BGSU: A legacy of scholarship Over the last century, Bowling Green State University has continually adapted to meet the needs of students from around the world. At its 100th anniversary, the small normal school created to train teachers in northwest Ohio is now a vibrant, nationally recognized university. This brief overview–largely based on discussions with Dr. Gary Hess, Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus of history at BGSU, and on his new book entitled Bowling Green State University, 1910-2010: A Legacy of Excellence –provides a look back at the University’s first century of service and how BGSU evolved over the years. We expect your Falcon pride will be even stronger after reading about Bowling Green’s legacy of scholarship and service.
Meeting the need for high-quality educators
As the farm-based communities of northwest Ohio continued to prosper at the turn of the last century, there was a growing call for teachers with the proper training. Private efforts were unable to keep pace with population growth, often resulting in local classrooms falling below acceptable standards. The Lowry Act, passed in 1910 by Ohio’s legislature, established both Bowling Green Normal College and Kent State Normal School to help address teacher education in two underserved areas of the state. As an interesting side note, the town of Napoleon was thought to be the frontrunner for getting the northwest Ohio normal school, largely due to its offer of a beautiful site along the Maumee River. Its application, however, was rejected because of an abundance of saloons and questions about the community’s “moral atmosphere.” While this episode pre-dated Prohibition (1920-33), it reflected growing middle class political sentiment of the time.
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In the early years, Bowling Green Normal College had an Agriculture Department that included such courses as “Farm Animals” and “Dairying.” Here, students judge stock in the basement of the Science Building in 1920.