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Ld3668m31969 00247

rapidly expanding responsibilities of higher education. Graduate training,
research, professional education--these were now the major tasks of the univer
sities, and all involved large expenditures for buildings, equipment, libraries,
and faculty. Was the University to follow the national trend, or was it to
decide that it must settle for a less grandiose scheme of development? Here was
the most important question that the University had ever been called upon to
answer, but the people of Nebraska were not prepared to consider it. Popular
attention was diverted from consideration of this profound and fundamental issue
to the emotionally-charged but relatively minor question of whether or not to
move the University to the farm campus.
The location debate had long gone on in a desultory manner. For years
Dean Bessey had advocated that the University be consolidated on the farm
campus, and everyone interested in the institution knew that with every passing
week conditions on the downtown campus became less bearable. In his outgoing
message to the legislature in 1909, Governor Sheldon emphasized the University's
need to enlarge the campus. The regents were prompted to engage an archi
tectural firm to study the University's needs, and the experts unanimously
recommended that all new buildings be located on the farm campus. There was
much support for the recommendation, since it appeared that the city campus
could not be enlarged: to the north was the railroad, and to east, west, and south
were prohibitively priced properties. Governor-elect Shallenberger thought the
downtown buildings would bring about $250,000 at auction, which would be a
good start for a building fund. Regent Coupland favored the consolidation
scheme because, for one thing, the University's present architectural style was
"neither Romanesque or picturesque, but 'peculiaresque,' " and the new buildings
could follow a single architectural design. W. J. Bryan, who also endorsed the
recommendation, wanted a University campus with buildings which people would
not be ashamed to show visiting friends.
At this time, only two regents--Coupland and Frank Haller of Omaha-
favored the consolidation of all University buildings and activities on the farm
campus. Their reasons why the city campus should be abandoned were given in
a World-Herald editorial of December 26, 1910. Two campuses, they said, promoted inefficiency, waste, and duplication. In addition, Haller was fearful that if two campuses were retained, the College of Agriculture, which had been
re-created in 1909,3 would outstrip the Arts College. If this plan came to pass, Haller predicted in a letter to S. C. Bassett that Omaha would offer a site for the latter college and the regents would be inclined to accept. "Lincoln might just as well face the proposition that if they do not consolidate they are going to stand a good chance of losing the downtown campus of the Liberal Arts University," he
concluded.
In the report for the 1909-1910 biennium, the regents said that while some citizens no doubt wanted the University to have a "more magnificent physical plant," the immediate need was for more buildings; even "strictly temporary
wooden structures" would be a help. If the legislature failed to provide funds for
some kind of building, it would be necessary to restrict enrollment. The 1911
legislature responded by forming a joint committee to study the building and
removal questions. After extended hearings, the committee concluded that
conditions on both campuses were bad and "the actual congestion caused by
numbers is greater at the city campus." Nebraska Hall and University Hall no
longer were fit for occupancy. The committee estimated that thirty acres, or six square blocks, costing approximately $470,000, were needed to give the

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3 See below, p. 203.

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