Mind, Body, Spirit: The Legacy of Augustus Schultze

By Daniel R. Gilbert

Who thinks of the men behind those dark formal portraits on the first floor of Comenius Hall? We often forget that they were the leaders who shaped our College and its traditions. The records of their labors are turning into dust in attics around Bethlehem.

Through the generosity of the Shields-Butterfield family, I had the good fortune to review the diary of Augustus Schultze, a professor of classics who was president of Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary from 1870 until his retirement in 1918. This record of his early professional and private life, as well as other records in the College Archives, helps us understand the College as it was then and how it began to grow and change to what it is today.

It is particularly appropriate to include Augustus Schulze in this issue of the Moravian College Magazine, stuffed as it is with athletic achievements, because it was this president who added physical education to the College curriculum and competitive games to its opportunities outside the classroom.

Born in 1840 in Brandenburg in what was then Prussia and educated at Moravian schools, Augustus Schultze was vice president of the Moravian college at Nisky in the state of Saxony when he was asked in 1870 to come to Moravian College and Theological Seminary in Bethlehem. At first he turned down the call; but after much prayer and the consulting of the traditional Moravian lot (a system of election thought to be ruled by divine intervention), he agreed to join its faculty. It was not an easy decision, for he had aging parents and was at the time very much the young German patriot, caught up in the birth-pangs of what was to become the modern German state. (For many years over here, he celebrated the birthday of the German Kaiser!) He also spoke little English and was greeted upon arrival with a very heavy teaching schedule of courses: German, French, Latin, Hebrew, Old Testament and New Testament exegesis. In response to his protests, College officials at least temporarily eliminated one Latin class in his first-year schedule.

What he found here was a College and Seminary of fewer than a dozen students and perhaps five faculty and staff members struggling to provide proper training for future leaders of the church. He responded with a wide range of reforms, starting with a set of regulations for such matters as “their studies and their general conduct.” The students were required to sign these rules! He then worked to improve the sense of community on campus. Recalling his own student days, he instituted a glee club. Next he turned to Commencement, adding to the ceremony an address by each graduating student, designed to impress the audience of families and church leaders. Within a few years, a Comenian Literary Society was organized, offering monthly meetings with student addresses and debates. These students began in 1891 to publish a campus newspaper, the Comenian, still issued today.

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