From Woody's Couch

Our Playbook on OSU History

Page 58 of 95

Twelve Days of Buckeyes: In 2nd term, Gee strives for “One University”

Gee, 1990

Gee, 1990

When E. Gordon Gee returned to OSU for his second term, he said it felt like he was coming home. Indeed, the largest chunk of Gee’s career at the highest echelon of academia has been spent as a Buckeye. He has a combined 15 years so far under his belt in two terms in OSU’s highest office. He’s not our longest-serving president – that record is held by William Oxley Thompson, at 26 years – but like Thompson, he is a beloved figure to many in the OSU community, who would likely want him to stay another century, if possible.

Gee’s first home was actually far from his current one: Born in Vernal, Utah, Gee enrolled at the University of Utah and attended graduate school at Columbia University, where he received a degree in law and a Ph.D. in education.  A variety of positions in academia and law followed.  He became assistant dean for administration at the University of Utah College of Law in 1973, a judicial fellow and staff assistant to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1974, and associate professor and assistant dean of law at Brigham Young University, later becoming a full professor and associate dean.  He later accepted a position as dean of law at West Virginia University, and in 1981, became its president, one of the youngest in the nation.  In 1985, he became president of the University of Colorado, before accepting the presidency of Ohio State in 1990.

Gee's welcome party at Bricker Hall, 1990

Gee’s welcome party at Bricker Hall, 1990

From 1998 to 2000, Gee served as president of Brown University, and in 2000, he became president of Vanderbilt University, which he served until accepting an offer in 2007 from the OSU Board of Trustees to return to Ohio State.

Twelve Days of Buckeyes: “3” apparently is a charm for the chemistry department


Chemistry Building #1 after fire, 1887

OSU’s chemistry department got off to a rocky start: Originally housed on the third floor of University Hall, it was soon moved to a newly constructed building on the site of, most recently, Brown Hall. When a fire started in the department’s new building in 1887, the whole structure burned down because of a lack of water to extinguish the flames.

The next chemistry building was built two years later on the site of the present Derby Hall. It burned down in 1904. A recounting of the incident said there were “ludicrous happenings due to excitement” that occurred that night.

Chemistry Building #2, 1904

Chemistry Building #2, 1904

Apparently, the firefighters were afraid of the chemicals housed in the building, so they did not try to put out the flames (whether or not the chemicals were a threat is not known). However, that did not stop students from entering the burning building and attempting to save the contents, including bottles of distilled water.

The third chemistry building, now known as Derby Hall, was rebuilt in 1906 on the site of its predecessor. It, too, caught fire soon after it was completed; however, the building was saved. Its first addition was, of course, a fire-proof storage shed for the chemicals. No doubt this helped to break the curse.



Filed by C.N.

Twelve Days of Buckeyes: Polo a “mane” event 4 OSU’s ROTC program

Polo Team, 1920s

Polo Team, 1920s

For those of you unfamiliar with the game of polo, here’s a quick primer before we get into OSU’s connection to the sport: Four players mounted on horses and equipped with long mallets try to drive a wooden ball down a field and across the other team’s goal line. Meanwhile, four players on the opposite team try to get the ball away from the first team and do the same thing. Each player has at least three horses that can be rotated in and out of play, according to certain rules. It is considered a full-contact sport, and falls, bumps and spills are part of the game. For a good idea of how it all works, read Rudyard Kipling’s short story, “The Maltese Cat.”

As to Ohio State: In the mid-1920s, Lt. Charles Horn organized the first polo team, using artillery horses owned by the U.S. Army. In 1927, 40 horses were transferred with polo equipment for use by the OSU’s ROTC program. What does the military have to do with polo? For many years, the military regarded polo as an ideal training method for officers. Many ROTC programs, as well as military bases, had horses and polo teams on hand; in fact, polo was a sport spread by the military, first by the British and then in the U.S.

Polo Team, 1942 (Charles Horn kneeling on far right)

Polo Team, 1942 (Charles Horn kneeling on far right)

Here at OSU, many of the men on the polo team were enrolled in the ROTC program, but many were also studying Veterinary Medicine; there were also some who got into the sport without wanting to be a vet of either variety.

By all accounts, polo’s heyday was the interwar era. At OSU, crowds of up to 1,000 would gather to watch games played at the polo fields south of Ohio Stadium and east of the Olentangy River. An additional field was near the site of the Fawcett Center, and the stable where the horses were housed stood near the corner of Lane Avenue and Olentangy River Road.

Polo game, 1929

Polo game, 1929

As the military provided the horses, there was actually very little cost to the players except for riding attire and travel expenses for away games. That is how OSU could afford to compete with the likes of Princeton, Harvard and Yale, as well as travel to the games. (The horses did not travel with the team; the home team would provide horses for the visitors.) In addition to competing against Ivy League teams, OSU also played teams closer to home, such as Michigan State. The Buckeyes also competed against the University of Missouri, Texas A&M and a number of military teams.

Polo ceased to be played at OSU in 1943, when the U.S. Army recalled its horses.

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