Written by Sally H. Wertheim
HIGHER EDUCATION. The origins of the institutions of higher education in Cleveland can be traced in many respects to the needs and belief systems of their early founders, often reflecting the larger society. Developments in American higher education were closely related to major events in the nation’s social and political history, worldwide intellectual and technical revolution, rising egalitarianism, and population growth. The pre-Civil War years were emphatically the age of the college, and witnessed the proliferation of colleges on both the national and local levels. Most of these were originally religiously affiliated and privately sponsored. The period after 1865 was dominated by the rise of the university based on the German system, which stressed publication, research, and graduate study.
Early Cleveland colleges were founded by prominent community and church leaders to provide a trained ministry to transmit the values of the society. Western Reserve College, largely a Presbyterian endeavor, chose Hudson as its first site in 1826, later moving to Cleveland in 1882. In 1851 several Baptist ministers helped found CLEVELAND UNIVERSITY, which had a brief life until it closed in 1853. In the 1850s, Western College of Homeopathic Medicine opened, which lasted several decades. Dyke School of Commerce, a proprietary school, was established in the early 1850s to serve the growing needs of the mercantile community, teaching practical courses for office workers, such as bookkeeping. It merged and became Dyke & Spencerian College in 1942, and then developed into DYKE COLLEGE, a nonprofit educational institution granting 2- and 4-year business degrees.
As Cleveland grew and became industrialized, its educational needs expanded. In 1880 Case School of Applied Science was founded, and 2 years later Western Reserve College moved from Hudson to Cleveland. Case offered an engineering curriculum, the first west of the Alleghenies, and was characterized by linear growth in applied science and engineering until 1947. From 1947-67 it experienced a transition to Case Institute of Technology and became nationally recognized. Thereafter, it struggled to retain its identity, and by 1973 enjoyed a renaissance and reassertion of its position as a technical institute as part of CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY., which had resulted from a federation with Western Reserve Univ. in 1967.
Western Reserve College, with the assistance of a $500,000 donation from AMASA STONE, moved from Hudson to Cleveland in 1882, after having experienced great financial difficulty, often unable to pay its president, and losing many students and faculty during the Civil War. Stone controlled the Board of Trustees; stipulated that the college be named for his son, Adelbert; and mandated that the college and Case School be located in close proximity on a site about 5 mi. east of downtown Cleveland. Many wanted Adelbert to admit only, men, even though Western Reserve College had admitted women. So in 1888, a separate women’s college was established across the street, which became known as Flora Stone Mather College. By the end of the 19th century, WRU added graduate, law, nursing, and dental schools, a school of library science, and a school of applied social science, reflecting the German model of higher education with its graduate programs.
In 1846 METHODISTS founded Baldwin Institute in Berea. In 1864 German Methodists separated the German department from Baldwin, establishing German Wallace College. BALDWIN-WALLACE COLLEGE, still affiliated with the Methodist church, resulted from a merger of these two institutions in 1913. Following World War II, Baldwin-Wallace broadened its traditional liberal-arts curriculum to include business and evening programs.
Most of the private colleges continued their Protestant church affiliation and orientation toward middle-class and upper-middle-class values. Though WRU discontinued formal affiliation with any denomination after the move to Cleveland, most of its presidents were Protestant clergymen. These orientations did not meet the needs of an emerging economically successful Catholic population, which began establishing its own colleges. St. Ignatius College was founded by the Society of Jesus in 1886; it was renamed JOHN CARROLL UNIVERSITY in 1923 after the first archbishop of the Catholic church in the U.S. In 1935 it moved from its original location on Cleveland’s west side to its current location in UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, adding business courses, a graduate school, and an evening program in the 1950s. In 1968 the university moved from full-time male enrollment to a coeducational institution.
The history of URSULINE COLLEGE parallels that of the URSULINE SISTERS OF CLEVELAND who came to Cleveland in 1850 from France to establish the first religious teaching community in Cleveland. In 1871 Ursuline nuns founded the first chartered women’s college in Ohio in a large house on EUCLID AVE.., moving to an Overlook Rd. campus from 1922-66, and then to PEPPER PIKE. The SISTERS OF NOTRE DAME first established an academy in downtown Cleveland in the 1870s. Then in 1922 they founded a liberal-arts college for women, currently (1996) located in S. EUCLID, which reflects the mission of the order’s founder, Sr. Julie Billiart, the 18th-century pioneer in women’s education.
Another group that did not fit the traditional college-student mold was the part-time student. To meet their needs, the YMCA offered evening classes in downtown Cleveland in a variety of subjects, such as art, bookkeeping, and French, as early as the 1880s. By the beginning of the century, daytime classes were added. Enrollments increased and degree, programs were developed in engineering and business by 1923. There was also a 2-year Vocational Jr. College program, with a unique cooperative plan in which students worked half a term, then attended classes. Later, in 1929, the college was named Fenn College after a benefactor, SERENO P. FENN. NEWTON D. BAKER, former Cleveland mayor and university trustee, helped WRU establish Cleveland College to serve the adult learner in the 1920s, in which classes were held in different parts of the community. It eventually moved downtown to PUBLIC SQUARE, moving in the early 1950s to Western Reserve campus, where it was eventually absorbed by the university.
Higher education continued reflecting the milieu in which it found itself. As the Depression, followed by World War II, beset Cleveland, the colleges experienced some retrenchment and little growth. The applicant pool began changing, reflecting the World War II veterans who had discontinued or interrupted their college years and could now take advantage of the G.I. Bill of 1944; while many students from working-class families were beginning to see the value of a college education. There was also an anticipated growth in the college-age population resulting from the postwar baby boom, with this group increasing from 4% in 1900 to 40% in 1964. At this time the Cleveland area did not have any publicly supported colleges, and it appeared that the private colleges would be unable to absorb the anticipated increase in potential students. Private colleges seemed to make little effort to accommodate students with special needs: the married, part-time, or commuter students, and those with diverse social or racial backgrounds. Cleveland’s strong Democratic political tradition, different from the downstate Republican orientation, seemed to stand in the way of establishing a public (state) college system. Ohio State Univ. dominated the public university scene, and Clevelanders had not demonstrated much interest in public higher education.
By the late 1950s, the community-college concept had still not been adopted in Ohio. Early efforts to establish public institutions of higher education in Cleveland emanated from the work of the Ohio Commission on Education beyond the High School in 1958. It issued a report, “Ohio’s Future in Education beyond High School,” recommending that the general assembly enact permissive legislation so that 2-year colleges or technical institutes financed by state and local funds and by student fees could be founded, and that these types of programs be established in Cleveland as soon as possible. Funds were available by 1960. In 1959 Gov. Michael DiSalle held a State House Conference on Education, from which came relatively strong support for the comprehensive community college as a viable alternative for new efforts in higher education in the 1960s. Despite strong support, there was much difference of opinion about the type and organization of public higher, education in Ohio.
Meanwhile, as early as 1952 the CLEVELAND FOUNDATION supported the CLEVELAND COMMISSION ON HIGHER EDUCATION, a coalition of local colleges which coordinated planning among the member colleges. In 1952 the commission issued a study, “These Will Go to College,” which predicted a rise in the college population and found a sharp distinction among various socioeconomic groups attending college in the Cleveland area. At this time there were only 2 low-cost public universities in the area (at Kent and Akron), and they were 30-40 mi. from downtown Cleveland. The private colleges seemed to have fixed abilities to expand, whereas the population was expected to increase 3-fold. A later commission report (1955) noted that general education and vocational education should be offered in 2-year institutions, also suggesting that less able students attend those institutions where programs would be more appropriate to them, thus preserving the elitism of the private institutions.
By 1959 the commission issued another report, “The Future of Higher Education in Cleveland,” advocating more opportunities for part-time and adult students, with an emphasis on community-service courses, conferences, and specialized courses. It did not take into account potential black and women students, predicting that these groups would not increase materially. The report also described a very active role for the commission in creating a community college. Two years later, Ohio passed enabling legislation permitting counties to create a community college district, and in 1963 the state legislature provided state financial support for community colleges. CUYAHOGA COMMUNITY COLLEGE was founded in 1963. Its first home was at Brownell School, a 19th-century building leased from the Cleveland Board of Education. Later it moved to its own downtown campus and established both an eastern campus in WARRENSVILLE TWP.. and a western campus in PARMA, making it the largest college in Cleveland.
The expanding college population during the late 1950s and early 1960s led the Cleveland Commission on Higher Education to recommend creation of public 4-year higher education. Kent State and Ohio Universities were offering classes at 2 local public high schools, clearly documenting the need for a 4-year state university in Cleveland. CLEVELAND STATE UNIVERSITY was established in 1964. In 1965 the trustees of CSU and of FENN COLLEGE formulated a contract to utilize Fenn as the nucleus of the new university. Fenn gave CSU its land and buildings and transferred its faculty and staff in 1965. This new downtown university mainly served a commuter population. In 1986 its colleges included Graduate Urban Affairs, Arts & Sciences, Business Admin., Engineering, and Education. The Cleveland Marshall School of Law (est. 1897) merged with CSU in 1969 to become the, CSU College of Law (see CLEVELAND-MARSHALL LAW SCHOOL).
During the 1970s the higher-education community continued responding to the demands of a growing population by building and adding programs. Some of the expansion, such as a series of dormitories constructed at CWRU in the 1960s, proved a liability as the college-age population shrank in the late 1970s. As local colleges and universities move into the 1990s and beyond, their thrust will once again need to be evaluated and changed because of the diminution of the potential pool of candidates. In the 1990s, colleges continued targeting non-traditional-age students, including housewives and working men and women. With the era of rapid growth behind them, it was hoped that they might be better able to address the issue of quality curriculum offerings to meet the education needs of their many constituencies.
Sally H. Wertheim
John Carroll Univ.
Last Modified: 12 May 1998 04:01:25 PM