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Dr. Edgar F. Bunce, 1937-1952
Dr. Edgar F. Bunce became the institution's second president in 1937 and was responsible for expanding course offerings at the college. His achievements include boosting enrollment and earning approval for a Grades 5-9 curriculum and a graduate program.
Dr. Edgar F. Bunce, 1937-1952 Born in Frewsburg, N.Y., Bunce came from a family where teaching was a tradition. He graduated from Fredonia Normal School in New York and was hired as a fourth-grade teacher in Lodi, N.J., becoming superintendent within two years.
He received a bachelor of arts degree from Teachers College at Columbia University in New York City, and a doctorate degree from New York University.
Before becoming president of the institution at Glassboro, Bunce was superintendent of the Mount Holly and Metuchen school districts and taught classes part time at Rutgers University and was the director of its demonstration school. He also served as vice president and head of the education department at Trenton Teachers College and later became the director of teacher education for New Jersey. He visited all of the state's normal schools, but was most impressed with Glassboro and applied to become its president when Dr. Jerohn J. Savitz retired.
Bunce became president the same year that Glassboro Normal School became a college. He liberalized rules and allowed students and faculty to play a larger role in deciding and implementing policies. Under Bunce's leadership, the college created nine committees made up of students and faculty advisers. The Publicity Committee recommended the college publish a newspaper, which became The Whit, named after the Whitney House. Bunce established an honor roll at the request of the Scholarship Committee, which became the forerunner of the present-day dean's list. He also encouraged The American Association of Teachers Colleges to accredit the institution, which it did in 1938.
One of Bunce's immediate goals was to attract more men to the college. He revitalized the college's athletic program and boosted male enrollment from 15 percent to 20 percent in one year. His efforts to boost male enrollment were dealt a severe blow, however, with the outbreak of World War II. Enrollment reached an all-time low in 1943 with only 170 students, which included only two men. Bunce managed to keep the college's faculty intact despite ominous signals from the State Department of Education.
The college's athletic program was devastated by the loss of men, but fortunes improved when the war ended and the government introduced the GI bill, which encouraged veterans to go to college to learn new skills. Many veterans attended a two-year Junior College Program. Athletics were revived and the student body was thrilled when a varsity football team was created in 1947. Dormitories were integrated and became coed under Bunce's leadership.
In 1947, the State Board of Education approved the college's Grades 5-9 curriculum, creating a program of study that cut across the elementary and secondary teaching fields. More men began attending because they preferred teaching upper grades. In 1949, the college's first graduate programs were approved and students could take advanced courses in handicapped education, administration and supervision of elementary schools and advanced work in elementary teaching.
Bunce retired in 1952 after 17 years as president, leaving behind a legacy of preservation and expansion. He served as vice president of the New Jersey Retired Educators Association and was named president emeritus of the college in 1970.