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Records of the Office of the Provost (Group 4)
[20] Records of the Office of the Provost, 1958-1995, 60 l.f.

Administrative History

The Office of the Provost of Oberlin College was created on June 6, 1960, by act of the board of trustees. Thurston E. Manning, at the time a member of the Department of Physics, was named the first provost, effective July 1, 1960. The provost often acted as the president’s deputy in handling academic matters regarding the College of Arts and Sciences and the Conservatory of Music (from 1960 to 1966 the Graduate School of Theology was included in this group). Among the provost’s responsibilities were institutional evaluation of distinct educational, planning, and development issues as well as making specific recommendations to the president, the faculty, and the board of trustees on campus-wide matters. Over the years, responsibility for the Offices of Admissions, the Allen Memorial Art Museum, the Bursar’s Office, College Archives, Budget and Financing, the Computing Center, Financial Aid, External Grants and Sponsored Programs, the College Library, Planning and Research, and the Registrar also fell upon the provost at different times. On July 1, 1995, the Office of the Provost was abolished and removed from the administrative chart; its bureaucratic responsibilities were transferred to other divisional offices of the College. Throughout its 35-year history, the Office of the Provost was located in the Cox Administration Building.

Scope and Content

Organized around five subgroups, the records of the Office of the Provost form a substantial chronicle of architectural activity at Oberlin College from the early 1960s to the present. As the Division Head for the Art Museum, College Library, Computing Center, and several other administrative departments, the Office of the Provost maintained records (evidential and informational) documenting new building construction and renovation projects, in addition to lease, maintenance, and space-use information for existing campus and College-owned structures. Materials of architectural substance in this record group are held in Subgroup I “Administrative Offices/Departmental Units,” Subgroup III “Governing Bodies and Committees,” and Subgroup V “Administrative Records of the Provost (General).”

Architectural records in Subgroup I “Administrative Offices/Departmental Units” cover the Allen Memorial Art Museum (AMAM), 1961-1987, and the College Library director’s office, 1958-1987. Museum-related items include annual departmental reports, 1971-1986, with operating budgets, staff reports, and files relating to building construction and maintenance issues; inter-office correspondence, 1972-1985, documenting grant requests, building design problems and final design approval, consultant reports, and the activities of the AMAM Architect Selection Committee, 1972; architectural drawings, although very limited, consist of site and floor plan photocopies of the Robert E. Venturi-designed addition to the AMAM, as well as a rudimentary site plan, n.d., for the temporary geodesic domes situated at the rear of the AMAM for exhibition and teaching space. College Library records, 1958-1987, consist of architectural items relating to the College Library (Carnegie and Mudd Center) and to the Conservatory of Music Library. These records include annual departmental reports, architect correspondence, building construction budgets and schedules, inter-office memoranda, and assorted meeting minutes for ad hoc architectural planning committees. Of specific interest among these records are the planning and program notes of Library Director Eileen Thornton for the new College Library (Mudd Center), consultant reports by Ralph E. Ellsworth ’29, staff building use and needs reports (for Carnegie and Mudd), a 70-page preliminary program from 1965 for the new Oberlin College Library, a history of the architectural firm of Warner, Burns, Toan, and Lundy (the designers of Mudd Center), photographs of Mudd Center, floor plans, site plans, section details, and a color rendering of Mudd’s entrance.

Architectural records in Subgroup III “Governing Bodies and Committees” are located in Series 9 “Committee Files,” and mainly consist of planning reports to the president’s office and to the College Board of Trustees. Items include Building Committee reports, 1978-1985, a 1980 Buildings and Grounds Subcommittee Report, and materials documenting the activities of the Space Utilization Advisory Committee, 1973-1974. Found here are reviews of building maintenance histories and space needs, in addition to scattered floor plan proposals for campus athletic facilities, public and general use facilities, and college administrative and support facilities. Of special interest are copies, materials, and notes related to the two-volume “Long Range Planning Report for Campus and Residential Life” (June, 1985), which includes renovation-feasibility studies for Baldwin Cottage, Keep Cottage, Shurtleff Cottage, Talcott Hall, and Tank Hall, as well as specification and data schedules for the North Campus Dining/Social Hall (Stevenson Hall) and a copy of the Student Life Committee’s “Cluster” proposal. Of importance are also the documents of the 1973-1974 Space Utilization Advisory Committee, which include copies of and materials for the “Master Plan for Oberlin College” (March, 1973), the Dober Study (February, 1973), and building histories for Carnegie Library, Finney Chapel, Peters Hall, Severance Chemical Laboratory, and Westervelt Hall written by Oberlin College Professor Geoffrey Blodgett (January/February, 1973).

Materials of architectural substance in Subgroup V “Administrative Records of the Provost (General),” are held in Series 3 “Buildings and Grounds Records,” and Series 9 “Subject Files.” Items in series 3 concern both renovation planning and the routine operation of all college structures and facilities, 1960-1995, and include a limited number of floor plans, architect correspondence, inter-office memoranda, program drafts and similar development materials. Especially well documented are records for the AMAM, 1970-1992; Carnegie Library, 1972-1994; the computer science lab at King Hall; Cox Administration Building renovation, 1976-1985; Finney Chapel renovation planning, 1974-1992; Hall Auditorium, 1971-1992; Mudd Center, 1968-1974; the Kettering Neuroscience Building addition, 1988-1994; the North Campus Dining Facility (Stevenson Hall), 1986-1990; Oberlin Inn renovation planning, 1967-1986; Peters Hall, 1967-1994; Philips Gymnasium, 1966-1975; and Westervelt Hall, 1969-1976. General buildings and grounds files in series 3 include plans for increased accessibility to facilities. The Office of the Associate Dean of Students devised the Oberlin College Transition Plan in 1978-1979 to comply with Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act; this plan is a copy sent to the provost. The provost’s office made more proposals for increased accessibility in 1992-1993. Series 9 “Subject Files” consists of special topic files. Items of peripheral architectural interest include site proposals, studies, planning documents, and news clippings relative to the Lorain County Airport, 1965-1981, as well as materials documenting the designation of Oberlin College as a National Historic Landmark, 1966-1985.

 
 
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