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 Record Group
Identifier: RG 23/H0

Rutgers College Office of Dean of Men Records


  • 1928-1947

Scope and Content Note

The papers in this collection represent records from the Office of the Dean of Men maintained primarily by Dean Fraser Metzger. Dean Metzger was also Acting Chaplain during most of his tenure as Dean of Men and the records in this collection mainly represent his activities as Acting Chaplain from 1931 to 1944, although interestingly he signed this chapel related correspondence "Dean of Men." The contents of the records span the years from 1928 to 1947.


1.6 Cubic Feet (4 manuscript boxes)

Language of Materials



The records described in this inventory are those of the Office of the Dean of Men of Rutgers University. They date from 1925 to 1945, when Fraser Metzger served as Dean of Men. During part of this time Metzger also served as acting Chaplain. A majority of the records represented are those that relate to Chaplain activities. The records fall into two series: 1) those concerning services in Kirkpatrick Chapel, and 2) those pertaining to the honoring of Rutgers students killed in World War II.

Administrative History of the Rutgers College Dean of Men

The Office of Dean of Students was created in 1921 as a part-time position. It was customary for Rutgers University to appoint a professor to act as Dean of Students, as well as teach several classes. In January of 1925, Dr. Walter Marvin, Dean of the Faculty, recommended to the Board of Trustees that the Dean of Students' position be established in a full-time basis. He also recommended that an Office of Chaplain be created.

In October of 1925, John Martin Thomas, president of Rutgers, recommended to the Board of Trustees that the position be a full-time one and that the name of the position be changed to Dean of Men. He also recommended that Fraser Metzger be appointed to the position as of November 1, 1925 at an annual salary of $5000. His recommendation was subsequently adopted by the Board. Dr. Metzger was the first full time dean in the history of Rutgers. A University Chaplain was hired one year later. Together the appointments "enabled the faculty to divest itself of virtually all involvement with matters of discipline and also heralded a general extension of student welfare services."

According to Dean Metzger's 1930-1931 report to the President, "the Office of the Dean of Men is conducted with a view to the development of the welfare and character of the students of Rutgers University, and constantly concerns itself with everything that pertains to the life of the student on the campus, including his comfort, health, physical and mental development, as well as the acquirement of such qualities as make for strong character." He saw the task of character building as the first and most important duty of the Dean of Men. This included instilling such qualities as integrity, purposefulness, initiative, courage, appreciation of spiritual ideals and sense of social responsibility.

Fraser Metzger believed that rules and regulations should be as few as efficiency will permit. In his report to the President in 1926-1927, he asserted that "while regulations are necessary and order must be maintained, the policy of this office is to deal with the students from the standpoint of the student's welfare, always recognizing that each student must be dealt with as an individual possessed of his own peculiar personality, talent, and promise." The major portion of Metzger's time was devoted to personal interviews with students regarding academic as well as personal problems. In addition, he met with parents who wanted to learn through interviews with the Dean the status and effort of their sons.

The day to day responsibilities of the Dean of Men included student discipline, granting excuses for class and chapel absences, the supervision of social functions, issuance of scholarships, granting of loans, securing part?time work for students prior to the existence of the Department of Personnel, public speaking appointments, overseeing Freshman Week, and serving as a member of the Athletic Council. The Dean was also responsible for student dismissals from college, or other penalties imposed on students for failure to meet requirements, and oversight of the financial obligations incurred by student organizations. He encouraged the best possible relations between the student body and the faculty. The Dean of Men further served as Associate admission officer, ex?officio member of the scholastic standing committees of the various colleges, and was in charge of recording attendance at class and chapel.

Historical Note on Chapel Attendance

Attendance at chapel at Rutgers College was mandatory and served as a controversial issue on campus during Fraser Metzger's tenure, despite having a long tradition. From its inception, Rutgers stressed the teaching of religion as an essential ingredient to a well-rounded education. In 1825 the General Synod of the Reformed Dutch Church and the Board of Trustees of the College agreed that there should be a regular attendance of morning and evening prayers to instill the principles of Christianity into Rutgers' students. In addition, "students were required to attend a recitation on the Bible each Sunday, conducted by the president, and a discourse on the Fundamental doctrines and principles of the Christian religion . . . . The remainder of each Lord's day was to be spent in attending services at any church in town."

By 1841, the college day still began with prayers in the chapel each morning, but it appeared that the evening prayer attendance had been relaxed. On Sundays, students were still expected to spend most of the day attending religious services.

During President William H. Campbell's administration, 1863-1882, a compulsory Bible class was instituted before regular Sunday services. This class continued until 1893, when President Austin Scott made attendance voluntary because no other colleges had such a requirement. Chapel attendance, however, continued to be mandatory.

In 1920, the whole student body met together several times a week in Kirkpatrick Chapel. However, with an increase in student enrollment by 1930, a new plan was instituted whereby week-day chapel was conducted for each class separately. Freshman attended Mondays, Sophomores on Tuesday, Juniors on Wednesday, and Seniors on Thursday. This cut down on the congestion in chapel which had previously interfered with the service. Attendance at Sunday Chapel was still required of the entire student body, however. Non-sectarian Sunday services were conducted at 11:00 a.m. at Kirkpatrick Chapel 26 times a year for all students. Each week a guest minister presided. The speakers were drawn from many denominations and were selected by the president upon recommendation of representatives of the student body, the Dean of the New Jersey College for Women, the Dean of Men, and the Chaplain. Speakers were chosen "with a view to giving our students the opportunity of hearing men who would bring virile messages and fine inspiration." And, in 1946, one of the oldest campus traditions came to an end: President Robert Clothier made attendance at Sunday chapel voluntary rather than mandatory.

Dean Fraser Metzger also served as acting Chaplain at Rutgers from 1931-1944, in addition to his duties as Dean of Men. As Chaplain he was responsible for chapel exercises and securing speakers for daily and Sunday chapel. Based on the large amount of correspondence written to arrange for Chapel speakers, this was an important responsibility of the Chaplain and again stressed the importance of Chapel to the University community.

The World War II Years

In his 1942-43 report to the President, Dean Metzger stated that most Rutgers men were enlisted in the armed services. "Our office has felt the impact of the war to such an extent that matters pertaining to war demands have constituted our major concern . . . . One of our principal tasks has been to hold in line the potentialities of our youth for the test of manhood and strength of mind and heart that will be needed when the war is over." This report also stated that all student organizations, including publications, were discontinued for the duration of the war, including the undergraduate newspaper, The Targum. Social life was also greatly restricted. The 1944-45 report submitted by the Dean of Men stated that letters were sent from the Office of the Dean to the parents of all students who withdrew from college during the year in order to enter service, and correspondence was carried on with many undergraduates on leave.

On December 1, 1944, Earl Reed Silvers succeeded Fraser Metzger as Dean of Men. Metzger had served faithfully for 19 years and continued on for another year at Rutgers as University Chaplain. He retired from Rutgers on June 30, 1945 after reaching the University's mandatory retirement age of 70. Upon his retirement as Dean of Men, he received a letter from the undergraduates of Rutgers University that concluded: "When he leaves the campus to assume again active duty in the ministry, he will take with him our gratitude for his understanding, respect for his character, admiration for his integrity, and our deep regret in the loss of a good friend. Through his guidance and by his example, he helped instill in us the desire to lead lives of service and devotion to our country, to our fellow-men, and to our God."

Fraser Metzger accomplished as great deal during his 19 years as Dean of Men. He instituted Freshman Week, an intensive 4-day orientation for incoming freshman to understand their opportunities and responsibilities as Rutgers men. He placed house mothers in charge of dormitories, and converted the dining room into a cafeteria, 1927-1928. Metzger also created the Student Business Activities Committee to assist with financial affairs for various student organizations, 1927-28, and formed the Intrafraternity Alumni Council to advise and cooperate with the chapters in the conduct of fraternity affairs and work with the administration in the best interests of the University and the fraternities. The Intrafraternity Alumni Council sought to reform hazing practices and brought about the first limitations on rushing in 1929.

In 1930-31, Metzger championed the establishment of an infirmary. For 12 years he supported the building of a Student Union, which occurred in 1937. He also initiated a non-credit course on "Right Living" based on requests from students for some guidance and instruction as to matters of sex, 1937-38.

Biographical / Historical

Chronology of Fraser Metzger, Dean of Men, 1925-1944

1872, October 25
Born in Gloversville, New York.
Ordained to the Congregational ministry.
Graduated from Union College.
Received the bachelor of divinity degree from Defiance College.
Married Jessie Lacy. (They had three children: Albert, Roscoe, and Earl.).
Pastor of the Congregational Church in Randolph, Vermont.
Candidate for Governor of Vermont on the Bull Moose ticket (defeated).
Elected to, and served in, the Vermont legislature.
Served as State Food Administrator for Vermont.
Chaplain at Camp Zachary Taylor.
Received an honorary doctor of divinity degree from Middlebury College.
Served as chaplain at Pennsylvania State University under President John M. Thomas. He was described by President Thomas as, "solid and stable, a respecter of traditions which stretch their roots back into the past. He is a big broadminded man, with a real backbone, a strong, good friend, and one that can be depended upon to work for the students especially. He has a big sympathy for student problems."
Dean of Men at Rutgers University, following President Thomas there from Penn State.
Conferred a doctor of humane letters degree from Union College.
1945, June 30
Retired from Rutgers University, having served his final year as the Chaplain.
Pastor of the Timothy Edwards Church in South Windsor, Connecticut.
1954, May 29
Died at the age of 81.

Arrangement Note

The materials are arranged into two series as follows:

  1. Series I: Kirkpatrick Chapel Services and Activities, 1928-1947
  2. Series II: World War II Memorial Book and Memorial Bronze Tablet, 1943-1947
Inventory to the Records of the Rutgers College Office of Dean of Men, 1928-1947 RG 23/H0
Edited Full Draft
Eileen Calvanelli and Thomas J. Frusciano
May 1992
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.

Revision Statements

  • June 3, 2004: rc_dean_of_men converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (sy2003-10-15).

Part of the Rutgers University Archives Repository

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