Here's the picture. It's the start of second quarter. You're a sophomore in the middle of the famous "slump." It's 8 a.m. and very dark. Hey, it's the middle of winter. You've either had too much coffee to wake up or not enough to stay awake. You make it to the huge lecture auditorium in Guggenheim Hall, get a seat as far away from the stage as possible and hope for the best.
Hope for the best because you've heard of this famous lecturer and his equally famous class, Economics 201.
Then he enters and begins one of his more notable lectures. It's the one about the worker in the office of the president of the company, the one where he wants a raise or better working conditions. Anyway, the president puts his arm around this man and walks him over to the window, where he shows him a number of workers lined up for a job. "See all those men," Dr. Buechel says, speaking as if he were the president of the story. "They all want your job. Now, do you think I should give you a raise and improve working conditions?" And off he goes on employee-management relations and the history thereof. Finally, after several weeks (which seem like 150 years), we're ready for the next shocker...the Henry Buechel final. It's something we'd all heard about but never experienced.
It's a test every student on campus knew about even without taking the course. It consisted of 100 true and false questions. For every one you got right, you'd get one point. For every one you missed, you got two points deducted. Theoretically a person could get a negative score. I almost did.
I prepared. I reviewed notes, talked to other guys who had taken the test before, did some extra reading up, the whole nine yards preparing for this, the mother of all finals. I had an A going into this final. I got a C for the course. You figure it out.
Grades aside, it was a course to remember, and I did. Buechel was a great teacher, a riveting lecturer who would keep more than 200 students enthralled for 50 minutes three times a week for ten weeks. Then he'd do it all over again.
Michael Peringer, '57
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