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Records of the Office of the Controller (Group 8)
[24] Records of the Office of the Controller (Bursar’s Office Additions), 1835-1994, 14 l.f.

Administrative History

The duties and responsibilities of the Offices of the Bursar, the Controller, and the Treasurer have an intermingled past at Oberlin College. The Office of the Controller was created in 1958, causing some confusion as to the distinction between the assigned functions of the controller and the treasurer. In a September 2, 1958 memorandum, President William E. Stevenson clarified the matter by making the controller responsible for general accounting procedures, including paying bills, reviewing proposed budgetary changes and transfers, preparing and distributing periodic departmental operating statements, and reconciling accounts with departmental records. The controller’s office was first filled by Arthur L. Cotton from 1958 to 1975. Richard B. Comstock served between 1975 and 1993, and Ronald Watts succeeded him in 1994. Since the office’s inception, the controller reported to the president, vice-president for business and finance, the provost (1988-1995), and the vice-president of finance (1995- ) since the office’s inception.

The bursar’s office was created in 1984, when Treasurer Roger S. Cooper left his position. Rather than filling the treasurer’s position immediately, Assistant Treasurer Barbara Pitts was appointed bursar. Pitts held that post until retiring in 1991. The responsibilities of the bursar’s office were assumed by a Student Accounts unit.

Scope and Content

The third series of the controller’s office records contains hundreds of folders relating to the built environment of Oberlin, Ohio. This series, “Bursar/ Treasurer’s Files,” is arranged in five subseries: 1. Subject Files, 2. Remittance Information Forms, 3. Capital Venture Properties, 4. Retained Income and Prospective Gifts, and 5. Properties. Except for the second subseries, all relate to Oberlin’s built environment. Applicable records address architecture largely from a financial standpoint and not from an aesthetic one.

There are more than 150 folders in Subseries 1 “Subject Files” that are pertinent to Oberlin’s built environment. The series is arranged alphabetically by folder title, including specific properties acquired by Oberlin College through either donation, bequest, or purchase. Occasionally, the folder title is named for the person from whom the property was acquired. Documents in the folders include deeds, leases, mortgages, and titles.

The 25 folders in Subseries 3 “Capital Venture Properties,” are filled with memoranda marking the donation of property to Oberlin College. The original promissory notes are occasionally attached to the memoranda, sent by the controller’s office to the bursar for safekeeping.

While most files in Subseries 4 “Retained Income and Prospective Gifts” concern monetary donations placed in trust, some are building trust funds. Allen Memorial Hospital, Barnard Hall, and Hall Auditorium are three campus buildings whose trust fund records appear in this collection.

Property files created and maintained by the treasurer’s office are to be found in Subseries 5 “Properties.” Included are purchase invoices, correspondence and memoranda, land deeds and titles, and leases. These documents are useful in identifying title, property values, and the amounts for which they were sold or rented. Land deeds and titles give a description outlining the boundaries of the said property. Like the records in subseries 1, these files document the acquisition and handling of the properties by Oberlin College. Oberlin College acquired properties largely located on the city’s core streets: Cedar, College Park Lots, College, College Pl., Elm, Elmwood, Forest, Lorain, Main, Morgan, Pleasant, Professor, Willard Court, and Woodland.


Some records will require the permission of the archivist, or of the controller, to be used.

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