QU alumni talks about history of campus

By Micah Wheeler

The campus has grown over many years and the history behind the development of the campus is a story that has to be told. One of the college’s alumni who is still actively involved with the campus is Fr. William Spencer OFM. 

“He’s someone that knows the campus and all the little details like the back of his hand due to the fact that he’s been here for so long,” Justin Rosendahl, senior, said. “If you want to hear a good story, go ask him.”

 In the 1850s, Germans migrated to America and settled in the midwest in cities such as St. Louis, Cincinnati, and St. Paul. This area was known as the “German triangle” and incorporated other major cities, such as Chicago and Milwaukee, within its geographical lines.

Since there were so many Germans that moved into the states, Henry Damian Juncker, the bishop of Alton, Illinois, and the only German-speaking priest during that time, traveled to Germany to ask for the Franciscans help in sending more German-speaking priests to help minister to the Germans who populated the cities. Nine priests were sent. They first settled in southern Illinois then moved to Quincy.

“The need was for a school,”  Spencer said. “There were all these German speaking people who had no way to get an education. So February 6, 1860, what would become Quincy College had its first classes.” 

With new buildings being added to the campus throughout the years, that faculty began to name some of their halls after a person who had either been a donor or had been of significant importance to the school.

Helein Hall was named after one of Spencer’s classmates, Doug Helein, in 1959.

“He made a lot of money after he graduated from Quincy University, but later on in his life was diagnosed with cancer. So when he died, he willed one million dollars to the college and what used to be called Centennial Hall became known as Helein Hall,” Spencer said.

Times were not always easy for the school. The student population began to decline when males were shipped off to fight in Vietnam during World War II. 

“There were students everywhere on campus,” Spencer said. “My senior year of being at QU we had a bar in what is now the Hawks Nest and it was the first on-campus bar in Illinois. This was where we held our lottery picks for the draft.”

College students, in order to not get drafted, had to have a deferment which was a postponement of a person’s conscription according to Google. In order to receive a deferment, students had to be a full-time student taking a minimum of 12 credit hours.

“Some students begged their teachers to pass them so that they would not be selected,” Spencer said. “But it was hard for them because if they passed the student just to prevent them from being drafted they could risk going to prison.”

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