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ERIC Number: EJ811592
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Feb
Pages: 39
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0018-2680
One-Third of a Campus: Ruth Crawford Mitchell and Second-Generation Americans at the University of Pittsburgh
Wechsler, Harold S.
History of Education Quarterly, v48 n1 p94-132 Feb 2008
Were colleges obliged to address the dilemmas faced by the many first- and second-generation Americans who enrolled after World War I? No, replied many administrators who espoused exclusion or assimilation, or who expressed indifference. These attitudes meant that many students would never learn to navigate the turbulent waters of campus social life. Dropout rates were significant even before the Great Crash created insurmountable financial difficulties for numerous undergraduates. The testimony of peers who remained suggested that success often came despite institutional hostility. But some faculty and staff members saw these first- and second-generation day students as assets, not liabilities, who brought texture--even tradition and heritage--to campus life. Ruth Crawford Mitchell (1890-1984), a teacher and administrator at the University of Pittsburgh for over 30 years, shared this viewpoint. Pitt lore associated Mitchell with the university's vaunted Nationality Rooms--26 classrooms (as of 2007) celebrating the history of most groups represented in Allegheny County and environs. These rooms--designed, decorated, and funded by members of the respective nationality group--symbolized an unusually close town-gown relationship. But behind her work for the Nationality Rooms, Mitchell befriended and advocated for the many second-generation Americans--native-born with at least one foreign-born parent--who came to the university from the surrounding city, mill towns, and coal and oil fields. Although not without condescension and stereotyping, she calculated the size, studied the backgrounds, and tried to improve the lives of Pitt's SGS--her acronym for what she called "second-generation students." This article describes the story of Mitchell's encounter with this one-third of the Pitt student body. (Contains 4 tables and 107 footnotes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Pennsylvania