MS 1126 - President Ralph McDonald Controversy Collection
|Title||MS 1126 - President Ralph McDonald Controversy Collection|
|Subject||BGSU Centennial History|
The President McDonald Controversy collection consists of 1.5 linear feet of committee minutes, committee reports, correspondence, literary productions, clippings, and printed material related to the series of events that culminated in the resignation of Dr. Ralph McDonald as the fourth President of Bowling Green State University. The collection spans the years 1956 to 1971.
No restrictions exist on the research use of this collection. This material was removed from the University Archives by Dana Nemeth, Library Associate II, and processed as a separate collection by Jason Skock, Student Archival Assistant in August 2009 and by Rex Childers, History Graduate Research Assistant, in September 2009. The register was prepared by Rex Childers and Dana Nemeth in October 2009.
Ralph McDonald served as the fourth President of Bowling Green State University from 1951 to 1961, during a critical growth period in the University’s history, but whose tenure eventually ended in his resignation due to student and faculty unrest. Dr. McDonald was hired in 1951 as a leader to move BGSU from its traditional role as a teacher training college to a full-fledged liberal arts university. With this goal in mind, Dr. McDonald sought to increase the number of faculty holding Ph.D. degrees who were active in research and publication, in addition to classroom teaching. Over half of the faculty was replaced during McDonald’s tenure, which caused disputes between faculty and administration, culminating in faculty petitions and counter-petitions supporting the administration.
Another factor which led to McDonald’s unpopularity was his view of the role of the university president in campus affairs. Dr. McDonald’s style was strongly authoritative, which countered a national trend on campuses allowing faculty and students to provide some influence on university policies. The underlying tensions came to a head in student demonstrations, alternately described either as riots, protests, or demonstrations, subject to the judgment of the commentator. These occurred over a three day period prior to the Easter break in the spring of 1961, and are sometimes referred to as the “Easter Riots,” receiving significant local, state and national attention.
The President Ralph McDonald Controversy Collection is comprised of several small collections which were originally part of the Bowling Green State University Archives. Because of the subject’s importance in the development of BGSU and in order to make the material more accessible, documents from various contributors and offices have been pulled together to create this one manuscript collection. It includes documents collected for and academic papers from a spring 1971 history undergraduate senior seminar. The collection also includes information on key figures involved in the controversies surrounding McDonald’s resignation, such as Sherman Stanage, Howard Brogan, and Charles Young, who were all professors serving on the faculty during the time of the disputes.
|Scope and Content|
The President McDonald Controversy collection consists of several folders of minutes and reports of university and non-university entities, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), subject files on key players in the controversy, correspondence authored or received by secondary faculty, trustee, and elected officials, and literary productions on the sequence of events that occurred on campus during the period covered. A sampling of campus, local and regional newspaper clippings, ranging in dates from September 1960 to May 1968, are included, as well as opposing campus publications disputing the events and motivations of the demonstrators.
Most unique to the collection are the literary productions, ranging from essays written as history course assignments to student and faculty protest material and statements, handwritten timelines and investigative queries made by key players in summation of the events of the 1961 “Easter riots” and its aftermath, and personal recollections and testimonies regarding issues that contributed to the disturbances.
A separate major focus of the material gathered in this collection is on President McDonald’s handling of the termination of Dr. Sherman Stanage from his position in the Philosophy Department following the riots. The response of the faculty, both in organized and individual commentary, is provided. Communications, recollections, and notes on the political and social struggles on campus by faculty, elected leaders, and press outlets, are also prominent. A separate collection related to this is a scrapbook compiled by faculty member Bernard Rabin (MMS 1796)
The collection covers the time period leading up to and through the resignation of Dr. McDonald, the interim and subsequent Presidency of Ralph Harshman, and into the administration of President William Jerome III. The collection provides a sense of the turmoil that existed on campus during this time of transition in BGSU’s history.
ADMINISTRATIVE AND COMMITTEE REPORTS
ACADEMIC PAPERS, DIARIES, RESEARCH NOTES, SPEECHES
SCRAPBOOKS AND SCRAPBOOK MATERIALS
EXCERPTS, NEWSLETTERS, FLYERS