For 175 years, the history of the Queen City, and the development of many of her most venerable institutions (from the fire department to the public library) can be traced through the University of Cincinnati's College of Applied Science (CAS).
It has more than 10,000 alumni and friends and a board of directors that's a who's who in Cincinnati industry and business.
This past Saturday, the college staged a ball at Music Hall, the first of several big events planned for the school's 175th anniversary year. Dr. George Rieveschl Jr., inventor of the world's first effective antihistamine (known as Benadryl), and an alum of the school, is honorary commissioner for the anniversary campaign.
The college was founded as the Ohio Mechanics Institute, the first school dedicated to technical education west of the Alleghenies.
"We were founded when Cincinnati had grown to a population of 20,000 but still had no public schools, no railroads. City water had just begun to be pumped via a wooden pipe," says Maria Kreppel, CAS professor of English and Communication. "Nineteenth-century graduates formed the backbone of the growing city's industry and culture. Cincinnati's public library, art academy and Music hall are direct outgrowths of the OMI (Ohio Mechanics Institute)."
In its early years, the private OMI - which joined with UC in 1969 and was later renamed the OMI College of Applied Science - shared technical literature with the entire community, provided free evening lectures in downtown halls and churches.
In the late 19th century, the OMI helped sponsor expositions of manufacturers, products and arts that included entries from 30 states, and brought a half million visitors and $100,000 into the city. These exposition successes led to the construction of Music Hall.
OMI's chroniclers note, that then, as now, the OMI was key to Cincinnati's prosperity. According to Kreppel, the local economy was decimated by the American Civil War. The city's subsequent post-war recovery deepened, in large measure, on the OMI's national prominence. Similarly, after the upheaval of World War I, the OMI attracted students from 17 states, from Canada and Great Britain, coming to learn and work in Cincinnati.
Today, the OMI College of Applied Science at UC provides undergraduate education in the engineering technologies. Customized training and continuing education are offered to business clients and industry partners.
Other events planned in 2004 include an exhibit of arts and industry, a history of technology symposium and a Tech Expo showcasing projects and products of current senior students.
For anyone interested in local history, the 175th anniversary Web site is a treasure trove (http://www.omicas175.uc.edu/). You'll find real-people stories, historical photos, biographies, timelines and more. Or call 513-556-4692.
We join the whole Greater Cincinnati area in celebrating this cornerstone of Cincinnati industry and learning.
EDITORIAL PAGE HEADLINES
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College of Applied Science: 175 years
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