MUM50 - The First Committee

This is the seventh 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.

Carefully preserved among the papers of Earl Thesken is a page from his desk calendar dated May 21, 1962. The only entry refers to a 7:30 pm meeting "to discuss the formation of plans to create a junior college."

The meeting was called by Joseph Woodruff, president of the Middletown School Board, who pointed out to The Middletown Journal that in gathering this group he was acting as a private citizen and not in his official school board role. Of 100 citizens invited, 60 were in attendance that evening.

Woodruff had in mind the possibility of establishing a junior college in Middletown to make possible a living-at-home higher education opportunity for high school graduates. Superintendent Howard Cromwell supported this idea, noting that many high school graduates were not able to go to college due to cost factors.

Bringing a junior college to Middletown was a possibility, and there was going to be some space available soon as Fenwick High School, which had been occupied the Old South School since 1952, was getting ready to move to its new location on Manchester Road.

While The Middletown Journal reported that there was no direct discussion of the suitability of the Old South School for such an enterprise, the group gathered that evening decided to form a committee to explore the possibilities, and appointed Mrs. Evelyn Day as chair, and Mr. Ewing Taulbee as vice chair. Their committee was charged with examining the state of the Old South School for possibly housing a junior college, investigating what type of junior college would best suit Middletown, and looking at what the potential enrollment might be for the college.

Thesken and Herman Lawrence, who coordinated Miami's academic center in Middletown, both spoke about Miami's center, how students were now able to earn up to three years of college credit there, and that the number and variety of courses could be expanded.

The Journal reported that the meeting lasted for three hours, and that many remained behind to continue talking about the possibilities for the future. The committee soon began their work in looking both for appropriate sites, as well as examining the question of junior college vs. a university branch.

In just over a year that question would be settled, and a new committee formed focusing solely on a Miami University branch campus.

Photo 1: Earl Thesken desk calendar page with notation about the special meeting in Middletown Photo 2: Painting by Middletown artist Herbert Fall of the Old South School Photo 3: Photo of the Old South School in the early 1960s.

Left: Earl Thesken desk calendar page with notation about the special meeting in Middletown.

Middle: Painting by Middletown artist Herbert Fall of the Old South School.

Right: Photo of the Old South School in the early 1960s.

Photo Credits: Old South School images courtesy of MidPointe Library System.
Desk calendar image from Miami University archives.

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