October 20, 2014

Case and WRU in the Great Depression

The stock market crash of October 1929 was the dramatic beginning of a decade of economic devastation. Manufacturing, agriculture, banking, construction, shipping - all sectors of the economy suffered, including higher education.

The University Archives has substantial documentation of the effects of the Depression on Case School of Applied Science and Western Reserve University as well as the actions and decisions taken in response to the crisis. Only two of those sources, student yearbooks and presidents’ annual reports, were consulted for this brief overview of the effect of the Depression on students.

What is remarkable in the student yearbooks is how infrequent references to economic conditions appear. For 1930/31, the student newspaper, The Reserve Weekly, was praised for increasing its advertisers “in spite of the acknowledged depression in business conditions.” The Case Tech earned similar praise in the Differential, “In spite of the discouragements offered by the business depression and the ensuing reluctance to invest in advertising, the business staff... has succeeded in holding up the financial end of the Tech.”

For the next five years, hopeful determination characterized the yearbooks’ depiction of the times. “The difficulties in producing the Differential by the Class of ‘34 in a period of economic chaos and financial turbulence were surpassed by the capable and concentrated efforts... of the entire staff, and the whole-hearted support of the student body and faculty.” Mather College’s 1934 Polychronicon’s senior class history read in part, “When they were Juniors the banks closed, and for several weeks it looked as though they could not have a Prom, but it turned out to be one of the best in years.”

It should be said this attitude was not because Case and Reserve students were insulated from the effects of the Depression. Reports of the presidents and deans repeatedly describe the greater need for student financial aid. Adelbert’s Dean William Trautman in 1934 wrote that, “scholarship and tuition aid funds have been spread as far as possible. In some cases even a twenty-five dollar gift has proved to be the slender thread that has kept the hope of getting an education from fading completely.” At Mather College the Alumnae Association and Advisory Council made loans and gifts to increase student aid. In 1935 Mather converted Flora Mather House to a cooperative dormitory. In return for working one hour each day on household duties, room and board fees were reduced from $400 to $250.

More students worked part-time and full-time while carrying full academic loads. The National Youth Administration’s work program for students helped nearly 400 students each year. Mather’s Vocational Counselor placed both students and alumnae in full-time and part-time work.

Curricular retrenchment included reducing sections of some classes, offering some classes only in alternative years, opening more classes to students of other colleges, and eliminating Saturday classes, to “enable many students to use the additional half-day to help themselves more financially.”

In selecting the Great Depression as 2014’s Archives Month in Ohio theme, Ohio’s archivists pay tribute to the resilience of those who persevered through that crisis.

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September 26, 2014

Campus activities 40 years ago - 9/27-9/30/1974

What was of interest 40 years ago on campus? The front page articles of The Observer (9/27/1974) discuss the Western Reserve College elections and the long awaited criminal trial of Ohio National Guardsmen indicted for the 5/4/1970 shootings at Kent State University.

Reporter Peter Lindstrom wrote, “In the past, the WRC elections have been met with the most undying student apathy. In one election, only eight students filed for positions, a record that put undue strain on student government. However, this year, to everyone’s shock, the original field of six candidates swelled to 60 in one week. In fact, in several dorms there are more than two candidates....”

The CWRU Film Society was presenting a Federico Fellini movie, Fellini’s Roma and Kurt Vonnegut’s Happy Birthday, Wanda June on Friday while Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was playing Saturday. Bob Thomas wrote, “...the many-times shown hit of 1969, returns again, giving us the ever-lovely and eye-twinkling duo of superstars Newman and Redford.”

The Spot was still located in Thwing. (It later moved to Leutner Commons.) Admission was free with entertainment funded by the Western Reserve Student Government. The Mather Gallery (which was also located in Thwing) presented, 50 Years of Eldred Theatre with performances and readings from 9/30 through 10/9.

The Cleveland Orchestra was presenting a special concert for students on 9/30 where conductor and musical director Lorin Maazel would informally discuss the music throughout the evening. The program was Mahler: 5th Symphony Death in Venice 3rd and 4th movements and Shostakovich: 10th Symphony 2nd and 3rd movements. All seats were $3.00. The Cleveland Museum of Art had recently acquired a Matthias Grunewald painting depicting St. Catherine of Alexandria.

Also in the music scene, it was reported that there was no more jazz on Cleveland AM radio. The radio station, WJW, had recently changed its format and dropped its all-night jazz show. Five rock and jazz albums were reviewed: Fleetwood Mac’s Heroes Are Hard to Find received a B rating from the reviewer, Herbie Hancock’s Thrust received a B+, Greenslade’s Spyglass Guest received an A-, Traffic received a C, and Suzi Quatro received a B-. There was no mention of our own WRUW in this issue.

On the sports front, the men’s soccer team and the football team were both preparing for contests against Bethany College. (CWRU ended up losing both games.) An announcement was made of a 10/1 meeting for those women interested in playing intercollegiate basketball.

There were feature articles on foreign medical schools as well as the Dow Chemical Company and Lubrizol Company connections to the university and several alumni, students, and trustees.

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September 08, 2014

Cleveland Browns and Fleming Field

In the mid-1960s Western Reserve University began acquiring land for an updated athletic facility near the newly constructed student residences on the north side of campus.

In 1965 the Cleveland Browns and Western Reserve University signed a 10-year agreement to lease part of this land for a practice facility to be used exclusively by the Browns from August 15 till January 15 each year. At all other times, the University could use the facility. Reserve built a field house and practice field for the Browns, which, at the end of the lease, would become the exclusive property of the University. The Cleveland Browns practiced on the WRU campus from 1965 till 1972.

In 1968 CWRU named this athletic facility Edward L. Finnigan Playing Fields, in honor of long-time coach Eddie Finnigan. Before this, however, a portion of the facility was known as Fleming Field.

Don Fleming was a defensive back, who played for the Browns for 3 seasons, from 1960 through 1962. Fleming played both baseball and football at the University of Florida. Fleming worked construction jobs during the off-seasaon. In the summer of 1963 Fleming and a co-worker died in a construction accident in Florida. Charles Heaton, of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, described Fleming as, “a good team man, a fellow with a friendly smile always close to the surface... On the field he was a solid defensive back, a rugged tackler and the club’s regular safety man for three years... played with a spirit and enthusiasm that was contagious...” (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/5/1963 p. 33) After his death the Browns retired Fleming’s No. 46 and, in 1965, named their practice facility Don Fleming Field.

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Don Fleming and Browns trainer Leo Murphy, 1960. Image courtesy Cleveland Press Collection, Michael Schwartz Library, Cleveland State University

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August 27, 2014

Case Institute of Technology Fundraising Campaigns

As we celebrate the success of our university-wide fundraising campaign, we can look back on other successful campaigns.

Case Institute of Technology’s first campaign was spurred by a major gift. In October 1925, trustee Charles W. Bingham offered a $500,000 gift if the school could raise an additional $500,000. The funds supported the construction and maintenance of the mechanical engineering building, increases in faculty salaries, and establishment of the Alumni Endowment Fund. The second campaign, the Endowment and Building Fund Campaign planned to raise $5 million in five years (1937-1942), but was cancelled in 1940 due to the uncertain conditions.

Though Case Institute of Technology had several campaigns before World War II, fundraising became a higher priority in the 1950s. Several successive campaigns included the Diamond Jubilee Campaign, the $6,500,000 Building Fund Campaign, and the $17 million Capital Campaign.

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Diamond Jubilee Campaign celebration

The 3 year Diamond Jubilee Campaign was held 1952-1955. Over $1 million was raised for building construction and over $1 million was raised for operations, scholarships, and other purposes. Buildings constructed from the campaign included the William E. Wickenden Electrical Engineering Building. The $6,500,000 Building Fund Campaign (1957-1959) raised over $8.3 million for buildings, which included Lester M. and Ruth P. Sears Library-Humanities Building and Strosacker Auditorium.

The last campaign, the $17 million Capital Campaign, was planned before Federation but carried out between 1967 and 1970. Funds were raised for land acquisition, construction, and renovation for student housing and academic buildings. These projects included the Glennan Space Engineering Building and the Carlton Road dormitory complex.

See our past blog posting about CWRU fundraising campaigns for more campaign information.

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August 08, 2014

“No Butts About It...” Campus Smoking Bans

From This

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To This

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Prompted by Cleveland City Council’s February 1987 passage of the Clean Indoor Air Ordinance limiting smoking in public places, CWRU enacted phase one of its no-smoking poiicy on August 16, 1987. Cigarette vending machines were removed and retail cigarette sales ended. Smoking was prohibited inside buildings except in food service facilities, employee and student lounges, waiting rooms, and lobbies. Smoking in residence hall rooms was up to the students. Smoking was still permitted in private offices. Additional designated smoking areas were created.

Two years later, August 14, 1989, phase two prohibited smoking inside all campus buildings. Again, smoking in residence hall rooms was left up to the students. Smoking on campus grounds was still permitted. To help smokers, CWRU offered University Hospitals Smoke Stoppers program at a discount.

So the situation remained until, in 2006, Ohio voters passed the Smoke Free Workplace Act, expanding no-smoking public areas. The Act primarily described the kinds of spaces in which smoking was prohibited. It also required posting no smoking signs and removing ashtrays and “other receptacles used for disposing of smoking materials.” In response, CWRU banned smoking in all buildings. The residence hall exception ended. Campus grounds and walkways became smoke-free, with the exception of designated smoking areas.

Smoking in public went from common to a near-total ban in 20 years. I don’t know if that change is fast or slow, but it is big. The somewhat irreverent, "No Butts About It" title was used by Campus News to announce the 1987 and 1989 policies.

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July 28, 2014

Alumnus Professional Baseball Player Ray Mack

With the exciting news that junior pitcher Rob Winemiller was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays we remember alumnus Ray Mack (formerly known as Mlckovsky), a former Major League player.

Ray Mlckovsky received the B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Case School of Applied Science in 1938. He received the Honor Key and won an Athletic Medal. Mack was a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity, Blue Key, Case Senate, Interfraternity Council, and American Society of Mechanical Engineers. As a student-athlete he earned 3 letters each in football and basketball, also winning the first Les Bale ‘09 award. Case did not have varsity baseball at the time Mack was a student, so he played amateur baseball in Cleveland.

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Ray Mlckovsky (Ray Mack) in his senior year

He played in his first major league game 9/9/1938 (Cleveland vs. Detroit). He appeared in 1 other game that year and 36 in 1939 before his first complete season in 1940. In 1939 Mack played for Buffalo in the International League, teaming with Lou Boudreau for the double-play combination. He and Boudreau continued to play with each other for the Cleveland Indians. Mack was chosen for the 1940 All-Star game.

According to the Case Alumnus, “During the off-seasons, Mack held engineering jobs at the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co. and Lamson and Sessions. In 1941, he took a part-time position in war work at Thompson Products and entered the army in 1945. In 1946, Mack rejoined the Indians and played with them throughout the season. In the winter he was traded to the New York Yankees, later played with the Newark, N.J. club and near the end of 1947, went to the Chicago Cubs. He retired from baseball in the spring of 1948 to become a sales engineer at the Browning Crane and Shovel Co.”

Mack was born 8/31/1916 in Cleveland, Ohio and died 5/7/1969 in Bucyrus Ohio. His son, Tom, played football for the Los Angeles Rams in the National Football League and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999.

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