Part 2 in our "100 Years" series
By Corrie Dyke (’13) | Echo
Train whistles blew and fire engines screamed as two influential men in Taylor’s colorful history paraded back to campus with news that would change the university’s future.
Stepping off the train and onto their throne of a fire truck that would carry them through the streets of Upland, then-President Clyde Meredith and Dean of Academics Milo Rediger had just returned from Chicago after receiving full accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.
“Parade Highlights Celebration,” an article in The Gem-ECHO (as it was known during the war), painted the picture of excitement that ensued as a result of the accreditation.
The band accompanied the parade and a delegation of the student body joined Mrs. Meredith and Mrs. Rediger to meet the train in Marion.
“Amid the school colors of purple and gold, Dr. Meredith and Dr. Rediger were carried on the shoulders of students to the bandstand where a reception was given,” the article read.
The article continues in greater detail about the parade of 50 cars decorated in purple and gold crepe paper, two town fire trucks which carried President Meredith and Dean Rediger both wearing raincoats and hats.
The color guard and band led the parade through the streets of Upland and proceeded to campus.
That night a dinner was held, and campus gathered in Shreiner Auditorium at 7:30 for one final celebration.
Don Klopfenstein ’48 noted the accreditation as “one of the outstanding and epoch marking events in the history of Taylor University” in his front-page Gem-ECHO article Wednesday, April 2, 1947. The official report was presented to Meredith and Rediger a week before at “precisely 3:47 p.m.” on March 26.
“The bell on the Administration Building was ringing the victory at 4 o’clock.” Klopfenstein noted. And a three-word telegram, which read “Accreditation Achieved Doxology,” was sent to the Board of Directors.
In the same April 2, 1947, issue, an editorial piece gave voice to the student body, a majority of whom were asking, “What does this mean to us?”
To the students of 1947, the university accreditation meant a bright future. The editorial titled “Faster Pace Anticipated” had no author, but said the goal of accreditation “had been sought almost as long as the university has been at its present site.” This happened to be 100 years.
The article spoke of the past alumni now taking greater pride in their alma mater, recent graduates now finding their diplomas worth more and current students having no more fear in other institutions rejecting the transfer of credits.
“We now have proof when we say that our school is ranked among the highest academically,” the editorial concluded.
Klopfenstein wrote in his article the accomplishment of accreditation was a step taken to develop Taylor into a school with increasing recognition across the U.S. He added that attaining the education standards necessary for recognition by North Central had been an effort for a number of years. This push was sparked by the efforts of Mr. Rediger.
“He really worked everything through to get this,” said Rediger’s son, Nelson (’67), who has worked in Advancement since 1986. “He was the one who went to Chicago and actually picked it up.”
Prior to receiving the accreditation, Taylor was very small and very much a Bible college. “Kids wouldn’t come here,” Nelson said. “They could go to Wheaton; they could go to a lot of places that had their accreditation.”
Nelson also shared his father’s passion that Taylor be an institution of higher learning. Rediger didn’t want the “Bible school” emphasis, and the board supported his efforts.
Following the accreditation, the school grew. “You know you’ve got a good education when it comes to certification; well, it’s all because of this,” Nelson said.
Taylor’s accreditation and Rediger, alike, have played key roles in the campus we know today.
Open any history book, flip through the color-faded Echos and you will find the milestone of 1947 and raving reviews of Milo A. Rediger.
“Milo A. Rediger has been the most influential man at Taylor since the end of the Second World War,” said a column by Scott Priessler in the March 26, 1982 Echo. “Respected as an intellectual leader, he made many vital contributions to the school.”
Milo’s time at Taylor spans 38 years, beginning in 1943 as a professor of philosophy and religion. He became academic dean in 1945.
Along with obtaining accreditation while in this position, he was the sponsor for the class of 1947. He was academic dean through 1948 and again from 1952-65. For the next 10 years, Milo would serve as Taylor’s president and again from 1979-81.
The Taylor community celebrated Milo’s life during homecoming weekend of 1988. The front page of that Friday’s Echo on Oct. 21 featured a two-column photo of Milo and a remembrance article by 1988-89 Editor in Chief Jennifer Blum.
Milo suffered two heart attacks before attending his own homecoming celebration with the Lord on Oct. 18.
Blum’s piece echoed Milo’s legacy as the most influential person in Taylor history since World War II. As stated in the article, during Milo’s tenure, Taylor enrollment tripled and nine major building projects commenced.
Milo is also remembered and celebrated for being a major player in the university’s first accreditation. Today, 65 years later, Taylor remains an accredited institution of higher education through the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP). Taylor chose to participate in AQIP, a pathway to accreditation through North Central, because of the program’s focus on continuous quality improvement, said Brent Maher, Director of Assessment and Quality Improvement.
The current system of accreditation reaffirmation through AQIP occurs in a seven-year cycle that demonstrates the organization’s continued compliance with Higher Learning Commission’s Criteria for Accreditation. Taylor completed its first AQIP Cycle and was reaffirmed in February 2011.
Nelson best summed up the reason for the bells and whistles of 1947: “That’s why Taylor is where it is today — we got accredited.”
Editor’s Note: This article is part of our “100 Years” series, which was originally published during Homecoming on October 19, 2012. View the other parts by clicking the links below.