“THE DEAN” ACHIEVES A TWO SCORE AND TWO YEARS’ TENURE AT HIS ALMA MATER
You will note that this, the seventh issue of Rerum Scriptor, is entirely devoted to a consideration of the life and work of Frank Elmer Weyer, alumnus of the class of 1911 and longtime Professor and Academic Dean of Hastings College.
The decision to honor Dean Weyer in this way did not constitute a difficult “judgment call,” for in the thinking of many students and not a few faculty and staff members whose lives touched his during the years they were associated with this institution, The Dean, as he was affectionately called, was the College.
Although the impressiveness of both Dean Weyer’s amazingly long life and the almost unbelievable length of his tenure as Academic Dean of the College (42 years!), certainly had some influence on the high regard in which he was held by the various generations of students who knew him, still, the overflowing well of affection from which both students, faculty members, and staff drew their esteem for The Dean must have been generated by something both deeper and more renewable than his vital statistics, incredible as they were. What, then, were the preeminent reasons for the constantly recurring student adulation of this dignified and unassuming man?
First of all should be mentioned The Dean’s advocacy for students. In the mind and heart of Dean Weyer, the student and his or her best interests always came first. His entire philosophy of education was based on the premise that one taught students how to understand and use the knowledge one was trying to import, rather than trying to present knowledge, which one hoped would somehow be assimilated – facts and all – by one’s student audience.
Secondly, having personally experienced much of the growth and development of the College and having actively witnessed that institution’s ceaseless struggle to achieve the highest possible intellectual and moral standards, The Dean constantly emphasized the absolute necessity of cultivating an atmosphere in which such standards could be accomplished, regularly soliciting the help of faculty, staff, and students in the struggle to achieve and maintain such an atmosphere. Thus, a healthy bonding among the various components of the College, was a secondary result of the struggle for excellence.
And finally, Dean Weyer’s regularly practiced living patterns, both professional and personal, reflected the vision and the discipline capable of making him a good role model for college students, faculty members, and support staffers.
Was Frank Weyer the “perfect” example for students to imitate even in his early years as Dean? Probably not; after all, such perfection rarely exists. But he was an inspiring and a very practical role model. The fact that he was sufficiently sensitive and mature, even in his early professional years, to realize that his rearing on a Sand Hills ranch, his schooling in a small mid-western high school (which was followed by a year of vigorous study in a pre-college academy), capped by four years of serious study in an “inclusive” liberal arts school – that is, in a school that expanded its curriculum to include musical studies, stenography, and “normal training” – in other words, to realize that he had found his niche and even more importantly to have “settled into” that niche, making the most of the special talents and training that he brought to the job, points to the high degree of intelligence, sensitivity, and common sense that The Dean evidenced, even while still in his twenties.
Having had the opportunity of knowing Dean Weyer and of working under his aegis for more than a dozen years, I can say with some certainty that although he appreciated the fact that several yearbooks were dedicated to him by action of their student editors, that although generous donors had funded scholarships in his name, and that although a caring Board of Trustees had seen fit to honor student requests to name a building for him, still, The Dean’s greatest satisfaction came from the realization of the importance of his influence on the lives of the thousands of students who passed through the College during his 42-year tenure as Dean.
As a “bonus factor,” he could rest assured that through hard work and ingenious and careful planning he had managed to leave his beloved Alma Mater a better and a stronger institution than it was when he first entered its grounds in 1907.