Last week marked the 60th anniversary of the Korean War, which affected campus measurably, despite the fact it was being played out halfway across the globe.
One of the first developments at OSU, according to a history of OSU Pres. Howard Bevis’ administration, was the appointment in autumn 1950 of a committee on Civil Defense, whose mission was to give Ohio communities the “knowledge and facilities” at the University to help them cope with atomic warfare. By March 1951 University emergency facilities had been inventoried by the campus Civil Defense Council, and local and state authorities had been notified of their availability. A War Emergency Committee was also created.
Because of the threat of atomic warfare, the city made extensive preparations for civil defense against such attacks. (At the time, Columbus was seen as a logical target in Ohio.) In early December 1950, OSU Vice President Bland Stradley announced the University would work both with Columbus and with Franklin County officials in preparing against atomic bombs.
Another effect of the war was a ban by the National Production Board on the construction of buildings for “amusement, recreational or entertainment purposes.” (St. John Arena’s construction did not begin until 1954, after the war ended.)
One of the biggest effects of the war, of course, was on enrollment. Early on, a University committee was created to coordinate information about the draft and calls to service of faculty and students. Like World War II, OSU faced a considerable dip in enrollment because of the war, so University officials tried to stem off an even further drop through a coordinated campaign to encourage male students to stay in school until they were called up, instead of enlisting. At the beginning of the winter quarter of 1951, Bevis issued a letter to male students, urging them to “stay in school as long as you can and do your work the very best you can! Whatever happens, this will make you of greater service to your country.”
In June 1950, the Alumni Monthly reported that dozens of Ohio State alumni were on the front lines when the war broke out. The first OSU casualty was Lt. John F. Archer, who was killed in action July 29, 1950. He had withdrawn from OSU during World War II to fight in that conflict; in the two years in which he served in World War II he won five battle stars.