John Eliphalet Smith was born on January 24, 1878 near McCoy in Polk County, Oregon. In 1902 Smith received his B.S. from OAC. His first wife was Julia McCullock of Salem, Oregon, who passed away in May 1930. He married a second time to Willetta Moor of Eugene, Oregon on August 30, 1932. Smith taught at OSC during the post-war period. He was one of the founders of the Benton County Pioneer Historical Society, and wrote a book and many articles on various historical subjects. Smith was also a Professor of Geology at many universities including the University of North Carolina (1912-1917) and Iowa State College (1917-1937).
Nettie Spencer was born near Corvallis in 1861 to Oregon pioneer parents. She graduated from Corvallis College in 1882, and spent the next several years teaching and studying at various places in the U.S. and abroad, including Portland, Davenport College (North Carolina), Berlin, Paris, London and India. She returned to Oregon in 1916 and taught at Eugene and Roseburg High Schools. Spencer received a masters degree in sociology from Oregon State in 1928. She was a charter member of the Mazamas, a Portland mountain climbing club, and in 1935 was elected president of the Oregon State Women's Press Club. Spencer died in Portland in 1953.
A group of women students gathered outside Benton Hall. Of the 336 students enrolled at OAC during the 1897/98 academic year, almost half (151) were women. Women have been students at OSU since its establishment in 1868.