Times They Were a-Changin’!

Student profiles and student life both took on new looks through the 1960s and ’70s. The old profile was rewritten by the growing enrollment of young people from all across the Commonwealth and nearby states. More urban students and minority students considered FJC as an educational option. Ferrum’s church connections remained important—about half of the first-year students in 1969 came from Methodist backgrounds.

Understanding the value of sports to college life, recruitment, and reputation, Dr. Arthur set up a formal athletic program in 1955–56. FJC teams played squads from other colleges as well as military schools. Dr. Arthur’s campus plans included new facilities for track and field, football, baseball, and basketball. National football championships in 1965, 1968, 1974, and 1977 spread the Ferrum name nationwide.

At the same time, the Baby Boomers created a social atmosphere the school’s founders never imagined. Amid a swirling youth culture, tastes in pop music and clothes changed rapidly. So, too, did some longstanding Ferrum traditions. Customs such as the annual Ferrum May Day events—which had featured an outdoor May Pole dance before a billowy-gowned queen and her court in the 1950s—had morphed into the much less ceremonial Spring Dance by 1975. Homecoming, with its tie to football, became a major campus event.

The Baby Boomers brought other behaviors as well. FJC’s residence halls still had dorm mothers as late as the 1970s, but by then off-campus socializing was a well-established Ferrum tradition of its own. Philpott Lake was just one of the popular venues for parties, which included all the usual “refreshments” and behaviors of the era.

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