Monday, February 25, 2008

Almost Neither Seen Nor Heard

Now here's an interesting what-if for the VU Class of 1973.

I uncovered it going through archival files working on our 30th Reunion five years ago. I think it's even more relevant now as the University continues to look for a new Chancellor to replace Gordon Gee.

It was the lead, front-page story in the summer edition of THE HUSTLER dated August 21, 1969 with a headline that blared:


That's right, Alexander Heard, our Chancellor for the entire four years we attended Vanderbilt, almost wasn't there. He looked strongly at an offer to become the head of Columbia University before deciding to stay a Commodore.

So with the Chance almost neither seen or heard by our Class (sorry, couldn't resist the pun), who would have hosted that all-important, initial Vanderbilt rite of passage for our Class, the Freshman Picnic, which was held at the Chancellor's residence on Deer Park Drive in Belle Meade?

What are your memories of that early event in our Vanderbilt careers? Scared? Bored? Excited? What picnic?

What other memories do you have of Chancellor Heard during our four years on campus?

Was it President Nixon appointing him to head a national commission to study campus unrest after the Cambodian invasion in the spring of 1970?

Maybe it was just seeing him on campus. Since he spent so much time out of town for the University and the Ford Foundation, there was a running joke about how rare it was to have an on-campus siting of him?

For me, I remember, as a member of the campus media, going to periodic news conferences he would hold in his office in Kirkland Hall. All questions had to be submitted in advance and in writing (what was the fun of that?). And that's all he talked about (with not many, if any, follow-up questions allowed).

But, hey, he was the head guy, and we usually found something he said that we could make a news story out of for our daily newscasts on WRVU.

Then I remember when the Vanderbilt baseball team won the SEC championship in the spring of 1973. Chancellor Heard was at the clinching game, and we got the opportunity to interview him live on the air right after we won.

While Vandy had garnered few SEC crowns up to that time, and it was our first ever in baseball, Chancellor Heard handled the interview like it was an expected, routine occurence for Vandy to prevail(and without any questions being submitted in writing or in advance, what a concept!).

Please share your thoughts about the Chancellor, who I believe remains a beloved figure for our Class, and for everyone who had the fortune to attend Vanderbilt during his tenure.


Anonymous said...

Hey Class of 1973

I am looking forward to seeing you this fall as we celebrate our 35th year since graduation from Vanderbilt.

I have several questions ??

What ever happened to the KA cannon?

How long did it take for Alan Mazer to get the Corn Flakes and Molasses off his body?

What was your favorite concert during our four years at Vanderbilt (1969-1973)?

Let's Blog Away,

Steven Greil

Anonymous said...

I actually started Vanderbilt in the fall of 1970, graduating in May 1973 with a lot of effort and an anemic GPA. At our picnic, the entertainment didn't show up. They had an acoustic guitar and a few other things on stage and asked for volunteer performers. My roommate volunteered me. I sang a few songs and relinquished the stage. In my 3 years there, that was the only out-of-the-ordinary thing I did. But, my senior year, I saw Chancellor Heard walking across campus and said hello. He responded by calling me BY NAME (!) and returning my greeting. An amazing man.