The 1920’s saw a lot of growth for the DePaul. Prospering programs in law, commerce and now music were big additions to the university. With a growing student population and traditions being what they were in intercollegiate sports in 1930, the need for a school fight song was made apparent. Pep rallies, games and matches all needed something to bring the DePaul student body together. Depicted on this pillar is the the first dean of DePaul’s Music School, Dr. Arthur C. Becker, a world–class organist.
Dr. Becker and Leo Sullivan answered the call to bring students together through music by composing what is now known as The DePaul Fight Song. Dr. Becker wrote the music, and Mr. Sullivan wrote the verses.
The song became controversial, only because time and opportunity to learn and use the song became problematic. There was never an opportunity to teach the song to new students, due to the commuter culture of the student body. Even when student groups complained and encouraged a new song, the challengers ran into the same problem: no traditional setting to learn the song. (As this happened in 1942-43.) By the end of the 1940’s Becker’s song, ‘We will gather…’ became the fight song anthem instrumental. Why? Because most students still do not know Leo Sullivan’s verses. This pillar hopes to change that tradition.
Dr. Becker is featured here because he truly was one of the building blocks of what we know of as today’s DePaul. In 1918, Becker organized DePaul University’s School of Music, which he started in one room at 2235 N. Sheffield Ave. Four faculty members taught voice, violin, organ and composition. The school began with 32 students but by 1940 it had grown to 350, with curricula in performance, music education, and church music. Becker served as dean of the music school until his retirement in 1966, and remained active as an instructor and church organist until 1972. He died in 1976.
At the same time Becker was establishing DePaul’s music school he also was the organist and choirmaster at St. Vincent de Paul Church, which had earned the reputation of being a leading Catholic musical institution. For five decades, Becker directed the liturgical music at St. Vincent’s, giving monthly organ recitals that spanned a wide range of repertory. His works typically ended with striking improvisations on liturgical themes.