A SENSE OF MISSION
Since its creation in 1903 the Miami University Senate had outgrown
a succession of meeting rooms--in the old Main Building, McGuffey
Hall, Hughes Hall and Laws Hall. As the staff grew and committees
multiplied it was clear that university business required the
attention of a frequently convened representative body. In December
1963 the Senate passed an enabling act creating the Faculty Council,
to which it delegated legislative authority. Under chairmanship of the
University president the Council roll comprised sixteen elected
members from the faculty and seven members appointed by the
president. The Council's actions were subject to review by the Senate,
which continued to meet four times a year.
Under Acting President C. Ray Wilson the Faculty Council began its bi-weekly meetings in September 1964. The Trustees Room in Roudebush Hall proved too small for the Council members and others who brought reports, requests and information. After a few crowded sessions the Council moved to the Student Senate Chamber in Warfield Hall, which also proved inadequate. In the fall of 1967 it convened in a lecture room in Laws Hall. To its meetings flowed a broad current of business pertaining to academic programs, standards and requirements, faculty rights and responsibilities, and faculty-student relationships. Its debates ranged from probation penalties to honorary degrees, from the improvement of undergraduate teaching to the approval of Ph.D. programs.
Meanwhile a committee of trustees, under the successive chairmanship of John B. Whitlock and Lloyd O'Hara, aided by faculty and alumni advisory committees, had compiled more than a hundred names from which to choose a new president of the University. Interviews with a number of candidates away from the campus led to campus visits by a final list of eight. On February 6, 1965, members of the faculty met Dean and Mrs. Phillip R. Shriver of Kent State University at a reception in the Heritage Room.That evening the Shrivers were guests of the selection committee at dinner in the Benjamin Harrison Room. Next day, after a special meeting of the Board, Chairman Larz Hammel announced the election of Phillip R. Shriver as Miami's seventeenth president. He would take office on July 1.
During the spring Dr. Shriver paid several visits to Oxford. Miami students first saw their sturdy, smiling president-elect on Charter Day, when he was introduced along with Ohio Governor James A. Rhodes and Chancellor Millett of the Board of Regents at a Withrow Court convocation. In his Charter Day address Governor Rhodes described a 290-million-dollar bond issue to provide capital improvements in Ohio's public universities; as he spoke one could sense new prospects for higher education in the state. A few weeks later Dr. Shriver was presented to the faculty by Acting President Wilson at a gathering in the Towers Room. In answer to a broad range of questions the president-elect evinced a knowledge of Miami's past and a conception of its sound development in the years ahead.
A native of Cleveland, an honor graduate of Yale with advanced degrees from Harvard and Columbia, Phillip Shriver had taught American history at Kent since 1947. He became dean of its College of Arts and Science in 1964. A man of scholarly mind, tireless energy, and buoyant purpose and personal warmth, he proposed to teach while being president; he asked to be scheduled for a course in American history.
In July 1965, Phillip and Martha Shriver and their five children moved into Grey Gables, across from the broad green of Western College. This native stone residence, built in 1930 by a retired president of Western College, had been purchased by Miami and used as a guest house. Now it became the president's home--on summer evenings President Shriver played softball with this children on the lawn--while Lewis Place was being renovated. The Shrivers moved into Lewis Place in the fall of 1966.
On October 14, 1965, a gold-and-yellow campus filled with visitors for the Shriver inauguration. The academic procession, representing more than two hundred colleges, universities and learned societies, formed in Harrison Hall and marched through leaf-strewn streets to Withrow Court. President Shriver's inaugural address evoked the sense of mission that permeated Miami history, a mission to advance and impart knowledge and to foster personal values in the education of all its students.
The new president quickly showed a concern for relationships within a multifarious university. He met with faculty groups and organizations. He spoke to alumni gatherings. He talked with student leaders at breakfasts, brunches, coffee hours and receptions. He urged faculty-student exchanges in dormitories, fraternities and faculty homes. On two evenings a week he taught history in a crowded classroom--the first president in fifty-three years to conduct a course of study. The 1966 Recensio described him as "this truly personalized president." He soon knew scores of students by name and hundreds by face. To a university forty times larger than that of Guy Potter Benton he brought some of the Benton personal concern and manner.
In administrative reorganization President Shriver named a cabinet of four vice-presidents: C. Ray Wilson for academic affairs, R. F. Etheridge for students affairs, Lloyd Goggin for finance and business affairs, and John E. Dolibois for alumni affairs and development. Through these men the president had direct approach to four vital areas of the academic community.
In 1961 Miami had entered upon a plan of cooperation with Ohio State University and Indiana University in the training of doctoral candidates. By this arrangement Miami graduate students took a year's work beyond the Master's degree and then went to the other university for a final year of residence; the Miami faculty shared in the general examinations and the directing of dissertation research. In 1964-65 nineteen students in twelve departments were enrolled in cooperative doctoral programs. By 1967 eleven Ph.D.'s "from the Ohio State University in cooperation with Miami University" had been awarded in the fields of chemistry, English and education.
In 1967 independent doctoral programs were begun in botany, English and geology, with others soon to follow. Advanced graduate instruction required the adding of specialists to the faculty and increased research activity by many others. A general concern was that undergraduate standards should be maintained and improved along with the growth of advanced offerings. Believing that teaching and research are complementary, the university enlarged its undergraduate honors program while it expanded research grants in many fields. To bring Miami scholars into closer communication with supporting agencies in government and business, an Office of Research was created in 1967, under direction of Dean Donald E. Cunningham. At the same time Director George Bowers of the School of Applied Science was named dean of that division. One of its rapidly growing fields was systems analysis. In 1967 the university trustees renewed, after a long interval, the policy of sabbatical leaves for qualified members of the faculty and staff. That year five faculty members had leaves that took them on research to other universities in this country and to Paraguay and England.
In the fall of 1966 the Deke house came down. Sixty years earlier President Benton had proposed a fraternity row on lower High Street, and university lots were leased to Phi Delta Theta, Delta Kappa Epsilon and Sigma Chi. The Phi Delt house was the first to come--in 1909--and the first to go; it was leveled in 1950. Now the Deke house was demolished, and in its place rose a Behavioral Science building that dwarfed the remaining Sigma Chi house. The new building was named Benton Hall, while Benton Auditorium was renamed for John W. Hall, the fifth president of the University.
So High Street lost the friendly look that for half a century had made an inviting approach to the town and the college. Ball games on the lawn, students on the porches and music pouring from the open windows were replaced by another classroom building, and the great old trees were gone. Another loss was the Dekes' wry humor; for years they had amused the campus with sardonic signs and banners on their iron balcony and grotesque objects on their terrace. The Dekes moved to Church Street, where new chapter houses were replacing old residences. Meanwhile on Campus Avenue some historic houses were renovated and enlarged for chapter residence, and a solid fraternity row bordered the campus on North Tallawanda.
In the fall of 1967 power saws felled a hundred trees on the lower campus where once the Indians had kindled campfires, and soon a giant crane was lifting steel beams to the skeleton of a new Chemistry building. Named Hughes Laboratories, the 6-million-dollar structure would house the Chemistry Department, the Computer Center and an Instrumentation Laboratory to be shared by the several science divisions. The former Hughes Hall was renamed for Clarence W. Kreger, University President pro tempore, 1952-53. Beyond the shady grove that remained in the U of the Bishop Drive, Shideler Hall had been dedicated a few months earlier. Inside its glass portals a revolving geophysical globe, the gift of explorer Andrew Iddings, marked it, even to passing motorists; as an earth science building.
Now the lower campus, long the domain of owls and squirrels and a poet-in-residence, was a science cluster, while on the upper campus, where "Old Egypt" and Brice Hall had housed the first Miami sciences, rose the Edgar Weld King Library. Its first wing, with Emeritus Librarian King cutting the ribbon at its doorway, was dedicated on a mellow autumn morning in 1966. Jammed in between Clokey, Brice and Benton halls, soon to be gone, the dedication gathering was asked to visualize the eventual building that would dominate the upper campus. During a strenuous weekend sixty volunteer fraternity men transferred 40,000 volumes, pushing book trucks up and down ramps and across the quadrangle from the old library. In its open shelves the first wing of the new library housed only recent periodicals and books most useful to undergraduates; the Alumni Library was used increasingly for research.
Comfortably fitted, fully carpeted, bright, friendly and flexible, the King Library quickly filled with students. During the first week it was easier to get into the building than to get out. At the loan desk volumes were magnetized to allow passage through a turnstile with an electric eye. The gate locked at the approach of an uncharged book; it also sensed keys, a penknife or even a metal zipper and would not let them pass. When voltage was reduced it became more selective.
During meetings with students in their residence halls, President Shriver found a surprising interest in a building that looked forgotten. In a romantic setting, on the far edge of the east campus overlooking the university gardens and the deep woods of the Tallawanda, Fisher Hall had become a haunted place. The upper floors were empty, while a part of the main floor had been converted to a temporary university theater. Now the new Performing Arts Center was rising on the south campus, and Fisher Hall seemed doomed to demolition. But on a campus mushrooming with new buildings the old towered structure in its murmuring grove of pine, spruce and hemlock was a reminder of the storied past. In new dormitories and fraternity houses students exchanged legends, and added to them, of the handsome old hall that had been a women's college, a health resort and sanitarium, a Freshman dormitory, a Naval school during World War II and finally a theater.
Fisher Hall had authentic legends. Before it was added to the Miami campus, fraternity men carried a coffin through the midnight grounds and tied their initiates to the iron-grilled door of the Lane tomb in the Tallawanda woods. Voices sometimes called from barred windows in the sanitarium; one winter morning an inmate was found hanging by his own belt from an orchard tree beyond the greenhouse. That was clearly suicide, but a lasting mystery shrouded a student disappearance in the spring of 1953.
On Sunday, April 19, the campus was green, though a chill wind came with darkness and snow flurries whitened the old spired spruce trees in front of Fisher Hall. At midnight an upper-class counselor came in from a trip home to Dayton and climbed to his second-floor room. The lights were on, the radio was going, and on his roommate's desk a textbook lay open with a wallet and pocket articles beside it. The roommate was Ronald Tammen, a sophomore counselor in the Freshman hall. When an hour passed without Tammen's return, his roommate supposed he had gone to his fraternity, though it was odd he would not take a coat on that chilly night. When he didn't appear the next day, university officials were informed.
Ronald Tammen was twenty years old, a Dean's List student and a member of the varsity wrestling squad. He played with the Campus Owls, a small dance band, and he had a car permit for transportation of that group. The car was found in its proper place, doors locked, with his bass fiddle on the back seat. There was no reason to suspect violence, but it was thought he might have injured himself in a night walk. At mid-week search parties, first the members of his fraternity and then four hundred cadets of the Air Force ROTC, scoured the Tallawanda woods for three miles above and below Fisher Hall. Workmen at Hueston Woods searched the shores of Acton Lake, five miles away. An old cistern behind Fisher Hall was drained. The Butler County sheriff and the State Highway Patrol widened the search, and the FBI checked bus, rail and air terminals in five adjoining states.
When Tammen's photograph appeared in a newspaper story a woman at Seven Mile, near Hamilton, reported that on that Sunday night she had been called to the door. In the porch light stood a bareheaded youth, asking where he could get a bus. He was dark-haired, polite, and a little confused, she thought. It might have been Tammen, suffering from amnesia, said the sheriff. No other clue was ever found.
That fall students in Fisher Hall heard a voice singing in the formal gardens and from the woods beyond the greenhouse. It was first heard on a Sunday night in mid-November, a voice that ranged from bass notes to something like falsetto. On the next two nights the voice was heard, approaching Fisher from the gardens and then fading in the woods beyond. On the second night two freshmen said they saw a long-haired, long-striding figure. On the third night six counselors, hearing the voice, caught sight of someone and chased him past the chain of ponds and across the golf course. On Wednesday night, November 18, a hundred students managed only to scare each other as they roamed the grounds. On Thursday night a tall figure in a long black coat was chased by twenty-five freshmen, who lost it in the wooded ravine. The leading pursuer confessed, "I was scared I'd catch up with him."
By that time the phantom was a thrilling, chilling rumor over the whole campus, and the nightly traffic through their domain was resented by the men of Fisher Hall. They wrote a letter to the Student: "Fisher Hall does not have some of the luxuries enjoyed by the new halls on the campus, snack bars, TV rooms, pool tables. But we do have a phantom and we want to keep him to ourselves. We request that students from other parts of the campus leave our phantom alone." By then the ghost of Fisher Hall was becoming a Miami legend.
In 1957 the building was examined by the State Architect and found unsafe for use as a dormitory. But the ghost stayed on. The building was empty for a year and then taken over by the Drama department in 1958. The stairways were closed, and the old dining room was converted to a half-round theater. From their studios and workshops, theater students heard muffled sounds overhead; they saw unaccounted shadows crossing the windows and found objects--even the portrait of Judge Fisher--mysteriously displaced.
In the winter of 1967 a professional medium was brought to the old building for a public communication with the spirit. The two hundred tiered seats were filled when a mild, elderly man, who might have been a retired music teacher, took the stage. The lights were dimmed; the audience waited. In a gentle voice the medium addressed the unknown. During his silence a window rattled and an owl hooted from the trees. But nothing came. The seance was a failure. Next morning a theater class was startled by muffled sounds from the empty corridors overhead.
With the new Miami all but obliterating the old, students wanted to save Fisher Hall. As probable demolition drew near, the movement grew. In a course project Architecture students worked on plans for a reconstruction behind the old portico and within the old walls. During the spring of 1968 members of the Conservative Club secured 2,400 signatures to a petition to preserve Fisher Hall; it was presented to President Shriver on the old south portico. Newspaper stories appeared in Oxford, Hamilton, Dayton, Columbus and Cincinnati. Eight new buildings were rising on the Miami campus, but it was the old building that made news.
The pursuit of a phantom was perhaps symptomatic of the 1950's. Throughout America in that decade students were politically passive. "The silent generation," a newsmagazine called them. In 1951 a Miami Student editor found that a look at college newspapers across the country showed general apathy and indifference. There were few campus causes, little interest in student government, no excitement except for spring raids on women's dormitories. Students were more inclined to fit in than to break out. Security was the acknowledged goal, and conformity was the road that led there. The "organization man," molded by the increasing technology and corporate structure of American business, had come to college.
With the sixties the campus climate changed. At Miami, as elsewhere, students were suddenly restless, innovative, assertive. "Student rights" became a cause, student government a crusade. After three centuries of submission to institutional authority American students began a drive for participation in university policy and operation.
With some 10,000 students in the mid-1960's, Miami University had outgrown its steadily expanding campus. Privately built apartment blocks were spreading across the town. From Sycamore Street to the woods of Collins Run students began keeping bachelor hall as in the Old Miami. But these men had the help of laundromats and supermarkets, and they invited girls for dinner. Commercial builders did not have to spell out the lure of an apartment: it was off-campus housing, with freedom, independence and unsupervised social life. New university halls were rising, but enrollment rose faster. Freshmen were required to live in university residences, but for a multitude of upperclassmen "an apartment" was the thing. In 1967 some 6,500 students were housed in thirty halls; off-campus housing attracted 2,200 more. The Oxford apartments bore traditional Miami names--Towers, Block M, Arrowhead--but they were a radical departure.
"This generation of students," wrote a university president in 1964, "seems to be hurt, angry, and in revolt." At Miami, as elsewhere, there was an evident dichotomy of work and pleasure to which the faculty, the students and the outside world contributed. Academic requirements were increasing, and students added to their own malaise by four days of strenuous study followed by a weekend of strenuous pleasure-seeking. In both thought and pleasure they demanded independence; their most reviled expression was in loco parentis. It was the task of the faculty and the administration to define the limits of freedom, and its responsibilities, to restate that the aim of university people is to choose the things of greatest value, and to point out that the choice requires a trained mind to save one from being deluded, an alert conscience to resist reckless impulse, and a disciplined will to pursue rewarding goals.
Free speech became the rallying cry of activists on the Miami campus. Student organizations asserted their right to hear unorthodox views and to invite speakers to Miami platforms without university approval. (History was repeating itself, the same contest had allied the Literary Societies against the faculty in the 1840's.) Despite political rumblings and editorial opposition in regional newspapers, and with the help of faculty groups, the students won this issue. Beginning in 1964 an annual "Voices of Dissent" symposium provided a forum on economic, political and social controversies. To the campus came speakers as disparate as Linus Pauling, Barry Goldwater, Arthur Schlesinger, Victor Reuther and Bayard Rustin. Not a resistance movement, this welcome for diverse viewpoints and philosophies became a university program. Wrote President Shriver in 1967, "We believe this planned opportunity for a presentation of dissenting points of view is in the tradition of great universities." When certain students asked for the designation of a "Hyde Park Corner" on the campus, they were reminded that the entire university is a free speech arena, with no responsible viewpoint stifled or excluded.
By 1967 the wave of student protest had become a demand for involvement in the governing of the university. A leaflet distributed by a self-styled "Civil Liberties Board" announced a manifesto. "We come . . . with an opinion, with a warning, with a promise--both to that mentality which imposes upon us its ways and that mentality which, in the vanguard of change elsewhere, might now take upon itself the responsibility and the promise of change here." In these times students could not wait to be educated; they hastened to educate their elders. This was not a local movement; student attitudes moved in a groundswell from restless urban campuses and from national student organizations. Across the country it was clear that students wanted to be included, to be heard and to participate in the decisions of the academic community. The phrase "student rights" was replaced by "student power." At Miami, where a sometimes scorned paternalism helped them, students gained voting membership in a number of faculty committees. But they wanted more; they wanted course evaluation and a weighing of individual instructors, and they questioned the "relevance" of curricular requirements, the reality and justice of the grading system, the legality of conduct regulations and disciplinary procedures. Unaware that a campus has always offered students sanctuary, shielding them from ineluctable operation of the law, students raised a cry of "due process." In faulty English the manifesto leaflet protested: "Let us ask them why we as students, of all things, in an academic community, of all places, must be subject to incursions on our rights and personalities which no other citizen of this nation would dare tolerate, and which the laws of even this state do not prescribe." These fervent students advanced some foolish ideas--as do some faculty members on standing committees. But a revolution was in process, and there was a growing demand for a student bill of rights. The undergraduate, asserting his status as a citizen, was colliding with the whole history of American universities and their authority to regulate student requirements and conduct. Now this traditional was contested by occasional demonstrations, picketing, sit-ins and the insistence on due process. In this ferment ( to the chagrin of activists among both the students and the faculty, there was not enough commotion at Miami to make news ) the administration patiently maintained a concern for the student as a person and for his reasonable participation in university government.
Involvement was the aim of the most aware and concerned students, an involvement in the troubled world as well as in the changing university. This college generation was both rebuked and extolled by various observers, and not wholly understood by any. Some found the activist student headstrong, refractory, contentious, demanding rights without responsibilities, asserting his own views and intolerant of all else. Others saw this generation as searching, sensitive and idealistic, rejecting the materialism and impersonalism of a technological society and seeking direct personal relationships. From Miami in the mid-sixties more than a hundred students enlisted in the Peace Corps and many hundreds became volunteer workers in civil rights and allied programs. This was an alienated generation, for whom the old faiths and restraints were exhausted and irrelevant. Their grandparents had read Tennyson and Browning, their parents Edgar Lee Masters and Thomas Wolfe; these students turned to Joyce, Camus and Kafka. They made new assumptions about the nature of Communism, the rights of the poor and the use of the nation's resources. They worried less about paying their steadily mounting tuition ( or having it paid for them ) than about what they were being taught. The ivory tower had become an arena of controversy. More clearly than in any previous generation they saw the hypocrisy and rapacity of their society, and, supported by its affluence, they disowned it. This was one of the ironies that troubled them and their professors.
In radiant spring weather a somber weekend began in Oxford with news of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King at a civil rights rally in Memphis. In December 1959, early in his public career, Dr. King had spoken in the Towers Room of the University Center. At noon on April 9, 1968, the hour of his funeral in Atlanta, more than a thousand students and faculty gathered in the south quadrangle for a memorial service conducted by President Shriver, Professor Stanley Lusby and three Negro students, after which they marched silently through the campus and up High Street to the village green.
These students felt involved not with inherited loyalties but with the peasant in Vietnam and the slum dweller in American cities. Social reform seemed crippled by the nation's expenditure of vital resources in a war-torn little country across the Pacific. The threat of World War III and a nuclear holocaust deepened the concern. This was the first college generation to seek education in a world that risked annihilation. It was also the first college generation to be exempted from military service in wartime. That privileged status created feelings of guilt. Opposition to the war gave some students a reason for avoiding military service, but it did not allay the guilt; much campus alienation and activism were motivated by an unconscious search for atonement. When every evening's TV news showed American youths toiling and dying in distant swamps and jungles, the war could not be distant. Many students were uncertain--as were their elders--about the aims and effects of the war. The protesters made futile antiwar demonstrations, while a much greater number tried to find a basis for personal conviction. That concern brought to the Miami campus a list of internationally known statesmen, scholars, generals and journalists in the "As We See It: Vietnam '68" symposium. During the month of March this program, conceived, planned and conducted by the Student Senate, drew a total of 20,000 persons to a series of addresses, debates and discussions of the central issue of the decade.
On June 6, 1968, the day after the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy in Los Angeles, the leading article in the Cincinnati Enquirer quoted Robert Sherwin of the Sociology department on the crumbling of traditions and the resulting sense of drift, rootlessness and want of control over the sweep of life. This feeling of helplessness, Sherwin said, generates an intense impatience. The cry is "Now, now, now"; there must be immediate action. Professor Sherwin found this importunity voiced in classroom discussions; in the world outside it impels men to mindless violence. What is civilization, he asked, but a complex of traditions? In times of turbulence it is the task of education to recover the traditions that hold the world together.