Thomas C. Mendenhall
Thomas Corwin Mendenhall
Thomas Corwin Mendenhall was born on October 4, 1841, in Hanoverton, Ohio. In 1851, the Mendenhall family moved to Marlboro, Ohio, where Thomas enrolled in the Union school, the local high school. This school was famous for the excellent education that it provided for students. Before Mendenhall even graduated from the school, he became an assistant teacher, helping the full teachers educate his fellow students. Upon graduation, Mendenhall taught in local schools and briefly served as the principal of all Marlboro schools.
While Mendenhall was a gifted teacher, he is most remembered for his contributions to science. He specialized in physics. In 1873, he was hired as the first professor at the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College, the predecessor of The Ohio State University. He remained at this institution as a professor of physics and mechanics until 1878. That year, he resigned and accepted a position as professor of physics with the Imperial University in Japan. Mendenhall returned to Ohio State in 1881 and retired from active teaching at this institution in 1884. University officials named a building on The Ohio State campus in Mendenhall's honor.
Although Mendenhall had retired from teaching at Ohio State, he remained active in teaching and in scientific pursuits. He served as president of Rose Polytechnic Institute, in Terre Haute, Indiana, from 1886 to 1889, and as president of Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts from 1894 to 1901. Mendenhall was elected president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1889. At various points in his life, Mendenhall also served as chairman of the Massachusetts Highway Commission, superintendent of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, superintendent of United States Weights and Measures, a member of the United States Lighthouse Board, and as a member of the United States and Great Britain Boundary Line Survey Commission. He also received numerous awards and other recognitions for his contributions to science. Mendenhall died on March 23, 1924.