Alumni stories: Edelbert Rodgers, Class of 32

This entry marks the start of a new series in this blog: stories of IWU Alumni that emerge during research with the collections in the University Archives.

Rodgers' Senior Class photo from the 1934 Wesleyana

Rodgers’ Senior Class photo from the 1934 Wesleyana

The Argus editor in 1932 posted a summary of sociology research completed by Senior Edlebert Rodgers.
January 13, 1932 Argus headline: WESLEYAN SENIOR MAKES
CIVIC SURVEY OF HIS PEOPLE

“In  a  survey  of the  Social and  Economic progress of Negroes in  Bloomington  and Normal Edelbert  Rogers has found that the negro population of these two  cities  is  804.  This number makes up 2.8  percent of  the  entire  population of these  two  cities.  The  negroes  of Champaign make up 7.8  percent  of the population  while  4.7  percent  of  the people in  Springfield are negroes….”

There are only a few mentions* of Rodgers in The Argus at different points in his campus career, but the story above is the only substantive information from his IWU days that we know of at this time. All the stories linked below only share his debate team activities. Other information is available during his only known return to campus.

Edelbert Rodgers at Founders' Day Convocation 2001. Provost Janet McNew is pictured on the left.

Edelbert Rodgers at Founders’ Day Convocation 2001. Provost Janet McNew is pictured on the left.

The quote that follows is from a Press Release for Founders’ Day 2001 (similar wording appears in an Argus Article about the event). At that event Dr. Rodgers was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

“Edelbert Rodgers, class of 1933, IWU’s oldest living minority alumnus, retired professor, Flint Junior College (now Mott Community College) in Michigan. Rodgers also was a practicing psychologist. He will meet with a group of students at 4 p.m. on Feb. 20 in the Cartwright Room, IWU Memorial Student Center, 104 E. University St. Rodgers also will meet with psychology faculty and students in C009B of the Center for Natural Sciences, 201 E. Beecher, at 9 a.m. on Feb. 21.”

The stories related during Rodgers’ visit had an impact on then-Dean of Students Jim Matthews. In a Fall 2007 IWU Magazine story, Matthews recounts the visit and his decision to use Rodgers’ picture as one of the focal points for visitors in the newly-remodeled Hansen Student Center.

Next time you’re in Hansen, stop by the front desk and take a moment to consider the life of Edlebert Rodgers.

*Other Argus stories Rodgers is mentioned in. Note: Spelling in these stories is for Rogers without a “d.”

Debate team activity described on page 1 of the issue at 1931-12-15.

“James Hidden and Edelbert Rogers argued the question [not specified] with a team of men from the same school” (see p2 at 1932-02-24).

The story on p8 of 1932-04-27 is for another debate. Rogers was timer for one “section” of the competition.

And on p3 of 1932-05-04, Rogers is listed with Titan Varsity Debate team: “During the season Edelbert Rogers, and James Hidden also saw action. The debaters wish to thank the fraternities and sororities of Wesleyan for their splendid cooperation in entertaining visiting teams during the season. Teams from eight different schools were taken care of overnight at the various houses. With the majority of the debate squad returning to school next year the outlook for another successful season is very bright.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.