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jim smith bio

"The Measure of Character"

"The Measure of Character"

Alfred Rogers profile
UConn Traditions, Spring 2000

While the civil rights movement raged like a tenacious brush fire across the landscape of America, Alfred Rogers' arrival at the University of Connecticut in 1949 reflected positively on both Rogers and the university. A talented young African-American man, Rogers brought impressive credentials with him. He was a standout delegate to Boys State, a youth leader in a respected religious organization and a gifted athlete who had also played in his high school band.

Rogers quickly distinguished himself at UConn when he was elected president of his freshman class and made the varsity football squad. In the fall of his sophomore year he pledged Phi Episilon Pi, a fraternity whose predominantly Jewish members, many of whom were World War II veterans, enthusiastically welcomed him.

When the fraternity’s national governing body rejected Rogers’ application, the UConn brotherhood was outraged. “It was time to make a statement,” said Marvin Lupak, a member of Rogers’ pledge class. “The brothers decided they would not be dictated to.” They appealed their case by threatening secession from the national organization and going on the road to enlist other chapters to their cause. It took several months, but they eventually forced the national organization to capitulate and reinstate Rogers.

“In my whole career I’ve never been more proud to tell any story than I was to tell this one,” says Jim Smith, whose UConn Traditions account, “The Measure of Character,” was reprinted in the prestigious Journal of Blacks in Higher Education.   

Click on the link at left to read "The Measure of Character."

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