Dean Homer L. Dodge
Homer Levi Dodge became the second dean of the Graduate School in 1926. The death of the first dean, Albert Heald Van Vleet, in 1925 coincided with a change in presidents at the University of Oklahoma. William Bizzell was brought in from Texas A&M to serve as president and he quickly appointed Dodge, who was the head of the OU physics department, as the Dean of the Graduate College.
Dodge was born in 1887, in New York. As a child, he was interested in mechanical devices and canoeing: both would stay with him throughout his life. Dodge graduated from Colgate University with a degree in physics and worked for several years for the United States Geological Survey, charting the Lawrence River. He received several offers for graduate school but ultimately decided upon the University of Iowa because of its proximity to canoeing opportunities on the Iowa River. He received his master’s degree in physics in 1912 and his doctorate in 1914.
After graduating, Dodge stayed at Iowa University as an assistant professor and was admitted to both the Iowa Academy of Science and the Iowa City Academy of Art. It was also at Iowa that he met his wife. Having heard that the young professor was interested in canoeing, Margaret Wing, a newly-hired home economics teacher, asked him for a recommendation on buying a boat. The two were married in 1919 and remained together for more than sixty years.
In 1919, the University of Oklahoma asked Dodge to be the head of its physics department. The department grew rapidly, impressing Bizzell and leading to Dodge’s appointment leading the Graduate College. The two men would oversee a rapid growth in both graduate studies and the overall university over the next 15 years.
While his predecessor, Van Vleet, ran a one-man school from his departmental office, Dodge developed the administrative capabilities of the Graduate College. From the hiring of the first secretary and stenographers through the addition of assistant deans, the college grew as a bureaucratic institution. This growth in staff helped shift the Graduate College from a small, sub-community within the College of Arts and Sciences into a leader in developing overarching university policy. Growth in the faculty and the student body, both graduate and undergraduate, increased the desire for a realization of a doctoral program, originally suggested as early as 1900.
Under Dodge, a graduate student at OU first met this highest standard for academic work. In 1929, the initial doctorate degree awarded by the University of Oklahoma went to Mary Jane Brown, a woman studying with Dodge in the physics department. The establishment of the University Press in the same year under Joseph A. Brandt further demonstrated the university’s emphasis on original scholarly work.
In addition to his work for the graduate school, Dodge contributed to several other projects, both locally and nationally. Dodge was the president of the board of trustees for the School of Religion from its foundation in 1927 until he left the university in 1944. Together with Paul Klopsteg, Dodge organized the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) at the 1930 meeting of the American Physical Society, serving as the organization’s first president. Dodge served on the board of the American Institute of Physics from 1932 through 1935 and helped found its journal, Physics Today.Dodge secured $350,000 for a new physics building from the state legislature in 1941, but, construction was delayed until 1948, due to World War II. He also organized the University of Oklahoma Research Institute in 1941 and was director until 1944. Dodge served as the Director of Office of Scientific Personnel for the National Research Committee from 1942 through 1944 and was awarded the Oersted Medal from the AAPT in 1944. Dodge left the University of Oklahoma in 1944 to become the President of Norwich University in Vermont.