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Mary Loyd

Ohio State Reformatory Has First Woman Teacher

By: Jim Brewer

Mansfield News-Journal January 16th, 1972

After just two class sessions in her new position, Mary Loyd, the first woman instructor at the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, wasn’t ready to classify her feelings about the unique, challenging experience.

“But I’m tremendously excited about the opportunity, as a woman, to influence the lives of these troubled young men.” Mrs. Loyd, full time Ashland College English instructor, said

Mrs. Loyd is the first woman of a series of instructors from the college to teach at the Reformatory. This program, headed by Arthur B. Gorsuch, the dean of special studies, has been going on for seven years, during which about 15 male instructors have taught at the Reformatory. 

“I feel I have responsibility towards other women in this job.” Mrs. Loyd said. “If I fail, it will be hard for another woman to get the opportunity.”

“But the challenge isn’t just in proving a woman can teach in a situation like this,” the meek mother of two, continued. 

“My goal at the Reformatory will be to help these men find a place in a society that is critical to them, and a society these men are often critical toward.”

Mrs. Loyd is teaching a college level American Literature at the Reformatory. On her first day of class there she asked the men, who range in age from 20 to 26, what books they would like to study. 

“Since the majority of the students were blacks,” Mrs. Loyd explained, “they quickly chose Eldrige Cleaver, James Baldwin and other Black writers. 

“I expected this, but I emphasized to them that we have to study the history of American Literature first so they could understand Cleaver’s ‘Soul on Ice’ and similar works in perspective,” she added. 

She described her students as eager and responsive. She told them to be themselves in class, to be open and understanding. Her class, and other college level courses offered at the Reformatory are transferable as college credit to other colleges and universities. 

Besides her Reformatory class, Mrs. Loyd teaches four freshman English courses at Ashland College. She remarked that she would have a lot of papers to grade this semester. Her college classes are scheduled on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, while her class at the Reformatory is on Tuesday and Thursday. 

She lives with her husband, Dr. David Loyd, the Director of the Division of Economics and Business Administration at the college, in Ashland, her life long home. 

She earned a Bachelors of Arts in English at Ashland College in 1940, and after many years of teaching High School in the Ashland and Mapleton school districts, attended Wooster College where she received a Masters of Arts in Teaching in 1969. 

Since then she has taught at the North Central Ohio Technical Institution, and the college. She has two children, a son who is attending the Cleveland Institute of Music, and a daughter, a Fine Arts student at New York University.