George Washington Rightmire

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George Washington Rightmire (November 15, 1868 – December 23, 1952), born in Lawrence County, Ohio, was the sixth President of The Ohio State University. He graduated from Ohio State in 1895 and taught in the Columbus Public Schools for seven years. From 1904 to 1919 he studied and practiced intellectual property law in Columbus, Ohio. He was an instructor and professor, before becoming the dean of the College of Law at Ohio State University. In 1925, he served as the acting president of the university for about four months. He eventually took the presidential office in 1926. Rightmire Hall, a science laboratory at Ohio State, is named in his honor.

George Rightmire, Ohio State University President from March 1, 1926 to July 1, 1938. Below is an article from the Portsmouth Times, Portsmouth, Ohio George Rightmire Will Observe 10th Anniversary Wednesday as President of Ohio State University

Born in Lawrence County, He Was Early Graduate of Wheelersburg High;

Taught in Scioto George Washington Rightmire, whom Scioto County claims as one of its “own products,” will observe Wednesday the 10th anniversary of his assumption of the presidency of Ohio State University. It was on Nov. 6, 1925, that he was appointed acting president of the state’s largest university-one of the largest in the country-succeeding Dr. William Oxley Thompson, who resigned from the presidency on his 70th birthday anniversary. Mr. Rightmire’s appointment as president was made effective on March 1, 1926. The life story of Mr. Rightmire is the story of an Ohio boy of humble birth who has achieved the highest educational honor in his native state. Born at Center Furnace He was born Nov. 15, 1868, at Center Furnace, Lawrence County, where his father, William R. Rightmire, was a foundryman in one of the little charcoal furnaces which dotted southern Ohio in Civil War days, and for a number of years afterward. There, a few years ago, in the present village of Superior, between the remains of the old furnace on one side and the Superior Cement Corp. modern plant on the other, Ohio State dedicated a monument marking the birthplace of their president. But with customary modesty, President Rightmire could not be persuaded to attend and hear the praise of his achievements. When young George was 8, his father died. The mother, Louisa Miller Rightmire, was left with a family of five to support on very slender resources. The Rightmires soon moved to Wheelersburg, where George was graduated in 1885 in the first graduating class of that high school. He was then 16. In 1934 he returned to Wheelersburg to give the high school commencement address.

Worked For Education Young Rightmire’s further education was obtained with difficulty-a fact which influenced his policies when he became president of the University. His entire program as an educator is built around the student himself-making college possible for poor boys such as he had been, and bringing about sympathetic relationships between teacher and student. Before he was 17, he was a teacher in a country school of Scioto County. He taught for four years at Smeasville and Powellsville, before accumulating sufficient money to enter Ohio State University in 1889. After one year at the University, his funds were gone and he resumed teaching at a township high school in Lucasville, Scioto County. In 1891 he went to Del Norte, Colo., where he taught for two years, did other work during vacations and was employed in a bank after school hours. With funds earned in this way, he found it possible to return to Ohio State in 1893. In 1895 he was graduated with the degree of bachelor of philosophy. Taught at Columbus He continued his work toward a master’s degree while teaching history, civics, and Latin in North High School at Columbus. He obtained the master’s degree in 1898, continuing his teaching at North until 1902. In the meantime he had been studying law, winning admission to the bar in 1902. This same year he joined the University as assistant professor in American History and instructor in law. He also practiced law, specializing in patents from 1904 to 1909. In 1908-09 he was acting dean of the law college, and on Nov. 6, 1925, he was appointed acting president. The year 1902 was especially notable for Mr. Rightmire. It was the year he became a member of the Ohio State faculty, the year he was admitted to the bar, and also the year that he was married to Edna K. Garner, daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. James M. Garner of Columbus. Is Phi Beta Kappa With all the program of study and work he arranged for himself during college days, young Rightmire found time to participate in student affairs. He won membership in Phi Beta Kappa, scholastic honor society, and was active in the Horton Literary Society. He was a member of the football squad in 1893, and threw the hammer, put the shot, and was out for the standing broad jump and the hop-skip-and-jump in track. He was a member of the University prize drill company which on July 4, 1890, won a prize of $500 in competition at Portsmouth. This interest in athletics carried over into later life, and in 1900 Mr. Rightmire became graduate manager of athletics. He helped to bring order out of the condition prevailing previously when campus sports were handled largely by undergraduates. The graduate manager then had many of the duties of the present athletic director, including schedule-making. Headed Athletic Board Later, when in 1912 Ohio State was preparing for entrance into the Western conference, Mr. Rightmire was named a faculty representative on the Athletic Board of Control and became its first president. In that capacity he helped to bring Lynn W. St. John to Ohio State as director of athletics. Dr. Rightmire also served as a treasurer of the athletic association from 1898 to 1904. He was an alumni member of the first board of overseers for the Ohio Union, and was for some years a member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors. As a member of the law faculty, Dr. Rightmire became an author. He prepared a case book on Jurisdiction and Procedure in Federal Courts, has compiled and edited the second edition of the three-volume Loveland’s Forms of Federal Practice, and contributed to legal periodicals on the subject of preliminary education for admission to the bar. Resigned in 1925 When President Thompson submitted his resignation in 1925, Mr. Rightmire loomed as a logical man for the position of acting president. He was surprised one night when he was summoned to a meeting of the Board of Trustees and told that he had been elected acting president. At first he thought the Board members were joking, it is recorded. He then expressed a preference to remain in the law school, but later his objections were overcome. During the next few months he assumed the problems and the Board selected him over 40 other men being considered for the presidency. Thus Dr. Rightmire became the first Ohio State alumnus to be named president of his alma mater-and the choice by the Board of Trustees was unanimous.

Wants ‘Personal Touch’ Where President Thompson’s problem had been largely one of expansion, of prevailing upon the legislature to provide new buildings for the ever-increasing student body, President Rightmire conceived as his major problem the work of “personalizing education”. He believed it possible to keep the “personal touch” even in the sixth largest U.S. university. He created in all the large colleges the office of junior dean, and assigned to these positions men whose training and interests were along the line of student guidance. He set in motion a plan for smaller classes and had succeeded materially in this project until depression budget cuts forced class sizes up once more. In his student days he was a resident of old North dorm, a residence hall where boys in modest circumstances reduced the cost of college attendance by cooperative activity. Dr. Rightmire’s administration has seen the doors of the University again opened to outstanding students without funds to attend in the usual way. This is accomplished through the creation of the cooperative tower and Buckeye clubs, where nearly 300 deserving Ohio boys have received room and board for $100 a year each. Orientation Program Noting the difficulty with which many boys and girls away from home for the first time adapted themselves to the life of a big university, President Rightmire caused to be established in 1927 the period known as Freshman week. For a whole week before the opening of classes each fall, the new students are under the direction of faculty people who help them to learn about the University and its ways. While President Rightmire’s thoughts were devoted largely to improving student-faculty relationships, the University continued to grow. In 1926 when he assumed office the total enrollment for the year was 12,085. In 1930 it reached a peak of 15,142. The depression brought some decline in the next few years, after which the enrollment started to increase toward a new peak. President Rightmire avoided many public occasions. Born to a simple life, he continued to live in that manner as much as possible le. Eats Simple Meals His favorite meal consisted of cream of tomato soup and apple pie. Others traveling with him on business trips often remarked at Dr. Rightmire’s ordering this simple meal. When the depression forced cuts in the university budget, President Rightmire reduced his own salary. Setting the pace in cooperation with the government economy program, he reduced his salary a total of 33 per cent. President Rightmire’s one “hobby” is English law at the time of the Norman Conquest-some 900 years ago. A number of his “vacations” have been spent in gathering material in this field, which has resulted in the publication of one book on the subject and preparations for others. He has also been interested in history, having served as a trustee of the Ohio Archaeological and Historical Society and of the Rutherford B. Hayes Memorial Society. Given Honorary Degrees President Rightmire has been awarded honorary doctor of laws degrees by a number of colleges and universities, including Ohio, Miami, Kenyon, Ohio Wesleyan and Otterbein. He is a member of the American and Ohio State Bar associations, American Association of University Professors, Alpha Tau Omega, Delta Chi, Order of the Coif, and has been awarded Vice President of the Ohio College Association. He is an Episcopalian. President and Mrs. Rightmire have one son, Brando, born in 1911. #

Preceded by
William Oxley Thompson
Ohio State University President
November 6, 1925 – July 1, 1938
Succeeded by
William McPherson, OSU

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