Frank Parker Day

The 11th president of Union College

Term: 1929-1933
Academic credentials: B.A., Mount Allison University; M.A., University of Oxford

Assuming office December 1, 1928, as acting president, Frank Parker Day took over from Charles Alexander Richmond as president on January 20, 1929, and he was inaugurated May 1, 1929.

Day was prepared to act upon his strong ideas about the reform of college education, but two unexpected developments diverted his plans. The first was the Great Depression which, the year after he came to campus, lay siege to the College itself.  The second was his struggle with his health.

Day attempted to institute honors programs, but this failed largely because department heads resisted interference with department administration.  Moreover, shrinking budgets made funding such programs or scholarships increasingly difficult, though the Day's economic management and popularity helped keep Union a strong college during the worst years of the Depression.  Dormitories were renovated, the College fence was completed and a theater was created. In order to stretch the funds available for the creation of the Graduate Council Field, in the Spring of 1929 Day invited the entire student body to join him in moving earth. Likewise, when he instituted Union's first formal faculty advisor system he took his share of advisees.

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Day cared above all about the college experience of undergraduates. In his first year at Union, he was elected chairman of the Association of American Colleges Permanent Commission on the organization of the Curriculum, and he encouraged the developments at Union that eventually culminated in a radical revision of the curriculum under the title "The Union College Plan for the Intellectual Advancement of Youth." He also worked to divide large freshman lecture courses into smaller classes.

When he came to Union, the 48-year-old Day regularly played tennis, but by 1931 he was often in severe pain. Gall bladder surgery and a subsequent slow recuperation resulted in a prolonged leave of absence in 1933. 

Day's accomplishments outside of Union include distinguished battlefield service in the Candian infantry during WWI, as well as his four literary works, most especially "Rockbound" (1928), which though ignored when first published, has since earned a reputation as one of the finest Novia Scotian novels.

From the "Encyclopedia of Union College History"
Edited and condensed for use online

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