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Sunday, November 18,2012

Famed politician/alum visits OU to launch archives

By David DeWitt
Photo Credits: Joel Prince for The NEWS
Photo Caption: Former Ohio governor and U.S. senator George Voinovich speaks to a crowd that gathered Thursday to observe the official website launch for the Voinovich Collections at OU’s Alden Library.

George Victor Voinovich has come a long way since serving as president of the student body and the men's dormitory system at Ohio University, and graduating in 1958 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in government.

He returned to his alma mater last Thursday to mark the publication of a lifetime's worth of his political papers through a joint collaboration between OU, the university's Voinovich School for Leadership and Public Affairs, and Cleveland State University.

Since earning his baccalaureate in Athens, Voinovich went on to obtain a law degree from Ohio State's Moritz College; served as assistant Attorney General of Ohio; held a seat in the Ohio House of Representatives from 1967-71; served as Cuyahoga County Auditor from 1971-76; served on the Cuyahoga County Commissioners from 1977-78; served as lieutenant governor under James Rhodes; was elected mayor of Cleveland and served until 1989; served as Ohio Governor from 1991-98l and as U.S. Senator from 1999-2011.

So the upshot is, there are plenty of political papers to archive.

The Voinovich Collections will be a digitally archived collaboration carried out in multiple phases.

The first phase of materials from Voinovich's collections will be publicly available through a new web-based archive created by the Ohio University Libraries, Cleveland State University and the Voinovich School for Leadership and Public Affairs.

Visitors can explore reports, correspondence, position papers, printed materials and photographs collected from the senator's 20 years as both governor of Ohio and U.S. Senator.

"We were very honored last fall to open the Voinovich Seminar Room, a new space housing Sen. Voinovich's extensive collection of papers in the Ohio University Libraries," President Roderick J. McDavis said in a prepared statement. "We now are very pleased to offer that same collections to the world through this website, which was a collaboration with Cleveland State University."

McDavis said the website will help faculty and students – both at OU and around the globe – explore, discover and interact with the collections.

"This collaboration will enrich the education experience of the next generation of leaders and public servants," McDavis said. "We thank Sen. Voinovich for entrusting us with his legacy and for Cleveland State's partnership in advancing the reach of these invaluable collections."

The online archive is not only aimed to uncover materials, but also to assist researchers and scholars, university press materials noted.

The documents – part of the Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections of Ohio University Libraries – were selected in conjunction with faculty members from each institution, who plan to use them in coursework and in the classroom, a release noted.

Voinovich has been a champion of the project.

"I am pleased that Ohio University and Cleveland State University have come together to collaborate on such an innovative project that will, over time, make my archives available to people in the academy for research or work in the classroom," he said. "Ordinarily, archives of senators or other politicians are not digitized."

Mark Tebeau, a professor of history, and Erin Bell of the Center of Public History and Digital Humanities at Cleveland State University, spearheaded the creation and customization of the digital interface for the website, which will be hosted on a server at Ohio University.

Melanie Furey, the senator's research project coordinator, is overseeing the project.

"This important archive will serve as an invaluable learning tool for many students and researchers alike," said CSU President Ronald Berkman in a release. "Cleveland State is honored to be a part of this trailblazing and innovative project."

The first phase of the digital archive, which began in late 2011, contains approximately 150 documents of varying length that were scanned and reformatted for online retrieval and access. Additional material will be added over time.

"I am very excited that my archives have already been used in the classroom and this project will facilitate easier access for others who want to use the collections," Voinovich said.

The website for the Voinovich Collections notes that the project does not seek to digitize the entire collection.

"Documents drawn from the collections will be digitized in an incremental fashion according to thematic foci," it states. "These foci are chosen based on faculty, classroom, and student demand."

For more information and access to the archives, those interested can visit The Voinovich Collections:

In 2007, the Ohio University Board of Trustees voted to rename its Center for Public and Environmental Affairs after then-U.S. Sen. Voinovich.

The George V. Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs then became the first multidisciplinary school at OU. It is housed at The Ridges and boasts three programmatic areas of concentration including energy and environment, policy innovation and strategic leadership.


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