Story of Dr. Jerome Holland
The below biography tells the story of the life of Dr. Jerome Holland, especially focusing on his 1953-1960 years as president of Delaware State College. It is widely believed that DSC would not have survived that troubling period without the timely leadership of Dr. Holland.
Delaware State College was fortunate that the life journey of Dr. Holland leading his presidential years at Delaware State College followed a course that led it to Dover. Any deviation in the circumstances or outcomes of his opportunities, challenges, successes or failures would have most probably changed the trajectory of his life, and Dover would not have benefited from his institution-saving leadership.
Whether DSC would have survived as a four-year institution of higher education without the leadership of Dr. Holland is interesting historical question, the answer of which can be speculated but never conclusively answered. Notwithstanding the belief of many that DSC would not have survived as a baccalaureate institution without Dr. Holland, there were a couple of possibilities that – had either worked out – would have canceled out his opportunity to become the DSC president.
Had there not been an unresolvable chasm between DSC President Oscar Chapman and Board of Trustees leader Gilbert Nickel during the first and only year of his tenure (1950-51), Dr. Chapman would have continued in that post and it is likely that there would have been no opening to fill. Similarly, the opportunity for Dr. Holland to lead DSC would have probably never happened if acting President Maurice Thomasson had accepted a 1952 offer to take the permanent president’s post.
It is highly unknown if Dr. Chapman could have accomplished the needed reversal of fortunes for the College; while he was thought of very highly upon his arrival and fiercely defended by some over the board failure to renew his contract, if he had remained in the post it is not a certainty that he could have inspired the confidence of the governor and state legislature. As for Dr. Thomasson who would serve three decades as the top DSC sociology professor, his refusal to accept the post indicates an insufficient confidence level, which would have been requisite to lead the survival of College.
It is clear to anyone with knowledge of DSC history in the 1950s that Dr. Holland provided a special brand of leadership that the College would have been hard pressed to find elsewhere.
He was analytical with the historic data that informed him how DSC had reached its troubled state. Dr. Holland was interested in measures and actions that yielded effective results and would settle for nothing less. Because he was handpicked by Gov. Caleb Boggs, he had the state chief executive’s full confidence and amazed attention on the improvement that took place under his leadership at the College. That confidence in the College’s direction flowed over to the Delaware General Assembly, which supported the College with an increase operating budget allocations as well an unprecedented $2.5 million for the construction of three new buildings on campus.
The improvements at the College were so abundant, it was almost anti-climactic when DSU earned its re-accreditation in 1957 after having it revoked in 1949. The unwavering faith Dr. Holland had in the potential of DSC and what could be accomplished if the state changed its unsupportive ways had an infectious effect on the College community in that decade that left them with the expectation that reaccreditation was not only attainable, but expected.
So it was fortunate for DSC that professional football was segregated when Jerome Holland completed his All-American gridiron years at Cornell University. Otherwise he may have opted for a career as a pro-athlete. The fact that a more permanent opportunity did not arise to prompt him the remain in the sociology and political science departments at Lincoln University (Pa.) or at Tennessee A&I State University kept him available for his DSC destiny.
Dr. Jerome Holland life led him to Delaware State College. Because he was the DSC president, Delaware State University is (what it is today).
Chapter 1 – The Pre-DSC Years of Jerome Holland
The fortune of Robert Holland Sr. (who would be the grandfather of Jerome Holland) in winning the good graces of a Civil War captain in the Union Army is the first known critical circumstance that began a path that landed the indispensable leadership of Dr. Jerome Holland on the campus of Delaware State College.
According to Holland oral history, the Union captain had a connection to the grandfather of the future DSC president, probably in relation to work done by Holland Sr. in support of the north’s Civil War prosecution. Whatever the connection, the Union officer (known in Holland lore as Capt.Treman) took a liking to Holland Sr. and after the war, persuaded him to move with him up north to be a muleskinner for his family.
Holland Sr. settled in Ithaca, N.Y. where he and his wife raised a family that included Robert Holland Jr. Upon growing into a man, Holland Jr. met Viola Bagby. The couple married and settled at some point in Auburn, N.Y.
According to Jerome Holland II (Dr. Holland’s first son), Robert Jr. and Viola were poor like many African Americans, dependent upon menial labor livelihood sources to survive. Robert Jr. worked as a caretaker (a gardener and handyman, according to JH interview with CBS Special Report in 1968) at the homes of whites. He was also a musician who played with a marching band that performed throughout the state of New York. Viola brought in addition income to the family through personal service work.
The union between Robert Jr. and Viola produced 13 children, but only about six survived. The marriage between the two apparently ended at some point by either death or divorce, as Joseph II recalls meeting a stepbrother of Dr. Holland.
Most pertinently, the Hollands gave birth to Jerome Holland on Jan. 9, 1916 in Auburn where the future savior of DSC would grow up. The fourth child produced by the couple, he would carry the nickname “Brud” throughout his life – which originally came from his siblings calling his “Brudder” and that being later shortened to “Brud.”
As early as age eight, young Jerome worked with his gardener/handyman father, and learned very early on that close attention to his school would be the only way he could avoid continuing such menial work into his adulthood.
As Jerome Holland’s experience of being comfortable as a minority member among white movers and shakers in business and non-profit pursuits were a lifelong constant in his life, his experiences at being surrounded by whites apparently began in public school. He attended Auburn High School from 1930-34, a newspaper clipping from the 1930s shows him on the school’s football team football, clearly the only African American on the team playing under Auburn’s legendary Coach C. L. Williams. He played all four years on the varsity team and also played on the school’s basketball team, lettering in both sports.
Because Cornell University was known to have enrolled a modest number of African Americans (with the first one Sara Brown graduating in 1897), Robert Holland Jr. is said to have expressed aspirations that his children receive higher education there. That patriarch’s hope may have been strongly kindled by the longstanding connection with the Treman family, which was well-connected and influential in the affairs of Cornell University.
It is also possible that Jerome’s high school football exploits were known to the Tremans and other Cornell officials, making him a coveted athlete to be among the first to break the intercollegiate sports color line at the University.
According to Jerome Jr., the Holland name was apparently still in good standing among the Tremans, as they ensured that Cornell enrolled Jerome in 1935 following his graduation from Auburn High School. One newspaper account of his life notes that as a black, Holland was not afforded a residential room like most whites at the University, but instead slept on a cot in the boiler room, while also waiting on tables to help pay for school.
Immediately put on the Cornell football team, Holland – a six-foot, 215-pound end with sprinter’s speed played both defense and offense – was the first African American to ever play alongside whites at the university. He played under Cornell Head Coach Carl Snavely and according to the book Part & Apart – The Black Experience at Cornell, 1865-1945, Jerome was “a superb defense player, and spectacular on offense.”
The book notes a local writer’s description of Holland customary gridiron prominence during a 1937 game against Colgate: “(Holland) played spectacularly on defense, his tackling time and time again bottling up attempted Colgate razzle-dazzle,” wrote a Cornell Daily Sun writer. “During a 66-yard touchdown march, Holland made a one-hand catch of a pass with the dexterity of a toe-dancer and threaded his way for a 20-yard gain.” On that particular day, he would score three touchdowns.
Holland would go on to be twice-selected as a football All-American end in 1937 and 1938. However his celebrated status as a gridiron player would not translate into a profession sports career, as the NFL at that time would be segregated from 1933 until the end of World War II.
His reputation for sportsmanship was apparently matched by his popular personality on campus. He was a member of Omega Psi Phi; Aleph Samach, a junior honor society; the Sphinx Head, a senior honor society; Scarab, an agricultural and hotel administration society; as well the Booker T. Washington Club, an organization established by the African American students at Cornell and other colleges in that region of the State of New York.
With respect to his Sphinx Head membership, the honor society “recognized senior men and women who demonstrated respectable strength of character on top of a dedication to leadership and service at Cornell University.”
While at Cornell, Holland married Madeline Small, who was also a student there. Their union would produce two children, Pamela and Jerome II, but the marriage would end in divorce at some point in the 1940s.
Holland earned a Bachelor of Science (1939) and a Master of Science (1941), both in sociology. While working on his master’s degree, Holland served as an instructor of sociology and as a physical education coach at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania from 1939-1942.
After his teaching stint at Lincoln, Holland fulfilled his wartime obligation to his country as a director of personnel for the Sun Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company of Chester, Pa., in which he oversaw the employment affairs of the African American workers of that company from 1942-1946.
During the course of his Sun Company work, he developed a reputation for his diligence and courage, particularly in one case in which he had to advocate against a Georgia extradition order for a black Sun employee who had escaped from a George chain gang. Being aware of the indignities and horror of the life of a Negro in a Georgia prison, and doubly convinced that this man was living a model family life, Dr. Holland, as a representative of the Sun Shipbuilding Company, fought for this man’s continued freedom through the courts of Pennsylvania. It set a historical precedent that the lower courts may assume the responsibility of not honoring extradition requests if it was believed that constitutional rights would be abridged and inhuman treatment expected to follow.
After four years of distinguished service in the Sun Company position in Chester, he returned to education as the director of the Division of Political and Social Sciences at Tennessee Agriculture & Industrial State University in Nashville from 1947-1951. During that period, Holland earned a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1950.
In 1951, Dr. Holland became a social research consultant for the Pew Memorial Foundation of Philadelphia. This was his livelihood when the opportunity to become the DSC president was presented to him.
To understand the impressive pivotal nature of Dr. Jerome Holland’s DSC presidency, the dire state of affairs of the Delaware State College he inherited has to be explored.
Since its birth as the State College for Colored Student (SCCS) in 1891, the institution limped from decade to decade making whatever modest improvements it could over time amid woefully low levels of state financial support. After a federal education assessment around 1915 noted that the College’s offerings were in reality no higher than a secondary school level, the institution methodically worked to raise its education quality to the college level.
By the 1920s under the SCCS President Richard Grossley, a junior college degree program was established. Under the same president, a four-year degree program was offered in the early 1930s. In the mid-1940s under the presidency of Dr. Howard Gregg, DSC received its first provisional accreditation as a four-year institution of higher education. A few years later, the state’s General Assembly would pass legislation that changed the name of the State College for Colored Students to Delaware State College.
To the casual observer of the College from the 1920s to the mid-1940s, it might have been concluded that although the progress was slow, it was methodically taking place for the Negro school.
That conclusion was largely an illusion.
The State of Delaware’s financial support of the College’s operations during its first 60 years ranged from miserly in the early years to somewhat increased but still inadequate funding in the subsequent 1920-40s. However, state funds to help the campus infrastructure grow – i.e., major capital funding for new building construction – contributed to the building of only three edifices after the inaugural year.
After the initial outlay of $8,000 to purchase the original 95 acres for the establishment of the State College for Colored Students in 1891, to build two buildings, purchase materials and cover the salaries, there was no other funding to help expand the physical infrastructure of the fledgling campus during that inaugural decade.
The first major building construction came in the early 1900s when the state allocated $6,000 for the construction of a female dormitory, later called Lore Hall. It would be another 25 years before the state would provide major construction money, yielding the construction of Delaware Hall in 1927 and Conrad Hall in 1930. No new construction would take place on campus until the 1950s.
The lack of expansion of the campus physical infrastructure over that period would catch up to the college in adverse ways that would almost lead it to institutional demise. The College not only struggled to maintain a four-year degree institution in the 1930s and 1940s, it also operated a high school on the same campus. With the end of World War II, black soldiers armed with the G.I. Bill came home to enroll in historically black colleges throughout the country. DSC’s enrollment tripled with the arrival of the military veterans – although sadly without a corresponding expansion of classrooms, dormitories or food services. The student body in the college division increased from 132 students in 1940-41 to 387 students in 1948-49.
With the overpopulation of the campus, the decades of state neglect that left the College inadequate in classroom space, residential facilities and food service to handle such enrollment growth. This led to widespread campus discontent, leading to a student strike in February 1949 that was publicized by newspapers in the state. A subsequent state investigation ensued, which cast the blame for the College’s state of affairs on the then-president, Dr. Howard Gregg. The president was ultimately removed, but before a permanent replacement could be chosen, the regional accrediting body – the Middle States Commission – paid the campus a visit, determined that the College fell short of just about every higher education standard and then revoked DSC’s accreditation as a four-year college.
With that accreditation loss, Delaware State College’s future was very much in doubt. Its enrollment plummeted, some state legislators and members of the public began calling for its closure, and the overall morale on campus was low.
Chapter 2 – Dr. Holland’s Delaware State College Years (1953-1960)
It was against this dismal backdrop that the fortuitous introduction of Delaware Gov. J. Caleb Boggs to Dr. Holland took place in early 1953 during a masonic dinner at the YMCA in Wilmington. Holland’s reputation as a football All-American, an educator and a possessor of quality leadership skills preceded him. Seated next to Holland during the dinner, Gov. Boggs had a long conversation with him that naturally shifted to the challenges confronting DSC. Before the governor rose from the table, he realized that he had just broken bread with the possible solution to the problems of Del State.
“After a while, I said to him ‘You’re just the man we need at Delaware State College’,” Boggs told a reporter in the 1970s (attribution – William Frank article “Del. State to Salute Dr. Holland”, Evening Journal, 10/23/70)
The remarkable reversal of fortunes during the Jerome Holland tenure is especially profound when the condition of the college upon his arrival is considered. Given his first impressions of Delaware State College, it is highly remarkable that he took the president’s post. In his 1960 exit report Reclaiming a College – A Report on Delaware State University, Dr. Holland described what he learned about the institution prior to assuming the top post:
“In May 1953, Delaware State College had few if any of the materials, both human and physical, characteristic of institutions of higher education. The College had a divided Board of Trustees what was ineffective; a very unstable faculty-staff; an extremely inadequate library; an inefficient business management program; a poor physical plant; a divided alumni group; an antagonistic public clamoring for its closing; an inefficient maintenance program; a very limited student body, an extremely low prestige level; and had lost its accreditation with the regional association. This presented the new president who took office in July of 1953 with a dismal picture.”
However, in that same paragraph of the report, Dr. Holland goes on to share some potential hope that saw in the College:
“It was possible to ascertain after some study, that the College really had never been given an opportunity to exploit its educational potential. If this general pattern could be changed, it appeared as though the College might serve a positive educational role for the citizens of Delaware.”
President Holland, who began his tenure on July 1, 1953, would prove to be the most pivotal chief executive in the institution’s history. His tenure would also be the beginning of a period of more than a half-century that continued through the tenures of the next four presidents in which progressive improvements and achievements became the norm of the institution.
In the advent of his presidency, the debate raged on over DSC’s continued existence as a four-year institution, with some calling for its conversion into a junior college and others for its closure altogether. A 1953 bill was even introduced by Majority Leader Ernest B. Benger in the Delaware Senate to abolish DSC in the spring of 1953, but that legislation was not acted on by the General Assembly. There were also some who advocated that DSC should be made a part of the University of Delaware.
Due to the loss of accreditation and the administrative instability from 1949-53, the college’s enrollment had precipitously dropped from a then-school-record 387 students in 1948-49 down to 133 students in 1952-53.
After assuming the DSC presidency, Dr. Holland immediately initiated a study of the College and submitted his findings to Gov. J. Caleb Boggs on July 1, 1954. The report reviewed at length the challenged history of the College, noting that the state’s inadequate financial commitment toward the campus’ infrastructure expansion had severely stunted its growth over its first 60-plus years. In summarizing that period in the report, he stated:
“….the history of Delaware State College has been a stormy and unstable one. Every president (except the first) has been forced to resign under extenuating circumstances, which in itself could wreak a devastating blow upon any school. Up until the present time, Delaware State College has always had financial difficulties due to the lack of sufficient State appropriations for current operational expenses. Also, the State has neglected the College to the regrettable degree in not giving it money for capital improvements over a long period of time. Thus, it has been impossible for the school to improve and grow, to attract faculty members and students,” Dr. Holland said in the report.
The Holland report further pointedly stated that the ongoing controversy over the future of DSC had “wrought havoc with College program and the morale of the institution,” and simply put, that the state needed to make a decision concerning DSC’s continuation as an institution of higher education in Delaware. In a frank analysis of the longstanding woefully inadequate financial support by the state, Dr. Holland boldly stated that if there is no change in that trend, DSC should be discontinued. He also noted that should the state not be willing to appropriate the necessary funds for the sorely needed capital improvement, the College’s existence as a four-year institution of higher education should so be discontinued.
However Dr. Holland went on in the report on make a strong case for the need for DSC – and hence for an appreciable increase in state funding to support it – noting that the socio-economic reality of that time made the existence of a College that especially served the Negro populace particularly paramount.
If the state made a commitment to substantially improve its financial commitment to the College, Dr. Holland recommended that DSC remain a four-year undergraduate institution “open to all students regardless of race, creed or national origin.” He called for most of the courses to be continued and strengthened.
He also noted how political consideration in the governors’ appointees to the DSC Board of Trustees have added to the College’s instability and advocated that the then-present six-member board be increased to allow board appointments that are not related to political party affiliation or state geographical area, but rather be at-large appointments made by the elected board.
The 1954 Holland report carried great persuasive weight with Gov. Boggs, who gave his support to nearly all of Dr. Holland’s recommendation. With the support of the governor and the General Assembly, DSC was in a better position overcome its past difficulties.
The next six years of the ensuing transformation of DSC from a College on the cliff’s edge of closure into a school of stability heading in the direction of future prosperity was nothing short of remarkable.
Under Dr. Holland’s leadership, DSC proceeded to address its shortcomings. Among Dr. Holland’s top priorities was to get the College’s financial affairs in order. The new DSC president had inherited an institution that had a poor credit rating in the local business community; that situation had to be improved if the College was to win the confidence and major capital funding of the state General Assembly.
“College officials were often embarrassed by local businessmen who had experienced difficulties in serving the (DSC),” said Dr. Holland in his 1960 report, Reclaiming a College, which detailed the turnabout of DSC during his tenure. “(During the 1953-54 school year) it was necessary for the president of the College to inject this office into the most routine business matters in order to purchase goods and services.”
Encountering a woefully inadequate and inefficient accounting system at the College, Dr. Holland began righting the financial ship by appointing H. Gordon Pinkett as the new business manager who was put in charge of the reorganization of business procedures. This included changes in the areas of purchasing, vendor relations, inventory controls, budgeting and accounts payable. According to the 1960 report, by the end of the 1953-54 school year the College had regained a healthy financial status with the area businesses.
With the enlightenment of the 1954 report on the critical importance of committed adequate financial support from the state, coupled with improved confidence by state officials in the College’s financial housekeeping, the annual appropriations by the state increased from $307,000 in fiscal 1954 to $400,000 in fiscal 1960. The DSC annual operating budget correspondingly increased from $401,605 in fiscal 1954 to $622,796 in fiscal 1960. The budget increase was added by an increase in private revenue (tuition and fees) from $88,840 to $233,017 over that same period.
DSC’s improved business practices created an environment that permitted Dr. Holland to broker then-unprecedented major capital improvement allocations from the state. The 118th General Assembly (1955-56) was persuaded to appropriate more than $1.6 million to DSC for the construction of a men’s residence hall (Conwell Hall) a multipurpose gymnasium (Memorial Hall), and a faculty residential building (Kent Apartments), marking the first phase of the College’s expansion program under Dr. Holland’s leadership.
The second phase of the expansion was supported by the 119th General Assembly, which provided $850,000 that funded the construction of a classroom, administration and laboratory building (Grossley Hall), an addition to the existing library, as well as the erection of three large Cape Cod-style homes for single female faculty-staff members. Dr. Holland also led the important renovation of existing building, such as Lore Hall, a 1901 former female dormitory that was converted into faculty apartments; the conversion of the former DuPont building (former high school) into the Student Health Center; and the remodeling of the Delaware Hall gymnasium/auditorium into a college auditorium, among other projects.
In addressing the academic shortcomings of the institutions, Dr. Holland sought help from the accrediting agency that had stripped DSC of its accreditation – the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and University. The accrediting body led DSC through a self-study process, which permitted the College’s administration and faculty to clearly see which improvements were required. Further evaluations by Middle States resulted in some important recommendations that gave additional guidance to DSC.
The most important change coming from the Middle States recommendations was the division of the Office of the Dean-Registrar in the 1957-58 school year. An Office of the Dean of Students was established to focus on the College’s academic affairs and an Office of Admissions-Registrar had the responsibility of enrollment management and academic records. The College also followed another Middle States recommendation by reducing the number of academic department from 14 to 10, leading to a more effective overall academic program.
Many other changes took place under Dr. Holland’s leadership. A General Education Program was established to provide students will a more well-rounded education. The Jason Library increased its total volumes from 18,000 to almost 35,000; the usage of the library almost tripled between 1953-1960.
In 1955 Dr. Holland instituted a faculty rank criteria and also adopted the first-ever Tenure Program. The increase in state funding facilitated a modest increase in faculty salaries. Over the seven years of his DSC tenure, the number of faculty with terminal degrees increased from eight to 12.
With physical infrastructure improvements and a perceived greater confidence and support from the state, the enrollment began rising from its low of 133 students in 1952-53 to 383 students in 1959-60. The number of applications also increased from 163 to 351 during that time period, while simultaneously DSC became more selective in the students that it accepted. In 1953-54, the College rejected only nine of the 163 applications (5%); in 1959-60 that rejection percentage increased to 33%.
From the very beginning of his DSC tenure, Dr. Holland understood that the alumni constituency had not fully been embraced by the College. The president made it a priority to reverse that trend, noting that strong alumni support and involvement is a significant indicator of institutional health.
By October 1954, a DSC Alumni Office was established, and Dr. Holland directed it to establish more effective communications with alumni, as well as seek their support in the College’s programs – especially in the areas of scholarships and recruitment. Newsletters were produced to help keep alumni connected to the latest DSC news, and surveys were launched to gain a better understanding of the career paths and the advanced studies of the graduates. By the end of the decade, the energization of the alumni had prompted them to launch a $40,000 Alumni Fund Campaign for the construction of an Alumni House on the campus (which was built in the 1960s).
Because there were some worthwhile activities that could not be paid for with state or federal funding, Dr. Holland began a precedent of looking toward philanthropic organizations for additional financial support. Through those efforts, the College received annual funding from the Pew Memorial Foundation – for which Dr. Holland worked as a social research consultant prior to his DSC appointment – and the Clifton Center, Inc. The combined donations of almost $88,000 was used during Dr. Holland tenure for a wide variety of needs, such as financial assistance to faculty working toward advanced degrees and engaged in research projects, religious and spiritual programs on campus, remedial reading programs, cultural events and student travel abroad, among other activities.
Dr. William R. Wynder, an alumnus of the college, was an example of a Holland tenure period faculty member who would be one of the beneficiaries of the Pew and Clifton Center funding. After receiving financial assistance to help his pursuit of an Ed.D. in Adult Education, in 1960 he became the first-ever DSC graduate to further their education credentials by earning a doctorate degree. Dr. Wynder served from the 1940s to the 1980s at the College as an agriculture instructor and later head of the department, chair of Vocational Education, director of personnel, director of athletics, professor of education, as well as the first-ever vice president/dean of Student Affairs. A female dormitory completed in 1986 would be named Wynder Towers after him.
By 1957, DSC had won back its full accreditation by Middle States. The leadership of the Holland Administration served to stabilize the College and project it toward a brighter future, and thereby resulted in improved morale among faculty, staff and students as well as achievement of a better standing with the state legislature, the governor, surrounding communities, business sector and other constituencies.
In 1957, an earlier recommendation of Dr. Holland was followed, as enacted state legislation changed the composition of the DSC Board of Trustees to include eleven members – six appointed by the governor and five appointed by the board membership.
The quality of the faculty improved, increasing from eight doctoral faculty members in 1953-54 to 15 in 1959-60; the average length of service also increased during this period, as did the average faculty salary. In the early 1950s a tenure program was inaugurated; by 1960, 40% of the DSC faculty was tenured. In addition, the first white faculty members were hired during Dr. Holland’s administration.
The decreasing enrollment trend of the previous four years began to reverse in Dr. Holland’s first year, increasing steadily from 167 students in 1953-54 to 383 in 1959-60. During the Holland Administration, the College enrolled a few white students for the first time in its history, with Garry DeYoung, becoming the first the white graduate by earning a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Education in 1956.
The expansion of the College Library Building resulted in more space for books. That coupled with better library management yielded an increase in the collection from 18,000 volumes in 1953 to 34,832 volumes in 1960. The circulation of the library collection reflected a functional growth of the facility, more than doubling from 6,099 in 1953-54 to 13,584 in 1959-60.
In addition during this period several important renovations were accomplished. The DuPont Building – which had been idle since the 1952 close of the high school – was converted into the Student Health Center. Lore Hall and an old farm house were both converted into faculty housing, and the T-Building was converted into a classroom and office building. Delaware Hall’s gymnasium was converted into an auditorium and a large classroom was renovated into the President’s Office. In addition the President’s residence was enlarged and renovated.
While Dr. Holland was separated from the sociology discipline as a livelihood when he assumed the DSC presidency, the passion for sociology remained with the Del State president. Utilizing the resources at the College, Dr. Holland co-authored three sociological books that focused on the patterns of Negro residency in Delaware, the health of Delaware Negroes, and the issues confronting Delaware amid the landmark desegregation rulings of the 1950s of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Changes also took place in DSC athletics, specifically in the coaching structure of the intercollegiate Hornets teams. Prior to the 1960s, several different sports teams would be coached by the same head coach. In one of the last leadership acts at the end of his tenure, Dr. Holland divided up the head coaching responsibilities, resulting in a different head coach for each Hornet sports team.
With the dramatic turnaround and unprecedented progress of the institution during Dr. Holland’s seven-year tenure, the College and the community were stunned with Dr. Holland resigned on May 18, 1960 to become president of Hampton University. While Dr. Holland was making his mark at Hampton, Dr. Luna I. Mishoe took over as his DSC presidential successor and would go on to build greatly on the successful reversal of fortunes at DSC by leading the school through a tremendous transformation over the next 27 years.
Chapter 3 – Dr. Holland’s post-DSC tenure years.
During Dr. Holland’s 1960-1970 tenure as Hampton president, the college experienced a decade of growth in every facet and program. Twelve new buildings were constructed, faculty numbers increased, average salaries doubled, and total student enrollment rose from 1,400 in 1960 to 2,600 by 1969. New programs and departments were established, including a computer technology program, the College of Cooperative Education, and a Department of Mass Media Arts.
In the midst of his Hampton years, Dr. Holland was elected to the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame in 1965 in recognition of his football excellence during his Cornell gridiron playing days.
About the same time that Dr. Holland announced that he would retire in 1970 from the Hampton presidency, U.S. President Richard M. Nixon appointed him ambassador of Sweden, a post he would serve for two years. It was a challenging ambassadorship for Dr. Holland, as there was significant tension regarding the U.S. and Sweden over the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War. Ambassador Holland was frequently subjected to derisive behavior, including being the target of fruit and eggs thrown at him by Swedish anti-war protesters.
In 1971, Auburn Senior High School was renamed Holland Stadium after Dr. Holland. It was originally located behind the high school, which was later became Auburn Junior High School (grades 7-8). In the mid-1990s, the stadium was renovated with new bleachers, a new scoreboard and a press box, and was rededicated again as Holland Stadium on Sept. 29, 1995.
In 1972, Dr Holland became the first African American to sit on the board of the New York Stock Exchange, a seat he held for 18 years.
He also served on a board member of nine major U.S. companies – AT&T, General Foods, the Culbro Corp., Federated Department Stores, Manufacturers Hanover Trust, Pan American Bankshares, the Union Carbide Corp., Zurn Industries, and Continental Corp.
In 1979, Dr. Jerome H. Holland was elected and appointed by President Jimmy Carter as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Red Cross. The Board of Directors leads the Board of Governors, which oversees the organization. The volunteer position of chairman is the highest leading official position in the Red Cross. He served as chairman, until he passed away in 1985. During his time as chairman, he facilitated a positive relationship with the Red Crescent. The Red Cross renamed the research and development laboratory in honor of Dr. Holland in 1987.
Dr. Holland died in New York City on January 13, 1985 after a long bout with cancer. After his death, Dr. Jerome H. Holland was posthumously awarded the highest civilian award one can receive—the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1985. During his speech, President Ronald Reagan described Jerome as “…a leading educator, civil rights activist, author and diplomat…,” leading “a life of service, the memory of which today serves as an inspiration to millions.”
It is the conclusion of many that if Dr. Holland had not been the president of Delaware State College during those critical years, there probably would not have ever been a Delaware State University. The school – which was facing institutional extinction when Dr. Holland took the reins of the DSC presidency in 1953 – is now thriving as an land-grant Historically Black University and state institution of higher education in Delaware. DSU is currently known for its diversity, its international outreach, its scientific research, as well as its unique academic programs such as aviation, social work, optics and many others. In view of DSU’s current standing among colleges and universities, the institution is indebted to the leadership of Dr. Holland, a president who looked beyond the challenges and was governed by the potential for greatness he saw in then-Delaware State College.
DSU is, because he was our resourceful and visionary leader at the most critical time in the institution’s history.