In terms of actual numbers, Dickinson in January of 1944 still had
700 trainees on the campus. The estimation was that about 138 would
graduate on February 12th, and about 140 more cadets would graduate on
each of February 12th, February 26th, March 25th, April 22nd, and May 27th.
College administrators knew as early as January 1st, 1944 that there was
a distinct possibility that the Air Corps program would be terminated.
The Government cited several reasons in their explanation to the College,
most of which centered around the Air Corps' lack of need for more aviation
pilots. Fred P. Corson stated that some of the reasons for the termination
were political, but all of these reasons reflected the reduced requirement
for trained men after more than two years of intense effort at building
up the military forces of the United States. (36)
Furthermore, Corson in an attempt to rationalize the ending of the College's
Training Detachment days, stated that
|The termination of contracts with seventy colleges having Air Corps units was announced. In principle, all the colleges in Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania were eliminated, and in principle, all of the southern colleges were retained. In an interview which I had with Air Corps officers in Washington, I was told that the Pennsylvania colleges were eliminated because the transportation and flying conditions were better in the South. (37)|
Dickinson College administrators, realizing the numerous benefits which the College reaped as a result of the Training Detachment, attempted to persuade the government to allow the program to continue through the next year. Director of the program and president of the College Fred P. Corson was most influential in this effort. Corson wrote various letters of appeal to government officials and presidents of other schools to try and fight for the retainment of the Air Corps program. Corson stated in the minutes of a trustee meeting that Dickinsonians in Congress, including Lansdale Sasscer, a very influential member of the majority party, were seeking to have the order changed, and Dickinson College continued with a reduced quota of trainees. (38) In a February 1st, 1944 letter to Congressman Sasscer, Corson pleaded for the retention of the Training Detachment, using the argument that the order of termination came too suddenly and thus created a most serious condition in colleges which had relied on the program. Furthermore, Corson stated, "our concern is not selfish since our only reason for existence is the total service that we can render under the peculiar conditions of maintaining and perpetuating a democracy where education of the sort which the American college is giving is so essential." (39) The main goal of Corson in his letters to various governmental officials was to get the termination of the program postponed until at least January, 1st, 1945. If this was done, Corson believed the investment made by the government in the establishment of the Air Corps program would be enhanced significantly. (40)
Corson's efforts to delay the termination process were not ignored, as Congressman Sasscer did appeal to General H. "Hap" Arnold, commander of United States Army Air Forces. In his letter, Sasscer pointed out that every inspection made by the Government in evaluation of the program had culminated with a rating of "excellent," while also asserting that both the educational and financial requirements established by the Air Forces were "more than satisfactory." Sasscer also stated that there could be possibly fatal consequences for the institutions forced to eliminate such programs. For example, Congressman Sasscer noted that, "the discontinuance of this program at Dickinson means the breaking up of the teaching staff. . . Should the policy of termination prevail, I am afraid it would mean the closing of Dickinson and the other colleges directed to discontinue this program." (41)
In addition to the letters which Corson wrote to Sasscer, he also drafted letters to the presidents of other local schools participating in the same Air Corps program. Corson composed writings to Lafayette College, the University of Pittsburgh, and Albright College with the intention to persuade them to fight with the same vigor and determination against the decision to discontinue the Air Corps program. In the end, Fred Corson's attempts to stave off the destruction of the Training Detachment were doomed to failure. Government officials did not accept Corson's argument on the worth of delaying the termination of the Air Corps program. A final memorandum came from the United States Government to the trustees of Dickinson College on February 16th, 1944, officially stating that "those schools which have leased facilities for the accommodation of the training unit be notified that such leases should be disposed of as quickly as possible." (42) Consequently, the 32nd College Training Detachment was terminated with the last cadets graduating on May 27th, 1944, thus concluding another episode in the long and eventful history of Dickinson College.
The Government's decision to discontinue the Air Corps program at many of the northeastern colleges and universities introduced numerous questions and problems surrounding the original contract made between those institutions and the Army Air Forces. As a result of this, Corson decided that there needed to be a meeting of representatives of colleges holding Army Air Force contracts. On January 20th, 1944 representatives from Clarion State Teachers' College, St. Vincent College, the University of Pittsburgh, Slippery Rock College, Duquesne University, Albright College, Geneva College, Kutztown College, Allegheny College, Susquehanna University, Lafayette College, Indiana State Teachers' College, Edinboro College and Dickinson College met in Pittsburgh to "discuss mutual contractual problems." (43) Most of the discussion at this meeting centered around economic issues, as most of the institutions present affirmed their apprehensions at the fact that the Air Corps program did "not protect the colleges and universities against monetary loss because there were so many expenses which were not covered under the government contract." (44) Issues with regard to activation expenses, instructional costs, faculty vacation and illness, selective service status of staff and educational allowances for service men were all discussed at this meeting in an attempt to come to a better understanding of government decisions on these matters.
One area in which all of the institutions attending articulated problems involved monetary disputes over the activation expenses of the Air Corps program. Many of the Colleges and Universities thought that they should be reimbursed for the improvements which they made to their institutions before the Training Detachments arrived on their campus. The minutes from this meeting stated, "permanent improvements are not subject to reimbursement. . . It is urged that early action be sought and that the proper committee of Association of American Colleges be consulted with regard to these financial issues which so many colleges stand to lose so much." (45) It is important to note that this meeting did not take place to disagree with the termination decision, but instead was the product of area colleges' desire to articulate their concerns regarding various economic issues.
When the Air Corps program finally came to an end on June 1st, 1944, most of these economic issues between Dickinson College and the Government had been resolved. A report from Fred Corson to the trustees of the College states that "it affords me great satisfaction to be able to report that on June 22 (1944) we met with representatives of the material command of the army and brought to a final and successful termination our contract for the 32nd College Training Detachment (Air Crew)." (46) Many of the economic concerns with regard to activation and instructional expenses were resolved as the Army agreed to sell materials to the College at a fraction of their original price. Consequently, the college "received equipment and building improvements for $25,000, which in actuality were valued upwards of $70,000." (47) In addition the College still had a surplus of $125,000 to $150,000 in an Army and College Current Express fund, "for the use in meeting possible deficits during the immediate months ahead and before the normal student enrollment can be restored." (48) With this successful and helpful negotiated conclusion of the Air Corps program at Dickinson, it could safely be asserted that the presence of the Training Detachment in two vital years saved the College from substantial economic damage during World War II. Perhaps President Corson said it best when he asserted that "carefully planned for and meticulously carried through, the relationship which Dickinson College had with the government can be termed satisfactory and successful." (49)
|Introduction||Dickinson and World War II||Establishment||Termination||Remembrance||Conclusion|