Mexico City College (MCC) was a truly unique institution where Mexico became part of the school’s classroom. Located in and later on the outskirts of Mexico City, it offered a broad liberal arts curriculum accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). Students and faculty from across the United States and almost three dozen countries, along with a local student body, supported by a multinational faculty, provided an educational environment of extraordinary cultural diversity that could not be matched anywhere else at the time. Twenty years after its founding, it stood on the brink of foundering when “it would be re-named as the University of the Américas, then the Universidad de las Américas followed by its move to Puebla. Fifteen years later it was divided into two distinct, separate institutions, one still in Puebla, Universidad de las Américas-Puebla (UDLAP), and one back in Mexico City, Universidad de las Américas, A.C. [‘Asociación Civil,’ designating a nonprofit corporation],(UDLA, A.C., or just UDLA)."12
To appreciate fully the evolution of MCC into UDLAP ("one of the most prestigious private universities in Mexico" Note M), the history and the politics, requires going back to the opening days of the Second World War.
Germany was on the march and U.S. involvement was just a question of time. The large U.S. (and English speaking) colony in Mexico City wanted the means to keep their high school grads at home, instead of them heading north for college (out of parental control), if not impulsive “patriotic enlistment.”2
Mexico City College (MCC) grew out of one of the great private educational ventures in Latin America — the American School Foundation — and of the aspirations of its superintendent, Dr. Henry L. Cain, and the principal of the High School Department, Dr. Paul V. Murray. Thus MCC was founded in 1940 as an extension of the American School Foundation (K-12). "Sapientia, Pax, Fraternitas" (Wisdom, Peace, Fraternity) was chosen as its motto. (For short bios of Dr. Cain and Dr. Murray, see "The Founders' Book" on the Home Page.)
Dr. Cain was invested as the first president (and served until 1953, when he became President Emeritus); Paul V. Murray served as the Dean (and became President in 1953). Aside from administrative roles, Dr. Cain served as professor of education, and Mr. Murray as professor of history.1 Having lived in Mexico since the late 1930s, Mr. Murray and his wife, Elena Picazo de Murray, published numerous articles and widely-adopted text books for language instruction. He was later awarded an LL.D. by his alma mater, St. Ambrose College.
Dr. Murray, “articulate and energetic, . . . had maintained a close and influential association with the Mexican and foreign business community and with other educational institutions. As the official spokesperson for the College, he assumed primary responsibility for maintaining the financial solvency of the College and took justifiable pride in his ability to meet complex payrolls. Since the College enjoys neither diplomatic sponsorship nor immunity, an indispensable prerequisite for its stable functioning is the maintenance of amicable relations with the Government and people of Mexico.”2 “(Murray and Cain) were well-connected within a middle to lower rung of the American-Mexican ‘old-boy network.’ ” 10, Note B,
Mexico City College opened July 1, 1940 as a junior college in the dining room of "casa de huespedes" at Avenida Tacubaya, 40 (currently, Avenida Vasconcelos, 32) with five students, five teachers, five liberal arts courses and Henry L. Cain as President, Paul V. Murray as Dean and Elizabeth Thomas de Lopez as Registrar. Five years later Elizabeth Lopez was hired as the first full time employee of MCC.9
In February, 1941, classes were held in the afternoon in the basement of the American High School in the building that later became the offices of Sears Roebuck, S.A., at Avenidas Insurgentes and San Luis Potosi, No. 154.
Five years later, the College moved from the American High School (later to become the large Sears Roebuck store) across the street to Calle San Luis Potosi, 131, and eventually occupied various office buildings and apartment houses along the streets of Chiapas, San Luis Potosi, and Zacatecas. In January, 1946 a group of nine students arrived from Ohio State University for the first Winter Quarter in Mexico (WQIM) program. A month later the Veterans Administration placed MCC on the list of schools approved for study under the G.I. Bill of Rights.1 Three American veterans of World War II enrolled. Student enrollment was now 75.9
Students often lived upstairs or next door to the building that housed their classroom. The Student ID Card gave students free access to the Hacienda Club which provided tennis courts, basketball and handball courts, a swimming pool and steam baths. The Club was located only seven and half blocks from the San Luis Potosi campus.
MCC's connection with the American School Foundation ended in June, 1946, when the ASF sold the high school building to Sears Roebuck and ASF moved to its new campus in Colonia Tacubaya.9
Dr. Henry Cain and Paul Murray, co-founders and co-owners of MCC, legally changed the status of the school from a proprietary institution to an Associación Civil, in July 31, 1950. This paved the way for acceptance by the Texas Association of Colleges as an overseas institution and, later (December 2, 1959), membership in the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
By May, 1951, the MCC campus consisted of seven buildings in Colonia Roma, spread over an area of six blocks: three of the latest additions being at 132 and 136 San Luis Potosi, and one on the corner of Tonela and Chiapas. The post office address for the College was Calle San Luis Potosi, 135.
The College academic philosophy was spelled out in the 1957-58 College catalogue, “the administrators of Mexico City College believe that a broad liberal arts program is the best basis for general education. . . . History, literature, philosophy, logic, ethics, art, music, geography, English and Spanish form the basis of cultural orientation at the college.” 21
One alumnus remembers Dr. Paul Murray as wearing “his religion on his sleeve” and was, to some, “familiarly known as ‘Pious Paul.’ ” Murray, in his column “From The Dean’s Desk,” (The Collegian, August 15, 1949), although he praised the acting of the MCC students, was quick to express his conservatism and religious values when he wrote that the recent four one-act plays of Tennessee Williams, presented by MCC Studio Players, was “vacuous drivel . . . . Is this the best offering from modern playwriting . . . where ‘God’ has been reduced to ‘god’ and ‘damn’ to ‘dam?’ ”
MCC (as a private two-year institution) graduated its first class of six students in June, 1940. (See Note A for the names of the faculty and this first graduating class.) In the next twelve years more than six thousand north-of-the-border students attended MCC.1
In the first “commencement” exercises in 1944-1945, twenty graduates received diplomas as Associates in Arts and Sciences. This “degree,” no longer awarded, represented four years of work, but not within a recognized college curriculum, which MCC was not yet equipped to offer.1
Like the student body, the early faculty during the late 1940s and '50s represented over ten nationalities,21 including England, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain, personifying and symbolizing the democratic values of cultural diversity and tolerance. Many of the faculty migrated to Mexico from Europe following the Spanish Civil War and, later, World War II. Many were western Europeans – among them José Gaos, co-chairman of graduate studies, who was formerly the rector of the University of Madrid and professor of History and Anthropology, and Pedro Bosch Gimpera, former rector of the University of Barcelona and former Catalonian Minister of the Interior. The former Czechoslovakian Minister to Mexico, Vaclav Laska, taught history and government. Baron Alexander von Wuthenau, from Germany, who is a cousin of the British royal family, taught the history of art and assisted the Mexican government in the restoration of its colonial art treasures.1, 2
Some of these émigrés, many artists, writers and intelligentsia, were forced expatriates from the cold-war era and the United States Congress’ investigation of the U.S. film industry for alleged ‘un-American’ activities. To make ends meet, some of these political and cultural expatriates, both from the U.S. and Europe, turned to teaching at MCC, The National University of Mexico, and the American School Foundation. (K–12)16
MCC Professor Dr. Miguel Barrios taught spoken and written Nahuatl and, working with a group of graduate anthropology students, compiled the only grammar-dictionary of the Nahuatl language, which is still spoken by two million Indians in many areas of Mexico.1 Later, professor Fernando Horcasitas would expand upon this dictionary.Note C MCC was the only institution in the world offering classes in spoken Maya and Nahuatl (the language of the ancient Aztecs and the Otomí Indians of Central Mexico). On May 12, 1950, Dr. Barrios started publishing the Mexihkatl Itonalma. This small newspaper, written only in Nahuatl for the non-Spanish speaking Indians, was the only literature available to this language group, and was aimed to those who wanted to learn to write and read in their language. The work of Drs. Barrios and Horcasitas and their students resulted in the preservation of much of Maya and Nahuatl oral folk history. (The Collegian, May 19, 1950)
Robert Weitlaner, Mexico’s foremost ethnologist, served as Associate Professor of Anthropology. He was also director of the government’s National Institute of Anthropology, was regarded as the foremost ethnologist in Mexico. He had made the reconstruction of Indian dialects and cultures his life’s work. Flora Botton taught Philosophy; she was the only surviving member of her family of ten from the Nazi death camps. Her philosophy classes were punctuated with European history and first hand accounts of the camps. During the late 1940s and early ‘50s there were a handful of students and instructors at MCC who related their personal stories of keeping one step ahead of the Nazis as they made their way across Western Europe to Spain and safety. Dr. Paul G. Fried, the Chief Translator for the Nuremburg War Crime Trials, taught history. Dr. Richard E. Greenleaf, Professor of History and International Relations, was a recognized international expert in reading sixteen-century Spanish paleography. Dr. Silvio Zavala, Director of the Nacional Museo de Historia, taught history at MCC.
Dr. Pablo Martínez del Río was one of the more colorful professors on campus. Director of the Escuela Nacional de Antropología e Historia de la Universidad Nacional, president and chairman of many boards and societies, including president of the Board of Directors of the Benjamin Franklin Library (U.S. Embassy), Manager of the Alameda Branch of the Banco Nacional de México, member of the French Legion of Honor, member of the Board of Trustee of MCC, to name a few, he had represented Mexico in many educational and scholarly congresses both at home and abroad. But the students of MCC best remember him for his crisp Oxford accent, immaculate dress with homburg, spats, and umbrella-cane, accented by a brisk stride. His classes in History and Anthropology were always packed. This was a man who lived the history he taught, having once rode as a young man with Pancho Villa.
In the summer of 1946, Dr. James B. Tharp, education professor at Ohio State University, pioneered the Summer “Quarter in Mexico” program (WQIM), which soon included the winter quarter. Initially, nine co-eds attended. By the mid-fifties, an average of 180 students participated in the WQIM program. This program with MCC was endorsed by other universities, including Michigan State University, Notre Dame, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, the University of Arizona, the Vanderbilt and Peabody Teachers College in Nashville, and others. Not only students, but teachers from the U.S. and Canada attended one of the two summer Workshops in Latin American Cultures. This annual five-week session offered extensive work in the Spanish language and in Mexican social studies and crafts.1
During the late 1940s and early ‘50s, the MCC campus was the subject of numerous articles in magazines, newspapers and Sunday supplements motivated, no doubt, by the uniqueness of the institution, the interest shown by veterans, and the "Quarter in Mexico" (WQIM) program. The print media in the U.S. would refer to MCC as the “gringo campus below the border.” A 1958 Mexican map of Mexico City lists among the "puntos de Interest," the "Colegio Americano."
In 1946 MCC became a 4-year college conferring the BA degree. The MCC graduate school — "Centro de Estudios Universitarios" — was established in September, 1947 with Drs. Lorna L. Stafford and Jose Gaos named as co-directors. The degree of Master of Arts was awarded in the fields of Anthropology, Business Administration (Foreign Trade), Creative Writing, Economics, History and International Relations, and Spanish. The Graduate School also awards the Master of Fine Arts degree.21 In ten years, a total of 2,800 graduate students entered the program with 72 being admitted to major institutions in the U.S., England, France, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland, and Mexico to continue doctoral studies. Of these, fifteen are faculty with U.S. universities (1957). Joseph H. Matluck was the first MCC graduate awarded a Doctor en Letras, from the Universidad Nacional, 1951.
In 1946 the Department of Anthropology was founded by Jimenez Moreno and Pedro Bosch Gimpera. The following year, 1947, twenty-one students received a four-year undergraduate degree. The total for the 1951-52 academic year was 175 B.A.s and 61 M.A.s. By June, 1957, the College had awarded 1,113 Bachelor of Arts degrees and 273 Master’s degrees.1, 2
On July 2, 1947 the first college newspaper, “El Conquistador de Mexico City College” was founded, but the title lasted for only nineteen issues. For four months between April to July, 1948, the paper changed its name to “El Grito de Mexico City College” (from Father Hidalgo’s “Grito de Dolores”). By fall, 1948, the newspaper again changed its name, this time to “The Collegian.” The early issues featured, to the left of the title, an American eagle holding a U.S. shield, and to the right of the title, a Mexican eagle clasping a snake with its talons and beak. Between December, 1950 and April 12, 1951, the subtitle “The Official Publication of Mexico City College” appeared.
Starting with the January 28, 1954 issue, the “Mexico City Collegian” again added a subtitle, “The American College South Of The Border.” This subtitle remained and prompted the 1961 outgoing editor John Revett to tell the new editor Doug Butterworth, “At one time this little slogan probably had its place, but today it’s simply not enough.” To make his point, he suggested there be a Mexican institution in the U.S. with the following slogan, “Universidad Mexicana Norte de la Frontera.”20 ("MCC Moves With Changing World")
(Editor’s note: In 1961 there was a major change of administration and MCC was
renamed the University of the Americas. See below.)
Dean Murray contributed an article in almost every issue of the campus newspaper. First, the column was titled “From The Dean’s Desk” and, when he became President, “From The President’s Desk.”
In 1961 The MCC Collegian was honored for the fourteenth consecutive year with the “All American Honor” rating by the Associated Collegiate Press: the highest obtainable by a college newspaper (The Collegian, May 26, 1961). Brita Bowen was the advisor to The Collegian, as well as Director of Public Relations. For the first time, a short-lived column in Spanish, “Sección Espaňoda” appeared in the July 30, 1959 issue.
In 1961 Peter and Lucia Montague published a short lived alternative school paper, called “The Gadfly.” Only four issues were printed, the last being in December, 1961.13, Note I
The MCC football team, the “Aztecas,” was also formed in 1947 and was admitted to the most important American football conference in Mexico, the Liga Mayor. Much of the financial support for the team came personally from Paul Murray, VP of MCC. Of the local promoters, only “Dr. Murray had a credit card which they could use to bring a selected team down for the annual Aztec Bowl game.” In 1949 the Aztecas won its first championship: the final match of that season was against the Pumas Dorados de la UNAM.4, See Note L for a history of football at MCC
Sports at MCC usually commanded a full page in The MCC Collegian, occasionally two pages (titled “The Collegian Sports Parade”),Note L and fencing has always been a part of MCC sports. In March, 1953, the Latin American Fencing Society of MCC was invited to become a member of the Associación de Esgrima del Distrito Federal en Funciones de Federación. This organization is the most distinguished fencing association in Mexico, and its membership includes the best fencers in the country. The Fencing Club has been under the leadership of Cambridge educated Spaniard Carlos M. Sagasta, MCC professor of Ancient History and Fencing Master.
“The one thing that impresses me about Mexico City College,” says Sagasta, “is the fact that students seems to be here to study, not to play.” (The MCC Collegian, November 26, 1952)
MCC excelled in courses of international relations and Latin American studies, art, creative writing and journalism. The campus was the only center in Latin America providing higher studies for the American student intent in Business Administration and Foreign Trade in Latin America.21
The Art Department was inaugurated in January, 1947, at Calle San Luis Potosi 154, when Merle Wachter was the only art teacher, with six students. (Prior to this inauguration, Manuel Aguirre, the head librarian at the American School, served as the MCC Art Education instructor.) In 1951 the Art Department, with the addition of sculpture Professor German Cueto, and a student enrollment of 200, became the sole occupant of the building at 132 San Luis Potosi, on the corner of Insurgentes and Coahuita. Justino Fernandez, a leading Orozco authority, also taught in the art department. When the College moved to Km. 16, Professor Wachter headed an international staff of twelve professors and instructors, each specializing in some area of the fine arts. Arnold Belkin taught mural techniques and art history, and painted many murals throughout Mexico. Many established artists have listed studying at Mexico City College, either for one quarter or for several years, in their bios. Some would alternate in attending schools between MCC and the San Miguel de Allende Art Institute and Allende’s Escuela Universitaria de Bellas Artes.17 Stage Design was offered starting the Summer Quarter, 1956, when Richard Posner became Director of the Studio Stages.
Merle Wachter received a honorary doctorate from the University in June, 1969. This was in recognition of his work not only at the University, but within the greater Mexican community. On September of the same year, Dr. Wachter took the position of Dean of the Graduate School, succeeding Dr. Richard Greenleaf.
The Mexico City Writing Center, the first of its kind in Latin America and a branch of MCC, was founded in the summer of 1950 by Margaret Shedd, a California novelist (who in private life was Mrs. Oliver Kissick). The Center was located at 136 Chiapas. “About fifty student writers (from the U.S. and Mexico) have enrolled in each quarterly session.”1 Two years after its founding Miss Shedd initiated a joint project of the Center and the Rockefeller Foundation’s Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences. The Project awarded five scholarships, worth $1500 apiece, to young Mexican writers. The scholarships entitled their holders to two terms of study in the Writing Center. Seventy-five candidates applied for the initial scholarships, and the Rockefeller Foundation indicated its willingness to continue the program for the young Mexican writers “over a period of three years, perhaps longer.” Miss Shedd believed “that the young (MCC) students at the Center will richly benefit from their association with their gifted Mexican colleagues.”18
The Center was next headed by Ted Robbins and Jerry Moss Olson, both published authors, with an international staff that included James Norman Schmidt and the Spanish-Mexican philosopher Ramón Xirau. A unique feature of the Creative Writing department was the “Creative Two-Way Spanish-English Translation” class, supervised by Ramon Xirau and editor and author Donald Demarest of New York (The Dark Virgin: The Book of Our Lady of Guadalupe), emphasizing the two-way translation of things and images from one language to another.1
In December, 1950, the Writing Center, working with the MCC Studio Stages drama students under the direction of Earl Sennett, started bi-weekly radio shows on Station XEBS. Half hour dramatic presentations were presented.
Norman Mailer, Vance Bourjaily and John Steinbeck have lectured at the College, along with “Mexican playwright Rodolfo Usigli; Leopoldo Zea of the School of Philosophy and Letters of Mexico’s National University; José Luis Martinez, author of Mexican Literature of the Twentieth Century; José García Ascot, poet, editor and translator; and Señora Maria de Leon Ortega, authority on Latin American folk music.”7,18 The “beat” generation icon and author, Jack Kerouac, briefly attended MCC.10
Theatre had always been a part of MCC. Dr. Helene Gaubert was the first to establish a Drama Workshop in the early 40s, assisted later by Rick Brown and Sandra Stewart.
Earl Sennett, English and Drama instructor, was the 1949 founder and guiding light of the Studio Players. Studio Players made its debut in August, 1949, when it staged the four Tennessee Williams one-act plays (that drew pious comments from Dean Murray) at the Bugambilia Club. The one-act plays were directed by Ed Torrence, protégé of the famous New York director Margo Jones. The staging was theatre-in-the-round, the first time theatre-in-the-round had been presented in Mexico. It was Glen Hughes of the University of Washington and Ms. Jones who separately developed this intimate form of theatre. Sennett was also the director for the English colony Mexico City Players. When Sennett left for New York in 1954, the Studio Players remained dormant until Dave Roberts, the new Speech and Drama instructor, revived the group.
Richard Posner became director of the campus’ Studio Stages in April, 1956. His first production with Studio Stages was Miller’s A View From A Bridge, presented in May, 1956. Five years later, the February 15, 1961 MCC Collegian wrote that The View “is still generally considered to be one of the best English-language productions ever given in the city.” Posner founded the Fine Arts Committee in 1960 to stimulate interest in theatre activities at MCC. He believed that the Studio Stage was potentially important for the MCC writing and art students, and established close cooperation between the Art Department (which offered a course in stage design), the library (which expanded its works on dramatic scripts), and the Writing Center (which encouraged its students to write scripts to be produced by the MCC dramatic group).
Posner, a New Yorker, joined the English Department in the summer of 1955 as a visiting professor teaching Writing for TV, and has been a special lecturer in the Writing Center. He directed his first production in Mexico, Thornton Wilder’s The Skin of Our Teeth, for the English speaking colony’s Players, A.C. This off campus group was organized in 1951 and is the oldest of four major drama groups in Mexico devoted to English speaking plays.
Posner was a member of Elia Kazan’s and Lee Strasberg’s Actor’s Studio, and was a member of the New Dramatists (a playwright’s workshop), associate editor of the United Nations World and New York theatre reporter for Billboard magazine. He has written numerous short stories and dramatic scripts, which had earned him his appointment to the select New Dramatists group.
Jack Natkin founded the MCC literary group, the Poet’s Voice readers’ theatre, during the 1959 Fall quarter. The group’s first productions were two dramatic readings: “The Microscopic Morality,” and “The Ants.”
The late Professor William L. Sherman, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a ’59 MCC graduate in History, co-authored (along with Meyer) The Course of Mexican History, still advertised as “the leading text book on Mexican history from the pre-Columbian periods to the present.” It is now in its seventh edition.
In 1950 “Mesoamerican Notes” No. 1, was published. This treatise was founded by Robert Barlow who chaired the Department of Anthropology in 1949. Barlow printed 350 copies of the first edition on a hand press in his home. It was trilingual (Náhuatl, Spanish and English) and included articles by Miguel Barrios, Frederick A. Peterson (who published, later, Ancient Mexico), and Professor Fernando Horcasitas. Professor Robert Barlow (1918-1951), anthropologist, also taught classical Nahuatl at the Escuela Nacional de Antropología.Note C Numerous scholars, most from the U.S., used MCC as a base to pursue their field studies in pre-Columbian history, study and research. It was the abundance of Mexico’s untapped pre-Columbian sites that gave MCC its reputation as a major center for pre-Columbian history, study and research in anthropological and archeological field studies. The MCC archaeological department has been credited with the discovery and development of many archaeological sites.
“In 1956 scholarly articles by members of the faculty were collected in a thick, bilingual volume, entitled Anthología MCC 1956, which the College presented as a contribution to the Seventh Mexican Book Fair (Feria del Libro).”2 A year later, MCC opened the Oaxaca Archaeological Research Center (Centro de Estudios Regionales). MCC professors and students were instrumental in many archaeological discoveries, including the Yagul site near Oaxaca.
Elena Picazo de Murray, wife of Dean Murray, assisted by Donlon Havenes formed the department of English for Mexicans in January, 1951. It was located in its own building at Calle Jalapa 148, across the street from the MCC Art Center. Within two years 1,300 students were enrolled in the day and evening classes that offered thirteen courses in English proficiency,1 with thirty classes and twenty-three instructors. The Center offered club activities and social programs. Her Spanish text book, Everyday Spanish: An Idiomatic Approach, is regarded as one of the best in the field, and has been used by countless American students at MCC, and adopted by several U.S. colleges and universities.
In 1951, the university was accepted by the Texas Association of Colleges as an overseas institution. Eight years later, on December 2, 1959, MCC received full membership in the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
In March, 1954, the college moved to 20 acres of land at Km. 16.5, Carretera Mexico-Toluca (Highway 15) and started expanding the existing physical buildings of what had been the Turf Country Club. Spring classes started April 16, 1954, five months after the start of negotiations to buy this property. The "Toluca Highway" is the continuation of the Paseo de la Reforma.
The Turf Club was founded in 1946 by Axel Faber, a Danish businessman. Land had been sold around the Club for residences for those who wanted to live near the Club. In 1954 MCC purchased the remaining 80,000 square meters along with the principal buildings (from Posada Mimosa Co., owner of the property). This area, situated on a prominence above the Valley of Mexico, has been witness to the birth and growth of Mexico. (See Note J)
The small villages of Cuajimalpa, adjoining Contadero, and “out in the wilds” of Acopilco, were just two miles up the highway from the new campus, separated from the college by fields and small farms. Contadero, described as “a quiet little Mexican village,” was the home of the Dean of Admissions and Registrar, Elizabeth Thomas de Lopez. Overlooking Mexico City, these villages would also become a haven for adventurous (if not the beatnik and bohemian fringe) students on limited budgets and seeking a bucolic life style. These students represented a minority of approximately a dozen and half students (less than 2 tenths of one percent of the total average late ‘50s population). A few students lived adjacent to the campus in six- and eight-unit apartment houses on Avenida de los Volcanes, known as the “lower road,” beneath the campus. These units were originally built when the campus was the Turf Country Club. In 1956 there were twenty-seven family groups, either married couples or brothers and sisters, attending MCC as students.
By far, the vast majority of students either rented apartments or lived with a Mexican or American family in the metropolis. There were no dormitories at MCC. "Most students living in Mexico City caught the MCC school bus — the "Toluca Rocket" — behind the fountain of Diana, the Huntress that was located in the center of the circular glorieta where ther broad avenue Paseo de la Reforma angles west and Chapultepec Park begins."16 The MCC bus departed every half hour to make the ten-mile trip up to the Campus.
In 1959 the college became a member of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and fully accredited in the United States.
Financially, MCC survived into the mid-late 50s without worthy endowment, without government subsidy, with little foundation support: it was almost wholly dependent upon tuition payments.2 (Summer, 1960, MCC received its first grant from the National Science Foundation providing scholarships for 10 students of archaeology to study at MCC.)9, Note K “Dean Murray even mortgaged his home to support the school at one point.”Note B
It was the large veteran enrollment after WW II and the Korean War, and the progressive exodus of veterans and students from U.S. college campuses to one or more semesters of serious study at MCC that gave the college the financial stability and growth it needed. A double-page spread on MCC and the new Korean Bill of Rights appeared in the September 8, 1952 issue of the Pacific Stars and Stripes (the official Army daily at Tokyo, Japan for the U.S. Forces in the Far East Command). Within weeks the Registrar’s office was swamped by a deluge of letters and applications for admission.
By the end of 1946, WW II veterans constituted 33.5 percent of all 160 students, and by 1950 they comprised 69 percent of the 800-odd students. By the Fall of 1956, veterans had dropped to 56 percent. The veteran enrollment slowly declined thereafter, but the total enrollment remained high.2 A U.S. official from the Visa Department of the U.S. Embassy would arrive at the college to distribute $115 VA checks to the Vets.
The tuition fee in 1957-58, which included a $10 medical fee, was $130 per quarter, up from $105 two years earlier.16
One complaint during the ‘50s was that “faculty salaries are deplorably low.” One of “the highest paid” faculty members in 1956, a Political Science Professor, received “$240 – and later, $260 – per month.” “Competent members of the faculty have remained only because they are willing to make material sacrifices in order to live in or carry on research in Mexico.”2
Mexico, in the 40s and 50s, had much to offer. Crawford Kilian summed it up when he wrote, “We could walk through the ruins of conquered empires, learn the subtleties of bullfighting, and begin to speak the language. Mexican food had substance and flavor, and light and color were more intense. . . . The streets and markets were so beautiful, the people so vivid, the sun so bright, and the air so clear that it seems impossibly romantic,” (as quoted by Mexico City writer Diana Anhalt in her “Bridging the Cultural Gap”).
By 1956, of all Americans enrolled in schools of higher education outside the US, “more (911) attended MCC than any other institution in the world. Besides Mexican and United States nationals, 69 students representing 37 countries were in residence during the summer of 1957.”2 One-hundred fifty eight colleges and universities were represented on the MCC campus during the summer of 1960. The international student body of MCC, with its heterogeneous intellectual composition, did not resemble the student body of a small American college.
Because of the international composition of the student body and teachers, there were also a “small group of ‘cold-war agents’ (CIA, FBI, KGB) pretending to be students,” checking out the social and political lives of students and faculty, and the cold-war repatriates and international refugees.16, 19
MCC history professor Robert L. Bidwell wrote, “There are few places in the New World in which one is so constantly reminded of the roll of centuries, of the unknown peoples who preceded him, and of the tapestry of cultures about him . . . the juxtaposition of cultures and ages . . . as in this Valley of Mexico.” (The Collegian, October 30, 1958) Note J
Mexico became part of the school’s classroom. Mexico City in the 1950s has been compared to the Paris of the 20s “where ideas, art, literature and revolution could be discussed” on and off campus, in the classrooms, the sidewalk cafés, and the all-night parties. Life along the Paseo de la Reforma has been compared with the Champs Elysees.16 Some of the Bohemian scenes of Paris for the movie, Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, were shot in the old quarters of Mexico City in 1956. A few MCC students served as extras, not only in this movie but other American and, when a “gringo” was needed, in Mexican movies.
Several MCC students studied bullfighting at the Rancho del Charro, and performed in the Arena. Most notably was Kansas City student John Patrick Jacobs who received his “Ole’s.”
Maria Elena (“Elenita”) Quijada, bursar for MCC and teacher of Spanish, reflected in the February 16, 1961 issue of The Collegian, “We had some unusual students. One of the ones we still talk about is the fellow who walked around campus with one gold earring in his ear and a parrot on his shoulder.” This was 1953, the year before the college moved to Km. 16. He was still on campus after the move to the new campus, which prompted one alumnus to write, “MCC was the first place I had ever seen a guy in a robe, beard and Jesus sandals with a parrot on his shoulder. Better than anything Berkeley ever dreamed of, even with Ginsberg and Mario Savio sneaking around.” Another alumnus speculated that the parrot, sitting on his shoulder next to his ear, fed him the answers during exam week.
The Explorer’s Club offered students the opportunity to discover remote vistas of Mexico one would never have expected to exist, much less to visit. Bill Stewart was the founder (1955) of the Explorer’s Club, and Brita Bowen was the academic advisor. Between quarters or on weekends, students climbed Popocatépetl or forded rivers on “roadless” roads. Many students, on their own or through the Explorer’s Club, would travel throughout Mexico, and some south to Guatemala before there was a road connecting the two countries, into the Yucatán Peninsula, accessible in the ‘50s by rail only, (“Cancun” was an unnamed isolated beach), and into the many villages accessible only by trail or river boat. In 1954 students Craig and Shirley (last name not recorded) rode their bicycles (via bus and boat, where necessary) from Mexico City to Mérida, in the Yucatán Peninsula. In 1956 six Explorer’s Club students embarked on a six-month expedition along the 500-mile course of the Coroni River in Venezuela, into a vast, relatively unexplored jungle. Indeed, education for the MCC student in Mexico extended far beyond the campus for those whose minds were receptive.(See 16)
The three key administrators were President Murray, Vice-President and Dean of Faculty John V. Elmendorf, and Dean of Admissions and Registrar Elizabeth Thomas de Lopez. Their “commitment, both professionally and vocationally, are total.” Dean Elmendorf, Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina had a background as professor of Linguistics. Mrs. Lopez (M.A., St. Louis University), was the first full time staff member, hired in 1947.2
Since 1950 the College has been chartered under the laws of Mexico as a nonprofit corporation, Associatión Civil, or A.C. The early ‘50s growth was such that in September, 1956, Drs. Cain and Murray established a distinguished Board of Trustees of local American business leaders and a few Mexicans (along with a 10-member Honorary Board of Advisors mostly of US based academia).2 In effect, this move eventually took absolute control out of Drs. Murray and Cain’s hands (and, ironically, eventually led to President Murray being ousted by this very Board).
Members of this Board included Drs. Cain and Murray; Lic. Germán Fernández del Castillo, legal council of the College; Dr. Pablo Martínez del Río, Director of Escuela National de Antropológia e Historia and a noted Mexican scholar; Fraine B. Rhuberry, General Manager of the Ford Motor Company in Mexico; and William B. Richardson, first Board Chairman, and retired executive Vice-President of the National City Bank of New York and former manager of the Bank’s branch in Mexico.2, Notes G & H
The college move to non-profit status and the formation of a Board of Trustees were prompted in part by the necessity for full U.S. academic accreditation and to take advantage of available U.S. foundation and governmental funding. Veteran enrollment had dropped to less than half by 1957, but enrollment remained high, “suggesting that a student body of viable size can be maintained in the face of declining veteran enrollment. As the percentage of veterans dropped, the proportion of women in the student body has risen. A more ‘traditional’ and ‘feminine’ student body also has meant a more stable, less transient, student population. Whereas full-time students accounted for only about 55 per cent of the summer school enrollment in 1950, they comprised 85 per cent during the summer of 1957.”2
Senator Wayne Morse, Democrat from Oregon, was the guest speaker at the fifteenth MCC commencement on June 11, 1959. The Senator has shown a keen interest in Latin American affairs and in MCC and the work the College is doing in Latin American Studies.
The College was changing, foreshadowed no doubt by inconsequential events that began to appear between 1959–1961: the offhand questioning of the relevance of the slogan, “The American College South of the Border,” the introduction of a Sección Españoda column in The Collegian (May 13, 1959), the decreasing enrollment of Americans (especially Vets) countered by an increase in Mexican enrollment, and the short-lived publication of the alternate (underground) student newspaper, The Gadfly.Note I
The fifties came to a close with a lingering, growing reputation that MCC was a college of bearded, sandaled (if not barefooted) pot smoking beatniks (with some faculty included), publicized, no doubt, by an early ‘50s incident involving several MCC students with William Burroughs and the death of his wife. At the time, “a sizable number of (the Veterans) were less interested in their studies than in wild parties and nightlife.”10, Note B, pp. 17,42; Note I This “reputation,” magnified by an insignificant few, is far from being supported by the large number of ‘50s and early ‘60s graduates who have gone on to establish themselves as successful leaders in their chosen field, both in business and academia. Professor Richard Wilkie notes, “Throughout the US, there are at least 25 to 30 professors, or more, most with doctorates, who have been students at MCC during the high-water years of that institution between 1954-1962. For a small college, that is an impressive record.”16
The sixties opened with tempestuous winds that endangered the college. In 1960 much of the College financial reserves were embezzled; in 1961 William Richardson, Chair of the MCC Board of Trustees was forcibly deposed (some say, an action that came too late); and, in 1962, President Dr. Paul V. Murray was forced into retirement.
Financial disaster struck on January 27, 1961 when the college business manager-treasurer, Juan Hernández Avila, born in Texas and a Mexican citizen, (hired in the summer, 1951) absconded with college funds ($100,000 to $250,000, depending upon the source). He was picked up in Washington State, February 10, 1961 (13 days after flying to Los Angeles from Mexico City), trying to cross into Canada, minus the money, and was returned to Mexico. Hernández was not prosecuted. He promised to sell his home in Cuernavaca and repay MCC, but later “he reneged.”4 The school, “as a privately financed venture,” was now “$497,000.00 in debt and on the brink of scuttling.”5,7,9
"On January 29, MCC officials met at the home of Board Chairman William Richardson to discuss the seriousness of the problem created by Hernández. The possibility of closing the school was discussed. The co-founder and former President Dr. Henry L. Cain, who had retired June 11, 1953, was appointed Acting Business Manager along with William E. Rogers as Assistant Business Manager. On February 18, Gorden Sweet, Executive Secretary of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) visited the campus to discuss the grave situation created by Hernández. According to Dr. Paul Murray, Sweet suggested to him that he resigned."9
Dr. Paul V. Murray retired as president of MCC, effective May 1, 1961.Note F
The Board of Trustees had established a Committee on Internal Reorganization, and the Mexico City College Administrative Council (L.L. Stafford, Elizabeth López, Mildred Allen, and María Elena Quijada.9), upon Dr. Murray's resignation, acted as collective president of the college until the Board of Trustees named a new president. Six subcommittees were formed to study Mexico City College problems.20 ("Committees Proposed Changes to Trustees.")
William Richardson resigned as Board President, May 29, 2961. At the time, one individual noted to the President of Tuffs University, “Mexico City College had made its greatest stride forward in years by forcibly deposing Bill Richardson from the board of trustees. The general feeling, however, is that the action came too late and that Richardson’s leadership has been so misdirected and yet so strong that the college will probably go under in the next year or so.” Note H
Two months later (July 22) Dr. Henry L. Cain was appointed as interim-president. In December, Dr. Cain and Russell Moody (William Richardson's replacement as Board of Trustees president) attended a SACS meeting where Gorden Sweet introduced Dr. Ray Lindley, presidernt of Texas Christian University. One month later, in January, Dr. Lindley was invited "to 'name his price' to become president of MCC."9
Dr. Ray Lindley, a “tall, iron haired”7clergyman, took office as the third president of MCC on July 16, 1962. Dr. Jacinto Quidarte became the Dean of Men, replacing Vice President and Dean of Faculty John V. Elmendorf who earlier had moved on (January, 1961) to Brown University (Providence, RI) as Vice President. Dr. Richard Greenleaf was appointed Academic Vice-President of MCC.
With a broom in one hand, administrative academic credentials in the other, and a “revivalist” attitude, Dr. Lindley set out to (1) rid “the institution of the stigma of being a college of beatniks;” (2) to raise the student proportion of non-Americans to 50 percent; and (3) the Board of Trustees to be reconstituted with no more than half the trustees Americans and the remainder Mexicans, and “with the staff also divided 50-50 between US and other countries.” [Author’s note: Was this the premature birth of Affirmative Action?]
Beards and barefoot sandals were prohibited. There was one infamous casualty to Dr. Lindley’s reforms—“a student who duly shaved his beard but refused to put on shoes.”5, 13 As recalled by an on-the-spot MCC alumnus, “The casualty was (a student) who had his feet/sandals inspected by Jacinto Quirarte, Dean of Men, who then gave him a note pronouncing that he had permission to wear huaraches. This famous ‘Foot Sniffing Certificate’ was promptly posted on the school's main bulletin board, and when discovered by one of the administrators, (the student) was expelled on the spot.” He returned to Kent State in Ohio to finish his degree. 6, 13, Note I
The consequences of Dr. Lindley’s reforms eventually resulted in transforming what was until now an American college for Americans in Mexico, into a Mexican college in Mexico for Mexicans. By then most all of the VA students were gone and a new source of student population was appearing. His campaign was successful: Mexican student enrollment jumped from 117 in 1962-63 to 425 in 1963-64, slowly filling the gap left by the vanishing Veterans.5
The extraordinary MCC era had ended. Within a decade and half later, the MCC philosophy of a true liberal arts education had completely disappeared. [For a brief summary of how UDLAP was changed by President Macias Rendon (1975-76), from a liberal arts institution into a technocratic institution to provide job training for engineers, and the decade long battle to reverse the trend, see 16, p. 95].
On March 19, 1963 Dr. Lindley and the Board of Trustees changed the name from Mexico City College to the University of the Américas, with the school officially achieving university status the same year. The new president managed “to reduce the debt from $550K to a (manageable) $180K.” By July, 1964, the school’s debt had been eliminated, the outstanding note being burned at a special on-campus luncheon.9 Plans were announced for a ten million dollar fund raising campaign.5
A new university seal was approved in July, 1965. It consisted of a jaguar and eagle and the Latin Moto "Americanarum Universitas," meaning American women's university. Class rings were ordered with this error. This error was not discovered until 1970, when the official seal was changed to read "Americarum Universitas," and new class rings ordered.9
However, there was predictable resentment to Dr. Lindley's sweeping changes by some long-term students, some faculty (some resigned), and a few American trustees. “The focus of most resentment is . . . Dr. Ray Lindley,”7 accumulating in “a series of protests published by students (in) ‘The Gadfly,’ a very irreverent newspaper which publicized the ‘foot-sniffing expulsion,’ ridiculed Dr. Lindley’s reforms, and poked fun at some of the actions and some individuals in the Mexican government.” 6, Note I
MCC campus had always attracted unique, free spirited, adventurous individuals, both in its faculty and student body. Dr. Denton Ray Lindley, who served as President until 1971, was a former clergyman with an extensive Southern religious background, who had served as educational administrator in various religious schools in the South. One former MCC student described the campus as “always moving, always searching.” The type of student and faculty population President Lindley sought would not function well – even on a short term basis – as “expatriates.” The value of the expatriate ambiance as an asset may have escaped Dr. Lindley, or his conservative approach determined his actions. Regardless, the school’s atmosphere of adventurous freedom slowly changed under his tutelage.
Early in the 1960s it was decided to seek a new campus for the University. The reason for this decision is not known. (Possibly, with the ’68 Olympics on the horizon, the appreciation for the Carretera Mexico-Toluca property presented a means of putting the University’s finances well into the black. Also, major outside funding was potentially available at the time.)
A site selection committee was established which included Peter Stuart, an early 1950s alumnus of MCC and a Foreign Service officer in the U.S. Embassy. The U.S. Government, as part of its foreign aid program, had decided to make a two-million dollar grant to the University and Peter Stuart “had the pleasure of working with [his] old professors as they explored various alternate sites. [He] jokingly told the Dean of the School of Business that there were not too many of the alumni who had been successful enough to make a two-million dollar gift to the school.”8
In "November, 1963, discussions began with Bruno Pagliai (husband of the late British and American actress Merle Oberon) concerning the donation of property in Lomas Verdes (reported as "by a group of Mexican and Italian industrialists") on which to build a new campus. In July, 1964, it was announced that the new campus would be built in Lomas Verde,"9 dependent upon sufficient financing. Lomas Verde is located 7 miles NW of Mexico City, on the road to Ciudad Satelite (which has since grown so much that Ciudad Satelite is no longer a "satelite" to Mexico City.)
A concentrated campaign to raise funds for the UA Development Fund was initiated. (See Note K for a list of the donations of record.)
Dr. Ray Lindley met with Don Manuel Espinosa Iglesias in September, 1965, to ask for a donation from the Mary Street Foundation.Note D Don Manuel countered by offering to give the Colegio Americano de Puebla to the University. (The Colegio Americano de Puebla, founded as a secondary school in Puebla in 1943 by Mrs. Anne Jenkins Buntzler, sister of William O. Jenkins, to teach English as a second language.) Five months later the Mary Street Foundation approved, and the University accepted, the donation of The Colegio to the University of the Americas. (In May, 1970, the University transferred Colegio Americano to the American School Foundation.9 It is not known if any money was involved in the transfer.)
Again, Dr. Ray Lindley met with Don Manuel Espinosa Iglesias on July 19, 1966 to ask for a $8,000 donation from the Mary Street Foundation. It was at this meeting that Espinosa Iglesias inquired into having the University build and administer an Instituto Tecnológico de Puebla, in Puebla. Lomas Verde as a future campus site was immediately moved to the back burner. Dr. Ray Lindley met with Fulton Freeman, American Ambassador in México, regarding the building of a new campus in Puebla rather than in Lomas Verde: "Would the Agency for International Development continue its support?"9
Following a series of positive meetings with, among others, Agustin Yañez, the Minister of Education, and the Rector of the Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, Ing. García Roel, the Board of Trustees assembled to discuss the move to Puebla. Don Manuel Iglesias was in attendence to explain that the Mary Street Foundation would pay one-half the cost up to 5 million dollars. A week later, on October 26, 1966, the Board approved the move to Puebla by a margin of 17 to 1 (John Sevier). In January 25, 1967, two new members of the Board of Trustees took office: William D. Jenkins, Jr. and Dr. Sergio B. Guzmán. Two days later the University of the Americas publicly announced it will move to a new campus in Cholula, Puebla.9
Sixty-Six hectares (163 acres) of land on the site of the old hacienda de Santa Catarina Martir (5 miles from the state capital, Puebla) was purchased from Maximino Avila Camacho. Seven pesos per square meter was paid.9 Currently (2005) the Publa campus consists of 180 acres.
The first stone was laid on the Cholula land on June 4, 1967; actual construction started early January, 1968,9 the same year the school’s name was changed from the University of the Américas to the Universidad de las Américas, and the Summer Olympics were held in Mexico City. The actual move was scheduled for the fall of 1969, and the inauguration held in 1970.
The last graduation ceremony (for 106 graduates) on the km.16 campus was held in the theatre on May 29, 1970. James Farmer, Assistant Secretary for Administration of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, was the commencement speaker. The last issue of The Collegian on the km. 16 campus was published (and, as Professor Ed Simmen recently remarked, "We have never had a newspaper like that since"). On June 4 the doors to the Mexico City campus were officially closed.9
In March, 1970, a contract was signed to sell the km. 16 campus to the International University of the United States (formerly California Western University) for 7 million pesos.9 The Carretera Mexico-Toluca campus site is now the site of “CIDE,” Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas, A.C. (http://www.cide.edu/presentacion.html)
Registration on the new campus in Cholula was held on June 19, 1970. For the first time since 1942, beginning Mexican students during the following Fall semester out numbered North American freshman. This soon became important, because financing through the U.S. Government's AID program had to be spent only on ASHA projects (American Schools and Hospitals Abroad.) On July 1, 1971, Jess Dalton, Board President, Dr. Ray Lindley, and Manuel Espinoza Iglesias met in Washington with senators and congressmen regarding further financial assistance from the U.S. Government. Five months later AID donated $5,000,000.00.9
It is unknown for how long U.S. Government financial support for UDLA continued after this date.Note K
After relocating in Puebla, in late 1985 “a handful of deans and faculty of the Universidad de las Américas in Puebla renounced their positions and created the Universidad de las Américas, A.C. (UDLA, A.C.) in Mexico City,” at Avenida Puebla 223, Col. Roma. (Also see last paragraph in Note D.)
“While it was a matter of huge controversy, this new university took the same name and the coat of arms [representative] of the Puebla institution (even though they created a new coat of arms recently), and [at the time claimed] to be successor of Mexico City College (in fact they added that title to their new coat of arms). Thus, both the Distrito Federal (DF) campus (UDLA, A.C.) and UDLA-Puebla campus laid claim to MCC as their founding institution.”
After the split, the Puebla institution “officially registered itself as the Fundacion Universidad de las Americas, Puebla” (UDLAP), mainly to distinguish itself from the new university in Mexico City. UDLAP is the university that still belongs to SACS and the one that is ranked among the top five universities in Mexico, not the UDLA, A.C.” 14
A UDLAP professor says, “[we] have absolutely no connection with that school, except for the fact that we share the first 45 years of existence.”9 And a former Board member of UDLA, A.C., adds, “It was a nasty split with much animosity.”
So, in spite of a common origin, the Universidad de las Américas, A.C. (http://www.udla.mx/2003/directorio.html), located in Col. Roma, Mexico, DF, should not be confused with the Puebla institution. There is considerable difference in the size of the two Institutions, in the physical plant, the student and faculty, and endowment.
The DF institution enrollment for 91-92 was 1,369, “mostly part time;” UDLAP enrollment for the same year “was 6,000 plus.” It uses a similar logo as the UDLAP institution. Their web site states: “The Universidad de las Américas, A.C., was founded in 1940 as Mexico City Junior College (MCC). In the next twenty-seven years its name changed, first as the University of the Américas, and later the Universidad de las Américas, A.C. (associatión civil).” Ten years later, in 2003, the student enrollment was 1,696; total faculty was 185 (36 full time).
On the other hand, in 2004, the UDLA-Puebla total students exceeded 8,000, with 1,647 new students admitted; with 250 being international students (students from the U.S. comprising a “small minority”). Total faculty was 763; 44% full time. Twenty percent belong to the National System of Researchers (SNI). UDLAP offers a Study Abroad Program at 182 universities in 29 countries2 including an unusual internship with the U.S. Congress. Note E
There is some question that many of the old Mexico City College crowd do not know to which university they are an alumnus. Numerous correspondence from 1996 to 2006) with the DF campus (from the president on down) by the author seeking alumni information was met with no response.
However, correspondence by the author over several years with the Puebla campus did result in several responses (“Thank you for calling this matter to our attention. We will look into it.“), but no substantial action was ever taken. Part of the reason could be that “until recent years, the Puebla campus never recognized . . . the association with Mexico City College. Now (02/22/05), they do” 11. . . thanks to two fortuitous and coinciding events:
An MCC alumnus entered into direct correspondence with the then Rectora, Dra. Nora Lustig, in September, 2002. And, by happy coincidence, since taking office as Rectora in 2001, it has been Dra. Nora Lustig’s personal “quest to do everything in our power to re-establish contact with our alumni from (the MCC) era. The letter you received from Sergio Diaz, who is in charge of our alumni office, is precisely the result of this initiative.”15 The MCC alumnus’ inquiry gave Dra. Lustig a renewed interest as President to pursue her desire to promote UDLAP early history and alumni. Soon after, Sergio Diaz, UDLAP exalumnos director, contacted the MCC alumnus “to discuss ways to facilitate MCC alumni's participation in the UDLAP's exalumno program and to outline his ideas.
“Diaz (said he) is planning a special MCC section within the UDLAP exalumno site (http://www.udlap.mx/alumni/mcc/ ) and (has included) a hyperlink within the UDLAP/MCC section to our MCC club.”6 (See Post No. 342 at the Mexico City College Club site: http://mx.groups.yahoo.com/group/mexicocitycollege)
This Mexico City College alumni club site was founded by Dr. Mike Porath (M.C.C. 1959, BA; Ph.D. Anthropology, U. of NM) on September 1, 2000, and is located at: http://mx.groups.yahoo.com/group/mexicocitycollege
Alumnus Sam Ormes (MCC, 1960) has also set up a “backup” MCC site in case the main site crashes, located at: http://mx.groups.yahoo.com/group/km16/
As of February, 2006, this MCC internet Club had 51 members, most of them MCC graduates and former students from the ‘50s and early ‘60s. MCC history from an alumni perspective can be found throughout the many postings, now numbering over 1,200, along with former students’ remembrances of faculty: Dr. Martinez del Rio with his spats, Homburg and umbrella, (Mexican history from the man who rode with Pancho Villa into Columbus, NM, 1916); Professor Robins (AKA “the Hemingway of Mexico”); Professor Fernando Horcasitas (AKA “the white god of the Mexican anthropologists”), to name a few. Richard Wilkie in his highly descriptive "Dangerous Journeys: Mexico City College Students and the Mexican Landscape, 1954-1962,"16 also recalls the more memorable professors.
La Mosca (AKA the “Fly Trap,”) a Mexican-run beer and pulque garden and cafe was located across the street from the school. It was here that many students, including Dean Elmendorf, enjoyed their beer, and one alumnus recalls asking “Virginia’s hand in marriage,” with “a breathtaking view of the barranca, Mexico City, and the volcanoes” Popocatepetl and Ixtacihuatl in the distant landscape.
Many have agreed that the education received at MCC prepared them well for their subsequent careers. As archaeology professor Oriol Pi-Sunyer (MCC, 1954, University of Massachusetts-Amherst) recalls, his years in Mexico were “the best thing that ever happened to me experientially, intellectually and academically.”
MCC served well, and gave birth to a highly prestigious institution. UDLAP recognizes MCC and its contributions and has named a building after Drs. Murray and Cain. Dr. Murray’s son, Paul V. Murray, Jr., Ph.D., and his two sisters, were invited precisely as guests to the Dedication (March 1, 1998). As Paul Murray wrote, “The Inauguration was truly a supreme and far reaching gesture by UDLAP in recognition of its heritage (that) . . . honored his father’s vision.” Note F
“Having the chance to live and study in Mexico City was adventure enough, but when all the natural and human landscapes of southern and central Mexico became part of the experiental classroom, the education that each of us received went far beyond anything most of us had anticipated.”16
“Mexico City College provided its students with a dynamic setting for intellectual and personal growth, and it was a place that offered unimaginable opportunities for exploration, discovery, adventure and creativity. The Mexican experience exposed its students, representing over 20 countries, to new ways to view their own countries. Life in Mexico helped all of us to develop a feeling for diversity and a belief that because of it life can be richer and more meaningful.” – Dr. R.W. Wilkie, MCC, class of ’59.16
Selected References and Important Notes:
1. “Yankee College in Mexico,” L.R. Hayman. Américas 5:21-3 (May, 1953); The MCC Collegian, May 9, 1951.
2. Merle Kling, “M.C.C., An Informal Report.” College and University. V. 33, No. 3:257-72. (Spring, 1958.)
3. L.A. Larew (sp?). “American Schools are Thriving in Mexico,” Hispania, 63:91-93. (March, 1980.)
4. Joe Nash, “Murray Would Be In Seventh Heaven, El Universal, Sept., 1998.
5. “Beards & Sandals go.” Times Educational Supplement. 2511:8, (July 5, 1963).
6. Source insists upon anonymity, in private email dated 3/6/2006.
7. “Yankee University in Mexico,” Randolph Wolfe, Holiday, July, 1968.
8. Peter Tristan Stuart, former MCC alumnus and employee of the U.S. Embassy. See http://mx.groups.yahoo.com/group/mexicocitycollege/message Post No. 112 and/or http://westwood.fortunecity.com/susileib/60/pete18.htm (Chapter 19).
A. “The following persons (of the first graduating class in June, 1940) received Associate in Arts diplomas: Helen Scott Gilland, Mary Gilland, Pepita Garcia Colin, Mary Gisholt, Thomas Koralek, Fernando Peñalosa, Leonore Ross, and William Valverde. Those who received the Associate in Science diploma were Guillermo Ahumada, Elaine Rosslyn Gladston, Gilbert Haakh and Lavern A. Miller.
”Nine of the ten members of the faculty were also present: Henry Cain, Paul Murray, Albert Bork, Brita Bowen, José Gaos, Atlanta Cole, Montes de Oca, Dimitri Sokoloff, Jesse Vera, and Bonita Clark Wrixton.” -- Prof. Edward Simmen (UDLAP). (Also see post # 497 at http://mx.groups.yahoo.com/group/mexicocitycollege/ for more detail on this ceremony.)
B. “The Death of Joan V. Burroughs,” by James W. Grauerholz, American Studies Dept., Univ. of Kansas, January 7, 2002:
“A strange thing—as Ed Simmen has pointed out to me—is that, in all the contemporaneous Mexico City newspaper accounts (22 stories examined, to date), there is not one single mention of Mexico City College. And yet, the killer, and one of the eyewitnesses, and the young man who came by to consider buying a pistol from Burroughs, and the boy who identified Joan's body, and the tenant in whose apartment the shooting occurred—all were currently or recently students enrolled at M.C.C. The Bounty bar was almost entirely patronized by a certain subset of M.C.C. students; the entire 122 Monterrey building was full of them.
“Just as clubby was the world of the college’s American founders, President Henry L. Cain and Dean of Faculty, Paul V. Murray. Although M.C.C.’s finances were a tremendous struggle in the early years, and Dean Murray even mortgaged his home to support the school at one point, these two men were well-connected within a middle to lower rung of the American-Mexican ‘old-boy network.’ And this, at a time when Mexico was relatively supine beneath the postwar American business invasion. Murray and Cain had power, and—thanks to their primary patrons, the Jenkins Foundation—money. If they did not want their school mentioned in newspaper accounts of a lurid, scandalous killing, it was surely within their ability to see that it did not happen. Of course, the American G.I. ‘colony’ in Colonia Roma did not usually command wide journalistic attention in DF — except when it brought out a story like this one. Perhaps the reporters were simply uninterested in the M.C.C. connection; or perhaps their editors operated at that time under a general policy of not offending the American institutions established in Mexico. If Dr. Simmen’s theory is correct, Murray or Cain must have somehow exerted influence on editors who were specifically looking to scandalize or discredit M.C.C.—and that is possible.” http://old.lawrence.com/burroughs/deathofjoan-full.pdf. (p. 42.)
C. Robert Barlow fell ill shortly thereafter and was forced to take a leave of absence. The following year, 1951, he died.
“The 2nd edition was published in 1950 and was edited by Barlow's assistant, Leon Abrams, Jr (graduate student). Articles included works by Barrios, Horcasitas, Pedro Armillas, Eduardo Noguera, Ignacio Bernal, Patricia Fent Ross, Donald Kimmel, and Wigberto Jiménez Moreno. (Jiménez Moreno and Pedro Bosch Gimpera had founded the Dept. of Anthropology at MCC in 1947.)
“John Paddock, who first came to MCC as a graduate student in 1951 became the editor in 1952. Issue No. 3 was published in October, 1953 and was an expansion on a single theme, Excavaciones in the Mixteca Alta and consisted of reports on field work being carried on by students. The issue was written by Paddock based on materials provided by Robert Winter and Francis Guess and participating students: Tikey Magionos, Frank Moore, Robert Wiley, Lee Arnett, Arthur Parker and Herbert Nell. A graduate student from USC and Paddock provided photographs and Charles Wicke was responsible for the drawings.
“Issue No. 4 was not published until December, 1955. Tom Swinson was the editor and his assistant was Donald Brockington. Paddock was not the faculty advisor since he had joined the staff in 1953. This issue was dedicated to the excavations made at Yagul, Oaxaca and was to be the first in a series of reports of MCC's work at this site. This issue contains work by Fernando Horcasitas, Richard George, John Paddock, James Oliver, C. Chard Meigs, and others.
“The 5th edition appeared two years later in August, 1957. This issue was also edited by Swinson and Brockington and continued the emphasis on the work in Oaxaca and at Yagul primarily. Articles were by Paddock, Charles Wicke, Horcasitas, Brockington, and Irmgard W. Johnson.
“The next issue did not appear until 1965 due to the considerable turmoil at all levels of the College including changes of the president and even changes of the name of the College to the University of the Américas. Issue 6 was also very different from the previous issues in that it dealt with reviews of books published by Oscar Lewis and reviewed by John Paddock: Five Families, The Children of Sanchez, Pedro Martínez: A Mexican Peasant and His Family . The issue was to be used as a text for classes at the University. Needless to say, this was also the time when the Attorney General of Mexico accused Oscar Lewis of writing obscene literature and sent the Mexican press into an uproar.
“A double issue, No. 7 & 8, appeared the following year and returned to the original format used by Barlow. This issue was dedicated to the XI Round Table of the Sociedad Mexicana de Antropología which was held in México City in August of 1966. The great site of Teotihuacan was the special topic to be discussed. John Paddock was again editing Mesoamerican Notes, and he selected graduate thesis on Teotihuacan which had been written over the years at MCC and UDLA. Authors included Robert Chadwick, Will T. Levey, Frank Moore, and Evelyn C. Rattray. Paddock's assistants for this issue were Estelle Keller, Joseph Moger, Andrea Wakefield and Iris Hart.
“The same year, 1966, John Paddock left UDLA and became director of the Instituto de Estudios Oaxaqueños in Mitla, Oaxaca. John had also published Ancient Oaxaca.
“It was not until Fall of 1983 that the 9th edition of the journal appeared with the name, Notas Mesoamericanas. The editor was now Edward Simmen and the issue was dedicated to Dr. Wigberto Jiménez Moreno and Dr. John Paddock.”
(The brief description above by Dr. Mike Porath is based on material from the Preface of the 9th edition of Mesoamerican Notes, written by Dr. Edward Simmen. This description is included in its entirety because of the importance archaeology has played with MCC, and for the students and teachers involved.)
The first anthropology course was offered by Professor Wigberto Jiménez Moreno, September 30, 1947. The first student to register in anthropology was Walter Madson, a WW II veteran, under the G.I. Bill.9
D. The late U.S. citizen William O. Jenkins, of Puebla, MX, was “a mysterious buccaneer businessman who has built the biggest personal fortune in Mexico,” (Time, Dec 26, 1960. p.25), and established (1954) the Mary Street Jenkins Foundation, in honor of his wife, for the benefit of the Mexican people, specifically for Puebla. Jenkins “left very little of his money to his family, endowing instead the Foundation. (True to the American ideology), by 1988, the Foundation had provided more than $150 million for education, culture, health, welfare (including orphan schools) and sports through more than 300 specific grants” Of his many profitable ventures, Jenkins purchases of local banks culminated in the establishment of one of the largest banks in Latin America, the Bancomer. http://web.archive.org/web/20050308092408/http:/www.udlap.mx/~malcocer/amer.shtml
“In 1963 I calculated that the Mary Street Jenkins Foundation then bore the same ratio to the Mexican economy as did the Rockefeller Foundation to the US economy.” (Luke Case on Bill Jenkins: see http://www.dartmouth/, next link below.)
Enter the ghost of Juan Hernandez: UDLAP was first run by an ex-banker, Espinosa Igleszia. He also headed the Jenkins Foundation. In subsequent years Igleszias managed to expel members of the Jenkins from the Board of the Foundation, taking control of it and the Campus.11 Bill Jenkins countered with legal action in Federal court and “After a seven-year struggle, he regained control of the Mary Street Jenkins Foundation.” (www.dartmouth.org/classes/54/Newsletter/NL0307.htm. July, 2003). This resulted in restoring the Foundation to its original status and the Campus to the rightful academic administration. (For a brief summary of how UDLAP was later changed by President Macias Rendon, (1975-76), from a liberal arts institution into a technocratic institution to provide job training for engineers, and the decade long battle to reverse the trend, see Wilkie, ibid, p. 95.)
Nor has the small DF campus been exempt from avarice. The 91-year-old American author Russell Abbot Ames was fighting for his right to stay on disputed land in San Pablo Etla, a tiny village in the mountains above Oaxaca. He says that although he and his wife donated their 20-acre homestead to the university in 1988, they did so with the agreement that they could live there until they died. Because of a technicality (his wife died first), the DF campus attempted to immediately evict the 91-year old American, resulting in his temporary incarceration; a man who has shared so much of his good fortune with the Mexican people. (For details, see Post No. 511, at http://mx.groups.yahoo.com/group/mexicocitycollege/ )
E. UDLA-Puebla is the only institution outside the United States that has a program whereas its students serve as U.S. Congressional interns in Washington, DC, “While (then Congressman Bill Richardson and I visited in Washington, DC), I noticed the students serving as interns. I asked him if he would take a couple from the UDLAP. He said, ‘I think it is against the law.’ Yes, we found out it is. You can’t have foreigners ‘working’ in Congress because there is so much confidential material they must work with. And of course our students can’t work because they have no papers. (We say our students ‘serve’ in the office of Congressmen.) And also it is against the Mexican constitution for a Mexican to ‘work’ for a foreign government. Oh, well, we do it anyway. The students get the added benefit of meeting with the Mexican ambassador to the US while they are there. It is a marvelous and successful program. I really enjoy having initiated it. Such students!” (--Dr. Edward Simmen.9)
F. Dr. Paul V. Murray's son (Paul V. Murray, Jr., Ph.D. Education) writes, ". . . my father's idealism got in the way of making clear and difficult decisions which eventually ended his administration."
But it is such idealism which gives birth to dreams that can blossom beyond expectations. Ironically, all too often, once matured, effective maintenance and growth then requires the skills of a “non-dreamer;” such skills are usually at odds to nurturing a dream from its infancy.
G. William B. Richardson, Jr., the current Governor of New Mexico [former Congressman, and former Ambassador to the UN] and the son of William B. Richardson (former MCC Board of Trustees Chair) attended MCC as a high school student for one summer, and then attended “another school” in Mexico City. Mr. Richardson was the Commencement Speaker at the Universidad de las Américas-Puebla 2003 Graduation Ceremonies, and was awarded the Honoris Causa Degree. (See Note H, below.)
H. William Richardson, Sr., MCC Board of Trustees Chair, was forcibly removed from the board, as noted in this letter dated July 14, 1961, and sent from Frank A. Tredennick Jr to Dr. Nils Y. Wessell (who at the time was president of Tufts University. http://www.wargs.com/political/richardson.html ):
“I had a long discussion this week with Fred J. Lauerman, executive assistant to the president of Mexico City College. He reported to me that Mexico City College had made its greatest stride forward in years by forcibly deposing Bill Richardson from the board of trustees. The general feeling, however, is that the action came too late and that Richardson's leadership has been so misdirected and yet so strong that the College will probably go under in the next year or two.”
I. The Gadfly, an alternative student newspaper, was published by Peter and Lucia Montague. Only four issues were published, the last in December, 1961. “There were two bombshell stories in this last issue. First was the fact that the Michigan state university system had announced that they were no longer accepting credits from MCC, thereby ending Michigan's involvement in the ‘Winter Quarter in Mexico’ program." NOTE: The author has not been able to corroborate this story.)
The other articles involved the so called “Foot Sniffing Certificate,” which ridiculed the Dean of Men (see page 6, above), as well as the policies and personalities of the Mexican Government. This latter volley sent the Federales looking for anyone who was mentioned in The Gadfly article, most all were residents of Cuajimalpa and Contadero. No arrests were made, mainly because, by happy chance, several had already left for their ritual fun and games in Acapulco. http://mx.groups.yahoo.com/group/mexicocitycollege/ (Post No. 1218.)
Like most “bomb throwers,” the publishers of The Gadfly left the country before the last issue was distributed.
J.¨MCC stands about 900 feet above the Valley of Mexico on a prominence known as La Angostura (the Narrow Point). This neck of land separates the ravine of Tlapecho on the north from that of Cuitlapechco on the south, the latter flanked on one side by precipitous sand cliffs called Peñablanca. These lands lie in an area known in Aztec times as the Province of Cuahuacan, and are now incorporated into the township of Santa Fe, D.F.¨ Possibly more so than any other area surrounding the Valley, this prominence “reflects the multicultural and multilingual history of the nation: this vantage point has witnessed the early semi nomadic Otomí life along with their peaceful neighbors the Matlatzinca, the great expansion of the Aztec Empire and their annual, great hunt on this prominence where the college now stands, the 16th-Century Conquest and the colonization and missionary efforts (including the extraordinary Utopian project of Santa Fe, located just below where the College now stands, undertaken by Don Vasco de Quiroga, the remarkable first bishop of Michoacán), and the wars of Independence, the witnessing of departure and arrival of many a military expedition along a three-hundred year old Indian road that passed through the area, the years of political upheaval and, finally, a successful experimental international educational institute,¨ the Mexico City College. Adapted from Fernando Horcasitas, “Cuauhtlalpan,” The Collegian, Dec. 17, 1955.
K. Between August, 1963 to Oct, 1983, a minimum of $21,450,800.00, of record, was donated to UDLA. Most of these donations went to support the move, construction, and continuing support of the Puebla campus. (Source, footnote 9, above.)
1. Lilly Endownment, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana. $45,000.00, for a Chair of Economics at the UDLA, plus $75,000.00 general grant.
2. Relm Foundation, Ann Arbor, Michigan. $4,800.00 to underwrite salary of an economics professor; plus $105,000.00 for faculty salaries.
3. Lora Lavery Stafford scholarship fund was established with the donation of $46,000.00 to the University from her estate. (The fund, however, disappeared over the years.)
4. The Scaiffe Family Foundation, Philadelphia, $250,000.00 for the Puebla campus.
5. The Gildred Family Foundation, San Diego, CA. $250,000.00.
6. The Frank B. Baird, Jr. Foundation, $75,000.00, for professors to continue research.
7. U.S. Government Agency for International Development (AID):
a. $2,000,000.00 to help build a new campus.
b. $2,000,000.00, (dependent upon bring match by $1,400,000.00).
c. $1,600,000.00 (funneled through the University of the Americas Foundation, Delware, RI, and donated as $285,923,273.74 pesos).
d. $5,000,000.00 (Dec. 17, 1971). The Foundación Jenkins (the Mary Street Jenkins Foundation?) agreed to match the grant.
8. The Mary Street Foundation, Puebla, MX (see Note D, above). $5,000,000.00, plus the Puebla school of the Colegio Americano de Puebla.
9. Richard Ware, president of the Ann Arbor, MI based Earhart Foundation, was the speaker for the first graduation ceremony (54 graduates) held on the Cholula campus. (Amount of donation, if any, unknown.)
10. Dr. Ray Lindley named Chancellor, with offices in San Antonio, TX to be in charge of planning, development and relations with U.S. foundations.
L. American Football at MCC/UDLA, by Professor Edward Simmen (UDLAP), see Citation 9, above.
“Prior to 1947, there was very little interest in having organized sports. The school had no facilities for organized sports and the enrollment was sparse. As more veterans began to arrive to study at MCC, interest in having an American football team intensified which pleased Paul Murray who felt that having a team would bring recognition to the community. Throughout the spring and summer quarters, the veterans began playing informally together. They were all former football college players.
"During the summer of 1947, MCC applied for entry and was accepted to play in the country’s Liga Mayor to play in the fall against the six other local teams in the league: the UNAM, the Instituto Politécnico, Colegio Militar, Educación, Y.M.C.A, and Wacha-chara.
"Coach Chuck LaTourette who also played, began the season with defeats by the UNAM and Politecnico. In the first game, following only one week of practice due to late arrival of players and equipment, the UNAM won 20-0. The Instituto Politecnico defeated MCC with the score of 7-0. These losses resulted from scheduling the two strongest teams for the start of the season.
"Colegio Militar was defeated 13-0. Educacion went down 13-7 in a night contest which marked the Aztecs 1st, appearance in the Olympic, and YMCA was routed 32-7 in the last conference game of the year. MCC placed third in the conference standings.
"It should be noted that with only a few exceptions, the majority of the players were veterans of World War II and were studying at MCC on the GI Bill. And of course, they were much older than the average beginning students. All of them had experience playing football at universities in the United States such as UCLA, Illinois, and the University of California before entering the service. Among the players were Joe Roldan, Jack Smith, Pop Muldoon, Bud Fellows, Dick Ehrhardt, Nick Lococo, Seymour Barkowitz, Vic Hancock and Eddie Armador.
"One of the most outstanding player was Morris “Moe” Williams, from Alabama. 'Moe' was the only Negro on the team, a factor that would cause an unexpected problem as the 1947 season came to an end and MCC ventured out of Mexico City to play two postseason games.
"For the first post season game, the team, accompanied by Paul Murray, ventured to Monterrey to play the ITESM. The Aztecs overwhelmed the Tecnologico 33-7.
"Then the team continued on to San Antonio to play Trinity University. When they arrived in the Alamo City, Dean Murray shocked to discover that the State of Texas had laws that prevented Negroes playing on the same field as whites. But he was determined that his one Negro player, 'Moe' Williams was not going to be deprived of playing in the game simply because Williams was not white. After some thought, he came up with a plan.
"First, he had the team suit up at the hotel. Then, they went by chartered bus to the stadium. All the players wore their helmets so as to help disguise 'Moe' and raced into the dressing room and then on to the field. 'Moe' wore his helmet the entire game, removing it only in the dressing room during halftime.
"As part of Murray’s plan to hide the fact that 'Moe' was a Negro, Murray had the Alabama native listed in the program as being a Mexican from Mexico City. But that simply added to a greater problem. Considering that San Antonio had a large Mexican and Mexican-American population, there would be many of them who would go to the game to see Mexico City College play. Both Murray and 'Moe' worried, “What if someone speaks to 'Moe' in Spanish?” 'Moe' had been in Mexico a short period of time. What Spanish he had was rudimentary to say the least. So it was decided that the entire team would protect 'Moe' from everyone. He spent the entire game not only wearing the helmet but remaining absolutely silent.
"Aside from all of that, the game was a total disaster for the Aztecs of MCC. Trinity University ran rampant over MCC by a score of 73 to 6.
" Nevertheless, one person found solace in the midst of such a devastating defeat. A writer for the 1948 yearbook noted, 'The Trinity game was the first time a Negro—Williams—played among whites on a Texas gridiron.' The Aztecs may have been crushed on the field, but 'Anyway we made history.' "
"The season did not end there for two of the Aztec Warriors: 'Moe' Williams and Bud Fellows. They were both selected to play with the Mexican All-Stars against the Randolph Field Air Force Base team in the 'Silver Bowl' in Mexico City before a crowd of 35,000 spectators, the largest crowd in local football history. With the great help of Williams and fellows, the Mexican All-Stars surprised the Randolph Field team by defeating them 24-21.
"With John D. Engman as Coach, the Aztecas won the national America-Football championship by defeating the Pumas of the UNAM 32-26 in what was reported to be one of the most exciting games in the history of American-football in Mexico by. Among the outstanding players for the Aztecs was Morris 'Moe' Williams.
"Between 1947 and 1954, American-Football was MCC’s only intercollegiate sport. Strong rivalries were built up with the teams from UNAM and the Politecnico. Then President Murray withdrew the team from the 'Liga Mayor' prior to the beginning of the 1955 season. He noted, 'Local conditions would have to change greatly before the college would consider re-entry into the league.'
“ ' Moe' Williams was graduated from MCC in 1950. But he did not leave Mexico. Rather, he opened a travel agency catering to American tourists. However, he remained close to MCC and President Murray.
"In 1955, MCC fielded a softball team, playing in the Inter-Club Softball league and finishing in second place. In 1956, the team entered the new “Liga Mayor” Softball League and promptly won the championship.
"At the same time, MCC played basketball as an intramural sport. By 1958, MCC’s basketball team entered that sport’s 'Liga Mayor'. The individual who volunteered to coach the team without remuneration was none other than 'Moe' Williams. He remained coach until he was forced by illness to resign in 1990. He died the following year.
"In 1962, Dr. D. Ray Lindley became the third president of MCC, promising to restore American football at the intercollegiate level. This did not happen. However, he did continue to support basketball team, keeping Williams as coach.
"UDLA has won numerous national championships after its move to Puebla. Basketball players were recruited from the United States. Of course they were all very tall and towered over the average Mexican players on other teams. That led to the national authorities passing a law that there could be only one foreign basketball player on the court at one time.” — Professor Edward Simmen (UDLAP)
(Editor’s Note: Fourteen Volumes of The MCC Collegian, representing 182 issues from 1947 to 1961, were among the sources accessed in the compilation of this History. The issues have been digitalized and are online at:
It is a pleasure to note that this history is, in effect, a product of the spirit of many who were eager to contribute over the years. I wish to thank Dr. Richard W. Wilkie, MCC class of ’59, Professor of Geography, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Professor Edward Simmen, Docente-Investigador, Deptos. de Lenguas y Literatura, Universidad de las Americas, Puebla (UDLAP), and Professor Arturo Valentin Arrieta Audiffred, UDLAP Biblioteca for their generous, prompt responses to my many requests for various information, photos and clarification of points. I also wish to thank Terrence Parker, editor of the literary weekly, The Moon, for his many excellent suggestions and for proofreading of the text.
–Joseph M. Quinn. 2006