Early OWU Leaders Envisioned a Healthy Ohio Wesleyan

January 15, 2016 – by Lisa Lopez Snyder

The SQ’s focus on health and learning has a century-rich history behind it.

On February 28, 1906, the front page of The Ohio Wesleyan Transcript declared, “A Great Day—The Gym. At Last.”

Six days earlier, students, faculty, and staff had gathered at Gray Chapel to celebrate the dedication of Edwards Gymnasium, OWU’s first official recognition that physical well-being was essential to the development of the “whole person”—and of every student. William Francis Whitlock, then-dean of Ohio Wesleyan stood before the group and declared:

“The time has come when the word ‘education’ has broadened its meaning. It now means more than ever before. It includes the symmetrical and healthful development of not simply the mental, but of all the faculties.”

Another administrator, professor Hanford Crawford stated that “[p]hysical education should be a matter of curriculum, having a relation and duty to every student.”

The affair was so celebrated that the student paper covered every detail of the accompanying festivities in six pages.

The focus on student health and wellness continued through the decades. In 1954, Pfeiffer Natatorium opened next to Edwards Gymnasium, and the Battling Bishops men’s and women’s swimming teams hosted their meets there until 2010. In 2012, work to refurbish the Edwards Gymnasium began. The second-floor basketball court was restored, a weight room was refurbished, and the old skylight was uncovered and refinished to its original luster. In 2014, Pfeiffer Natatorium was demolished to construct the SQ, which includes a new south entrance to campus.

More than 100 years later, the SQ represents the expanded vision of those early leaders, and what Professor Crawford spoke of as representing how “[v]igor…lies at the foundation of all forms of success.”