AUSTIN COLLEGE is an educational
institution of which the citizens of Effingham County may well be proud. Several public-spirited citizens of Effingham
organized a movement in 1890 to establish an institution of higher education. Meetings were held, and general interest
was excited. The movement soon took a practical shape by the opening of subscription books. The necessary amount
was raised in a few days, bids for the erection of a model college building, possessing all the modern equipments,
were invited, and on the 22d of October the corner-stone of the beautiful structure was laid with impressive ceremonies,
conducted by the Masonic fraternity, led by Grand Master Owen Scott, of Bloomington, Ill. In the spring of 1891,
Prof. W. E. Lugenbeel, the Principal of the Borden Institution, of Borden, Ind., and who had managed the Southern
Indiana Normal School, of Mitchell, with signal success for eight years, was invited to the presidency of the faculty.
He accepted, believing that this institution would become one of the great schools of the State. Prof. W. J. Brinckley,
a teacher of wide experience and extensive attainments in the sciences, was elected to the chair of scientific
instruction; Prof. Hiram H. Bice, of Johns Hopkins University, was elected to the department of ancient languages
and English literature; Prof. J. A. Turley, of Borden Institute, was appointed principal of the business department;
Miss Mary E. Gilmore, of the Richmond (Ind.) Business College, was selected as principal of the shorthand and type-writing
department, and teacher of elocution; Prof. Max Martine, of the Freiburg and Paris Universities, was placed in
charge of the modern languages; and Prof. R. P. Schifferstein, Director of the Effingham Musical Conservatory,
was placed in charge of the musical department.
Profs. Lugenbeel and Brinckley
were appointed to select and purchase the library and apparatus, which were to be of the best. The various rooms
were fitted with all necessary appliances, and furnished with every convenience in furniture and fixtures. All
things being in readiness, the institution was formally opened on the evening of July 6, 1891, by a concert given
by the leading members of the noted Emma Abbott Opera Company. Dr. John, President of De Pauw University, delivered
a profound oration. On the following morning Austin College began its regular work with an attendance of more than
one hundred students. From the first day, the success and value of the enterprise were assured, and at the close
of the first scholastic year, the enrollment had reached more than two hundred students.
Prof. L. P. Doer was chosen to
succeed Prof. Bice; Miss Iola Gilbert, of the Chicago Music Conservatory, has succeeded Prof. Schifferstein; and
Mrs. L. P. Doerr, of the Cincinnati Art School, has been chosen to conduct the art department. In consideration
of the great benefactions conferred by Edward and Calvin Austin, the institution was named Austin College and Normal
Institute. Among its other benefactors were Dr. J. B. Walker, George M. Le Crone, Judge S. F. Gilmore, Hon. E.
N. Rhinehart, Mrs. N. B. White, Philip E. Crooker, L. H. Bissell, Joseph Partridge, Sr., and Capt. A. W. Le Crone.
The officers of the college are
Edward Austin President; Dr. J. B. Walker, Vice-President; G. M. Le Crone, Secretary; Joseph Partridge, Sr., Treasurer;
and W. E. Lugenbeel, Assistant Secretary. Its Directors are Calvin Austin, Mrs. N. B. White, Hon. Albert N. Campbell,
L. H. Bissell, Hon. E. N. Rhinehart, Hon. S. F. Gilmore and Mrs. Mary A. Stevens. The main college building is
a beautiful structure, three stories high, constructed of brick and stone and containing ten rooms. The recitation
rooms are furnished with opera chairs, having book tablets, the library room with tables and comfortable chairs,
and the chemical laboratory with all the facilities for original and class work, etc. The entire building is heated
by steam and lighted by gas, and the location is superb. The Trustees have erected a beautiful home for the college,
and have embellished it with all that appeals to the noblest feelings. The institution is non-sectarian and receives
students of any religious belief.
In regard to apparatus, Austin
College stands pre-eminent. It has a chemical laboratory, furnished with gas, regents, and the best apparatus for
all kinds of work; a physical laboratory containing costly and rare implements, spectroscope, double-plate electrical
machine, etc; and a biological laboratory, complete in all its appointments; a geological cabinet, with all the
important minerals, ores and fossils; every appointment which will aid the study of physiology and anatomy; a fine
telescope, a full set of surveying and engineering instruments, the leading type-writers and excellent pianos,
including the finest Chickering Grand. The reference library contains over two thousand volumes, and is one of
the finest college libraries, on account of the adaptability of the books to the use of the students.
The courses of study in Austin
College include, without entering into details, all that is understood under the following general headings: A
preparatory course of one year, a classical collegiate course of three years, modern language and scientific course,
teachers' advanced course, teachers' elementary course, surveying course, business course, art and music course,
shorthand and typewriting, department of natural science, physics, chemistry, mineralogy, botany, zoology, physiology,
biology, histology, microscopy and astronomy.
All southern Illinois owes a debt
of gratitude to the earnest and public-spirited persons who established Austin College. It is rapidly taking rank
among the leading educational institutions, not only of Illinois, but of surrounding States, and the citizens of
this community have great reason to be proud of it.
Biographical Record of Effingham, Jasper and Richland Counties Illinois, Containing Biographical Sketches of Prominent
and Representative Citizens, Governors of the State, and the Presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman
Brothers, 1887), p. 360. Transcribed by Judy Rosella Edwards.