
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       of Memphis.

Williams, Bruce. “Wait and Hope”. Tiger Rag, July 9, 1968.

“Who Pays the Bill?” Tiger Rag, vo.2, no.16, February 17, 1933.
                                    List of Photographs


Memphis Press-Scimitar, January 13, 1983. “Men of MSU Calendar”. Box 71207-71231,
     Mississippi Valley Collection, McWherter Library, The University of Memphis.

Memphis Press-Scimitar, February 1, 1979. “Miss MSU”. Folder 71207, Mississippi
     Valley Collection, McWherter Library, The University of Memphis.

Memphis Press-Scimitar, October 1, 1976. “MSU Alumni Center to Give First ‘Home’
      For Graduates”- Photo by Ken Ross. Box 71207, Mississippi Valley Collection,
     McWherter Library, The University of Memphis.

Memphis Press-Scimitar, May 22, 1980, p.10. “MSU’s Student Ambassador Board”, Box
     71207-71231, Mississippi Valley Collection, McWherter Library, The University
      of Memphis.

Memphis Press-Scimitar, July 31, 1980. “MSU Alumni Officers”, Box 71207-71231,
      Mississippi Valley Collection, McWherter Library, The University of Memphis.

Memphis State Alumni Directory, 1992. White Plains, NY: Bernard C. Harris Publishing
      Company, Inc. p.x. “Dixie Carter, star of CBS’s Designing Women (shown with
     former president, Dr. Tom Carpenter) received a Distinguished Alumni Award in
     1990”

Memphis State Alumni Directory, 1992. White Plains, NY: Bernard C. Harris Publishing
     Company, Inc. p. vii. “The Alumni Center serves as a haven for alumni
     gatherings, reunions and functions as well as home of the National Alumni
     Association and Office of Development.”

1948 Desoto, p.7. “Barbara Walker, Miss America 1947”. Mississippi Valley Collection,
      McWherter Library, The University of Memphis.

1985 Desoto, p.58, 59. Various, p59 “Gelene Ayers won a $1000 scholarship from the
      Student Activities Council”. Mississippi Valley Collection, McWherter Library,
       The University of Memphis.

Memphis Press- Scimitar, November 1, 1980. “Their Costumes Aren’t Plain-or Peanut”.
     Photo by Glenn Peterson. “Chaperone Bill McCartney and his date, Suzanne
     Hamlin, dressed as a favorite Halloween candy treat for a cruise of the Memphis
     Showboat last night in double celebration of the holiday and Memphis State
     University’s Homecoming weekend”. Mississippi Valley Collection, McWherter
     Library, The University of Memphis.

1933 Desoto, p.121. “Miss Evelyn Pannill, Miss State Teachers College, 1933.”
      Mississippi Valley Collection, McWherter Library, The Univeresity of Memphis.
1923 Desoto, p.10. “Popular Dyer County Chosen as DeSoto Sponsor”. Mississippi
      Valley Collection, McWherter Library, The University of Memphis.

				
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