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Hayes Hall on the campus of The Ohio State University is named for Rutherford Hayes.
The President who helped create OSU

In his first term as governor, Rutherford B. Hayes urged the Ohio legislature to establish a land-grant college funded by the sale of public lands given to the state by the Morrill Act of 1862. Hayes’ persistence resulted in creation of the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College – later known as The Ohio State University.

The Hayes Presidential Center highlights the strong link between Rutherford Hayes and the university in its new exhibit Rutherford B. Hayes: Buckeye President on display through April 13, 2014. This exclusive exhibit is made possible through funding from Diversified Insurance and Auto-Owners Insurance .

Hayes believed the foundation of a strong nation was an educated populace. He used his political influence as governor and former U.S. Congressman to persuade the Ohio Senate and House to pass legislation needed to establish a land-grant college. The Cannon Act passed both houses in 1870. Governor Hayes then nominated the first trustees, choosing a person from each Ohio congressional district. The trustees in turn selected Columbus as site for the new college, with the enthusiastic support of Hayes. Three years later, the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College opened its doors to its first class of students - 24 in number. In 1878, the institution’s name was changed to The Ohio State University.

In retirement Hayes accepted an 1887 appointment to The Ohio State University Board of Trustees. Trustees at that time took active roles in the university’s daily operations. Hayes’ experience as a former governor (1868-72 & 1876-77) and U.S. President (1877-1881) made him an effective advocate in the state legislature. He led the effort to pass the Hysell Act allocating revenue from a special tax to the University. Hayes was selected President of the Board by his fellow trustees in November 1892. His special interest was the promotion of industrial training for all students. The University’s “manual training” building Hayes Hall was opened in February 1893. Unfortunately, Rutherford B. Hayes died on Jan. 17, 1893 – a month before dedication of the building named in his honor. Today, Hayes Hall is the oldest building on the OSU campus.

In conjunction with the exhibit, the Hayes Presidential Center has published an educational handout Past Times. To view the publication click here.