From Woody's Couch

Our Playbook on OSU History

Author: Lindy Smith (page 1 of 3)

Movember Motivation: Faculty Facial Hair

All month we’ve been providing photos of historical chinstraps, muttonchops, and sidewhiskers to motivate your Movember efforts over on Twitter. Today the fun comes to the blog with a look at some fancy faculty facial hair, courtesy of the 1897 Makio yearbook. To vote, select the button next to the photo you like best and then click “Vote” at the bottom of the poll.

The College of Public Health is heading up the #MOhio effort on campus. If you’re participating, hang in there!

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If these names seem familiar, it’s because these faculty all have (or at least had) buildings on campus named after them.

Elzy’s voice took her from OSU to Broadway and beyond

Ruby Elzy, 1930

Ruby Elzy, 1930

When Ruby Elzy showed up at OSU as a freshman in 1927, she “couldn’t read one [musical] note from another,” she told the Lantern in 1937. By 1936, though, she was playing “Serena” in “Porgy and Bess” on Broadway.

It was actually a chance encounter with an OSU professor in her home state of Mississippi that began her journey to stardom. Growing up, Elzy traveled with her three siblings around Mississipi as their mother made trips to various schools in rural districts. Elzy was responsible for her younger siblings when her mother was at work and was taught basic schooling by her mother. When Elzy was 11 years old, her mother got her a job washing tablecloths at a local women’s center associated with Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi. When Elzy was old enough, she attended Rust College.

Royal D. Hughes, 1926

Royal D. Hughes, 1926

One day, OSU Education Prof. Charles C. McCracken was visiting with the president of Rust College in the president’s office. Since it was summer in Mississippi, all the windows were open, and their meeting was interrupted by singing from a nearby building. McCracken insisted on hearing a performance of the singer – Elzy – and convinced her to study music at Ohio State. So Elzy came to Ohio State in autumn 1927, after the school of music had awarded her with the Presser Foundation Music Scholarship. Since she couldn’t read music, then-School of Music director Royal Hughes taught her himself.

Music Building (formerly the President's home), 1922

Music Building (formerly the President’s home), 1922

After her graduation from Ohio State in 1930, she received the Rosenwald Scholarship to Julliard School of Music in New York. She was “discovered” again while singing in a choir in New

York that had been recruited to sing in the movie “Emperor Jones.” The director liked her dialect and knowledge of African-American spirituals, so he made her a supporting character, to none other than Paul Robeson.

In 1936, George Gershwin chose her to play “Serena” in his opera, “Porgy and Bess.” She sang the world premiere of that opera, and the following year received an invitation to perform at the White House. She also performed on national radio. She died unexpectedly on June 26, 1943, in Detroit after complications from surgery.

OSU snuffed out smoking on campus as early as 1900

Sketch of a smoking student from the 1895 Makio.

1895 Makio.

Earlier this month, the University’s new tobacco-free policy took effect. It prohibits the use of all types of tobacco products on University-owned property, both inside and outside of buildings. This is the most widespread prohibition on tobacco products on the books yet at OSU. However, the University has banned tobacco on campus, at least to some extent, since 1900.

That year, in an update to the campus by-laws, Section 46 was amended to read: “The use of tobacco in any form in the lecture rooms, halls, corridors, door-ways, stair-ways, laboratories and libraries of the university is prohibited.” Until this time smoking was allowed in hallways, but not classrooms or labs.

There was a push in 1930 to have this rule revoked on the grounds that many campus buildings were fireproof, with an understanding that the ban would still hold for non-fireproof buildings, but it was unsuccessful.

William Oxley Thompson, 1907

President Thompson, 1907

At a Wednesday morning convocation in March 1901, then President William Oxley Thompson spoke out not only against the use of tobacco products but the “use of narcotics or stimulants in any form,” particularly for those men under the age of twenty-five. He argued that stimulants produced “a derangement of the nervous system and such a result cannot but affect any man’s abilities in later life.” Keep in mind that this predates the Surgeon General’s report by 63 years!

Campus interest in controlling tobacco use waned until the 1970s. In 1975 Associate Provost George Crepeau sent a memo to all faculty regarding a lack of enforcement of the 1900 ban. The memo mentions “students (and professors) …smoking in rooms with large red NO SMOKING signs posted.” It also discusses the “damage to floors in some buildings where cigaretts [sic] have been dropped and tiles have been burned.” There were many complaints to the Office of Academic Affairs and the President (then Harold Enarson). In 1977, Enarson announced a new focus on enforcing the no-smoking rules in compliance with a new state law regarding smoking in public places.

Student smoking in classroom, 1976

Student smoking in classroom, 1976

A University committee was formed to review the existing non-smoking policy and issued recommendations in 1986 that included banning the sale of tobacco products on University grounds and offering a smoke-cessation program for OSU employees who smoked.

After much public discussion among the University community regarding the proposed policy, the Board of Trustees approved it effective July 1, 1987. Some small changes were made, specifically that the smoking or non-smoking designation for single-occupant offices that could be enclosed were left up to the inhabitants. The Ohio Public Health Association awarded OSU a silver commendation in 1987 for this policy.

In 1991 OSU put together a new Committee to Review University Non-Smoking Policy. As a result of this committee, a new stricter policy was approved by the Board effective July 1, 1993. The updated policy extended the ban to all indoor areas, including St. John Arena and Ohio Stadium, with the exception of “specifically designated private residential space.” The ban

on the sale of cigarettes on campus was continued, as were smoking cessation services. A policy regarding alcohol and tobaccos advertising was issued in 1999, banning both from public campus spaces.

"Smoking permitted in designated areas only" door sticker, 1988

“Smoking permitted in designated areas only” door sticker, 1988

Prior to the current tobacco-free policy, the last major change was in response to the 2006 Smoke Free Workplace Law passed by the state of Ohio. This law prohibited smoking inside buildings or under outside overhands and within 25 feet of doors, windows, and air intakes. This same year, the entire Wexner Medical Center became tobacco free, even in outside spaces. The current policy took effect on January 1, 2014.


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