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The Hulsizers (1974-1985)

Robert and Carol Hulsizer, Ashdown House's 5th Housemasters
Robert and Carol Hulsizer,
Ashdown's 5th Housemasters

Robert and Carol Hulsizer served as housemasters of Ashdown from 1974 to 1985. Ashdown’s multi-purpose room is named in their honor.

An experimental physicist specializing in the Qield of elementary particles, Robert Inslee Hulsizer Jr. (1919 - 2008) was a Professor of Physics at MIT. He received his doctorate from MIT in 1948 and, during World War II, helped develop radar at the Radiation Lab. In 1964, Dr. Hulsizer joined the faculty and was instrumental in the founding of the Education Research Center.

“Bob”, as he was known to Ashdown residents, and his wife, Carol Kasen, were chosen as housemasters in 1974 when John and Fredna Irvine retired. Recognizing the importance of regular social events for improving graduate student life, the Hulsizers supported the existing House traditions and restored some old ones. They continued the floor suppers which were instituted by the Irvines, but soon perceived the need for more frequent gatherings of the Ashdown community. And so, they introduced Coffee Hour, a weekly get-together inspired by Avery Ashdown’s biweekly Buttery Hour, which was a tradition of providing coffee, cocoa and cake at W1’s “Buttery”.

To this end, the Hulsizers lobbied for a big serving counter in the dining room where they held Coffee Hour every Thursday night at 9:00 p.m.. Providing coffee, tea, cider, orange juice, cookies, cakes, pastries and occasionally ice cream, Bob and Carol would greet students as they served them from behind the counter. This weekly occasion soon became tremendously popular and allowed the residents to get to know each other as well as their housemasters more informally. In appreciation, grateful Ashdown residents later presented them with one of their own ice cream scoops, silver-plated and engraved with "In Honor of the Ashdown Coffee Hours”.

After eleven years of service to Ashdown, Robert and Carol Hulsizer retired as housemasters in 1985. At the request of Ashdown residents, the dining room where Coffee Hour was held was named the Hulsizer Room. When Ashdown House transitioned from W1 to NW35 in 2008, the Hulsizer Room moved with the community and still serves as the venue of Coffee Hour. It is also used for other events like Casino Night, an event first hosted by Carol Hulsizer and revived in 2008.

The above information contains information gathered from personal interviews, MIT Tech articles and MIT webpages.

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