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
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
Western Reserve College, with the assistance of a $500,000 donation from
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
The history of
Another group that did not fit the traditional college-student mold was the part-time student. To meet their needs, the
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
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.
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.
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.