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Former President Paul J. Olscamp has made impact in the community

Former President Paul J. Olscamp

Known for his focus on academics, former University President Paul J. Olscamp died on Oct. 14th, in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Olscamp was president for 13 years at the University, serving from 1982 to 1995. During his time at the University, Olscamp emphasized on the National Merit Scholarships, along with science, social science and the development of the photochemical program, said current University President, Mary Ellen Mazey.

“I think [Olscamp’s legacy] would probably emphasize on quality and academic programming, which is recruiting outstanding students,” Mazey said.

Also during his time at the University, Olscamp was involved with the faculty, which he supported; along with the scholars and scholarships he brought to the University.

“He was very involved with the faculty. Understanding the faculty and trying to promote the faculty and I think it was during his era here that BGSU had so many Fulbright scholars,” Mazey said.

Dick Newlove, who does real estate in the Bowling Green area, was on the Board of Trustees for nine years, all during Olscamp’s time as president.

Along with supporting the faculty, Olscamp focused on the academics offered to students, which made the University stronger than it was before.

“[Olscamp] was really supportive of the eminent scholars program. He started several new doctoral programs, a lot of emphasis on graduate education,” Newlove said. “He wanted to make the place a lot stronger academically than he found it and I think he did it.”

During Olscamp’s time at the University, he improved the University by bringing in faculty that were nationally known in order to make the University more prominent.

“He was very good at recruiting faculty that had national recognition. He really felt one way to build the University was to bring in these nationally recognized people to BGSU. I think that’s always something good to do,” Mazey said. “He was instrumental in changing BGSU and bringing it to more national prominence while he was here. He had time to really leave a good legacy.”

But the legacy wasn’t easy to come by. When Olscamp started at the University, he didn’t start at the best time.

“He came into an unfortunate situation. There had been an interim president— a really good guy, Mick Ferrari. Many people, if not most people, thought Mick would be the choice of the Board of Trustees,” Newlove said. “So when Paul got appointed there were a lot of people disappointed both in the community, I think, and at the University. So, it didn’t make for a really good start for him.”

Even though Olscamp’s relationship with the faculty and Board of Trustees wasn’t the best, Olscamp was supportive of both, which included getting salary raises for the faculty.

“Paul was a very intelligent man. He was a scholar, philosopher by training and that was his field. He really was a scholar— and he was very supportive of the faculty and to the Board,” Newlove said. “Even though his relationship with some of the faculty was not terribly comfortable, he was always very supportive to the Board about the faculty, always trying to get them pay raises. He was very much a defender of academic traditions, such as tenure.”

To Mazey, the legacy of Olscamp is one to remember, but she knows that the task is not yet done and encourages continuous contribution to the University.

“As president of the University, your number one goal is to build the University. That’s what you read about Paul Olscamp or Sidney Ribeau or any of them, that’s what they always try to do— is do what they could to build the University’s future,” Mazey said.

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