Wednesday, June 11, 2014

August 1-2, 1939: ACCEPTANCE to McPherson College!

Charlotte Salmon
Refugee Service
Philadelphia, Penns.

Dear Madam,
      I am writing to you again in regard to a refugee student.

     As I said in my last letter we were expecting to obtain a student thru Dr. Martin. I have at hand a letter saying that he resigned from the service and has sent our correspondence with him to you.
     If you do not receive his letters this is the substance of our letters to him. It is the decision of the committee that we accept Thomas Doeppner if he is willing to come knowing that this is not an engineering school and that our finances are sufficient but not over-abundant. We should like to know soon if Mr. Doeppner is available and if so if he is willing to come. Thanking you for your continued consideration of our demands. I am

Sincerely Yours
Phil Myers

Thomas Doeppner
Amstelveen N.S.
Emmakade 8, Holland

Dear Thomas Doeppner:

     McPherson College in McPherson, Kansas, has offered you a scholarship for next year. This includes free tuition, some money in cash for board and room, and an opportunity to work for money to take care of other expenses. It is a very good scholarship. The student body of the College has raised this money at some sacrifice, since it is not a wealthy school, and they are looking forward to the arrival of a German student. 
    There are two points I must bring up before asking for your decision. The first is the fact that McPherson is a small mid-western school, supported by the Church of the Brethren. It has about two hundred students. To quote the letter I received from them.
    "It attempts to maintain the standards and ideals of the church on its campus. Smoking, drinking, and dancing are not permitted. If Mr. Doeppner should decide to come he would be expected to conform to the ideals of the college."
    The second point is that it is a Liberal Arts college and does not have a regular course in engineering. Its catalog lists such preparatory courses as Advanced Chemistry, Advanced Mathematics, Calculus, Mathematical Theory of Electricity, Atomic Theory, Advanced Physics. I believe these courses would be valuable to you in later study of engineering. Many of the Liberal Arts Colleges have offered refugee scholarships, but the regular engineering schools have not shown such an interest. However, I think it much more likely that you might get a scholarship in engineering after making a good record at another American school. 
   I have been considering very seriously whether this opportunity is one that would be helpful for you. The college students themselves raised the two questions that I have also presented to you. You could find them, I feel sure, wide awake, sympathetic, young people, who would eagerly welcome you and try to make you feel at home. On the whole I think it would be a worthwhile opportunity. If you will let us know your decision immediately, we will send you the necessary papers for obtaining a student visa. That is a statement of admission to the college and of their plans for your maintenance during the year. Perhaps you had better cable me. The cable address is AFSERCO

Sincerely yours,
Charlotte Salmon
Placement Worker


Phil Myers
The Student Council of McPherson College
McPherson, Kansas

Dear Phil Myers:

      Just yesterday I got back in the office after a vacation and found your letters to me and to Albert Martin. I considered them carefully and also the McPherson College catalog and I have just written Thomas Doeppner advising him to take advantage of this opportunity. The only question in my mind was whether he would find satisfaction for his engineering interest at McPherson. Since he hasn't had any straight college work, as we know it in America, although he will probably be able to enter as a Sophomore or Junior, I believe that a year of preparatory work will be valuable to him. I also feel that association with a college group such as yours where he will be warmly welcomed will be of invaluable assistance in helping him to become adjusted to this country. I have asked him to send word by cable. As soon as I hear from him I will let you know. 

Sincerely yours,

Charlotte S. Salmon

Placement Worker

This letter is a short and sweet one, and so will be my thoughts. THOMAS DOEPPNER HAS BEEN ACCEPTED TO MCPHERSON COLLEGE!  (With a scholarship!) Phil Myers is the writer of the official document, right there on letterhead paper.

YAY!!! And it all boiled down to Dr. Martin’s word of approval. I had always thought it was the Einstein letter of recommendation that got Opa the edge- but it was his friendship with a German Quaker: Dr. Martin.

After Opa’s letter to Gisela where he confessed losing hope, he gets this good news. His next step: to get that Student Visa! Note that the date of this letter is August 1st, received by Charlotte on August 3rd. Let’s assume school starts sometime in September. That’s one month. That’s not a lot of time. When will Opa get the news?

Charlotte writes on August 2nd to Thomas, giving him the good news. She tells him he’s been accepted and has full tuition and money for room and board. She writes “It is a very good scholarship.” Indeed! She brings up the same two points that Phil brought up, giving Opa full disclosure on the conditions of the offer. We see again the no “smoking, drinking, and dancing” line. The second point is that McPherson is “a Liberal Arts college and does not have a regular course in engineering.” Charlotte notes that the school does have introductory courses available that would be beneficial for engineering, and that the scholarship availability from engineering schools is slim to none.

Charlotte gives her two cents upon giving the issue serious thought: “on the whole I think it would be a worthwhile opportunity.” She encourages Opa to cable (telegram) his response to McPherson’s offer. Charlotte tells Opa she will then send him the “necessary papers for obtaining a student visa.”

Things are about to speed up guys.

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