History 1959-1973

A Brief History, 1959-1973

Pre BGSU Years

Louis Charles Graue was born December 23, 1923 in Louisiana, Missouri and raised in Mexico, Missouri. He attended Central College in Fayette, Missouri. When World War II started, he joined the Navy and attended Midshipmen school at Columbia University. He attended the Navy Optical School at Mare Island, California. He was an optical officer on the USS Chicago and later a gunnery officer on the aircraft carrier USS Cowpens. After the end of the war, he attended the University of Chicago where he earned a BS in 1947 and MS in 1948 in mathematics. He received a PhD from Indiana University in 1950 and wrote a thesis in Differential Geometry.

His first teaching job was as an instructor at California State University at Sacramento with a starting salary of $1200 for the year. He was the first math instructor and designed the math curriculum. He established the North California Math Competition in order to attract good math students to the new school. Later he became one of the graders of the Putman Mathematics Competition and published the solutions in the American Mathematical Monthly.

He also began a serious study to find out how homing pigeons navigate and obtained National Science Foundation and Office of Navel Research contracts to do research on the problem. In 1956, he moved to Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa where he taught for 3 years.

The Early Sixties and Quality Growth

BGSU hired Graue in 1959 as an Associate Professor of Mathematics. There were relatively few PhD's on the faculty, which President McDonald was determined to change. In those days, the presidents had to interview and approve any appointment, and every year Dean Shuck called in each faculty member individually for a conference and evaluation, which he forwarded to the President.

The President also determined every faculty members raise in pay. The President's house was located across the street and he was very active in all the affairs of the university. If he found a smudge on the front glass doors of the Student Union, he would call the director on the carpet. He insisted on everything being first rate. We had the best football and basketball teams during his tenure. He tried to put every dollar he could into faculty salaries but gave them out as he thought best to improve the University. Some salaries got higher than those did for equivalent positions at Ohio State. Ohio State officials registered complaints at the State level. Eventually this attention to detail upset some of the faculty. Some faculty appeared on soapboxes in front of the Student Union and urged students to demonstrate. The faculty split into camps for and against President McDonald generating many hard feelings. Eventually the president resigned and so did some of the faculty leaders of the protests. 1959 was the beginning of fast growth and big changes at BGSU and President McDonald must be given credit for starting the move to a first rate University.

In 1959, four new faculty members were added to the math department (Graue, Long, Vogeli, Van Zwallenberg). The department was housed in the old administration building and in the newly constructed South Hall along with people from the psychology and speech departments. We held classes in the old administration building. The next year Al-Amiri, Kirby and Townsend joined the faculty and we moved to the new addition to Overman Hall. There were no phones in the offices and we had to stand in public at the secretary's desk to answer or make calls. The blackboards were a green glass and very hard to erase.

Around 1963 Bruce Vogeli, our Math Education Professor, got a grant to offer a special masters degree program in mathematics for high school teachers. He was able to select 30 of the best from thousands of applications. These were very good students and a joy to teach. Before this the masters program had only a few students and this big boost in student numbers and the new funds went a long way in making it possible to later consider adding a PhD program. Bruce is very talented and landed a position at Columbia University.

Friday Colloquium Series Started

In 1965, the Department elected Graue as chairman in a close election with Dr. Krabill. The most difficult task was finding several new faculty members each year. At this time, there was a big shortage of candidates. IBM announced that they would be able to hire all the new mathematics PhDs produced for the foreseeable future.

We wrote to all the PhD granting schools and everyone we heard of that was looking for a position. We hired all of the PhDs that applied and would accept. We had a good relation with Dr. Maxwell Reed the graduate student advisor at the University of Michigan. He had students that had finished course work and were finishing their dissertations that could use a temporary job.

Each year we employed several of them with the hope that some would eventually become regular faculty members. That never happened but they did add to the intellectual environment while they were here.

We began the custom of having a late Friday afternoon colloquium each week. Faculty members gave most of the talks at first and we later added funds to pay for visiting speakers.

Birth of Personnel and Advisory Committees

Nothing upsets a faculty member more that a perceived inequity in salary. In the field of education we start out at a very low salary and receive regular increases until retirement. Afterwards we receive more income from pensions and savings than we did while working. The period of extreme shortage of math people caused a severe disruption of this process. While the university would grant a 5% increase in continuing salaries, the competitive increases for new faculty would be 10% or more. That means bringing new people in at a higher salary than the ones hired the prior year even with their 5% increase. Try explaining that to one of your young hotheads. Also, try explaining why one with longer service gets a greater dollar increase although the percentage is the same. Up until this point, the chairman alone had the job of evaluating staff and explaining these things. This led to the department's decision to set up the personnel and advisory committees much to the relief of the chairman. Dr. Eakin who has very good administrative talents and is now the president of a university did much of this work.

Construction of the Mathematical Sciences Building

The next big job was to get better housing for the department. We had grown so large that we housed part of our new faculty in the new Education Building and the new Life Sciences Building. President Jerome had just received funds for building a new science building. The primary purpose was to have large lecture halls for chemistry and physics.

Graue went to the President and explained our needs. The president agreed to let us participate in planning the new building. We submitted our needs to the architects and later got the plans to review.

The original plans had the hallway on the outside wall with the offices on the inside without windows. We convinced them to reverse that. We also insisted on full blackboards made of slate and asked that the classrooms be limited to hold a maximum of 30 students. We requested that the Mathematics Library be in the building.

They allowed us to hire a consultant from Michigan State University who had written a book on facilities for Mathematics Departments. He visited us a few times and gave us suggestions for improvements. Ralph Townsend took great interest in the process and helped with the plans. We wanted a telephone in every office and had to fight to get this done because the cost greatly exceeded the department budget.

We received nearly everything we requested and we now have one of the very best facilities for mathematics instruction and research.

Origin of the Computer Science Department

Graue became chairman of the Liberal Arts Council. He proposed that the council approve the establishment of a department of computer science. The representatives of the departments of English, History, and Speech were strongly opposed and wanted us to just add a course in the Mathematics department. They were afraid that they would loose significant funds. We opined that this would be a large popular program and that one should plan for a future new building for this new department. We also suggested that it was important to have the computer talent on campus. Dr. Krabill had an interest in computing and was selected as the chairman of the new department. He did an outstanding job of creating a fine department. The dean complained that Krabill would even call him at home in the evening and on Sundays about things the new department needed.

The early days of computing at the University seem very cumbersome by today's standards. The administration purchased an IBM 1620 for around a million dollars and it was the size of two upright pianos with hundreds of blinking lights on the front. It had to be housed in a room with extra air conditioning. All it could do was to process punch cards. Records and programs were stored on punch cards. A simple program usually required hundreds of cards and we used a lot of space in many rooms to just store all of the cards. The university used the computer mostly for bookkeeping and if a faculty member found a way to use it for a research project, the local newspapers reported that unusual event. We had rooms full of punch card machines which made so much noise that after a session in an active room it took a while to regain normal hearing. You had to write a FORTRAN program on special lined paper and then copy that by hand on lots of punch cards. The data for which the program was written had to also be transferred to punch cards. The pack of cards had to be carried over to the administration building where someone would eventually run them through the machine. One would pick up a print out in the next day or two and often all you got was a notice of some mistake made in the program. The cards were taken back to the punch card room in order to punch new cards with corrections. The process was repeated until finally you got a good printout of the results.

The University replaced the 1620 with an IBM 360 in 1969 (Graue's son Goeff participated in the conversion from the 1620 to the 360, this was his first job as a freshman in 1969). Due to its cost, about $5 million, it was shared by the University of Toledo and the City of Toledo. It was housed at Levis Park in Perryburg, where the book depository is now. About 1971 the University added CPS/360 which was the first timesharing function offered by IBM. We set up a room full of "terminals" (in the new Math-Science building) that were modified IBM Selectric typewriters that worked much like a Teletype. CPS allowed users to program online rather than having to create punch cards and run them in batch mode. The programming language was PL/1. Also, Goeff was commissioned to write the first FORTRAN program that was used to evaluate the student surveys of Department teachers. That program ran in batch on punched cards and was in use for many years.

Computer services purchased Digital Equipment Corporation computers in the 1970s, which were hooked to Teletype machines. Now we could type in our programs and data and get immediate feedback. The room full of Teletype machines was very noisy and after a few hours in there, you left with a ringing in your ears. Later the Teletype machines were replaced with VT100 CRT terminals and computing finally became fun. With the help of Tom Hern and Cliff Long, we wired up a few offices to accept terminals and computers hooked to the main system. At that time only a few faculty members wanted to have anything to do with computers. Eventually we purchased a computer for everyone that wanted one and people found it to be essential for their work.

Starting a PhD Program

By the late 1960s, the university had grown tremendously and was full of vigorous highly qualified faculty. Some departments had started to add PhD programs. It became evident that if the math department was to be an important part of the university that we should also plan a PhD program. Our faculty consisted mostly of young PhDs fresh out of graduate schools and hence had very little published research. We needed some senior experienced research fellows or SERFs as Fred Leetch used to call them. SERFs did not want to come to a place without a PhD program and we could not get a PhD program without SERFs. We wrote a proposal for the PhD program and asked to be allowed to offer a salary of $25,000 to three people. This was more than twice what most anyone was making at that time in this University. President Jerome told us that he could not authorize that salary offer but he was willing to let us try taking it up with the board of trustees.

We met with them and the main argument that seemed to convince them was that to hire any other scientist would require the investment of thousands of dollars for laboratory equipment in addition to a high salary, and that a quality mathematician was a bargain at that price.

It was very difficult even with outside expert help to find the right people. The best help came from inside our own department. The department super salesman, Herb Hollister, told us that he thought he could interest Charles Holland of Wisconsin, a world leader in his specialized field of group theory. We contacted Professor Holland and he eventually decided to come here. Ray Finklestein now known as Ray Steiner told us that he thought we should contact Eugene Lukacs a well-known statistic professor. We met Eugene Lukacs at the next AMS meeting and explained our proposition. He surprised us by saying that he was willing to bring Rohatgi and Laha with him.

We got the necessary approval from the administration. A complete review of our department had to then be submitted to all of the other State Universities in Ohio for their comments and approval. The results were then reviewed by the State Department of Education. The final step was to make a presentation before a national accreditation committee in Chicago. They approved our program with only one criticism; some thought the salaries we offered were too high.

Professors Holland and Lukacs designed the new programs in algebra and statistics. Later students could choose other areas for their dissertation.

In 1973, Dr. Terwilliger became chairman of the department. Graue retired in 1991 and now lives in Florida.

Updated: 06/15/2020 12:48PM