Born in Portland, Oregon, in August of 1887, Samuel H. Graf entered the Oregon Agricultural College in 1903 to study engineering. He received five engineering degrees from the college - B.S., Electrical Engineering (1907); E.E., Electrical Engineering (1908); B.S., Mechanical Engineering (1908); M.E., Mechanical Engineering (1909); and M.S., Electrical Engineering (1909). Between 1909 and 1954 Graf held several faculty positions in engineering at Oregon State. From 1909-1912 he was an instructor in mechanical engineering; from 1912-1920 he was the head of experimental engineering; head of the Department of Mechanics and Materials (1920-1934) and of the Department of Mechanical Engineering (1934-1954); director of engineering research (1928-1944); and director of the Engineering Experiment Station (1944-1954).
David Nicodemus was a Physics professor, College of Science administrator, and Dean of Faculty at OSU from 1950 to 1986. Nicodemus also served as a physicist at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory from 1943 to 1946, assisting with the Manhattan Project. Richard Dempster came to OSC in 1944 after earning his doctorate at Cal, where he worked in the laboratory of Ernest O. Lawrence, the creator of the first cyclotron.
For many years, freshman boys at Oregon State were required, per campus tradition, to wear "rook lids" - also known as "freshman beanies" - on certain days of the week. At the conclusion of the school year, freshmen students often burned their beanies at a ceremony called "The Burning of the Green."