OSCAR ISRAEL WOODLEY - SECOND PRESIDENT, 1915-1919
When Lawrence J. Corbly resigned in 1915, Oscar I. Woodley was hired as the College’s second president, assuming his new position on July 1, 1915. Woodley oversaw the College during the difficult war years of 1917-1918, in which the school lost a number of male students who enlisted. The school invested much time and energy in support of the war effort. Mrs. Woodley was the director of the local Red Cross Auxiliary, which involved the students in making prepared dressings and darning clothing for the troops.
During his tenure Northcott Hall, the second building on campus, was completed in 1916. Woodley was a progressive educator who felt that the traditional academic courses of teaching did not meet the students’ needs. He introduced several, practical vocational courses to the curriculum, but his other progressive changes were resisted by the faculty. Although he held progressive views of pedagogy, he was a strict disciplinarian and ruled the college like a martinet, so much so that most of the students signed a petition in 1918, asking the Board of Control to replace him. Perhaps as a result of these pressures, he resigned suddenly in midterm, February 1, 1919.
Oscar I. Woodley, the son of Benjamin Woodley and Miriam (Slaght) Woodley, was born at Boston, Ontario, Canada, on October 19, 1861. In 1870 the family emigrated to the United States, settling in East Rapids, Michigan. He attended schools in that city, and later in Mason, Michigan, when his family relocated and he graduated from St. Clair High School. The 1880 Federal Census listed him as living in Vevay, Michigan, where he worked as a farm laborer. In 1866 he graduated with a teaching certificate from State Normal School at Ypsilanti, and three years later with a masters degree of pedagogy from the same institution. After graduation he served as the superintendent of public schools at Monticello and Sauk Centre, Michigan, from 1889-1894, and then at Menominee, Michigan, from 1894 to 1900. At the end of his tenure at Menominee, he received his bachelors of arts from Abion College in 1900. In 1901 he earned a masters of arts from Columbia University.
In 1903 he was hired as the superintendent of the Passaic, New Jersey, schools, where he remained seven years. In 1910 he moved to Fairmont, West Virginia, becoming the principal of the Fairmont State Normal School, which position he filled "acceptably and well." In 1915 he accepted the same position at Marshall College, where he remained until he resigned in February 1919.
The 1920 census showed that he and his wife were living in Washington, D.C. At some point he settled in Florida, where he became a citrus grower. However, he did not abandon his vocation as an educator. He and his wife co-wrote textbooks on English and teaching. He lectured at the University of Virginia for twelve successive summers, conducted teachers’ institutes, and lectured frequently on pedagogy.
On September 2, 1886, he married Myra Virginia Soper at Minneapolis, Minnesota. They had three children: Genevieve, Oscar Harold and Marion. He died at Clermont, Florida, on November 24, 1931, at the age of sixty-nine. He was described as "a man of sterling character whose life was controlled by high ideals and unselfish devotion to the cause of cultural advancement."
• RETURN •
Created and maintained by Lisle Brown, Curator
© 2013, Special Collections, Marshall University