THE ROAD AHEAD
In writing his OLD
MIAMI anthem for the 1909 Centennial, Professor A.H. Upham
looked back at the decades past and then ahead--"Days of old and
days to be." A decade later, supported by President Hughes, he
proposed a development fund to augment the income from the
State. In the anthem's third stanza the words "Larger usefulness
awaits" voiced the hopes listed in the crusade: a college hospital, a
new library wing, men's and women's gymnasiums, playing fields,
loan and scholarship funds, increased faculty support--all to be
provided by the one million dollar campaign. In 1920 Miami had a
student enrollment of 900 and an alumni body of about
On October 1, 1920 alumni dinners were scheduled in 25 centers in Ohio and beyond. The Alumni News Letter reminded: "October first! Keep your eye on it. That's when the drive begins, the big Miami drive for that million." Some of the 25 dinners had scant attendance and only a few of them generated much enthusiasm. Two months later Dr. Upham was called to the presidency of the University of Idaho, and the big Miami drive fell in the lap of 30-year-old Wallace Roudebush whose business office was already overworked. It looked like a long, uncertain road to a million dollars. The largest gift, $50,000 from the Carnegie Foundation, was conditioned by an equal amount from alumni. That matching sum was raised, gymnasium funds were started, and some contributions helped along the $7500 purchase of Cook Field for intramural sports. An unlooked-for gift came from S.S. Laws, the oldest living alumnus; from the Corcoran Gallery in Washington he sent the Houdon bronze statue of George Washington, appraised at $15,000. For want of donors the college hospital, a scholarship fund, a lecture fund, and the two gymnasiums had to wait.
Sixty years later Miami University was a greatly expanded institution but the anthem was still timely. Days of old had lengthened and days to be were bright with promise. Again it was apparent that "larger usefulness awaits." Under leadership of Vice President John Dolibois and President Shriver a campaign committee launched a drive for $14 million.
The Million Dollar Fund of 1920--the fund that failed--lacked detailed planning, persuasive promotion, and the support of a strong organization. The Alumni Association of 1978 was a resourceful, versatile and confident body. Thanks to thirty years of John Dolibois leadership it had achieved wide recognition and national awards. To this 1978 crusade a campaign cabinet of 22 distinguished alumni brought influence in many fields and a deep commitment to the cause. These alumni leaders were also leaders in life; their names and faces bespoke the wide range of Miami talent and accomplishment: Wayne J. Albers, Robert L. Cottrell, William J. Liggett, Malcom W. Owings, C. Roger Stegmaier, J. Oliver Amos, Ralph N. Fey, Herbert E. Markley, Ara Parseghian, Robert F. Tenhover, John D. Backe, Richard E. Heckert, C. Rollin Niswonger, John G. Smale, G. Sheldon Veil, Joyce Eldrigde Brown, Robert E. Levinson, Lloyd H. O'Hara, Paul H. Smucker, Frank A. Vite, Ronald L. Wiley--it was a reassuring roster. Now the Alumni Association itself was not a mere list of names which could contain prospective donors; it was a highly motivated and well organized body of thousands of Miami men and women.
On the winter evening of February 1, 1978, two hundred Miami officers, faculty and alumni sat down to dinner in the banquet room of the Queen City Club in Cincinnati. At their places they found a colorful brochure with a wrap-around reproduction of the Heritage mural framing the words "Larger Usefulness Awaits." The title GOALS FOR ENRICHMENT was figuratively portrayed by an arresting MU logo. Created by Carol Walker, '78, at the start of her career in graphic art, the logotype exemplified the sound planning and presentation of the Goals project. The design, a sturdy M in an upward-reaching U. gave an immediate impression of purpose and progress. Of countless people who would see this logo--on envelopes, stationery, brochures, workers' manual, even on pledge cards--very few would analyze its symbolism but none could miss its affirmation. In its fifteen pages of print and pictures the brochure asked a repeated question--Why is private support important to this State university?--and gave some ready answers.
The brochure, however, had to wait for close attention. First came a four-course dinner and the introduction, by John Dolibois, of three spokesmen for the twenty- two member Campaign Cabinet. Goals for Enrichment was the first major gifts campaign in Miami history. It aimed to provide $14 million for the furthering of excellence throughout the university. Its general chairman, Charles S. Mechem, Jr. '52, emphasized that Miami University is state-assisted rather than state-supported. Two- thirds of its operating budget is met by non-state income. Appropriations from the state, he explained, are limited to prescribed needs and purposes. Other projects, however, valuable, must depend on private support. Certain goals for enrichment had emerged from many deliberations by Miami administrative, faculty and alumni bodies and the Board of Trustees. The goals, both specific and comprehensive, ranged from a university art museum and a modern sports complex and stadium to the augmenting of resources for study, teaching and research in the science disciplines.
To the dinner guests, Ara Parseghian '49, gave something like a pre-game psyche-up, stressing team play, pride and motivation--all in the long Miami tradition. President Shriver emphasized the "community" character of a residential university and the determination to maintain and enhance the high academic standing of Miami University.
John Dolibois, chief architect of this large project, was mindful of the Miami past while looking with confident purpose at the road ahead. He recalled the explorer James McBride, first secretary of the Board of Trustees, when , in 1809, the university was established by law but had no actual existence. "On the banks of the Four Mile Creek," McBride said, "has been planted the stake where the Miami University will stand till time shall be no longer." Now, he declared, is the time to extend the fostering hand to cherish and protect this institution of learning which is to give a character and feature to future generations. Here, Dolibois observed, is our generation ready in our time to give the university "a larger usefulness." He stressed the goal of augmented academic resources essential to the exploring of new frontiers of knowledge. With a $5 million endowment for academic enrichment he foresaw faculty development by means of stipends for continuing study and creative research while merit scholarships and loans would be stimulated by increased laboratory apparatus and equipment and by enlarged library resources. When he was a college freshman in 1938, half of the natural and social science taught in the classrooms of 1977 had not come to light. The "knowledge explosion" had yet to bring profound revelations. Listed in the "Goals" brochure was new language--photosensors, atomic absorption spectophotometry, questar telescope, paramagnetic analyzer, multidiscipline chromatograph, electron microscope, electron beam energy pump--a language of new questions, search and understanding.
To balance library sources and laboratory instruments, John Dolibois saw the humane enlightenment of an art museum, designed for the preservation, display and study of works acquired by the university over many years. Such a facility would attract further gifts and acquisitions so that, like the library, it would bring increasing enrichment in the years to come. Already, Dolibois's stated, museum construction was progressing on an airy site across the highway from Murstein Alumni Center.
That sounded casual, almost matter-of-fact, as though it was a campus consensus that a boldly modern Art Museum merited a major effort and outlay at Miami. But behind the simple statement of fait accompli were years of dreaming, hoping, planning, striving--against indifference, inertia and some outright obstruction and hostility. Thwarted and circumvented time and again, Dolibois with a few abettors never gave in. Thanks to the stubborn streak in his character, each setback spurred new determination and sparked new strategy. The final outcome vindicated his conviction that the stature of Miami University would be heightened by a professionally developed museum with an affirmed educational program. Why give priority to a Miami fine arts center? The answer became clear. In the 1980's, Miami should include educational aims and teaching programs that hitherto had been unknown or beyond available resources. But in vital institutions, time brings new perspectives and opportunities. Art spans decades, generations, centuries. Great art outlasts cultural fads and curricular fashions. Its study illumines all the areas of social and humane learning.
Having worked closely with donors and architects, Dolibois could announce that the interest of the largest donor to the Goals campaign embraced both an art museum and a sports stadium. Just inside the museum entrance is Yager lecture hall, a gracious room seating one hundred and fifteen persons for film showings, music recitals and art lectures; its arc of northern windows overlooks a wooded glen with the gray stone tower of Kumler Chapel against the northern sky. On the far side of the campus in the Four Mile valley, will rise a sophisticated sports complex including a new stadium. In a demonstration of surprising academic breadth, the estate of the late Fred C. Yager '14, supports both the fine arts and intercollegiate athletics. In a parallel instance, the McKie gallery in the museum bears a name already fixed on the McKie Field, the baseball ground on the north campus. Stanley McKie '19, a prominent figure in Ohio business and politics, had been a varsity baseball captain, His widow executed a neat double play in endowing both an art gallery and a baseball diamond.
The first completed project of the Goals to Go, the Miami University Art Museum, was dedicated on a golden autumn afternoon, November 5, 1978, with ribbon cutting by John Dolibois between donor Walter I. Farmer and Architect Walter Netsch. The opening exhibition from the richly eclectic Farmer Collections ranged from ancient Roman glass, Luristan bronzes, and pre-Columbian terra cotta to 17th century tapestries and rare pieces of furniture from more recent periods. Two Farmer collections have been given to the university; others, presently on loan, will come to the museum by eventual bequest.
Other distinctive holdings in the museum are the prints, textiles and ceramics collected by the late Miami art teacher, Orpha Webster, the unique Alma Pratt Collection of International Folk Art--acquired through untiring efforts of Miss Webster--and fine pieces of pre- Columbian art garnered by Theodore T. Foley '37, during a career of foreign service in Latin America and Egypt.
The Foley benefaction is a story in itself. During his years abroad, Ted Foley acquired a collection of 1,600 items, reviewed by six of the foremost American archaeologists and asked for by the Museum of the American Indian in New York and the Columbia Museo de Oro. One piece, a firegod effigy vase, was on extended loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Some of Foley's treasures had been donated elsewhere but has a substantial number remained when the Miami University Art Museum was created. He then began making annual donations to his own university. Forty years earlier, John Dolibois and Ted Foley had teamed up in moving seasonal equipment at Akron's Camp Manatoc. Now, in a sequel beyond all foreseeing, they removed from crates and cartons exotic primitive Maya ceremonial hacha, which were soon featured in Miami exhibits. Some of the last of his rare pieces Foley gave to the museum during his 45th Miami class reunion in June 1982.
On the museum's opening day, President Willard L. Boyd of the University of Iowa spoke at Yager Auditorium. A university museum, he said, must nourish the artistic talent of teachers, the teaching potential of artists, and the learning capacity of students. This museum, he said, is more than a showplace; it is art itself. That perception is quickly shared by visitors from near and far. In striking contrast to the red-brick Georgian buildings across the way, its silver facade of stone and glass is akin to the weathered gray stone of Kumler Chapel and Presser Hall beyond the wooded glen. At the museum entrance, a reflecting pool mirrors the squares and folded circles of a sculpture in bronze, aluminum and steel, created by Fletcher Benton '55. Like architect Netsch, he works in geometric forms. The five triangular galleries of the museum invite displays ranging from fine prints and ceramics to the largest works of painting and sculpture. On that November afternoon, President Boyd concluded: "Though art is created in private, its consequences are public. In a university museum, the artist addresses the largest audience with the greatest results." Within four years after that dedication, the Miami University Art Museum had attracted 100,000 visitors and had been pictured in art journals from Germany to Japan.
That winter night in Cincinnati, John Dolibois spoke of another Goal--the relocation, enlargement and modernization of Miami Field. Almost a century old, the playing field dated back to 1895 and the stands to 1916, the smallest and oldest in the Mid-American Conference. In some places, a stadium would have the first priority, but at Miami it yet remained unrealized. "We have a lot of sentimental people here," said the grounds superintendent. Despite the impatience of many athletic fans, there was a general reluctance to abandon the old area in the heart of the campus that had produced enviable track-and-field records and a remarkable roster of coaches. In the mind of John Dolibois, a new stadium was less urgent than certain other goals. Two months after his departure, however, state funds were allocated to Miami for a new Art Education building, a Biological Science building, and the relocation and construction of a multi-faceted sports complex including a football stadium. Located between Millett Hall and the Tallawanda, the stadium was completed in time for the football season of 1983. A Biological Science building is planned on the site of old Miami Field.
With the hectic pace of mid- 20th century technology, a new phrase--continuing education--is often heard in business, professional and university circles. In his travel and his correspondence, John Dolibois became increasingly aware of a need and an opportunity on the spacious Miami campus in its tranquil setting. To the dinner guests in Cincinnati, he told of unending requests from academic, professional, industrial and civic organizations that Miami space be made available for conferences, workshops and seminars. Except in summer months and short periods of academic recess, Miami could not schedule such meetings. Countless opportunities, he said, were being lost for want of suitable facilities. There was, however, an idle empty building, a commodious structure on spacious grounds at the eastern edge of campus. Historic Fisher Hall was an ideal site for conference gatherings, but, with sinking foundations and fractured masonry, the romantic old building was unusable. Architectural and engineering studies declared it beyond reclaiming. To the regret of countless alumni and many Oxford residents, the landmark building was slated for demolition so that a conference center could be erected in its place.
When a Hamilton, Ohio family with ties to Miami made a handsome endowment, the Timothy Marcum Memorial Conference Center was staked out beside the Conrad Formal Gardens. After long deliberation, an architectural design emerged, a three-story brick building with twin wings, its central roof capped by a slender cupola with an airy 1981 weathervane. It is modeled upon the Wren Building of William and Mary College in Virginia, the oldest extant academic structure in the nation. A memorial to a recent Miami undergraduate, this new building calls to mind the foremost graduate of Old Miami. Among graduates of the Williamsburg College was Benjamin Harrison, a James River planter, governor of Virginia and signer of the Declaration of Independence. His son, William Henry Harrison, went west to Ohio and became the nation's ninth President; his great-grandson, Benjamin Harrison, Miami 1852, was the 23rd President. In addition to lecture and demonstration halls, the building includes lodging and dining rooms, lounges, library and seminars. A Memorial Room contains the military memorabilia of four-star General John Edwin Hull '15, and the honor roll of all Miamians who have given their lives in defense of the nation.
While the building took shape, the Marcum family added endowment for a nature trail in the virgin woods that slope down to the Tallawanda, an expression of the late Timothy Marcum's love of unspoiled nature. The family of Verlin Pulley '25, former Oxford mayor and university trustee, planned an outdoor Pulley Pavilion near the head of the Marcum Nature Trail. A substantial grant from the Kellogg Foundation enabled a director to publicize the conference facilities and to plan 1982-83 scheduling. The director, Jack DePree, with broad experience of continuing education in Michigan, soon announced twenty conferences booked for the fall of 1982. In the first year of operation more than sixty professional, business, cultural and social gatherings, totaling some five thousand conferees, assembled there for periods of a single day to one or two weeks. Academic seminars, discussions and exchanges were held by the College English Association