Back in 1985 and 1986, when I was the editor of UMBC’s literary magazine, Bartleby, one of my professors gave me something I have kept for more than 25 years: a copy of the UMBC literary magazine distributed to students in February 1969.
The 1969 literary magazine is a part of the university’s folklore, largely because the inclusion of a series of soft-focus photographs of two nude dancers caused a sensation off-campus among the local community and state legislators. But the magazine’s appearance also kicked off an era of student and faculty protest at UMBC – and provided the first serious test to the leadership of founding president Albin O. Kuhn.
In this issue of UMBC Magazine (“Blow Up”), I trace the story behind the campus turmoil caused by the publication, and excavate the events at UMBC in that spring and summer.
Some of those involved in the literary magazine controversy generously volunteered their recollections of the event, including distinguished photographer and painter Robert Stark, whose photographs graced the magazine all those years ago. (To see what Stark has been up to since 1969, when the photographs published in the magazine were also hanging in a one-man show at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, see his website: susquehannastudio.blogspot.com)
Other participants in the 1969 drama are now deceased, or proved unwilling to talk or impossible to find. Thus, the help that I received from the Special Collections division of the Albin O. Kuhn Library & Gallery proved essential to filling in the gaps. Chief curator Tom Beck opened up the tremendous holdings of the library’s collection of UMBC history to me, and university archivist Lindsey Loeper ’04 proved a patient and invaluable guide to the university’s holdings – including back issues of The Retriever and Kuhn’s presidential papers.
In associate editor Jenny O’Grady’s story on some of the delightful and unusual jobs that help keep UMBC at the forefront of innovation and excellence in higher education (“The Coolest Jobs at UMBC”), you can read more about Loeper and how she is helping collect and make sense of documents that will allow future generations to discover how UMBC was founded and grew into one of Maryland’s renowned universities.
Along with the entire staff of UMBC Magazine, I am extraordinarily proud of the magazine that we send to you three times a year. In November, we had even more reason to be proud of our efforts when we were notified that UMBC Magazine had received a gold medal in the Magazine category in the District II awards for 2012 handed out by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).
— Richard Byrne ’86