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University Relations

p (785) 864-3256
f (785) 864-3339
March 29, 2006
Contact: Fred McElhenie, Department of Student Housing, (785) 864-7223; or Lisa Eitner, Oread Books, (785) 864-4431.

New book published on the history of student housing at KU

LAWRENCE — A new book, Making Do & Getting Through: KU Co-ops, Halls and Houses 1919 - 1966, will be published in April as a collaborative project of the Historic Mount Oread Fund and the University of Kansas Department of Student Housing.

The book was written by Fred McElhenie of the KU Department of Student Housing and includes photos and recollections contributed by nearly 900 KU alums. The large-format hardcover book is being distributed by Oread Books in the Kansas Union. A portion of the proceeds from sales of the book will benefit the Historic Mount Oread Fund and the Fred McElhenie Scholarship Fund. A book signing event will be announced later in the spring.

Making Do & Getting Through chronicles the development of halls, houses and cooperatives at KU from the early years — when Greek houses were among the few organized settings — through the boom of institutional building following World War II. For more than 60 years after KU’s founding, finding accommodations was largely a hit-or-miss situation for students arriving in the city before classes began in September. In the Great Depression, students sometimes lived in hovels, carrying their possessions in a single suitcase. Following World War ll, the GI Bill students provided a catalyst for the remarkable growth of universities across the nation. At KU, Chancellor Malott enlisted a recently discharged veteran, Irvin Youngberg, to help solve the critical housing shortage.

Making Do & Getting Through tracks the sometimes painful, sometimes humorous evolution of differing living styles at KU drawn from the memories of more than 900 residents who agreed that their student housing experiences were less about the quality of the building than about the cameraderie. Some tell of the rigid rules and regulations that applied to women and minority students. Anecdotes and photos also reveal the lighter side of college housing life — accounts of beloved houseparents, “possum stew,” and “panty raids.” But most would say that “making do and getting through” changed them in profound, positive ways and that “I wouldn’t have done it any differently.”

Fred McElhenie is a semi-retired researcher and writer for the Department of Student Housing. He received a bachelor’s degree from Rockhurst College in Kansas City, Mo., and a master’s degree from KU. In his 44-year career at KU, he has served as dean of men, assistant director of Centennial College, director of residential programs and associate director of Student Housing for Residence Life. He was a finalist for Unclassified Employee of the Year in 1979, 1981, 1984 and 1990 and received the CLAS award in 1998.


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