For many years the Slant Walk was bordered by Benton
Hall, Brice Hall, Thobe's Fountain, Hepburn Hall, Old Main, Alumni Library,
Herron Gym, and ended at Old North and Old South dorms. Where are they now?
Gone, replaced, removed, renamed; only the Slant Walk endures unchanged.
The naming and renaming of buildings, a puzzle to Miami alumni of recent years, has vexed faculty veterans who still say Old Benton when referring to Hall Auditorium and Old Library in preference to Alumni Hall. Why Van Voorhis rather than long-standing Herron Gym? And why Hughes Laboratories when laboratories still function in the old Hughes--now Kreger--Hall? Like Biblical Pilate they ask--and do not wait for an answer.
Hall Auditorium was named when plans for expansion of King Library dictated the removal of Benton Hall. To retain on the campus the name of an outstanding Miami president "Benton" was transferred to the new Psychology building. When it developed that King Library would not be extended over the site of former Benton, some people recalled that Miami's Civil War president, the Reverend John W. Hall from Huntsville, Alabama, had never been memorialized--on account of his Confederate background plus the fact that "Hall Hall" sounded either forced or funny. But there was nothing unsuitable about" Hall Auditorium". Old Main was renamed half a century ago for the nation's 23rd President, Benjamin Harrison, who had recited Greek and Logic there; his name survived though the twin-towered historic building was replaced at the time of the University's sesquicentennial. Old North and Old South dorms, renovated in the 1930s, were then named Elliott and Stoddard for two of Harrison's venerated professors.
The commanding new Chemistry building seemed the proper place for the name of President Raymond M. Hughes,Miami's first professor of Physics and Chemistry. The old Chemistry building then took the nane of a later chemist, and university vice president, C. W. Kreger. Miami's first gymnasium, Herron Hall, named for a distinguished trustee who was father-in-law of U.S. President William Howard Taft, became Van Voorhis for a breezy director of intramural sports, when the Herron name was transferred to the new women's gymnasium built in 1962. With the growing feminist movement of the 1970s, Herron's name gave way to that of Margaret Phillips, head of women's physical and health education for forty years.
One name that caused no confusion or question came in 1981. The announcement of President Shriver's resignation as soon as a successor could be found was climaxed by disclosure of trustees' action; henceforth the University Center would be known as Phillip R. Shriver Center. It set off an ovation.
With the 142nd Annual Commencement on May 10, 1981, President Shriver was concluding 16 years in office; only Alfred H. Upham, with 17 years, had a longer tenure. In these 16 years Shriver conferred 43,221 degrees, 61 percent of all Miami baccaulerates. On that Commencement platform he was flanked by honorary designates Congressman Clarence J. Brown, Trustee Barry J. Levey, Dr. Robert A. Hefner, The Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr., and alumnus Harold L. Kohlmeier. With TV cameras panning the podium and the convocation, this was the first Miami Commencement to be video-taped. The retiring president was too much occupied to ponder the past. But some of the 12,000 audience reviewed the change and accomplishment that marked those 16 years.
Aside from the merging of Western and Miami, the Shriver years had seen the construction of Millett Hall, Tappan, Emerson and Morris Halls, Hughes Laboratories and the Marcum Center. Entirely new were the branch campuses of Middletown and Hamilton and the establishing of a European Center in Luxembourg. More significant than physical growth was the heightened stature of Miami University with more than forty Masters programs and full accreditation of the Ph.D. in ten fields of study. Untallied but significant were new measures of student involvement in university governance while maintaining the no-car rule and regulation of social life in forty residence halls. An increasing number of student applications allowed and required selective admission. By his own request President Shriver had taught one History course each year. His chosen "early retirement" would now involve half-time teaching as a member of the History department.
When the Shriver family moved to Oxford in July, 1966 they took residence in Grey Gables, then on the site of present Tappan Hall, while workmen renovated Lewis Place. On summer evenings the president played softball with five children; the oldest was on college vacation, the youngest would soon begin the third grade. Now, in 1981, about to vacate Lewis Place were the Shriver parents whose new generation were mostly married and gone, with six grandchildren among them. Only rarely, again, would the long table of the Center's 1809 Room fill up for Sunday dinner of the Shriver clan.
At the close of his tenure President Shrivers poke of problems confronting his successor and the challenge to maintain the quality of Miami programs in an austere time. Yet, he concluded, "I am optimistic because of my high regard for Dr. Paul G. Pearson. With his leadership Miami can respond affirmatively and effectively to the demographic and economic pressures that lie ahead."
Dr. Pearson was a past president of the American Institute of Biological Sciences, an executive vice president of Rutgers University, and a former acting president there. His wife, Winifred Pearson, after graduation from Florida State, had taught English and Spanish in secondary school and, along with family duties had served as administrative assistant to the president of Florida State University. The Pearsons were not strangers to problems and responsibility.
At his inauguration in October President Pearson shared the platform with the man he had succeeded as Provost at Rutgers, Henry M. Winkler, president of the University of Cincinnati. These two, coming to Ohio from New Jersey, recalled the 1788 Symmes Purchase of land between the two Miami rivers which opened the wilderness of southwestern Ohio. Its leading settlers were, like Symmes himself, colonists from New Jersey. President Pearson saw Miami University as a source of strength for the people of Ohio as well as for the people of the region and the nation. In assuming office he said "With pride and humility I accept your designation as the 18th president of Miami University. We come with expectations of continuity as well as change."
Continuity was valued at Old Miami and change was already evident. In a seven-month span in 1982 Miami had acquired a new president and three vice presidents as well. Resignation of John E. Dolibois, to become U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg, of Lloyd Goggin, for retirement, and of David Brown as president-elect of Transylvania University, occasioned the appointment of C. K. Williamson as Provost, Douglas M. Wilson as Vice President for Finance and Business Management. Williamson's move took him just next door, to Roudebush from Upham Hall where he had been Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Demske came from New York state with high marks for business management at SUNY Binghampton. Wilson traveled farthest, returning to Miami from Eugene, Oregon after two years of accomplishments as Director of the Oregon University Fund.
On his inauguration day President Pearson was presented with a handsome Scroll of Greetings from the Miami University Alumni Association--greetings and pledged support.
Dr. Pearson, as you have experienced already, Miami's alumni can be characterized by three words; "concerned"--"generous"--and "loyal.""Concerned" . . . . . for the future of their alma mater as one of the nation's and midwest's best state universities. "Generous" . . . . with their financial support, their time and their talents to make Miami a better university, and "loyal" . . . .fiercely loyal-always willing to stand up and be counted as a Miamian.
Although I am only one Miami alumnus, I can speak for all Miamians who are aware that today, we put her in your hands. We ask of youbut four things:
First, keep her sound! In the 1980's, the university will face resource challenges of several kinds-financial, human, and physical.Keep her sound financially, filled with challenged students, and well maintained. Miami's sons and daughters are available to help--as they always have been.Second, keep her personal! Each of the 75,000 living alumni can easily name a professor, staffmember, or support person who walked that extra mile to make Miami different. Surround yourself with those who know that Miami is special, and that her students are her life blood.The phrase "Miami Family" is not a cliche. Third, keep her traditions alive! Miamians are scattered all over the globe. Each might have a particular way to describe his or her experience at Miami. One word which might continue to surface would be "unique". A great deal of Miami's success results from her long, proud history. The fact that you are only the 18th president in its long history tells us something. And lastly, keep her great! There is a pride in Miami that swells among its graduates. Miami quality is reflected in an outstanding faculty, and in the bright, eager students who become its products. This pride is reflected in the esteem with which a Miami degree is held by others because we are proud of our degrees. Dr. Pearson, alumni interest and support is oneof those long-standing traditions to which Ireferred. Miami's alumni formed their alumni association in 1832, the first at a state university. As the representative of those alumni, I offer you our help in keeping Miami great, our support, and our warm welcome as you begin your administration.
W. Perry Brown '52 President, Miami University Alumni Association
While setting up in Oxford the Pearsons made it clear that
they belonged there. In Lewis Place they hung portraits and collected
literature of Old Miami. During a June visit their son Andy, a pre-med
student in Pennsylvania, joined the 4-mile Alumni Fun Run, crossing the line
in a close second place. On travels from coast to coast and from Luxembourg
to Korea and Japan, Paul and Winnie carried a warm sense of belonging to
the Miami community in Oxford and at large. In Columbus President Pearson
voiced Miami hopes and fears with candor and resolve.
A new era was beginning, with new problems and new prospects. While a depressed economy curtailed enrollment in many American colleges, the Miami roll stood fast with superior students. In the face of increased tuition cost financial support from private sources provided additional scholarship funds and grants for faculty improvement and research. The alumni quarterly took a new name, MIAMIAN, with sharp focus on the current scene. Successive issues carried cover themes: Change at Miami, Challenges to Education, Computer Literacy. In separate interviews the new officials repeated a respect and regard for the art of teaching. President Pearson recalled a biology instructor who shaped his professional career. "My interest in and compassion for students," he said, "result from her example." Another influence had come from a professor who related the laboratory to the changing world. "I intend to lead Miami University," Pearson declared, "to a sharing of ideas with the business and industrial community . . . A broad and firm foundation prepares a college graduate to consider change, adapt to change, and prosper with change." Provost Williamson set up a goal of quality teaching, even superb teaching. "Miami," he said, "is made up of many impressionable young people whose lives find direction from one magnetic professor." As a director of development, Douglas Wilson was acutely aware of the current economic crutch. "Miami University," he stated, "has survi ved other crises, and It will survive this one." Beyond survival he foresaw new stature in its challenging academic standards and superior teaching. Vice President Etheridge viewed the 1980s as a time of testing, to which Miami University can bring its humane residential character, inspiring traditions, and goals of academic excellence.
Change and continuity . . . . more perhaps than they were aware these leaders in the final decades of the twentieth century were in key with the past. In 1928 President Upham made "The Art of Teaching" his inaugural address. He saw teaching as an original and individual art, always dissimilar, in keeping with personal mind, character and style. What he said finds continuity in a Commencement poem by a member of the English Department 53 years later. Describing "Faculty Procession 1981" Marilyn Throne pictured those
Who walked before us under shadowed trees . . .
Some witty or intelligent or wise,
Some merely stubborn for the things they loved,
Their faith in what the human mind might teach,
Belief in what humanity might reach.
A generation earlier than Upham,
President Hughes had said, "A great college is a college with great teachers.
Our problem is to increase the number. Miami's future will grow from
superior teaching and concern for individual students." His words echoed
old deep memories of Miami, going back to President Bishop who stood before
the students, 68 in number, saying "My young friends--"
Old and new jostled on the 1980s campus, where male students donned smocks and aprons in Home Economics nutrition courses and women pressed into Laws Hall lectures in Marketing and Accounting. On Cook Field it was commonplace to see mixed softball teams, boys and girls together rounding the bases and shagging outfield flies. On tennis and volleyball courts women had their own intramural and intercollegiate competition. In 1982, with an 11-1 basketball record, the female Redskins won a State championship. Mary Ann Myers, having scored 1595 points, joined the sports immortals by having her No. 20 jersey permanently retired.
Any thought of Miami change and continuity soon leads to Fisher Hall. Although the venerable vine-clad hall is now replaced by the Marcum Conference Center, the vanished building remains fixed in Miami memories. Located on an edge of the campus between formal gardens and primeaval Tallawanda woods, its history is varied and eventful. Since its construction as Oxford Female College in 1856, it had been a health resort, a sanitorium, a Miami dormitory, a war-time Naval Training Station, a University theater, and a ghost-haunted landmark that fascinated generations of students. During its Miami years it housed five thousand students and some fifty faculty. With shared nostalgia they still say "I lived in Fisher Hall."
During the summer of 1978 when Fisher Hall was being demolished a hundred-foot crane swung a wrecking ball against the grand old tower. As one blow after another battered the massive brickwork the last dispossessed blackbirds fluttered into the Tallawanda oaks and sycamores. From a woven wire barrier a few observers watched the Fisher Hall demise. Among them was a gangly youth in dusty jeans and a Miami T-shirt, jotting figures on a clipboard. When the crane fell silent he straddled the barrier and approached the hard-hat foreman, following him from one mound of rubble to another.
When the youth returned, an observer asked what business brought him there.
"Buying bricks," he said.
"Five thousand dollars," he pointed to his clipboard, "for 15,000 bricks."
"You mean you're scrambling around this rubble with 5,000 bucks?"
"Oh, no. I'll pay for them next month, when the new term begins. I'll sell them for a dollar a-piece. There's no student who won't pay a dollar for a brick from Fisher Hall."
As it developed, the contractor declined the young man's offer, but told him to come back after 5 o'clock and pick up whatever he could haul away.
A month later when the campus streamed with new-term students a table outside the Shriver Center was piled with battered bricks under a sign:
Toward the semester's end, four months earlier,
a protest petition Ð PRESERVE FISHER HALL Ð had in a few days' time garnered
four thousand signatures. Now, in a week of marketing, this deflated youth
had collected a scant forty dollars. Student zeal swings like a weathervane.
In the new year Fisher Hall was out of sight and out of mind. Alumni have
longer memories. Now thousands of Miami graduates prize the Marston Hodgin
paintings of Fisher Hall in sun and shadow, and for Conference visitors the
legends on that site enhance the distinctive character of the Marcum Center.
When John Dolibois at the 1978 Goals for Enrichment rally envisioned a conference center on the site of storied Fisher Hall, he sprang the biggest surprise of the evening. The proposal prompted question and misgiving as well as upbeat expectation. Some faculty, who should have known better, asked "What good is a conference center? Who needs sales meetings on this campus?" Questions continued as the handsome building rose amid new landscaping with garden plazas, the inviting Pulley Pavilion, and the Marcum Nature Trail. Under direction of operation, 1982-83, while the office file filled with inquiries and applications. Some of the first year's conferences, serving business organizations, built bridges in the regional economy. Others comprised civic, social and academic gatherings. The idyllic setting on the edge of a university community and the modest conference cost (while urban hotel rates soared) were unfailing attractions. In a single week of April 1982 the Marcum Center hosted the Great Lakes American History, the Applied Science Advisory Council, the annual session of Ohio Geology Chairmen, and the Ohio Board of Regents. Such meetings enlarged the influence and enlivened the spirit of Miami University.
The memorial character of the Marcum Center is most evident in two westward-facing rooms that look toward the Conrad Gardens and Dogwood Pond--the John E. Hull Memorial Room and the Robert B. Sinclair Memorial Library.
A first impression of the heroic Hull Room is of far places and momentous events. There is a feel of history unfolding, the making and breaking of nations, the testing of war and peace. From flags, swords, cordons, medals and medallions there emerges a single word--the title of the poem cast in bronze on the wall beside the western windows. The poem was written in 1942 by Louise McNeill, M.A. '38, in Middlebury, Vermont, while General Hull in North Africa was mapping strategy that threw back Rommel's Afrika Korps in Kassarine Pass. The poem is called "Dedication."
In years to come many themes, problems, and conceptions will be deliberated in the Hull Room. No doubt, in this changing world, they will range beyond present keeping and foretelling. But the spirit of the room will encourage patriotism, so that all the deliberations there will somehow be touched by duty, honor, country.
Tall as General Hull himself are the flags of Vice Chief of Staff, of Four-Star General, and of Commander-in-Chief of United Nations Forces in the Far East. Between is a scroll
A nacreous shield bearing crossed flags is inscribed
Beneath the shield rests an exquisite silver box etched with a map of Indo-China, and engraved
Among U.S. medals Ð Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Service Medal with three oakleaf clusters Ð are other awards and decorations:
Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Grand Officer of Military Merit (Brazil)
Grand Cordon of Yun Hui (China)
Commander Philippine Legion of Honor
Commander Military Order Ayachuco (Peru)
and a large jade-inlaid silver key "Presented to General Hull with Warmest Regards of the Citizens of Seoul. 2 October 1953"
of World War II records: "HULL, John E. (1895-1974) U. S. Army Officer,
Chief of the European Section of the General Staff and a distinguished
strategist. No West-Pointer but a graduate of Miami (Ohio) University,
Hull became an Army careerist in World War I. . . . Later a
four-star general, he was Supreme Commander, Far East. Extremely modest
"Ed" Hull was highly popular with his fellow soldiers."
Amid the valor and the laurels of the Memorial Room, one may picture the Miami stalwart, a Chemistry major, president of his class, a 4-letter man in track and football, where he played beside "Red" Blaik and "Monk" Pierce. His class of 84 members was graduated in June, 1917, two months after U.S. entry into war, but Hull's degree came in absentia. Already beginning his Army career, he was a recruit in Officer Training School. In brisk sequence he became a platoon, company, and battalion commander, moving into combat on the French front with the 4th Infantry Division. As Far East commander in the 1950s he was quartered on a baronial estate in the western outskirts of Tokyo, where, in a garden setting, in the company of forty high-ranking military and civilian guests, on June 21, 1954, President Millett conferred the LL.D. degree. In response General Hull said, "My standard of character was built while a student at Miami University, and I owe the university a debt of gratitude."
Returning to Miami fifteen years later, on Miami Field, October 8, 1969, he was claimed by the athletic Hall of Fame . On that visit he made an endowment to accompany his bequest of military laurels to Miami University. The general's life-long modesty explains the immaculate condition of his trophies--decorations rarely worn and medals still in their presentation cartons. The collection was never on display until it came to this room in Marcum Memorial Center.
For years a Miami University War Memorial, recognizing all whose lives were given to their country, had been discussed and projected without deciding its form and location. Should it be a garden, a monument, a plaza or rotunda, within a building or in the open air? At last, with a Conference Center under construction and the Hulls laurels stored in the Alumni building, and the answer was at hand. A Memorial Room, distinguished with the emblems of a historical career, would be the ideal place for a Book of Remembrance, an honor roll of three hundred names from Old and New Miami.
Adjoining the Hull Room is the Robert B. Sinclair Memorial Library. It a place of repose. With shelves of books and a few cherished pictures, it invites contemplation. On the inner wall a calligraphy tablet pays tribute to the life, learning and dedication of a Miami professor who loved books and music and for forty years lived among students in the residence halls. Many of his books are in this room that fosters both conversation and reflection, as did Robert Basil Sinclair. "A teacher," wrote Henry Adams, "can never tell where his influence stops."
& nbsp; Change and continuity . . . . A new tradition was begun on a bright spring day of 1982 with dedication of a Scholar-Leader Room in Stoddard Hall. The specially furnished and decorated room is assigned, rent-free, to an undergraduate who combines superior scholarship with campus activity. The first such room honors the late Dean W. E. Smith, a leading historian and educator during faculty tenure 1926-63, and its current occupant Martha Tanner, '83. Present at the dedication were the donors L. Scott and Margaret T. Bailey, '48, Mrs. Ophia D. Smith, author and collaborator with her husband, and son Joseph W. Smith a California business-historian, along with university officials and faculty colleagues. Five months later, in Elliot Hall, the W. F. Cottrell Scholar-Leader Room was presented to President Pearson by Robert L. Cottrell, '54, in honor of his father the late Dr. W. Fred Cottrell, a long-time leader on the Miami campus and in national associations of Sociology and Political Science .
It is anticipated that other Scholar-Leader rooms, with residents chosen by the Miami University Alumni Scholarship program, will be created in Stoddard Hall for women and Elliott Hall for men. In the past 150 years Miami men studied Latin, Greek and Logic by candlelight, where their successors study French, German, Russian, along with Personnel Management, International Business, and Systems Analysis. As Scholar-Leader endowments accrue, the Honor halls become an enduring bridge between Miami's past and present. In the Diamond Anniversary Volume, 1899, we can read: "Age is an element of power and usefulness to an institution like this. The moss-covered foundations and ivy-twined walls have a history which in itself is a liberal education. The boy who sits in a room which for many years had been filled with men who became honorable or famous . . . is fired with an ambition and ardor that add immeasurably to the power of teachers and books."
Continuity and change. . . . As the Miami campus has developed, the Beta Bell Tower, erected half a century ago, has become its central image. Halfway between the Tallawanda and Collins Run, the chimes reverberate from Millett Hall to Peffer Park, and from Slant Walk Gateway to the Pines. Recalling its construction, then on the edge of the central campus, one pictures its deep foundation and the tons of steel-ribbed concrete that underlay the first brick courses at ground level. Said to be unique--a Georgian companile--its lines are clean, simple, and upreaching. Prodesse Quam Conspici finds expression there.
A south wind carries the Beta chimes all the way to Yager Stadium. In 1895 a cowpasture corner, where High Street ended at Patterson Road, became the "Miami Athletic Grounds" enclosed by a high board wall with a shedlike ticket office. Continuity there spanned 88 years in which Miami Field acquired wooden bleachers, roofed brick gateways, then steel stands eventually seating 15,000, and a nonpariel roster of football coaches. Two of them, Paul Brown '30, and Ara Parseghian '49, became University trustees. In 1982 a nostalgic last game on Miami Field brought football stars from 56 classes, all the way back to 1909. After the game--a Miami win--these team representatives passed a pigskin from hand to hand, spanning the decades on the trampled field.
At Miami, Parseghian became head coach in 1951, succeeding Woody Hayes. He
went on to head-man jobs at Northwestern and then at Notre Dame for eleven
years before resigning after a one-point victory over Alabama in
the Sugar Bowl of 1973. Ten years later, in Cincinnati for a dinner
benefitting the Multiple Sclerosis Society and the local Notre Dame Club,
he told the press he had another errand--"a little matter thirty miles up
the road to a little school [Miami had not quite reached 5,000 enrollment
in his time] that left a lasting impression on my life."
In those last words Coach Ara was speaking for the Miami Hall-of-Famers-Blaik , Pierce, Hull, Ewbank, Dietzel, Pont, Cozza, Pagna, Schembechler, Root, McVey, Fry, Mallory, Reed and many more. How does Miami do it? sportswriters asked-little Miami with its mini-stadium and recruiting ruled by academic as well as athletic talent. Parseghian had given an answer in Oxford at the All Sports Banquet of 1958. "Because of its tradition, environment, athletic ability and academic standing, I am proud to be associated with Miami University."
Saturday, October 1, 1983-a day long anticipated and destined to be long remembered. Flags flying, banners billowing, pennants rippling, crowds cheering, a mounting excitement in the air as the red-and-white team ran onto the virgin field. Actually it had begun the day before, when Weeb Ewbank '30 brought sportscaster Howard Cossell to Oxford where his first appearance was in a classroom, giving an academic lecture to an overflow Communications class. The ubiquitous Cossell, believe it or not, is an adjunct Professor of Communications at Yale. That evening in the quick autumn dusk the band marched onto Millett parking area trailing thousands of football fans for a pre-game rally-shades of old Cook Field. After words from President Pearson, Coach Tim Rose, and Redskin co-captains, came the pronouncements of gravel-voiced Cossell. Beside a red-and-white tent the band struck up German umpah and the fans rollicked in Oktoberfest of food and drink while the band played on.
Next morning highway traffic converged on Oxford-cars, vans, station wagons, buses, including caravans from the branch campuses in Middletown and Hamilton-filling up the acres of Millett parking.
While university officials and designated guests sat down to a ceremonial luncheon dedicatingthe new sports complex, crowds swarmed around the red-and-white "wigwam" and streamed down the broad curved ramp to the stadium gateways. The stands were filled when Cossell at field level spelled out a symbolism. The football used in the final play of the last game on Miami Field, ten months past, would be presented by the co-captains for the first play in the Yager Bowl. Following the game attention would be fixed upon a formal opening of the "Cradle Room" under the main stand. There, amid football memorabilia, the book Miami of Ohio Ð Cradle of Coaches would be autographed by co-authors Robert Kurz '58, and Bob Howard, former sports information director.
Now, in a surprising action, a new Redskin mascot, replacing the long-familiar foot-stomping "Hiawa-bob" was about to appear. On a galloping horse a Miami feathered Indian with an upraised spear dashed in. Pulling up on the 50-yard line he launched his spear into the ground where a huge egg burst open, releasing a new-fledged Tom O Hawk. While that creature beat its wings the marching band blared out the Miami Fight Song, and cheering filled the 12-acre compound. From now on Tom O Hawk would emerge at the start of every game-a new tradition begun.
After the coin toss the "last ball" was set up for kickoff and the whistle called for play. At the first down that ball was retrieved for permanent exhibition in the "Cradle"-a room filled with trophies honoring Miami men who have made history in the coaching profession. Three hours later while lines of traffic crept out of town a few reluctant alumni lingered in the dusk of old Miami Field. A smooth green lawn, awaiting construction of an academic building for the Biological Sciences, it was as calm and quiet as a cowpasture.
&nbs p; Continuity and change . . . . The news headline for 15 May 1983 was COMMENCEMENT LARGEST EVER. The 2932 degree candidates included Catherine Ann Kiel of Penn Valley, Penna., whose grandmother on that day presented to the university a pair of French vases that had come from the home of William Holmes McGuffey whose schoolbooks carried literacy across the expanding nation. In 1983 President Pearson set a goal of computer literacy for all Miami graduates who, he said, "are entering an information age in a technocratic era. Students from art to zoology, including business, education, languages, music, nursing, philosophy, psychology or science will be handicapped without some basic computer skills." F. G. Rodgers, remembered on the campus as "Buck" Rodgers, class of 1950, is IBM vice president in charge of world-wide marketing. In an arresting article for the MIAMIAN, January, 1983, he wrote: "Despite tight budgets the influence of computers on American education continues to accelerate." Already, in Oxford, in the basement of Hughes and Hoyt halls microcomputers were tirelessly coping with massed financial, curricular and environmental data.
Oxford's oldest and most enduring thoroughfare was never planned, marked or designated. First known as the Slanting Path, it was the student's bee-line from the old college to the High Street taverns and the Church Street sanctums. Muddy, dusty, leaf-strewn and ice-crusted, it was trodden in all seasons. The first improvement was a surface of sand and a grilled crossing to keep livestock out of the hedged campus. The first gateway was a pair of iron posts at the portal. As years passed, the Slant Walk landmarks kept changing. In 1902 the college well was boarded over and its tilted sweep removed. A 1909 Centennial Gate gave way to a Williamsburg-style entrance in 1973. Old Main itself was replaced by the new Harrison Hall in sesquicentennial 1959. After forty years of bubbling in the shade of huge old elms, Thobe's fieldstone fountain was supplanted by the stone circle bench of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. A few steps farther the six-sided Delta Gamma Kiosk flutters with books for sale, rooms for rent, roommates needed, bicycles for sale, picnics in Peffer Park and Dogwood Grove, Skating Club rehearsals, Recensio subscriptions, and rides wanted to Columbus, Toledo, Buffalo, Akron, Chicago, Philadelphia. Ninety years ago the Slant Walk ended at Elliott and Stoddard Halls. It lengthened when Alumni Library and Irvin Hall arose, and a jog or two attached it to Spring Street with the Chapel and the Shriver Center. From there the way leads on across Patterson Ave to Bachelor Hall and Patterson Place. Beyond the old apple orchard it crosses the long bridge to venerable Peabody Hall and the remote beechwoods where slate-gray trunks are hatched with 130 years of Western and Miami initials and the copper beech leaves mulch over prehistoric Indian artifacts.
College fads and fashions, modes and manners, go on changing as in generations past. In the 175th year the Slant Walk parade wears blue jeans, T-shirts, blue-striped tennis shoes, and shoulder bags in many colors. The garb is unisex without distinction. Along with soft drinks, lite beer, and pizzas, the T-shirts advertise colleges-Penn State, Rutgers, Purdue, Cornell, Dartmouth, Tulane and Colorado mixing with Miami. The shoulder bags, mostly made in Taiwan, have outdoor names-Sierra, Shasta, Aspen, Key West, Caribou, Lookout Mountain, Adirondack, Yellowstone. Inside King Library all shoes come off-study dictates stocking feet-and the shoulder bag dispenses a pocket calculator along with books and manuals of sixty majors, from Accounting and Aeronautics to Urban Planning and Zoology. In fall of 1983 a reappearing book was George Orwell's somber 1984. The assigned Freshman summer reading, it was discussed in hundreds of informal groups under volunteer staff members.
The first formal Commencement of Miami, in academic dress with processional and recessional, came in 1903. President Benton, who liked ceremony, led the march from Old Main Hall to a wooden platform facing chairs and benches under the campus trees. When old Benton Hall was built in 1908, Commencement moved inside. In 1930 the procession was longer, ranks forming in front of Brice Hall and marching down Bishop Street to Withrow Court. That gymnasium, converted for convocation, proved too small in the early 1960s while Millett Hall was under construction. One might think that as it grew from the 300 convocation in 1903 to 12,000 in 1983, Commencement would become more formal. In a sense it did-with marshals, pageantry, choral music and rehearsed candidates. At the same time it grew crowd-festive. Polite applause was appropriate in Old Benton. It swelled to cheers, whistles and ovations in vast Millett.
The financially apprehensive year 1982-83 ended in a heartening Commencement. Malcolm S. Forbes, president and editor-in-chief of Forbes Magazine, Inc. gave a racy, offhand, up-to-date address, telling his young classmates that a few of them could foresee the careers ahead. Most would be engaged with knowledge and services rather than in traditional business enterprises. They were on the threshold of a technocratic computer age that will bring unmatched productivity, widespread prosperity, and longer and more fruitful lives. His final counsel, "Do what you enjoy, and you will succeed at it," brought a standing acclamation.
A few in that huge audience found themselves pondering Forbes's bright scenario alongside Orwell's dismaying prediction of 1984. Though set in the future when it was written (on a windswept island of the Hebrides in 1949) Orwell's fable is not futuristic; no scientific marvels or space technology remove it from our world. His bleak Utopia, now at hand, is not a prophecy but a warning of humanity crushed by the will of the collective state-the political steam roller of the East and the business behemoth of the West. Read by millions in many languages, since 1950, the book is now fearfully contemporary.
Occasionally, even in 1983, and old-line professor speaks to his class as "my fellow students"-suggesting that teacher and learner are on common ground and that education is unfinished business. But students know the difference. They know, despite their status, that they are one-up on the professor. He has found his viewpoint; life has measured his character and talents. Anything he does now will not really change him. What he is at 55 he will still be at 60; he is all set. But they are 18, with a whole world to discover. They can stretch and grow.
In his essay on Travel, four centuries ago, Francis Bacon wrote: "Travel, for the older is a part of experience; for the younger it is a part of education. " So it is. When a retired person-that dimly viewed senior citizen-goes abroad, something is added to his observation; while the youthful traveler is altered and enlarged. The young have the advantage. What a student sees and thinks and feels becomes a part of him forever.
In 1984 these Miami freshmen, at the starting gate, have a grim, almost forbidding introduction. The Slant Walk leads them to library, laboratory, and lecture hall, to discoveries they cannot foresee in a world that daunts their most seasoned teachers. Some books will interest and enlighten them. Others, like the Orwell fable, may frighten and appall. Most of the book learning will soon be forgotten, so that one cannot measure what was garnered from a text or reference book, or often from a course of study. Yet there is a residue, an enduring remainder. Names go, scenes fade, situations and examples blur. But the true scholarship, which goes too deep to be summoned up at will, is an enlargement of comprehension. Eighteenth century Jonathan Swift, to whom the mordant Orwell is akin, gave an enduring definition of liberal knowledge. "If a rational man reads an excellent author with just application, he will find himself extremely improved, and perhaps insensibly led to imitate that author's perfection, although in a little time he should not remember one word in the book, nor even the subject it handled." The reading of Orwell surely leaves a life-line question: In this world where social and political issues press upon us with terrible urgency, how can one preserve a private self?
With all the bread and circuses-the Greek Week bicycle races and tug-of-war, spectacles in the ice arena and the ultra Yager stadium, Homecoming parades and quadrangles picnics-Miami students still live in the midst of great issues. The pursuit of knowledge has no end, but for every generation of Miami youth the Slant Walk has been a path toward insight and understanding. "I come back to reunion," an alumnus writes, "for quite personal reasons. A part of myself was formed here, and I want to reclaim it. I believe it is the best part of myself, the best ever."