History Of The Program
William F. Eifrig, Director, January 1973 issue of the Cresset
William F. Eifrig, Jr., a graduate of Valparaiso University (BA 1955) has studied at the Nordwestdeutsche Musikakademie, Detmold, Germany and received his DMA from the University of Michigan (1963). He is a professor in the Department of Music of Valparaiso University, has contributed regularly to The Cresset in the area of music, and is Director of the University Study Center in Cambridge, England (1971-1973).
8:30 AM Up for coffee and corn flakes. Finish up the class report for English.
9:15 Over to Westfield House for Victorian Lit. Present report for discussion of John Ruskin’s works.
10:30 Check morning’s post. Have they sent the Eur-rail pass from home?
10:40 Geography. Further on Britain’s move from Empire to Common Market.
12:00 Soup and sandwiches (getting tired of making these). Make plans with the other two for this weekend’s trip to Cornwall. What’s the best route for hitchhiking?
12:30 PM` Into city centre shopping. Food supplies: shall we try to roast a chicken tomorrow night? Get another Marks and Spencer woolen undershirt; cold weather coming. Get tickets for Chekov’s Three Sistersat the Arts Theatre; also for Julian Bream concert at Guildhall. Visit Trinity College Library (designed by C. Wren; only open to public 2-4; originals of A.A. Milne just down from I. Newton and B. Russell).
3:00 Art history. (Glad the bicycle makes the trip from city centre to Westfield House in five minutes.) Baxter lectures today on Surrealist painters. (Hope the room isn’t too stuffy; fell asleep in the darkness last time, the projector croons such a lullaby.)
4:15 Baxter looks over Cornwall map with us. Ask him for suggestions of best coastline and prettiest village.
4:30 Read another chapter in Ireland Before the Famine. History seminar tomorrow.
5:30 Evensong at King’s College Chapel. Listen more carefully to the music this time. Report due in music class next week.
6:15 Kitchen should be less crowded now. Spaghetti and green salad tonight (any red wine and French bread?).
7:30 Group meeting. Report the leaking faucet in the bathroom. Be prepared for the regular lecture on keeping the house clean. Advance registration for courses on campus next semester. Examine itinerary of next group weekend trip—castles, cathedrals, and Stonehenge.
8:30 Try to get to the lecture at the Divinity School: protestant bishop of East Germany. Otherwise the folk singer at Selwyn College.
10:00 Still time for a pub visit—The King Bill? Afterwards records and talk at 26. Another Ireland chapter. Improvise until too tired to resist sleep. (Should be about 1:30 AM).
I doubt that any Valpo student in the six years of the program at Cambridge has set down a schedule like this one. Most of them could have done it; it is a fair sample of a weekday’s activities, but written schedules don’t fit student life-styles. The preceding therefore must be read more as a diary than as an appointment book. But there is not much time in Cambridge for memories. Back home perhaps ordinary campus life will allow time for remembering.
Days filled to overflowing. This is Valpo at Cambridge. The first ingredient: a full academic program after the pattern of the American college. Each student chooses four from the five three-credit courses offered. He can’t escape at least one with the director of the program, a member of the VU faculty who fills his English days with fewer class hours but more administrative, custodial, and counseling duties than at home. But the student may work with three Englishmen whose enthusiasm for VU overseas entices them to add one more course to a workload that would appall many of their American colleagues.
Harry Browne has remained with the program since its inception in spite of Tech promoting him to Head of the Humanities Division and, concurrently, Head of the Department of Arts and Languages. (Tech is the Cambridgeshire College of Arts and Technology, one of Britain’s “new schools,” one hundred years old, with a present enrollment around 8000, in Cambridge but not part of Cambridge University.) Mr. Browne’s history lectures are remembered for sly wit and factual competence. Almost his equal in seniority with Valpo’s program is David Baxter. Baxter lectures in art history at Tech and for Valpo but is also at home teaching English literature. Vacation periods he uses for original writing—TV scripts, essays—and restoration of his seventeenth-century thatched-roof home. David’s energies are legendary. Peter Speak is as new with the program as the current director since the field of the third English lecturer depends upon the subjects taught by the program director. Speak’s is geography. He heads the geography department at Tech. All three men are graduates of Cambridge University, Browne, and Baxter at Emmanuel College and Speak at Fitzwilliam. Other overseas programs for Americans depend on a British faculty short on experience and professional reputation. VU works under no such burden.
A normal academic program—papers, exams, lectures, readings. To this add the life of an ancient university city that remains a world center for thought and action. While Valpo is in no way affiliated with Cambridge University (if you had been founded in 1325 you might understandably be suspicious of new-fangled programs from a former colony), it enjoys all the advantages of living with the people who are the University. Our students are welcomed into the memberships of most University clubs—rock climbers, industrial archeologists, the Fabian society, etc. The daily calendar of events is an embarrassment of riches which tempts one to attend lectures, concerts, exhibitions, and debates as a full-time occupation. Valparaiso University enjoys association with Westfield House, the Lutheran house of studies at Cambridge University. VU classes meet in the library of Westfield House. The preceptor is chaplain to our students. The garden of Westfield House is a pleasant place to sit whenever the sun makes its brief appearance over East Anglia. The garden lies between the house of studies and the three-story house in which the women of Valpo live, 26, as it is known, is an adventure in cooperative life. Household chores are shared and each is responsible for her own meals. The men live similarly in another house a bit further away. But it is 26 that is the student center. Many who have survived the semester in Cambridge remember with affection the persons with whom they worked out living arrangements for the first time on their own.
Study and living and—travel. Travel in Cambridge, travel in East Anglia, travel in England, in Britain, and on the Continent. Travel fills the days to excess. Yet who would forego these experiences? The director bids his charges farewell each weekend and prays they come back for Monday classes. Classes meet Monday through Thursday, leaving a three-day weekend for the adventures of the road. One can get far in three days; not even the English Channel is too wide. At the midterm two-week holiday everyone flees to the Continent, pursuing separate itineraries alone or in small parties.
But they come back and they have seen things which have opened their eyes to the worlds of nature and of man. They have met people of unusual generosity and hospitality. They have not stayed in hotels nor frequented the better restaurants but they are learning how to travel intelligently. Each semester the group spends two weekends traveling together. One of the English faculty travels with us as guide and interpreter. We hire a coach to take us to York, the Dales, the Lake District, and the Midlands, or to Gloucester, Bath, Salisbury, and Stonehenge. In part, the trips are meant to teach intelligent traveling but mostly they are just wonderful times.
There’s a day together in Stratford-upon-Avon with a play in the evening. A London trip is traditional. The dizzying whirl of the great city is only one hour by British Rail from the rustic calm of Cambridge. And to that country city, we return again and again as to a home.
Finally, though, one returns no longer to Cambridge but to the States. Then Valpo at Cambridge succeeds. The alumni hold Cambridge in the kind of affection lavished on childhood homes, for it is here the world opened to them as it did when they were children, excited, wondering, and ambitious. Here they filled their days recklessly. Now there is time to regret the careless use of time and opportunity with the healthy regret of maturity
Current Comments from Former Directors
We were the only faculty/family to have been directors at both Overseas Centers, as far as I know. I believe we introduced several innovations that were followed year after year at both Centers. My husband came directly after Don Mundinger at Cambridge and he was the one to suggest that directors serve for two years instead of just one. A single year did not seem to be enough to make and then keep, most importantly, connections and friendships with British staff and faculty. I believe my husband hired some English faculty for various courses.
He introduced to organized trips throughout England during breaks and he took the students to the Continent for the first time. These trips were not merely touristic outings but also vivid lessons about history, geography, architecture and various forms of art. They were also eye openers for students who have never been outside the United States.
In those first years our own and well as the students’ accommodations were very basic, one might say primitive, especially in regard to bathrooms and kitchens. Our house was poorly furnished, the walls did not necessarily meet in the corners and so newspaper had to be stuffed in, and my kitchen was tiny and totally impractical. Nonetheless, we invited students for home cooked meals, we loved to go to market and buy fresh produce especially mushrooms, and we enjoyed the company of our young people.
By the time we reached Reutlingen several years later, the program was well established and the students lived in a dormitory near our apartment. We continued to conduct bus tours and we especially stressed that our free American students have a look at what it is like to live in East Germany. For many it was a shock as it should have been. I remember that my husband stressed before departure that everyone must be especially careful of their behavior and their conversation as we were entering a repressive and potentially dangerous country. And naturally, they did not enjoy the thorough and rude scrutiny we underwent at the border crossing. Nevertheless, on one occasion, (one only!), one of our students thought it wise to bring along a copy of Mein Kampf for the trip….
They were impressed by the difference between life in the East and the West, could not fathom anything like that previously, and were mighty happy when we crossed back to West Berlin.
We were fortunate to have a wonderful German staff who were kind and interested in our American students. I understand that the program underwent some changes after our time but we enjoyed our chance to be abroad with our kids from Valpo.
The Overseas Program was innovative and interesting when it was established and many, many young people got an opportunity to see finally the world at large and not be limited to what they experienced up to that point in America.
What remains in my memory of that time of my life, now some forty years ago, can be summed up briefly; it was a splendid interruption of my quiet and tranquil academic life and an equally splendid tonic for the rest of it upon my return to campus.
I vividly recall that my arrival in Cambridge suddenly made me, in dubious effect, the whole of Valparaiso University for our students. In addition to my professorship I had now become: dean of men, dean of women, librarian, finance and banking counselor, National Health medical services advisor, director of housekeeping and residence maintenance, tour guide and scheduler of British football coaches and youth hostels, tea-maker for the Cambridge journal tutorials, coordinator and host of our British faculty, interior decorator and procurer of furniture and household supplies, painter and handyman for small repairs, liaison officer with our landlord Lutheran Church of England, renter of other student accommodations, janitor for the daily set up of the narthex of the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection for our classroom (quickly delegated to a student warden), counselor for the VU student ministry of the LCE, budget supervisor and paymaster, interpreter and guide to the city of Cambridge and the system of the colleges of the University of Cambridge, mentor of some students on moral and morale issues, comforter of worried parents, provider of Thanksgiving turkeys and Christmas trees, and sometime emergency chauffeur to collect abandoned student hitchhikers and overly enthusiastic pub crawlers. I leave out much else, but I hope I make it clear that the I discovered the director was a day and night multi-tasking, trouble-shooting, jack-of-all-trades in academic garb. I remember much of it today with a shudder, but also with the satisfaction that I was profitably stretched and happily challenged–and grew my powers for almost anything that might and did lay ahead!
I also recall that by today’s standards the facilities of the Cambridge Program(me) in the early 80s were very primitive, perhaps blessedly so technologically. Those were the days before the internet, emails, I-pads, and cell phones–which meant once we were in England we were in England, not in England and electronically back home at the same time. Our concentration was forced upon where we were and who we were. The students, like any group in a foreign place, drew very tightly together, and I sometimes think their group living experience was as important as their foreign travel experience. I know deep friendships (and two marriages) were forged in our closely knit company–and I know I think fondly of the chances I was given to spend more casual time with the students than I could have done on the home campus. Nothing improves your teaching more than knowing your students at a greater personal depth, and perhaps that was the directorship’s most valuable gift to me. My favorite memories remain warm and often humorous moments with super students, perhaps especially that day several of them visited me in my ward at Addenbrooke’s hospital where I was recovering from kidney stone surgery. In the vase of daffodils were smuggled two chocolate Cadbury bars, one whole milk, and one fruit and nuts. I got well.
(SUBMITTED 07/01/ 2018)
When I arrived in the summer of 1985 to take up the duties as Director of the Cambridge Study Programme, I found that discussions were already well underway to construct a residence hall and classroom addition to facilities we occupied at 26 Huntingdon Road. This was something that was certainly much needed. Since the inception of the Programme, women were housed at 26 Huntingdon Road, but the men were housed in property that we rented at 55 Windsor Road, a good mile and a half walk from 26, with no bus service. Our classes were held at Resurrection Lutheran Church, which was located on the same property with Westfield House, the seminary for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of England, and 26. This meant that the men had to make that long walk to and from 55 for classes, and for any activities held at the Study Centre in the evenings. And these were frequent. However, I don’t recall any complaints from our students. A tough bunch!
Beginning that summer, I met with representatives of the ELCE, Westfield House, and the construction management firm every two weeks. If you think zoning and construction regulations in your neighborhood are challenging, you would be astounded by their complexity in the UK! The addition was to occupy a space between 26 and Westfield house that was basically a landscaped lawn with large trees. Planning permission had to be solicited for every single bush or tree that would be removed or would even be nearby to the construction. Every shrub removed had to be replaced, every tree had to be surrounded by some kind of protective barrier. Colors of the brick to be used, colors for trim and doors, numbers of panes in windows and their location–all this had to be submitted and approved. Sometimes this process took several weeks, so the whole process, by American standards, was glacial.
Construction of the building, however, was not the only challenge. When it was finally completed, the whole thing had to be furnished, since we owned none of the furnishings the men had been using at 55 Windsor Road. Beds, desks, tables, chairs, drapes, kitchenware, all these things had to be purchased and installed. It was quite a project, but everyone pitched in. The men, naturally, were highly motivated by the prospect of no longer having that long hike several times every single day!
So, eventually it all came together, and by the spring of 1987 we made the move. The first floor of the three- floor addition contained kitchen facilities and a lounge area. The second floor was living quarters. The top floor was a classroom. Our own classroom, so no more setting up chairs every day at Resurrection next door.
The addition of 26A to the Centre was a major step forward for the Programme and served it well for many years.
Valparaiso University’s study center in Cambridge, England was the first of three study abroad programs I directed along with my family—Michelle, my wife, and Sophie and Elsa, my daughters. Cambridge (2005-07) was followed by Hangzhou, China (2010) and Reutlingen (2015-17). But Cambridge was the beginning of all the excitement, new experiences, challenges, travel, and the international lifestyle! We were thrilled to be a part of VU’s Cambridge program, and Hugh McGuigan, VU’s longtime Director of Study Abroad, skillfully guided us in our preparation for living overseas. Thank you for all of your hard work, Hugh!
Thinking back on each of the four groups we had in Cambridge (C76-C79), some of the best memories that come to mind involved Common Meal. All of the planning, shopping, cooking and eating of the Common Meals in the VU student center was an activity that unified our groups and created a sense of community. Each week, we would look forward to every hilarious travel story, the joking and laughter, students sharing delicious dishes from their family traditions, and the overall good-spirited fun we had together. Students would tell us about their scooter renting, youth hostel shower incidents, drink saving falls, bicycle sharing, and teeth losing adventures. Being a director, you feel the weight of wanting all of your students to have an incredible experience while living in a foreign country, but the worry about their safety was ever present. We were always so happy when all of our students would come back from their excursions in one piece!
As a family, the Cambridge experience is very near and dear to our hearts and we have traveled back to Cambridge two times since leaving. Our daughters, Sophie and Elsa, made wonderful friends and loved attending the Girton Glebe Primary School. Cambridge, England is a fantastic historical city that we loved living in. Additionally, we have such delightful recollections of the students from each group who would go out of their way to be so friendly and engaging with our young daughters. Sophie and Elsa loved how kind and funny the students were at Common Meal, at our home on Thornton Road, and on our group trips. The group trips were full of camp songs on the coach, hand clapping rhymes, exploring the Roman Baths, eating gingerbread in Grasmere, watching Shakespeare plays, hiking in the Lake District and traipsing around Warwick Castle. We miss all of our former students and we miss spending time with them!
I look back with great fondness on my time (2013-2015) as the Director of Valparaiso University Study Centre in Cambridge, England. I am immensely grateful to VU for all the opportunities this experience provided for the students, my family, and myself. My children felt very welcomed by the VU students and, aside from some new-kid-at-school jitters, loved their time at Impington Village College. My daughter Kya embraced her new British accent within a month of starting school and my son Abraham found his vocation in theatre through the many opportunities to watch and perform on the British stage. I was pleased to see how the VU students quickly formed strong connections to one another through being foreigners together, participating in our weekly rituals, particularly Common Meal, and exploring England together.
I think if I tried to summarize the experience my words would be grossly inadequate. I’d like to therefore share a smattering of the events that enriched my life and, I think, the lives of the students who participated. The cohorts or individual students who read this will recognize themselves in some of the comments.
The informal but intense competition for the best Common Meal. As the beneficiary of some amazing food I have to say I encouraged this rivalry.
Punting on the Cam, particularly those brave souls who actually punted, and the one who took a dive.
Our house intruders (twice) and the student who confronted and (successfully) ordered one of them out of the house.
Hiking in a torrential rain storm.
Hiking under the clouds became too heavy to move forward.
Being threatened by a Bull.
Other, slightly wilder, party
I loved that so many of the students decided to travel in Britain or the continent together, creating new memories as they traversed many new lands.
Some very creative scavenger hunt solutions and hilarious videos and pictures.
The Crepe Man. If you can’t love him you can’t love anyone.
A couple fascinating court cases in person.
Those brave and curious souls who explored Cambridge alone, intentionally meeting Cambridge residents on their home turf.
The food poisoning incident that nearly shut down the center for a few days and a few visits to the National Health Service.
Visiting Alum with stories of past years.
The lively banter with Phil, our coach driver.