MUM50 - Armco Donation to Miami Creates Model for Ohio Branch Campuses

This is the ninth in a series of historical vignettes tracing the work of the community and Miami University that led to the opening of Miami University Middletown in September 1966.

This graphic element represents Miami University Middletown being Ohio's first permanent branch campus with classes opening on September 1, 1966.

When Armco's Board of Directors voted on January 29, 1963, to donate land to Miami University for the creation of a campus, it helped create a model Ohio would follow for establishing branch campuses throughout the state.

The Middletown Journal reported on that date that the Armco board had approved the donation of 127 acres to Miami, and the deed was presented to Miami President John D. Millett that day. The gift of the land, valued at $375,000, was formally accepted by Miami's Board of Trustees at their February 2, 1963 meeting.

The University agreed the land was to be used for educational purposes only, and that 33 acres of Armco Park was to continue as a community park and recreational facility administered by the City of Middletown. Forest Hills Country Club was also authorized to continue using the lodge, pool and auxiliary facilities for 1963 and 1964, and the park superintendent was allowed to remain in the house on the property.

In September 1963 the Ohio Board of Regents was founded early in the administration of Governor James Rhodes, forming a statewide coordinating body for higher education. One of their early orders of business was to determine how and where branch campuses and academic centers could be established.

A committee comprised of physician Dr. Maceo Clarke (from the Dayton area), chair Robert Doolittle (of Youngstown Sheet and Tube), and William Zimmer (executive with Cincinnati Gas and Electric) began their work, and reported at the Regents' February 1964 meeting that the committee "had been besieged with requests for location of branches in every conceivable spot."

At that same meeting, President Millett reported Miami's work on the Middletown Campus, pointing out that the land had been donated to the university, plus local funds had been provided for preliminary planning.

Dr. Harold Oyster, chair of the Regents, determined that this should become Ohio's model - nothing should be done in establishing branch campuses unless the site was furnished by the community.

And so Armco's gift to Miami in January 1963 (the first of three parcels gifted to Miami that comprise the current campus) served as the model for the statewide establishment of branch campuses.

Armco had been divesting itself of properties surrounding the old Armco Park, including signing over a tract of land in 1960 for the building of Fenwick High School along Manchester Road. There would be two more gifts of land from Armco to Miami the acreage surrounding the Armco Girls' Association Lodge (today known as Verity Lodge), and a six acre parcel at the eastern entrance to the campus connecting Miami Middletown to Breiel Boulevard but more about those gifts a bit later.

Photo 1: The Fenwick Committee receiving the deed from Armco president Logan T. Johnston in 1960, one of several donations of land Armco made. Photo 2: A 1938 postcard view of part of Armco Park. Photo 3: The Ohio Board of Regents committee charged with developing how branch campuses would be established. The model of Miami Middletown, built on donated land, became the standard for the state in the early 1960s.

Left: The Fenwick Committee receiving the deed from Armco president Logan T. Johnston in 1960, one of several donations of land Armco made.

Middle: A 1938 postcard view of part of Armco Park.

Right: The Ohio Board of Regents committee charged with developing how branch campuses would be established. The model of Miami Middletown, built on donated land, became the standard for the state in the early 1960s.

Photo Credits:
Fenwick Committee photo and postcard of Armco Park courtesy of MidPointe Library collections.
Board of Regents Branch Campus committee member photos courtesy of the Ohio Board of Regents.

To read other stories in this series, visit http://bit.ly/1cQM9Gt.