Chapter XIV


   Commencement is always the same and always different.On the 15th of June, 1912, to the strains of band music under the trees the procession formed in front of the Auditorium (Benton Hall) and marched to the new women's residence.It paused there while the building was named Bishop Hall and dedicated with a brief address by the Honorable David Lewis Gaskill of Greenville.The march moved on to the Old Dorms which, once again remodeled, were formally rededicated and new names given to their separate sections. Old North Hall with two entrances became Johnson and Elliot, and the three entrances to South Hall were named McFarland, Stoddard, and Swing.The procession then swung back past Main Hall where the Bishop Chapel had been renamed the College Commons and was serving as a dining room for men; the balcony was furnished with pool tables for after-meal enjoyment.In the auditorium President R. M. Hughes presided at his first Commencement exercise. Among the graduates were Joseph Clokey, who later became a dean of the School of Fine Arts and a ranking composer, and Harold E. Neave who would have a business career with the Scripps-Howard Newspapers and long service as a Miami Trustee.
   In the fall of 1911 Professor Hughes, just returned from a sabbatical which he had spent observing college administration in the United States and England, had declined to be made president but took the title "acting president" of the University.On assuming office he made two appointments that were to outlast his own tenure by many years: Wallace Pattison Roudebush was named secretary to the president and Marie Marshall was made executive clerk.New faculty appointments included H. C. Brill in chemistry and A. W. Craver in English.
   It was two years before Hughes agreed to become Miami's thirteenth president.Then, at the Commencement of 1913, with characteristic candor and diffidence, he accepted the office "realizing my lack of wide experience, the small range of my learning, and my limited ability." Even as he spoke, a slender, smiling, straight-standing man with kindling eyes and a reassuring Ohio drawl, his ability shone through.He added, "I know that the successful work of this college does not depend on the president." But no one else hesitated to relate the success of Miami in the next fifteen years to the honesty, vigor and foresight of Raymond Mollyneaux Hughes.He once described a successful college president as a man of sufficient learning to direct a company of scholars and of enough worldliness to deal with legislative committees and boards of trustees and the lay public; he added, "If he can have innate dignity and a sense of justice, along with a personal vigor and warmth, he is ideal." Though he did not intend it as self-appraisal, he was describing himself.
   When he was teaching chemistry, Professor Hughes had complained that he did not have ideas.The president's office changed that; for fifteen years he had a constant flow of ideas about the campus, the classrooms, the curriculum, about the university of the past,the present and the future.He introduced a system of intramural sports, an artist-in-residence, a rotating appointment of officer-of-the-day among the faculty.He increased scholarship aid and student employment."The poor boys at college are usually the most valuable members of the college community, and we want as many at Miami as we can get." The first land-conscious president of Miami, he foresaw new buildings and with the help of W. P. Roudebush he doubled the lands, adding Cook Field, the Oxford Retreat, and the new South Campus for women.On his first tour of alumni clubs in 1911 he spoke on "Miami: A Full-Grown College," but he foresaw an expanding future.
   In September President Hughes came into Benton Hall trumpeting with hay fever and a new college term began.Each year brought changes and developments.In 1911 the Alumni News Letter began publication as a quarterly in the Miami Bulletin Series.In 1912 the Women's Student Government Association was established and the Library was enriched by the Samuel Fulton Covington Collection of Ohio Valley History.In 1913, $8,000 was allotted for a temporary chemistry building, a one-floor laboratory and classroom building just west of the present Hughes Hall.In 1914 came the first Alumni Homecoming, with a soccer game and a cross-country race preceding the football match with Denison; five hundred alumni watched the afternoon sports and gathered for a smoker in the evening.That year began a series of conferences on business administration, with John R. Simpson, '99, vice-president of William Filene's Sons in Boston, discussing the responsibilities of business enterprise.In 1915 McGuffey Hall was enlarged and the University Orchestra gave its first concert.In 1916 there was talk of paving High Street, but before any bricks were laid a dusty Commencement crowd filled the athletic stands to watch a Miami pageant, written by Professor Upham, depicting episodes from the life of Old Miami: the Bishop Bust, the Cremation of Logic, Chemistry in Old Egypt, the Snow Rebellion, Lottie Moon's Capture, the Burial of Joe Battle, the Story of Oxford College, the Advent of the Miami Girl.Then, even to remote and dreaming Oxford, came the war.
   In the fall of 1917 a University battalion marched and maneuvered over the campus and the faculty offered a series of war talks to public audiences, having tried them out in the college chapel.The football team compiled a season score of Miami 202, opponents 0.At the Homecoming an exhibition drill replaced the snake dance between halves of the game.
   By the beginning of 1918 a Miami service flag showed men in virtually every training camp in the country and a number "Somewhere in France." Coach George Little, after his championship football season, had become a captain at Camp Sherman.Henry Beckett, '11, was editor of a service magazine at Camp Sheridan, and Ben Lucien Burman, ex-'17, was beginning a long writing career with contributions to a paper of the 24th Engineers.Guy Potter Benton was directing the Army Y.M.C.A. in Paris, and Colonel John R. Simpson, '99, was procuring French equipment of the Ordnance Department.
   During the summer of 1918 the War Department established the Students' Army Training Corps in colleges enrolling more than a hundred men above eighteen years of age, and in September Miami was a different place.President Hughes had become a distinct director of the S.A.T.C., with offices in Columbus.Vice-president Brandon was in France as an officer in the Foyer du Soldat.In Oxford four hundred Miami men were roused by reveille at 6:15, marched to meals, classes, drill and study.With taps at 9:30 the campus left to the owls, hooting in the autumn dark.
   Four companies made up the Miami Corps.Company A was quartered in North Dorm, Company B in South, Company C in the houses on Fraternity Row, Company D in the other scattered fraternity houses.A. H. Upham, as acting vice-president, was in charge at Miami.He had a strenuous introduction to college administration.
   Early in October the nation-wide epidemic of influenza struck the village.Within a few days half the students and a third of the faculty were ill.The Miami girls were sent home, except for a score who stayed as nurses' and kitchen aides, and Bishop Hall became a hospital.Four students died there, and three others died at home. In a few golden October weeks Miami passed through the most sudden, wide-spread and fatal epidemic of her history.
   Meanwhile from the Schelde to the Moselle the allied armies were moving in the last great offensive of the war.When word of the Armistice reached Oxford on November 11th, the church and college bells rang and the Corps marched to a special chapel service.Three days before Christmas the four companies, lined up before the auditorium, were paid off and discharged.The next summer High Street was paved and a Memorial Gateway was built for the athletic field.
   In 1915 had come word of the largest bequest in Miami's history.As a memorial to her brother, Dr. George C. Ogden of the Class of 1863, Laura Ogden Whaling of Cincinnati willed the University something over $400,000, of which sum $250,000 was to be used for construction of a men's residence hall and $10,000 to assist needy and deserving students.After eight years of litigation the bequest was reduced to $260,000, and in 1923 work on Ogden Hall began.It required the moving of Herron Gymnasium.The will had stipulated that the new building should stand west of Herron Hall, along High Street on the upper campus.A tentative location was fixed on the site of the men's tennis courts, directly across from Lewis Place.But it was decided that that part of the campus should be left in its natural state and Ogden Hall was then located on the site of Herron with that building being moved four hundred feet to the east.
   To move Herron Hall cost $30,000, more than it had cost to build; it also cost a score of huge old forest trees.There were in Oxford many lovers of the wooded campus and the most determined of them was Jennie Brooks, the daughter of a retired headmaster of a Cincinnati school.High-spirited, outspoken, imperious in her somewhat fragile way, Miss Brooks wrote stories and sketches for the leading magazines; some of them were collected in a volume Under Oxford Trees.She wandered through the woods in all seasons and knew every woodpecker's nest in the college trees.When workmen began devastation behind Herron Hall, Jennie Brooks protested.She took her stand at an oak trunk, defying the ax-men, until she was bodily carried away.She never forgave that violation, but happily her later years were lived in the old McFarland house at the end of Spring Street, across from the primeval woods of the lower campus.
   When the land was cleared Herron Hall, jacked up and put on rollers, inched its huge way eastward.On its new location, somewhat remodeled, it served for ten more years as the University gymnasium before it was turned over to the Miami women.
   The year 1923 saw Ogden Hall rising on the vacated site.It was a near neighbor to the old North Dorm but a far cry from that original Miami lodging.With lounges, assembly rooms, reading and recreation rooms it was a student center as well as a residence hall. The spacious main lounge, named for Charles H. Fisk, classmate of George Ogden in 1863 and legal adviser to Mrs. Whaling, became a gathering place for students, a meeting place for alumni, a friendly, dignified and comfortable room for conferences, recitals and chamber music.
   Meanwhile Wells Hall, build partly by a bequest from William B. Wells of St. Louis, was rising on Spring Street.An addition doubling the size of the Library was provided by state funds plus $50,000 from the Carnegie Corporation.Its enlargement freed a former reading room for the quarters of the Scripps Foundation, where Professors Thompson and Whelpton were beginning their far-reaching work in population research.The University Hospital, built by alumni subscription to the Centennial Fund, was taking shape in a former cow-pasture east of the old McGuffey house.Beyond High Street a clatter of building came from a new residence for freshman men, the first unit of the present Swing Hall. Before these buildings were done, work began on the final section of McGuffey Hall, the first wing of the Industrial Arts Building (Gaskill Hall), and a new classroom building (Irvin Hall) on the site of the old women's tennis courts just east of the Library.And beside the slant walk Thobe's fountain, "designed, donated and built" by Harry S. Thobe, Oxford stone-mason and Miami's most rabid football fan, bubbled in the shade of the ancient elms.
   Into Irvin Hall, named for a long-time trustee from Dayton who had headed the building committee, moved six departments of the college.Soon the new walls were softening with ivy and the rooms were gathering associations: the English classes of Professors Rea, Craver, Ross, Bachelor and their colleagues; the mathematics of W. E. Anderson and his staff; the political science of Howard White and ex-Congressman French of Idaho; the English history of Professors Robinson and McNiff and the American history of Smith and Joyner.In sunny laboratories in the south wing of botany, Professor Stark developed a department of bacteriology, and R. L. Edwards began turning out his long line of able physicists.
   Across the quadrangle the old Main Building had become a hall of languages, with Professor Clark humorously and learnedly expounding Greek and Hadsel Latin, Handschin and Breitenbucher conducting German classes, Brandon and Irvin teaching French, Jones, Barr and Russell Spanish.The English tongue held on in the lower floor where D. S. Robinson, Patten and Van Tassell were teaching philosophy and psychology; Bain and Cottrell stirred up moot questions in sociology; Wickenden attracted students to religion; and Professor Gates with Adelia Cone, soon to be aided by their young colleagues Abegglen and Williams, directed speech and dramatics. Up on the third floor in the old Literary Halls Professor Hodgin and Carter presided over classes sketching plaster casts of the Discus Thrower and Lorenzo de Medici.
   With the purchase of the Oxford Retreat and its sixty-nine acres of dense and open woodland, the Miami campus was extended to the Tallawanda.First suggestions for the new use of the old towered building were a school of fine arts, a school of business, a music department, a residence for women.But when it was reopened in 1927, named for Judge Elam Fisher of the Class of 1870, the old hall, once Oxford Female College, rang with voices of freshman men.Its first faculty proctors were Bergen Evans and J. M. Bachelor.
   In 1923, opening the 100th year of college instruction, President Hughes spoke of Miami's growth as its hardest handicap.He had just returned from a visit to the English universities and he made a comparison: "Merton College at Oxford enrolled one hundred thirty-two, a growth of twelve students in forty years.When we contrast our growth from thirty-eight in 1885 to 1474 now, we can realize how much of our energy has gone toward problem of expansion." Miami was growing beyond closeness and unity.The auditorium would not seat the student body, and for 1923 President Hughes announced a rotating chapel requirement instead of the daily gathering of all.But he assured the continuance of small classes, he urged personal acquaintance of the faculty with students, and he proposed dividing the colleges into smaller units which could develop their own identity.
   Finally he outlined a program for the year, for the decade, and for the century.Enrollment for 1923 was 1500; by the end of the decade he foresaw 2500 and by the year 2023 he envisioned 5000 students at Miami. (The enrollment passed 5000 in less than thirty years.) His aims for the decade included an increase in the proportion of men, an increase in the percentage of men preparing to teach, the developing of a housing plan for the faculty, and the increase of college land to at least three hundred acres.His program for the century called for a retaining, at all costs, of personal relationship between students and faculty, ample provision for very able students, and the developing of the Tallawanda for water sports.The first objective on his list was unchanged for the year, the decade, and the century."Emphasize spiritual values over material things."
   That Centennial year was full of activity--new buildings, new student organizations, an enlarged faculty.But a year later President Hughes, bugling with his September hay fever, was still thinking of the real objective.He observed that in the fourteen years since 1911 Miami had tripled in size, but he asked a question: "Has the institution grown nobler and finer and more influential for good?" Looking back to his own memory of the Miami of 1890, he saw that colleges in the twentieth century are much more plastic than in the past; their spirit and character can change very quickly. For Miami he was concerned that the character of the older college should be preserved in the new.

Return to Table of Contents Go to Next Chapter  Go to Previous