The article about the growing campus and the upgrade to McCosh 50 brought back one of my favorite memories. In our years there, Econ 101 (taught by Professor Burton Malkiel *64) was typically the most subscribed course. But when it was time for the Class of ’72 to select courses for our final semester, word got out that there was going to be a course with no grades, no quizzes or tests, nothing to do to get credit other than one “paper, program or project,” as the course summary read. Religion 301, Studies in Theology, was to be taught by Professor Victor Preller ’53 *65, a well-liked and appreciated lecturer, and the word was out that whatever you submitted would be just fine.
We seniors scrambled to get our course cards in before Preller’s course was oversubscribed. A true “gut” was hard to come by, and we needed all the time we could get for our theses or independent studies. Besides, who wanted to work too hard in our final semester?
The course had so many students sign up for it that the only academic room on campus large enough was McCosh 50. It was an evening lecture, so the first week of February, we headed over early to grab our seats. Seniors brought coolers of ice cold beer and plunked ourselves in the balcony seats, awaiting Professor Preller. McCosh 50 was standing-room-only.
When he strolled out onto the stage, the hall erupted in applause. He waited for quiet, then walked slowly to the podium, scanned the “orchestra” seats from right to left, and back again. He then did the same for the balcony. Then, leaning in to the microphone, he calmly said, “We all know, don’t we?” He brought down the house, and received a standing ovation.
Preller was a great lecturer. It was a great evening escape to listen to him once a week that semester.