Gone too soon, this dean lives on
Learn the story of the oldest endowed scholarship at Ohio State, still supporting students more than 100 years after it was created.
Many tears were shed when Christopher Newton Brown died unexpectedly of a short illness on March 6, 1902, two weeks shy of his 44th birthday. This dean of the College of Engineering was such a beloved Buckeye that mourners draped Hayes Hall, site of his office, in black. President William Oxley Thompson presided over his funeral in the university chapel, where Professor Edward Orton Jr. broke down while reading the faculty memorial to Brown and was unable to continue.
A year later, the Board of Trustees named the newly completed engineering building Brown Hall in his honor. In 1908, former students and colleagues paid for a bronze tablet in his memory, and it was on display in the Brown Hall lobby until the building was razed in 2009. Brown had enrolled at Ohio State in 1876 before moving on to earn his degree at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He joined the College of Engineering faculty in 1883 and later served as department chair and dean.
Brown’s legacy endures: The C. Newton Brown Scholarship, which supports students in civil engineering, is Ohio State’s oldest endowed scholarship. Friends, former students and colleagues raised $1,000 to establish the scholarship in 1903. In the past two decades, it has paid out some $50,000 in support of 32 students. It even prompted tears — this time for joy — a century after Brown’s death.
The parents of Mehedy Amin ’03, ’04 MS cried in Bangladesh upon hearing that their son had received the Brown scholarship in 2003. “It was an unbelievable morale booster to me, sort of led me to grad school, and opened a whole set of doors for me,” says Amin, a doctoral student who returned to Ohio State in 2016 after working 12 years as an engineer in Bangladesh. “Whoever started the scholarship, I can’t thank them enough. They impacted my life 100 years later. That’s why when I wanted to get my PhD, I couldn’t think of any place other than Ohio State. It’s home for me.”
Video production: Cara Reed; Narration: Todd Jones; Script: Kristen Schmidt