“See Gruff Run….”


McGuffey’s daughter re-calls her father’s tenure as the President of Ohio University as “four unhappy years.” McGuffey’s presidency was a mixture of turbulence and triumph. Though enrollment at the University almost doubled and southern Ohio was experiencing what one writer calls an “intellectual renaissance” under Mc-Guffey’s tutelage, “Old Gruff” was having a hard time of it. The University was partially funded by the land value taxes of surrounding farms. When McGuffey and other officials wanted a new appraisal of the farms in order to increase their bottom line, the land-owners squawked. And when Mc-Guffey planted a grove of beloved elm trees on the extensive campus grounds where the farmers’ cattle grazed—and fenced it off—the outcry was al-most deafening. To make matters worse, McGuffey’s strict discipline led to the expulsion of fifteen senior students in less than a month, leaving only one senior to graduate that term. McGuffey was burn-ed in effigy throughout the town, pelted by dirt clods, and whenever he went anywhere at night, he had to arm himself with a hefty stick.