Center for Archival Collections

Archival Chronicle

December 2009: Volume 28, Number 3

Archival Chronicle: December 2009--BGSU Centennial Perspectives | Archival Chronicle Index | CAC Homepage

Bowling Green State University at 100: A Look Back

This issue of the Archival Chronicle Gallery  features Anniversary Celebrations and Presidential Inaugurations of Bowling Green State University's first 100 years. The photographs in this issue are housed in the University Archives at the Center for Archival Collections.

Early Celebrations

Inaugurations:  Installing a President

offenhauer offenhauer

There was no formal inauguration for Dr. Homer Williams, who served as the first President of Bowling Green State University. By the time classes met in 1914, he had been hard at work for two years hiring faculty and working with contractors to get the first buildings constructed.  Williams was President until 1937, when the Board of Trustees appointed Dr. Ralph Offenhauer to the position.

The photographs above were taken at the time of Offenhauer's inauguration.  The University choir, seated behind the dignitaries, were part of the celebration.  Representatives of the Board of Trustees and faculty presented him with the university charter as a symbol of his office. Sadly, Dr. Offenhauer was fatally injured in a car accident in late 1938, after just fourteen months at the University.

Dr. Frank Prout, formerly president of the Board of Trustees of BGSU and Superintendent of the Sandusky City Schools, was chosen to succeed Offenhauer, and his inauguration was similar in form.  Again, the ceremony was held in the University's auditorium (at left), and presided over by members of the Board of Trustees.  In the view below, Dr. Williams can be seen seated in the front row of officials.

Prout 3

A happier presidential succession took place in 1951.  Above, left to right are Dr. Ralph McDonald, fourth president of BGSU, Fraser Reams of the Board of trustees, and the retiring Dr. Prout.  

With the University auditorium again hosting the final ceremonies (at right), faculty from every department took their place in the procession to the hall.  Dignitaries from the Board of Trustees and representatives of other colleges and universities led the way.  The procession seen above is just crossing Thurstin Avenue, through the main entrance to the campus.  The Gate Theater is seen in the background.

By 1963, the inauguration of a president of a state university was big news.  At left, is the press briefing room, set up in the Student Union, to allow reporters to get complete details of the event.  The ceremony, as always, featured members of the Board of Trustees and dignitaries from other universities.  But though the form was the same, the inauguration took place outdoors, on the east side of the Student Union, to allow for a larger audience.

Presidential Mace and Medallion


Some new symbolic features were added to the ceremonies for the inauguration of Dr. Jerome.  Seen above, left, is the Presidential medallion or pendant, symbolizing the tree of knowledge, designed by Professor Carl Hall.  At left, Dr. Harold Hasselschwert prepares to assemble the parts of the mace, which he designed.  The symbols and figures (seen in the detail view) represent the six branches of learning: drama, art, literature, music, science, and commerce.

Anniversaries Mark Growth and Change

Bowling Green State College acknowledged its 25th anniversary by becoming a full-fledged University. For the Silver Anniversary of the first graduating class (1939), solemn speeches marked the occasion in the auditorium.

Students and the community were active participants in the Golden Anniversary (celebrated in the 1959-1960 academic year).  Balloons and parades set the festive theme for Homecoming that year.  The band spelled out greetings, and the U.S. Post Office issued a special cancellation in honor of the milestone.

The Seventy-fifth Anniversary allowed for still more community and student involvement.  Student Carla Strawman won the competition to design the anniversary logo, which is seen on the banner and gift items below.  At left, President Paul Olscamp cuts a cake shaped like University Hall to open the fall picnic.

Archival Chronicle: December 2009--BGSU at 100 | Archival Chronicle Index | CAC Homepage