CAPE MAY — Two months before he will mark his 100th birthday, local author Jacob Schaad Jr. will present a reading and signing of his published book that offers explanations of why a historic highly acclaimed college collapsed in its 102nd year.
The book, titled “Swedes And Deeds The Ups and Down Of Upsala College,” takes the reader from the days of the Swedes huge migration to the middle of the United States in the 19th century and then to New Jersey when older Swedish-Americans, already settled here, convinced those in higher education to start a college in New Jersey.
The free reading and discussion period to follow will take place at 7 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 23 at the Cape May Lutheran Church at 509 Pittsburgh Ave., Cape May. Schaad, a former resident of Cape May who now lives in Middle Township, spent 12 years at Upsala as its publicist and uses those years and personal interviews and research as the basis for telling the story of the college’s colorful and contributory past as the first Lutheran-supported college to be started in the northeast.
Upsala was begun in 1893 and was housed in improvised quarters for two years each in two Lutheran churches in Brooklyn, New York. Four years later it established its first New Jersey campus in Kenilworth, and later moved northward to East Orange and an additional campus in Wantage in Sussex County. It closed in 1995 for many reasons given, among them lack of strong leadership and the presence of unfavorable racial attitudes.
In its prime time, however, Upsala had much on the positive side about which to be proud. At one point it was ranked as the third best college in New Jersey, following Princeton and Drew Universities. It was the first college in New Jersey to admit women as students and the first to award women full degrees. Years before Title Nine mandated equal rights for women in athletics in the mid-1970s, Upsala formed in 1924 the state’s first and possibly only women’s varsity football team.
Schaad, who will mark his 100th birthday on Oct. 22, said the college educated many young people from South Jersey where the Swedes settled in their migration. The New Jersey synod of the Lutheran church was an active supporter of the college for several years.