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May 22, 2013

Namesakes - John S. Millis and Millis Science Center

John Schoff Millis was the ninth president of Western Reserve University (1949-1967) and first chancellor of Case Western Reserve University (1967-1969). Born 11/22/1903 in Palo Alto, California, President Millis spent most of his life in academe. His father, Harry Alvin Millis, was an economist who taught at Stanford University, University of Kansas and University of Chicago.

President Millis earned his B. S. in mathematics and astronomy (1924), M. S. in physics (1927), and Ph.D. in physics (1931) from University of Chicago. He taught at Lawrence College in Appleton, Wisconsin and was Dean of Administration at Lawrence before becoming president of University of Vermont and State Agricultural College in 1941. In 1949 he came to Western Reserve University and was the first WRU president with an educational background in science.

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President Millis with sketch of the new science center

During his tenure, WRU grew in size by several measures: physical plant, research grants, faculty size, fundraising. He worked with T. Keith Glennan, president of the neighboring Case Institute of Technology, in consolidating activities and programs eventually leading to Federation. He was also involved in the establishment of University Circle Development Foundation (now University Circle, Inc.).

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President Millis and Vice President Webster Simon at cornerstone laying ceremony

The new science center was the result of one of the fundraising campaigns. It was built at a cost of $6,270,000 with donations from almost 3000 donors. The new science center was named for President Millis in July 1960 and was dedicated 10/13/1962. A symposium, The Living State, was held over 3 days (10/10-10/12/1962) in conjunction with the dedication of the new Millis Science Center and the new Joseph Treloar Wearn Laboratory for Medical Research. The building housed the departments of Biology, Chemistry, Geology, and Physics. It was originally to have 3 wings added, but plans changed after Federation with CIT.

The new building featured the Andrew E. Schmitt Lecture Hall with a 385 seat capacity. This was a technology-enhanced room for the time: AM/FM stereophonic system, a public address system, 6 motor-operated blackboards with 1200 square feet of writing space, facilities for television camera operators and a projection booth. The chemistry benches in Millis were equipped with 17 services. The physics research labs used elevated flooring under which all gas, vacuum, water and electrical services were distributed. Electronic, machine, wood, and paint shops were in the building. A library, located on the second floor housed 50,000 volumes, and 250 journals were received monthly.

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John Schoff Millis Science Center, 1962

Almost 40 years after its dedication, the Millis Science Center underwent a major renovation and reorganization and became part of the Agnar Pytte Center for Science Education and Research, which was dedicated 10/5/2001.

President Millis died 1/1/1988.

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May 15, 2013

Namesakes-Eddie Finnigan and Finnigan Fields

Edward L. “Eddie” Finnigan’s college athletic career spanned nearly forty years, from his matriculation at Western Reserve University’s Adelbert College in 1929 until his death in 1968. He was the first WRU student to win nine varsity letters, three each in football, basketball, and track. (At that time freshmen could not play varsity sports.) Finnigan was elected to the Warion Society and earned an Honor Key, both of which recognized student extracurricular achievement, early evidence of the leadership skills that would lead to his coaching effectiveness.

He coached at Baldwin Wallace for a number of years before returning to WRU as football coach (1951-1965), golf coach (1954-1958), track coach (1963-1966), and athletic director (1951-1968). He was also professor of Health and Physical Education. Over his 15 seasons as head football coach, Finnigan won 57 games, lost 49, and tied 7.

He was a well respected figure in Cleveland sports and 11/4/1967 was declared Eddie Finnigan Day in Cleveland and Berea.

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Eddie Finnigan, 1954 and Finnigan Fields, 1976

In October 1968 the new athletic complex at E. 115th Street was named Edward L. Finnigan Playing Fields by the CWRU Trustees. Finnigan Fields were used by CWRU athletic teams from 1968-2003. A part of the complex, named Fleming Field by the team, was used by the Cleveland Browns as a practice facility till 1972.

Finnigan was one of the inaugural inductees into the Spartan Club Hall of Fame in 1975. His nomination began, "Both coaches and athletes are eligible for admission to Case Reserve's Athletic Hall of Fame. Eddie L. Finnigan is perhaps the only person in the University's history to merit admission on both counts... Finnigan returned to his alma mater in 1952 to provide his magic touch to a grid team that lacked the luster of pre-WWII days. In two years Eddie fielded a winning team... A great competitor as an undergraduate, Eddie knew how to inspire his players when he coached... Eddie once said, 'The function of a coach is to eliminate mistakes.' By the two generations of Red Cats who mourned his passing, he is remembered as one of the best at that function."

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