Progress In Education
The mural depicts every phase of growth in education in the Portsmouth area. Here we see the steady progress from the one-room schoolhouse through the various elementary and high schools to the establishment of Shawnee State University. Examples of various school buildings in the area are shown, as well as examples of the changes in clothing, activities, and specialized education that has occurred over the years. The first graduating class of Portsmouth High School was in 1860, with five students graduating. The next graduating class was in 1867, with five more students graduating. By 1900, the city had 12 school buildings. Portsmouth High School was completed in 1912.
Shawnee State Expansion
This mural represents the elevation of Shawnee State from a two-year community college to a four-year university. Higher education was first offered in Portsmouth in 1945 through extension classes from Ohio University, Athens. Massie Hall was built in 1967. Shawnee State Community College was founded in 1977 after a merger of the names Scioto Technical College and OU-Portsmouth. After considerable growth in student enrollment and the addition of several new buildings, Shawnee State University emerged in 1986.
Vernal G. Riffe, Jr., considered by many citizens the benefactor of Shawnee State University, believed that students from southern Ohio deserved an opportunity to further their education close to home. The creation of Shawnee State University is the result of his vision. Vern Riffe was first elected to the Ohio House of Representatives in 1958. He served in the House for thirty-six years, with a record-breaking twenty years as Speaker of the House.