At the 2003 Annual Convention of the College Theology Society in Milwaukee, Sandra Yocum Mize presented some of her research for a history of the Society. I greatly appreciated her investigation of our Society's origins and its progress. She reminded me of things I had forgotten and told me much that I have never known. Let me add a few reminiscences that may be helpful to those who are new in the profession or relatively so.
The Korean War consumed the last two years of Harry Truman's second term as president, when Dwight Eisenhower was elected to succeed him. After the unsuccessful effort to contain Communism on the entire Korean peninsula at the cost of many lives on both sides, the eight Eisenhower years, 1952–1960 were largely a matter of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. Eisenhower was basically a retired general, on the basis of which he had been named president of Columbia University in a kind of travesty of academic life. His brother Milton who might have made a better chief executive rose in academia to become president of the Pennsylvania State University, well before Joe Paterno brought the Nittany Lions to another kind of eminence. The Eisenhower years were a lull of sorts in U.S. life bringing prosperity to the few, Republican style, and a scandal over his chief of staff who had accepted a gift of an alpaca coat. Days of innocence! Catholic college enrollments were still very much on the increase in the mid-1950s as a result of the G.I. Bill granting full tuition and books, not only for undergraduate and graduate study but even for any theological seminary of a veteran's choice. Many a convent motherhouse's instructional situation was being transformed into a bachelor's degree-granting institution in those years, at first for the religious students only but then shortly for adult lay women in the surrounding areas. The teachers of religion in Catholic colleges and in the few universities of the mid-1950s were priests with a seminary education—no religious brothers, sisters or lay persons as yet.