March 13, 2015

Namesakes - Laura Kerr Axtell and the Kerr Professorship in Mathematics

In the spring of 1885, the 4-year-old Case School of Applied Science boasted an enrollment of 39 and a faculty of 7. Tuition was $50 for the year. The financial statement for 1885 reported gross income of a little more than $239,000.

In May 1885 Laura Kerr Axtell donated to the school real estate valued at approximately $125,000 to endow a professorship in Mathematics in honor of her brother, Levi Kerr. One can only imagine the reaction of the trustees upon receving a gift equivalent to 52% of the school’s total annual income. The Kerr Professorship was the first endowed professorship established at Case School of Applied Science.

Laura and Levi were cousins of Case’s founder, Leonard Case, Jr. Levi had served as administrator of Leonard’s estate and was one of the original incorporators and trustees of Case School of Applied Science. Brother and sister were both born in Mentor, Laura in 1818 and Levi in 1822. More is known of Levi’s life than Laura’s. In his teens he spent 3 years in the West Indies and Japan. Upon his return to America he worked in the dry-goods business in New York. He later relocated to western Pennsylvania where oil was found on a tract of land he had purchased and later sold to Standard Oil. Levi returned to northeast Ohio around 1870 and prospered as a banker and businessman until his death in 1885 in a drowning accident in Florida.

Laura inherited a sizable estate from her brother, which enabled her gift to Case. One obituary described her as “liberal in her benefactions.” During her life and at her death in 1890 she was a generous supporter of Case, the Lake Erie Seminary, and several Episcopal churches in the Painesville area.

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Francisca Himmelsbach painting of Laura Kerr Axtell

Kerr Professors and the dates they held the professorship are:

John N. Stockwell, 1886-1887
Harry F. Reid, 1887-1889
Charles S. Howe, 1890-1908
Theodore M. Focke, 1908-1944
Sidney W. McCuskey, 1945-1971
James C. Alexander, 1998-2008
Stanislaw Szarek, 2009-

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February 27, 2015

African-American History Month Spotlight: John B. Turner

John B. Turner was the first African-American dean at Case Western Reserve University, serving as dean of the School of Applied Social Sciences (now the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences) 1968-1973. He was also the first African-American dean at any school of social work in the country.

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John B. Turner

Dr. Turner was born 2/28/1922 in Ft. Valley, Georgia. He attended Morehouse College, earning the A.B. degree in 1946. He received the M.S.S.A. degree from Western Reserve University’s School of Applied Social Science (MSASS) in 1948 and the Doctor of Social Work from the Graduate School of WRU in 1959.

His academic career began as instructor at the School of Social Work, Atlanta University in 1950. He became lecturer in Social Work at MSASS in 1955. His major field of interest was community organization in social work. Beginning in 1957 Turner was instructor (1957-1959), assistant professor (1959-1961), associate professor (1961-1963) and professor (1963-1974) of social work at MSASS. He served as associate dean 1967-1968 and was appointed dean of the School effective 7/1/1968, serving 5 years. After stepping down from the deanship in 1973, Dr. Turner took a sabbatical leave at the University of Georgia School of Social Work. He resigned his position as professor at MSASS in 1974 in order to become the William Rand Kenan, Jr. Professor of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). He eventually became dean at UNC, retiring in 1992.

While he was an academic by training he had many accomplishments outside the university setting. During World War II he was a lieutenant in the Army Air Corps and member of the Tuskegee Airmen. He was the first African-American commissioner in the city of East Cleveland. Turner’s community service activities included the Cleveland Institute of Art, Karamu House, Welfare Federation of Cleveland, City of Cleveland Advisory Committee on Urban Renewal, East Cleveland Citizens Advisory Committee, Businessman’s Interracial Committee, Jewish Community Federation, and others.

Dr. Turner’s professional involvement included the National Association of Social Workers, National Conference on Social Welfare, and Council on Social Work Education. He served on the National Academy of Sciences Panel on Health, and the U. S. Committee of the International Council on Social Work.

Turner held a Fulbright Scholarship, studying in Egypt. He returned to the Mideast several times throughout his career. He served the State Department in Zambia, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda.

In 1947 Turner married Marian Wilson. They had 2 children: Marian and Charles. John B. Turner died 1/30/2009 in North Carolina.

You can read past blog entries about African-American history at Case Western Reserve University from 2014, 2013 and 2011.

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February 06, 2015

Namesakes - Grace Longwell Coyle Professorship of Social Work

The first endowed chair established at the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences was the Grace Longwell Coyle Chair of Social Work. A fundraising campaign was carried out beginning in 1960 by the Citizens Committee for Strengthening the School of Applied Social Sciences and by the school’s alumni association. By the campaign’s successful conclusion in 1965, nearly 800 alumni had pledged over $50,000. Gifts also came from friends of the school. A gift of $100,000 from the Hanna Final Fund brought the total raised to $276,000. The chair was established in July 1965.

Grace Longwell Coyle was born in 1892 in North Adams, Massachusetts. She received a B.A. from Wellesley in 1914, majoring in English. The following year Coyle received a certificate from the New York School of Social Work. She worked as a settlement worker in New York and in the coal-mining regions of western Pennsylvania. In 1928 she earned an M.A. in economics from Columbia and, in 1931, a Ph.D., also from Columbia.

In 1934 Grace Coyle became an assistant professor in Western Reserve University’s School of Applied Social Sciences. She was promoted to associate professor in 1936 and professor in 1939. She pioneered in the development of social group work practice and theory and advocated for the inclusion of social science research in social work education. Professor Coyle served on the board of the Ohio Consumers League. She was president of three social work professional assocations: the National Confeence of Social Work, 1940; the American Association of Social Workers, 1942-44; and the National Council on Social Work Education, 1958-60. During World War II she worked with the War Relocation Authority to assist Japanese-Americans interned during the war. Grace Coyle was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and received the Brotherhood Award of the National Conference of Christians and Jews.

At her death in 1962 the School of Applied Social Sciences faculty resolution paid tribute to her professional achievements and her personal qualities:

“Grace Coyle was one of those rare people who not only talked about her belief in democracy but practiced it in her daily life. She had a profound respect for the worth and dignity of all human kind. Her ideas about democratic participation at the grass roots, her concern for opportunities for deprived groups were reflected not only in her writing and her teaching but in her activities as a member of organizations which were concerned with social action for the betterment of mankind.”

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Grace Longwell Coyle

Grace Longwell Coyle Professors and the dates they held the professorship are:
Ruby B. Pernell, 1968-1982
Arthur J. Naparstek, 1983-1987
Arthur Blum, 1987-1991
Arthur J. Naparstek, 1991-2004
Pranab Chatterjee, 2006-2008
Elizabeth M. Tracy, 2009-

Researchers interested in exploring Grace Coyle’s remarkable career of teaching, service and scholarship are welcome to use the Grace Coyle Papers in the CWRU Archives.

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January 27, 2015

The Beginning of Varsity Basketball at Case Institute of Technology

The first season of varsity basketball at Case Institute of Technology was during the 1911/1912 academic year. The first opponent was Oberlin College, who beat Case 37-25 on January 20, 1912. The captain of the team was senior Frederick E. Caine who played left forward. The manager was H. L. Senn. Other players included Frank E. Clarke, Charles S. Arms, Henning A. Johnson, Seaver C .Kenyon, Monroe F. McOmber, and C. A. Beck.

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Case basketball team, 1911-1912

Here is the text from the yearbook, Differential, regarding the season:

“Not until late in the fall term of this year did Case decide to put hockey on the shelf and try her hand at basket ball. Hockey was not in favor with the Athletic Association because of the impossible conditions demanded by the Elysium management. The students were also fast losing their interest in the game. it was, therefore, decided that , with the advent of the new Y. M. C. A., Case might be able to indulge in basket ball as other colleges do. The season just past, however, leaves us without a satisfactory winter varsity sport, and yet it is a difficult matter to compare the team with their opponents. Captain Caine and his men were able to get together only two hours each week and still were able to make a creditable showing against teams whose members have played continuously for many years and who are able to practice from fifteen to twenty hours every week.

“The advent of a new athletic endeavor is always beset with reverses which can be overcome only by practice and an excess of stick-to-it-iveness both by the the team and the student body. The support rendered the team by the students was deplorable in the extreme. Only by the hardest kind of work was the manager able to bring the best teams of the state to play here and still the students would not do their part to establish basket ball as the winter sport at Case. It is a well known fact that, thought [sic] there was a large number of men in school who have played and can play basket ball, yet a continual fight was necessary for Captain Caine to keep a dozen men interested. A start has been made, such that there is no reason why Case should not have one of the strongest fives in the state next year and it now rests with the student body to come out and make the team or at least enjoy the privileges of the well-equipped gym of the East End Y. M. C. A., which has made possible the existence of a winter sport.”

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Y.M.C.A. building

Case had a 0-10 record their first year. They did not field a team again until the 1914/15 academic year, also going 0-10. In 1915/16 Case turned itself around with the help of new coach Pat Pasini and finished the season 8-2. They continued to improve - going 12-1 the following year.

In contrast with Case, Western Reserve University had fielded its first team in the 1897/98 academic year and had 11 seasons under its belt by 1911/12.

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January 12, 2015

Re-orientation Party, 1/16/1987

The rock band The Guess Who was the headline act for the Re-orientation Party at Adelbert Gym on 1/16/1987, 9 p.m. -1 a.m. According to UPB executive chairman Brian Conrad, “Everyone has been gone for three weeks and are kind of disoriented. The party is a way to start off the semester. It’s a good way to get everyone together at the beginning of the semester.”

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The Guess Who playing at Adelbert Gym, 1/16/1987. Photo by Larry Stephan.

Opening for The Guess Who was Passion Play (the band that played at the Orientation party in the Fall). The event was free for undergraduates with ID, $2.00 for graduate students, and $5.00 for others. Over 2000 people attended the Re-orientation party, making it the largest UPB sponsored event up to that time. According to the yearbook (1987 Annum), “The good turnout for the party dispelled the myth that CWRU can’t host a successful concert. The free concert was a good example of the student activity fee hard at work.” Besides the Re-orientation party, other events for the day included the band Company playing at Thwing Center during lunch.

In addition to the Re-orientation party, the 12th Annual Science Fiction Marathon kicked off at 8 p.m. the same night, with doors opening at 6 p.m. in Strosacker Auditorium. Admission was $10.00. The 17 films included A Clockwork Orange, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Alien, A Trip to the Moon, Tron, War of the Worlds, and 2 surprise movies.

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January 07, 2015

Namesakes - Heman Oviatt and the Oviatt Professorship

Over the years Case Western Reserve University’s benefactors have donated funds to establish endowments for many purposes - scholarships, research, buildings maintenance, and professorships. Typically, the donated funds are invested and only the income is used to support the endowment’s purpose. These gifts, thus, have a lasting impact on the university. The income from endowed professorships, also called endowed chairs, supports part or all of the salary of the incumbent and, sometimes, expenses related to his or her research.

CWRU’s oldest surviving endowed chair, the Oviatt Professorship was established in 1837, only 11 years after Western Reserve College’s founding. Heman Oviatt, a Western Reserve College trustee, donated land valued at $10,000 to endow the professorship in the theology department. Heman Oviatt was born in Goshen, Connecticut in 1775 and was one of the original settlers of Hudson, Ohio, Western Reserve College’s original home. Oviatt was a successful merchant and, in 1837 was elected the first mayor of Hudson. Oviatt died in 1854.

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Allen Smith, Jr. painting of Heman Oviatt

Originally named the Oviatt Professorship of Sacred Rhetoric, in 1853 the name was changed to the Oviatt Professorship of Rhetoric. In 1906 the name was changed to the Oviatt Professorship of English.

Oviatt Professors and the dates they held the chair are:

Henry Noble Day, 1840-1857
Carroll Cutler, 1865-1876
Daniel F. DeWolf, 1876-1880
Edwards P. Cleaveland, 1882-1895
Oliver Farrar Emerson, 1896-1927
Finley Melville Foster, 1928-1953
William Powell Jones, 1954-1967
Robert Ornstein, 1974-1988
Roger B. Salomon, 1990-1999
Gary Lee Stonum, 1999-2013
William Siebenschuh, 2014-

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