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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY (est. 1826) occupies 150 acres in UNIVERSITY CIRCLE and is the largest private university in Ohio. Of the institution's 9 schools, 3 are undergraduate: the College of Arts and Sciences, Case School of Engineering, and Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing. Graduate schools include the School of Law, the School of Medicine, the Dental School, the Mandel School of Applied Social Science, the Weatherhead School of Management, and the School of Graduate Studies. In addition, there are institutional affiliations with , the CLEVELAND INSTITUTE OF MUSIC and the CLEVELAND INSTITUTE OF ART.

CWRU evolved from a college founded by David Hudson in 1826 in Hudson, OH. For several years the school struggled to keep its solvency and its faculty, who often went without pay. By 1860, 5 years after Henry Lawrence Hitchcock assumed the college's presidency, Western Reserve College was fiscally and academically sound. In addition to retiring the college's debt, Hitchcock encouraged the study of the sciences, bringing chemist EDWARD W. MORLEY† to campus. The Cleveland Medical College, founded in 1843, was then a department of Western Reserve College. Located at E. 9th St. and St. Clair, it led a virtually autonomous existence until brought under the control of the Board of Trustees and the university president in 1893.

In 1880, LEONARD CASE, JR.†, bequeathed a portion of his estate to found the Case School of Applied Science. AMASA STONE† then donated over $500,000 to move Western Reserve College to Cleveland. The site would be provided by others. Contributors raised upwards of $100,000 to purchase 43 acres for both it and the fledgling Case School, so they could be located adjacent to one another. In recognition of Stone's donation, Western Reserve Univ.'s men's undergraduate college was named Adelbert College, after Stone's son, Adelbert, who drowned while a student at Yale. In 1888 the trustees of WRU decided to stop admitting women to Adelbert College and established the College for Women, which in 1932 was renamed in honor of FLORA STONE MATHER†, the college's second council president. In addition to the liberal arts, the school offered courses in home economics and education. Thus, in 1890, the university consisted of 2 undergraduate colleges and a medical school. During the presidency (1890-1921) of CHAS. F. THWING†, the school achieved a national reputation and became a true university with the establishment of 6 additional schools: the Law, Dental, and Graduate schools, in 1892; the Library School, 1904 (closed in 1986); the Pharmacy School, 1908 (closed in 1949); and the School for Applied Social Science, 1916.

The Law School opened with no endowment, but it was one of the first schools to, adopt the case method of study initiated at Harvard Law School. The school's higher-than-required standards quickly put it among the country's best, and an endowment came from a bequest by the widow of FRANKLIN T. BACKUS†. In 2001 the School of Law at CWRU had 746 students enrolled and published 4 academic legal journals: Law Review, The Canada/U.S. Law Journal, Health Matrix: Journal of Law-Medicine, and Journal of International Law. The Law School is also the home for the Center for Professional Ethics and the National Institute on the Future of the Legal Profession.

The Dental School was a department of the Medical School until 1906, when, because of financial difficulties, it was sold to a private operator, Henry M. Brown. In 1916 the university repurchased the school and invested in equipment and personnel, regaining the Dental Educational Council's top rating in 1922. The Graduate School of the university initially faced such a dearth of students that in 1921 it was closed. In 1926 the school reopened with ELBERT JAY BENTON† as dean and it flourished. At the Case School, no formal graduate school was established until 1955, although the first doctorate had been conferred in 1939. Except for several women who studied special programs during World War II, the school would not be truly coeducational until 1960.

The Library School was founded by WM. HOWARD BRETT†, head of the CLEVELAND PUBLIC LIBRARY and the school's first dean. Despite a $100,000 endowment from Andrew Carnegie, the school faced deficits annually, but managed to survive. After World War II, Dean JESSE HAUK SHERA† brought national recognition to the school, especially in the area of documentation and the doctoral program, but declining enrollment led to the school's closing in 1986. The School of Applied Social Science was founded at a time when the concept of social work as a profession was questioned. Twice the Board of Trustees considered closing it down, but its future was secured after World War II, when Dean Leonard Mayo raised endowment funds and erected a new building for the school. The Dept. of Architecture evolved from the Cleveland School of Architecture, incorporated in 1924 with ABRAM GARFIELD† as president. CHAS. MORRIS† and CHAS. S. SCHNEIDER† were important Cleveland architects associated with the school. In 1929 the architecture school became a department of WRU, until its closing in 1972.

In spite of the deficits incurred with the founding of these new schools, the university flourished until 1930, when the Depression and a $6.5 million debt pushed it close to bankruptcy. The Case School survived relatively untroubled, as the businesslike leadership of the institution seldom borrowed money for expansion. The Depression also ended the phenomenal growth of the, university's extension school, Cleveland College, founded in 1925 in a downtown building at E. 20th and Euclid. It was dedicated to noncredit adult education and evening credit courses for part-time students. By 1929, when the school moved to PUBLIC SQUARE, the student body had quadrupled to 6,000, but success came to a halt along with the nation's economy. Despite a brief postwar revival due to the GI Bill, by 1953 the veterans were gone, and the university decided to move the school to Univ. Circle, where the faculties of Adelbert, Mather, and Cleveland College merged into 1 body. In 1947 the Case School of Applied Science changed its name to Case Institute of Technology to better reflect the institution's rank and independence. The school expanded dramatically after World War II under President T. KEITH GLENNAN† (1947-66). In 1948 Case established a Div. of Humanities & Social Science, the first among engineering schools. Research grants and contracts increased and became the school's largest source of operating income.

JOHN S. MILLIS† assumed the presidency of WRU in 1949, hoping to unify its loose confederation of schools. He initiated the founding of the Univ. Circle Development Foundation, the predecessor of UNIVERSITY CIRCLE, INC. (UCI) He strengthened ties with long-time neighbor Case Institute, and by 1960 the schools shared a health service, athletic facilities, and their geology and astronomy departments. In 1964 Millis and Glennan agreed to a complete merger of their institutions and initiated the process that led to the formation of Case Western Reserve Univ. in 1967. A byproduct of the federation of Case and Reserve was the new Weatherhead School of Management, formed from the various business departments within each institution and named in recognition of a $3 million grant from the Weatherhead Foundation in 1980. In 1972 the original 3 undergraduate schools of WRU, Adelbert, Mather, and Cleveland College, were combined into Western Reserve College.

In 1986 the CWRU Community Telecomputing Laboratory established the CLEVELAND FREENET Community Computer System, a free public computer network which allowed dial-in users Internet access. The Freenet was the first of its kind and helped inspire an international trend. CWRU continued as the sponsor of the Freenet until September 30, 1999. CWRU in 1989 became the first campus in the world to use fiber optics to create a computer network (CWRUnet) linking all campus buildings, including residence halls.

Since the 1990s CWRU's physical environment has seen many renovations and new building projects. Under the administration of Agnar Pytte, the Univ. successfully campaigned for a $400 million endowment. Nearly destroyed by fire in the summer of 1991, the Adelbert College administration building was renovated and then rededicated in 1993. Newly erected structures include the Mandel School of Applied Social, Sciences (1990), the Richard F. Celeste Biomedical Research Bldg. (1993), the Kent Hale Smith Engineering and Science Bldg. (1993), the George S. Dively Executive Education Center (1994), the Kelvin Smith Library (1995), the Veal Convocation, Athletic, and Recreation Center (1997), the Agnar Pytte Center for Science Education and Research (2001), and the Weatherhead School of Management's Peter B. Lewis Building (designed by Frank Gehry and slated for 2002). In 1999 CWRU's total annual funding through grants and private donations surpassed $75.3 million. The Univ. enrolled 9,530 students in 2001 (3,609 undergraduate; 5,921 graduate and professional) and in fall 2000 employed 4,883 faculty and staff. In 2002, CWRU named as new president, Edward M. Hundert, M.D., previously dean of the University of Rochester (N.Y.) School of Medicine and Dentistry, as well as professor, author, and frequent speaker on psychiatry, philosophy, medical ethics, and medical education.


Cramer, C. H. Case Western Reserve (1976).

Last Modified: 13 Apr 2002 03:52:48 PM

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