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Records of the Office of the Treasurer (Group 7)
[14] Records of the Office of the Treasurer, 1822-1950, 50ft.

Administrative History

The first financial officer of Oberlin College was Eliphalet Redington (d. 1848), who was treasurer in 1834-35. The treasurer also initially served as secretary (or corresponding secretary) to the board of trustees. In addition to preparing the board’s correspondence, the secretary-treasurer maintained records of donations, expenditures, fees collected, and loans and scholarships, and he managed the College’s property and investments. From the beginning, the College’s financial matters were governed under guidelines established by the board of trustees and/or a trustee committee appointed to oversee investments.

In 1899, the secretary’s responsibilities were separated from those of the treasurer. Under the 1904 Constitution and Bylaws, the treasurer was responsible for “funds, securities, investments, muniments of title, indicia of ownership, assets, property, choses in action, accounts and items of credit and things receivable by or belonging to the College.” From 1915 to 1933 the treasurer worked with an investment company, and after that with an investment officer. The office maintained account books of assets and liabilities, receipts and expenditures, financial and property transactions, and trust funds, and it prepared the annual balance sheet and financial report for the board of trustees. Budget planning and resource allocation also were fixed duties. Finally, from 1925 to 1959 the treasurer was ex-officio treasurer of the board of managers of Allen Memorial Hospital.

The next significant step in the evolution of the financial management of the College occurred in 1939-40 under Treasurer Henry Wade Cargill (1874-1971). A special committee recommended that the offices of the Treasurer, Investment Executive, and Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds (responsible for plant maintenance and operations) continue to report directly to the president. However, two recommendations were adopted to consolidate the responsibilities of the treasurer and investment executive and to establish a high-level executive office to oversee all financial operations.

Thus in 1942, the board of trustees unified the offices of Treasurer (William Potter Davis) and Investment Executive (Vincent Seldon Hart) by asking the treasurer to manage investments and by naming the investment executive to the treasurer’s staff. The treasurer was replaced as secretary of the Investment Committee by the investment executive. In 1954, the position of business manager was created to oversee all financial operations and to supervise and coordinate the administration of all nonacademic departments. Consultant Lewis R. Tower was the first business manager (1954-1971);he was succeeded by Dayton E. Livingston (1971-1976). Livingston was later named vice president for business and finance. As the institution’s chief financial officer, Livingston reported directly to the president. Beginning in 1958 the position of controller (responsible for general accounting procedures) reported to the vice president of business and finance . Under the reorganization of the 1960s nine other offices reported to the enlarged Office of the Vice President for Business and Finance.

Between 1958 and 1984 the downsized Office of the Treasurer was directed by Karl H. Aughenbaugh (1958-1969) and Roger S. Cooper (1970-1984). When Cooper retired, the office’s responsibilities were again redefined to focus upon supervising the endowment investment program. Many of the treasurer’s former duties (e.g., receiving tuition fees, gifts, and donations; overseeing student accounts and loans; and supervising the finances of student organizations) were transferred to the bursar, Barbara Pitts (b.1931). Pitts, named assistant treasurer under Cooper in 1969, was the first woman to hold such a high post in the male-dominated office. The treasurer’s position went unfilled for five years, and the vice president for business and finance continued to supervise the endowment.

When Dayton E. Livingston retired in 1988, the position of vice president for business and finance was abolished. In its place was created an Office of Vice President for Operations, with responsibility for supervising grounds and land planning, the Oberlin College Inn, the physical plant, purchasing and auxiliary services, security, and personnel. (Donna M. Raynsford (b.1942) was named to this post, making her the College’s highest-ranking woman administrator and its first woman vice president). In this restructuring, the provost was made the chief budgetary and planning officer and was appointed supervisor of the controller.

In 1989, Charles Tharp (b.1950) was named treasurer, and once again the position was redefined as a senior executive officer reporting to the president. The new treasurer’s responsibilities were broadly conceived in the areas of evaluating and initiating investment policy; monitoring the activities of the Capital Ventures Office (now separate from the Development Office) in relation to policy guidelines established by the Investment Committee; negotiating lines of credit; and preparing materials and reports on these operations for the Trustee Investment Committee and the College administration.

Scope and Content

The records of the Office of the Treasurer date from 1822 to 1950. They include incoming and outgoing correspondence (1822-1907 and 1836-1895, respectively); bills and receipts, 1832-1862 (under “Miscellaneous Archives”); records of student manual labor and teacher pay, 1834-1869; student account and scholarship records, 1833-1946; files and ledgers documenting gifts and bequests; and financial statements of student organizations, 1921-1950. Topics covered in these records include the establishment, organization, and funding of Oberlin College; biographical and financial information on individual students; antislavery agitation; aid to blacks; education of blacks and women; temperance; and evangelical religious activities. Of special interest is the printed material on the Ipswich Female Seminary, the biographies of female students (1834-1836), the annuity correspondence of Rebecca Finned (1885-1891), and l9th-century marriage licenses. The records of Manual and Domestic Labor and Teacher Pay, 1834-1869, include receipts for labor performed by students reporting the name of the student, the type of work done, the rate of pay or number of hours, total pay, and the name of person for whom work was performed. The receipts for teaching give each individual’s name, number of hours, hourly rate, and total, 1837-1869. Both subseries are arranged chronologically.

Finally, not to be overlooked is the extensive correspondence of women’s rights sympathizer Timothy B. Hudson and the single file bearing the name of Emily P. Burke, who was principal of the Oberlin Female Department. Portions of this record group have been microfilmed and indexed. The records were not interfiled when received, so the five series generally reflect the individual accessions which make up the group.

 
 
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