Interview of Everett Walters by Lewis Branscomb
Creators:Walters, Everett, 1915-
Subjects (LCSH):Ohio State University. Council of Graduate Students
Ohio State University. Graduate School
Ohio State University. Dept. of History
Walters, Everett, 1915- -- Interviews
Ohio State University -- History -- Sources
MetadataShow full item record
Publisher:Ohio State University Archives
Series/Report no.:Ohio State University. University Archives Oral History Program. Ohio State University Oral History Project
Dr. Everett Walters served as Professor of History, and Dean of the Graduate School, at The Ohio State University. He was raised in an academic family. His father served as President of the University of Cincinnati, the same institution from which Walters graduated with a major in history in 1936. He and his wife, Jane, were married in 1939, and the young couple then proceeded to New York where Walters enrolled at Columbia to earn his Ph.D. in History. His mentor there was the distinguished historian, Alan Nevins. Walters served in the Navy from 1944 to 1946. That same year he was hired by Dr. George Washburn as an Instructor in History at Ohio State. In order to first complete his Ph.D. he did not start teaching until 1948. In 1954 Walters was named Assistant Dean of the Graduate School. Dr. Paul Hudson, the Dean at the time, had both a Ph.D. and M.D. Walters recalls Hudson as a very intelligent man, but his manner was brusque, and he was not shy about telling everybody else, including students, what they should do. His rigidity and reluctance to listen to suggestions caused much friction between him and the Graduate Council. Even so Walters got along well with Hudson, a brilliant man with many strengths, and Walters learned much from Hudson. As Assistant Dean, Walters attended meetings of the Midwest Conference on Graduate Studies. This experience led to Hudson’s creation, technically a reorganization, of the Council of Graduate Students, an organization that continues to the present day. He was also involved with the Graduate School Record, a newsletter edited by the Graduate Dean, the only one of its kind in the nation. Paul Hudson resigned as Dean in the fall of 1955, and became an Assistant Dean of the College of Medicine. Walters replaced Hudson as Dean of the Graduate School in 1956. He recruited several notable persons for his staff, including Assistant Deans Richard Armitage, a humanist, and Edward Q. “Ned” Moulton, an engineer. Alpheus Smith, who himself had once been Dean of the Graduate School, served for a time as Walter’s liason with Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, a place where Ohio State had established a good-sized outreach program in engineering and science. Smith’s replacement as liason was Ned Moulton, who did a splendid job. In 1958 Walters started a new and highly successful course for graduate students on college teaching, possibly the first such course in the nation. It was a three-quarter sequential course with the third quarter devoted to supervised teaching. It also dealt openly with the problems of salary, benefits, and tenure that prospective teachers should consider. Various important guest speakers, including members of the Board of Trustees, and even Governor Michael DiSalle, spoke to the students on the role and expectations for a college professor. One of the teachers of this course was Tony Nimitz. There were conversations, occasionally heated, with the College of Education, especially with Dean Donald Cottrell, on whether such a course dealing with education ought not be taught within that College. As the reputation of the course grew, the National Science Foundation learned about it, and advocated that other schools create a similar course. Another successful innovation of Walters was the creation in 1958 of the Annual Conference of the Humanities. It provided a forum to bring together for scholarly presentations people from various disciplines and institutions. Among the faculty who were active in the Conference were Frank Ludden, Franklin Pegues, Professor of Medieval History, and Noel Greenberg with the Promusica group. During Walter’s tenure as Dean of the Graduate School, from 1956 to 1963, enrollment in the School ballooned from 1,702 to 4,411. Most graduate schools experienced gains in enrollment during these years, but Ohio State was helped by its strong relations with some of the outstanding smaller colleges in the state, including Oberlin and Kenyon. It was also recognized that Ohio State’s excellence in science was increasing. More foreign students enrolled. Everett Walters was also largely responsible for resurrecting the dormant Ohio State University Press. He consulted with experts in other places, including Yale and Columbia. The first book published was by the eminent zoologist, Professor Milton Trautman, author of the celebrated book Fishes of Ohio. Although the book made little money for the press, it was so beautifully done that it reestablished the reputation of the press. Wendell Addison Kefauver was hired to run the Press, and he continued in that job until his retirement in 1985. He was so successful that later he was elected President of the American Association of University Presses. Walters was also responsible for moving the Journal of Higher Education from the College of Education to the University Press. One excellent article on “Graduate Education Today” became the basis for a book edited later by Walters. Most books published by university presses, and Ohio State was no exception, failed to make a profit, and a welcome subsidy was provided by the university. In October, 1957, Ohio State held its first Graduate School Convocation. It provided an annual forum to honor the Graduate School, its faculty, and students, and an opportunity to invite distinguished speakers, such as the President of Ohio State, and Logan Wilson, head of the American Council on Education. Another significant contribution of Walters was his authorship of an historical essay on “The 50th Anniversary of the Graduate School.” The official founding of the Graduate School was in 1911, although a few courses had been offered before then. Many of the early faculty had studied in German universities, institutions that were the inspiration for the American Ph.D. degree. Walter’s article on the 50th anniversary was printed in the Graduate Record, and so it was distributed to more than 100 graduate schools all over the country. Walters recalled some of the issues he faced as Graduate Dean. He had the advantage of having been an Assistant Dean for several years, and understood the technical issues about dissertations and the much discussed language requirement for the Ph.D. Under President Fawcett there were occasional helpful meetings of Deans and Vice Presidents. There was occasional unhappiness with some of the other Deans, such as the Deans of the Colleges of Education or Business, who were responsible for graduate education in their own areas, and resented outsiders interloping into their areas. Walters discovered that although for each doctoral examination a representative was appointed by each department in the name of the Graduate School, in fact, that he, the Graduate Dean, had nothing to do with such appointments. This was changed. Walters assumed personal responsibility for such appointments, and after some initial opposition, the change was seen as successful. Doubters had argued that only a representative from the candidate’s own area could ask pertinent questions, but Walters reminded them that the Ph.D. is a “Doctor of Philosophy” degree, and this means the candidate should really be able to answer questions from faculty from other departments. One professor, the eminent Middle Eastern historian, Sydney Fisher, attended many doctoral exams, and was highly regarded by all. On very rare occasions the Graduate School representative whom Walters had named reported back that an examination had not been properly conducted, or even that the candidate seemed not to have done sufficient research. The remedy was to call for a re-examination. There was, for example, considerable difficulty with the research component of the Ph.D. (not the DVM) in Veterinary Medicine. On other issues Walters reported that he had good relationships with the College of Medicine, less so with Dentistry. On the matter of promotion and tenure for faculty members in the various colleges, he insisted that he be consulted in every case. Walters encouraged the various Deans to attend meetings in their departments and colleges, and Walters himself attended many and often gave a little talk. Sometimes social events were held after the meetings. Walters and his wife, Jane, hosted many of these. These proved useful to the Graduate School. Among the many accomplishments of his tenure as Dean of the Graduate School, Walters emphasized revitalizing the University Press, starting the course of college teaching, and integrating more fully many of the diverse professional and personal aspects of graduate education in such a large institution as Ohio State. He had few regrets. Perhaps he might have done more to strengthen the course on college teaching, and done more to work with scientists. Fortunately Ned Moulton was excellent in working with engineers and scientists. Walters resigned as Dean in 1963. He felt that administrators, including college Presidents and Deans, often lose their creative touch after five years or so, and then it should be time to step aside. In 1963 he took a leave of absence from his deanship; Richard Armitage replaced him for one year as Acting Dean. Walters became Director of the Graduate Fellowship Scholarship, National Defense Graduate Education Program, and served in Washington, D.C. for one year. In the spring of 1963 he received an offer to go to Boston University as Vice President. He started there in the fall of 1963, and, although he had become Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, he resigned in 1971 after the controversial Dr. [John R.] Silber, of the University of Texas, was named President of Boston University. After leaving Boston, Walters went to the new branch campus of the University of Missouri in St. Louis. As he reflected on his long career in higher education, Walters recalled fondly his years at Ohio State, although he remembers more fondly his years in the Graduate School than those in the History Department. The History department was divided and troubled in those years. Upon retirement Walters and his wife returned to Columbus to make their home.
Richard Armitage: Assistant Dean of the Graduate School (pp. 5-6, 29) -- Harold Case: President of Boston University (pp. 36-38) -- Donald Cottrell: Dean of the College of Education (pp. 14-15, 21) -- Michael DiSalle: Governor of Ohio (pp. 12-13) -- Novice Fawcett: President of Ohio State (pp. 20, 22, 27) -- Sydney Fisher: Professor of History (p. 30 ) -- Noel Greenberg: (p. 17) -- William Guthrie: Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (p. 4 ) -- Frederick Heimberger: Vice President (pp. 31-32) -- Paul Hudson: Dean of the Graduate School (pp. 7-9) -- Wendell Kefauver: Head of the University Press (pp. 20-21) -- Edward Q. “Ned” Moulton: Assistant Dean of the Graduate School (pp. 5-6, 33) -- Alan Nevins: Professor of History at Columbia University, p. 19 Nimitz, Tony, Professor of Philosophy, pp. 12-13 Pegues, Franklin, Professor of History (p. 17) -- John Silber: President of Boston University (pp. 36-37) -- Alpheus Smith: (p. 6) -- Milton Trautman: zoologist (pp.19-20 ) -- Paul Varg: Professor of History (p. 4)
Items in Knowledge Bank are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.