WMU News

WMU librarian assumes persona of Dwight Waldo

Oct. 12, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- Ever wanted to know how Western Michigan University's first president felt about athletics or whether he was as stern as his official portrait suggests? If so, just ask David K. Isaacson, humanities librarian and assistant head of central reference for WMU's Waldo Library.

Isaacson has developed a living history presentation in honor of the University's ongoing centennial celebration that is giving area audiences rare insight into the real Dwight B. Waldo. His informative and entertaining program combines photos and stories from the early 20th-century with presentational technology from the early 21st-century to bring WMU's most venerated administrator to life.

The program involves Isaacson donning period attire, assuming the persona of Waldo and narrating a computer-run PowerPoint slide show. He intersperses the slide show with monologues, responses to selected audience questions and staged conversations with a WMU employee named Isaacson--who has a strange habit of talking to a picture of Waldo.

The free program, which Isaacson schedules as time permits, gives audiences an idea of Waldo's educational philosophy, personal interests and sense of humor. It even includes some advice for WMU's newest president, Judith I. Bailey, who took office this past June.

Isaacson's next currently scheduled "gigs" are for: the WMU Archives and Regional History Collections, 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 21, in East Hall on WMU's East Campus off of Oakland Drive; the Ladies Library Association in Kalamazoo, 1:45 p.m. Monday, Oct. 27, in the association building at 333 S. Park St; and the Friendship Village retirement community, 3 p.m. Nov. 6, in the complex at 1400 N. Drake Road.

Members of the media may attend each presentation (the room in Friendship Village will be determined at a later date), while the public is welcome to attend the last two presentations. Anyone interested in scheduling the program may contact Isaacson by calling (269) 387-5182 or sending e-mail to <david.isaacson@wmich.edu>.

Dwight B. Waldo guided WMU from its founding to 1936, orchestrating its development from a two-year normal school to a nationally recognized four-year teachers college. His vision, "tough love" leadership style, and unique combination of pragmatism and idealism are legendary around campus and Kalamazoo. The University's main library and football stadium are named in his honor. Part of his name also appears in the multi-purpose Walwood Hall, one wing of which was WMU's first dormitory for women while the other wing originally served as the student union.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 269 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

WMU News
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