John Dickinson Regester arrived at the College of Puget Sound as a 26-year-old professor of philosophy and psychology in the fall of 1924, the same semester Jones Hall opened on the new campus. Prior to coming to Puget Sound, Professor Regester served as a naval hospital corpsman with the Marines in France during World War I. He was a 1918 graduate of Allegheny College and later earned S.T.B. and Ph.D. degrees at Boston University. As a scholar, John Regester was known principally for his study of and his relationship with Albert Schweitzer, who referred to him as “my first American friend.” His doctoral dissertation was titled “Immediate Intuition in a New Rationalism of Albert Schweitzer.”
In 1924 philosophy and psychology were one academic department at the College of Puget Sound. Professor Regester taught all the college’s philosophy courses, as well as some psychology courses. President Edward Todd had his eye on Professor Regester and in 1936 made him dean of the college. As John Regester’s academic leadership abilities became increasingly evident, most of the daily administrative burden fell to his shoulders, and President Todd turned more and more to fundraising activities. In addition to academic affairs, Dean Regester’s responsibilities included serving as dean of men. When dean of men became a separate administrative position in 1958, his title was changed to dean of the faculty. In 1960 Dean Regester became dean of the graduate school, as the university expanded degree offerings during R. Franklin Thompson’s presidency.
Todd Hall was the college’s first dormitory for men, opening in January 1948. A second men’s residence hall, built in 1957, was known for nine years as New Hall. On May 14, 1966, New Hall became Regester Hall in honor of John D. Regester’s 42 years of service to the college as professor, scholar, and dean. He was much loved, and the scope of his career and his influence contributed broadly to what we are today as a college. Our memory of John Regester comes alive each November as a distinguished member of our faculty delivers the annual Regester Lecture.
During the 1964–65 academic year, the author of this column and his wife-to-be, Karen Peterson, were sophomores at UPS. She was a resident of Harrington Hall; he of Regester. Harrington, for women, and Regester, for men, were built the same year to essentially the same architectural design, and residents of the two halls felt a kinship of sorts, or at least a competitive spirit. The 1965 Tamanawas mentions “the annexation of Harrington Hall” by the men of Regester. The following incident was not a part of the written record, until now. Late one Friday night the men of Regester, with the complicity of some of the women of Harrington but not with the knowledge of Harrington’s head resident, Alice Dodds, carried the furniture from the Regester dorm room of Rich Crow ’67 across campus to the front lounge of Harrington. There they recreated Rich’s room. When Rich discovered his furniture was missing, his dorm mates blindfolded him, led him across campus, and made him get into his own bed. When he took off his blindfold he was amazed to find himself in bed in a women’s dorm, something that did not happen very often in those days. About then Alice Dodds appeared and the furniture was quickly returned to Regester, but the annexation legend was born. — John Finney ’67