LIMA – After a community drive to bring an Ohio State campus to Lima, the first building on the Ohio State campus opened 50 years ago this week, complete with classrooms, labs, gathering areas, library, bookstore and everything else students needed to succeed in their educational journeys.
Today, John E. Galvin Hall remains the heart of the campus.
A ceremony marking Galvin Hall’s birthday is set for 2-4 p.m., Fri., Sept. 23, 2016, in the Galvin Courtyard. Speakers will include current OSU President Michael V. Drake, student representative Tierra Oliver, current Dean and Director Charlene D. Gilbert and the grandchildren of the building’s namesake. Tour guides will be on hand to show of the current uses and memorabilia will be on display.
On a crisp fall day in 1966, community members, legislators, students and educators gathered on the west side of a brand new, five-story building rising out of the woods in Bath Township to officially open the campus of The Ohio State University at Lima.
In the fall of 2016, a similar group will gather to celebrate a sustaining and continued commitment to convenient and affordable access to the education and resources of the state’s flagship university to the people of west central Ohio. Fifty years after Galvin Hall opened for its first classes, Ohio State Lima is still fulfilling the original vision community members had for the campus they fought to bring to the area.
“As we accumulated information on colleges, it quickly became evident that the only way for many young people to acquire the education which they should have would be to bring it to them where they live,” said Robert F. Galvin, president of the Galvin Foundation, in news reports of Oct. 31, 1963, on the announcement of the final installment of a pledge from the Galvin Foundation to purchase the land for a permanent site for an Ohio State campus in Lima. “This kind of education today isn’t a luxury; it’s an outright necessity.”
Construction began on the 82,500 square foot classroom structure in July 1965. The $2 million building was built on a “heavily forested” portion of the 565-acre campus. Galvin Hall was dedicated Sept. 18, 1966, and opened for classes Oct. 3, marking the end of the six-year era when OSU students took evening classes in Lima Senior High School. The student body of 469 in 1966 has grown to 1,039 in Autumn 2016.
“The new Lima branch will bring the vast resources of this university to thousands of students in an atmosphere where learning can flourish,” wrote Campus Director J. McLean Reed in a Lima News op-ed article, Sept. 16, 1966. ”A whole new vista of educational and cultural opportunities opens to all our citizens regardless of age, with the opening of this campus.”
In 1966, the majority of students were preparing for careers in agriculture, education, engineering, commerce and the arts and sciences, said published reports. Most would start in Lima and finish at the Ohio State campus in Columbus. Students today still have that option of beginning any of Ohio State’s more than 200 majors in Lima and finishing in Columbus. They can also start and complete 10 majors without ever leaving the area: biology, business, early and middle childhood education, English, health science, history, psychology, social work and theatre. Future engineers have also found a place to put down roots with a full roster of first-year courses and many of the second year.
In the six years of operation prior to the opening of Galvin Hall, Ohio State courses were taught in the evenings at the former site of Lima Senior High School. When the doors to Galvin Hall opened for autumn quarter 1966, students had access to classrooms, learning laboratories, student activities space and recreation, a campus bookstore, a 15,000 volume library, and food service. The black granite stone, soft red brick and concrete façade of Galvin Hall has remained largely unchanged as the Ohio State Lima campus has grown up around it. Today, the campus has spread out to include nine buildings, an observatory, various athletic playing fields, two entrances and a co-located technical college.
Galvin Hall remains the center of campus activity. As the main classroom building for Ohio State Lima students, Galvin Hall houses faculty offices and classrooms for education, the humanities and social sciences, and serves as a landing space for students to congregate, study and access the many student services available. Many spaces are still used in the same manner as their original purposes, while others have been updated to meet the needs of a 21st century college student.
Galvin Hall was named for John E. Galvin, businessman, political activist and philanthropist. The OSU Board of Trustees made a special exception to its rule of not naming buildings after living persons to honor the leadership and financial support John E. Galvin provided to bring an Ohio State campus to Lima. The $250,000 gift from the Galvin Foundation is credited with jump-starting the campaign to find and procure the land necessary for a stand-alone university campus.
Contributions to Lima
John E. Galvin was born on January 9, 1878, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He went to Wittenberg College and then began his long career in the steel industry. In 1907, Galvin co-founded The Ohio Steel Foundry in Lima. He was president from 1918 until 1951. Active in politics and charities, Galvin was a well-known figure locally and statewide.
In 1963, The Ohio State University at Lima announced that it had received a $250,000 gift from a donor who wished to remain unnamed. It soon was revealed that these funds came from Galvin, and they were used to jump-start the process of buying land for an Ohio State campus in Lima. When the “Phase I” building was completed in 1966, it was named after Galvin. Special permission had to be gained to name a building after someone who was still living.
Galvin died in 1974 at the age of 96.