Shakespeare famously asked, "What?s in a name?" At Ohio University, the answer often is history. Across campus the names of buildings record part of the 206-year history of our institution.
Ohio University buildings are named after faculty and alumni, but by far the largest number of buildings are named after presidents of the university. The Athens campus highlights the names and achievements of university presidents from Jacob Lindley (1808-1822) to Robert Glidden (1994-2004). Eighteen of the 19 presidents have had buildings named after them, although not all of those structures still exist.
Part of this year?s Founders Day celebration includes the opening at 4 p.m. on Feb. 19 of the Presidential Portrait Gallery in the fourth-floor reception area of Baker University Center.
In honor of Founders Day, Outlook offers a glimpse of some of the university presidents whose names line our landscape.
Lindley Hall is named in honor of Jacob Lindley, the first president of Ohio University. Lindley, a former pastor at the Presbyterian Church in Waterford, Ohio, served from 1808-1822.
Lindley was a one-man university -- teaching all of the courses without assistance until 1814. He organized the college and implemented the first curriculum. After retiring in 1822, he returned to the ministry.
Lindley Hall was originally built in 1917 as a residence hall for female students, and it gained additions in 1939 and 1951. It currently contains numerous academic departments and offices.
McGuffey Hall is named for Ohio University?s fourth president, William Holmes McGuffey. McGuffey, famous in educational and American history for his McGuffey Readers, was also a former Presbyterian minister.
Formerly the president of Cincinnati College, now the University of Cincinnati, he served at OHIO from 1839-1843. He increased the range of courses offered and made the academic calendar more practical, but clashed with students and administration. His strict take on discipline put him at odds with students and he faced difficulties in generating revenues for the institution after a controversy surrounding reappraisal of leases for university property. After leaving OHIO in 1843, he served as the president of Woodward College in Cincinnati.
McGuffey Hall was built in 1839. It served as a residence hall in the early 1900s and then housed student organizations. It currently holds the offices of University Advancement.
Howard Park, the former location of Howard Hall, found at the corner of College and Union streets, honors Solomon Howard, the sixth president of Ohio University. Howard, a former Methodist minister who had assisted in founding Ohio Wesleyan University, took the reins of OHIO in 1852.
In his 20 years in office he was able to get the university completely out of debt for the first time in 40 years. In 1870, Howard began admitting women to OHIO. He retired in 1872.
Begun in 1902, Ellis Hall is one of the oldest and largest classroom buildings on campus. It was named for Alston Ellis, the 10th president of OHIO, who took office in 1901.
He oversaw a time of great growth at the university. Seven buildings were constructed, and the university?s budget and enrollments were growing as the engineering, music and commerce programs thrived. Summer classes, which many students today take advantage of, became a standard part of the OHIO curriculum. He hired the first alumni director and dean of women. Ellis died suddenly in 1920.
Ellis Hall is the first OHIO building to be funded entirely by state funding. It was originally for the instruction of teachers, but now houses a number of academic departments, classrooms and the Institute for Applied and Professional Ethics. It was the first building on campus to be named for a living president.
Baker University Center
The Baker University Center honors John Calhoun Baker, the 14th president of Ohio University. He left his post as associate dean of Harvard Business School to take office in 1945.
He is credited with transforming OHIO into a modern university. Baker expanded the campus and faculty and reestablished the regional campus system. He created the Ohio University Fund, now called The Ohio University Foundation, and created the Distinguished Professor Award. He retired in 1961 and continued to advise and mentor OHIO presidents during his lifetime.
Construction on the new Baker University Center began in the spring of 2004. It opened to the public on Jan. 2, 2007. It houses a number of dining venues, offices and meeting spaces.
Vernon Robert Alden, like Baker, was the associate dean of Harvard Business School when he became president of OHIO in 1962. In Alden?s seven-year tenure, the number of faculty and students doubled, campus continued to expand and the Bush Airport was built.
Alden encouraged research activities and advocated for it. He also oversaw the creation of the Faculty Senate and the Ohio University Press. Alden left OHIO in 1969 to pursue a career with the Boston Company.
The Alden Library opened in February 1969 and contained 555,000 volumes. In 2009, the library acquired its 3 millionth addition to its collection. The building can seat 3,000 readers and researchers, and contains numerous study stations, computer terminals and groups that offer academic and research assistance.
Ping Student Center
Former president Charles J. Ping is the namesake for the Ping Student Center, a recreational center that features a climbing wall, five gymnasiums, racquetball courts and much more.
Ping joined Ohio University in 1975 and was, like the university?s early presidents, a Presbyterian minister. His devotion to long-range planning was showcased in his work on several 10-year planning documents for the institution. He created the University Planning Advisory Council, a budget advisory group made up of people from across the OHIO community.
In his 19 years, he oversaw the establishment of the College of Osteopathic Medicine, the College of Health and Human Services, the Innovation Center and the Edison Biotechnology Institute.
After retiring in 1994, Ping was named president emeritus by the Board of Trustees. He is currently director of the Cutler Scholars Program and a trustee professor of philosophy and education.