MUM50 - The Committee Gets to Work

This is the eighth 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.

One month after the committee chaired by Evelyn Day and Ewing Taulbee began, one sub-committee gathered at the office of Herman Lawrence to address the question of what the community wanted and needed. Would it be a junior college, limited to the first two years of college, or did the community want more than that?

It was determined to drop the term "junior college," which was seen as an extension of high school. The committee wanted to make this change "so there will be no limitations..." The group recommended that Miami drop the term "Adult Evening School" from its recruiting materials in order to attract a larger percentage of young people in the area.

At the end of that two-hour meeting the committee passed a unanimous resolution commending Miami for its present academic center, and recommending "that Miami University be contacted to ascertain how our community can further assist in expanding its Middletown Academic Center."

Another group, led by David Easton and Joseph Woodruff, looked at possible locations for either a two-year or a four-year center. For a two-year center, Old South School had been mentioned as one possibility, but the prohibitive cost of renovation (estimated at $195,000) took that option off the table. A tract of land on Central Avenue behind Wilson Elementary was another possibility, as was Armco Park on Manchester Road, which the committee noted would also be ideal for a four-year academic center.

There were ten possible locations the group examined for a four-year center, each option covering 80 to 100 acres. Included in the sites the group visited in August 1962 were the Bender and Simpson farms on Route 122 close to I-75, four sites in the Monroe area, and the Keehner farm off old Route 25 on Milliken Road.

There are two interesting historical connections in this site-selection group. David Easton's wife, Clare, would become the Assistant Executive Director of MUM in the fall of 1966 with responsibilities for continuing education courses, and became the founder of the campus' Artist and Lecture Series, retiring from Miami in 1986.

The other connection is to committee member Wade Pratt, a returned World War II veteran who was an agent for B.F. Sawyer and Son Realty. Today his son, G. Michael Pratt, is Miami's Associate Provost, Dean of the College of Professional Studies and Applied Sciences, and Dean of the Regional Campuses.

Photo 1: The gate to the Simpson Farm (circa 1910) that was one of the properties considered as a possible site for the new campus Photo 2: Construction of the I-75 interchange (1960) – several of the properties, including the Simpson Farm, was in this vicinity, part of which included the site of the Towne Mall Photo 3: A map of Armco Park (1922) which was suggested by the committee as a possible location for either a two-year or a four-year campus.

Left: The gate to the Simpson Farm (circa 1910) that was one of the properties considered as a possible site for the new campus

Middle: Construction of the I-75 interchange (1960) several of the properties, including the Simpson Farm, was in this vicinity, part of which included the site of the Towne Mall

Right: A map of Armco Park (1922) which was suggested by the committee as a possible location
for either a two-year or a four-year campus

Photo Credits:
All images courtesy MidPointe Library.

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