By MICHAEL WINERIP
COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. — For years, officials at Ursinus College had been trying to figure out how to capitalize on the fact that J. D. Salinger had spent one semester there in the fall of 1938.
They were hoping to attract publicity for Ursinus and tried everything they could think of to lure Salinger from the secluded world he’d lived in for his final 50 years. They offered to make him a guest lecturer; to build a literary festival around him; to award him an honorary degree. “No response,” said Richard DiFeliciantonio, the vice president for enrollment at the small liberal arts college here. “Absolutely nothing.”
Then Jon Volkmer, an English professor, had what Holden Caulfield would have called a goddam terrific idea.