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Ohio Northern University

Ohio Northern University
Established 1871
Type Private
Affiliation United Methodist Church
Endowment $168.9 million[1]
President Daniel DiBiasio (since August 1, 2011)
Provost David Crago (since February, 2012)
Academic staff
Students 3,721 (2008)
Undergraduates 3,290 (2007)
Location Ada, Ohio, USA
Campus Rural
Latin motto "Ex Diversitate Vires"
Colors Orange, Black, White
Nickname Polar Bears
Mascot Klondike
Website .edu.onuwww

Ohio Northern University is a private, United Methodist Church-affiliated university located in the United States in Ada, Ohio, founded by Henry Solomon Lehr in 1871. ONU is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. ONU is a sister university with Dankook University, a private university in Seoul, South Korea. In 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2013 U.S. News & World Report listed Ohio Northern as regional universities midwest, #2,[2][3] though there are Midwest universities that are ranked equivalently to or higher than Ohio Northern University in the complete United States University rankings.


  • History 1
    • Early years 1.1
    • Growth and struggle 1.2
    • Post-war education boom 1.3
    • Recent growth 1.4
    • Technology growth 1.5
    • ONU in the 21st Century 1.6
      • Environmental efforts 1.6.1
  • Academic programs 2
  • Athletics 3
    • National Honors 3.1
      • NCAA championship 3.1.1
      • NCAA runner-up finishes 3.1.2
      • NCAA Final Four appearances 3.1.3
      • Club sport championship 3.1.4
  • Notable alumni 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Early years

An Ohio historical marker outlining the university's history

Henry Solomon Lehr, a former soldier in the American Civil War, became the schoolmaster for the Ada public school in 1866. Lehr began offering additional courses in the evenings to motivated students to cover topics beyond the standard curriculum. After five years, he approached the town about starting a college. In August 1871, the Northwestern Ohio Normal School started with nearly 150 students attending classes in downtown stores and local churches until the first classroom building was completed in October. Lehr built the college, and was involved in all activities, including teaching, construction of buildings, faculty selection and curriculum design. In the post-civil war period, the school's focus was on training individuals to become public school teachers. By the mid-1880s, the school’s curriculum had expanded to include programs in pharmacy, engineering, law, and business. In 1885, the school trustees changed the name to Ohio Normal University to reflect the expanded aspirations and scope.

The Music Department of Ohio Northern University, with Administration buildings in the background.

President Lehr’s educational philosophy emphasized low tuition, flexible schedule and curriculum, and allowed women as students and faculty. To secure the school’s future, Lehr tried to secure state support for the school, but when that failed, he arranged to transfer the school to the United Methodist Church. When the transfer was completed in 1899, he was succeeded by Dr. Leroy Belt in 1900, and then by Dr. Albert Edwin Smith in 1905.

Growth and struggle

Between 1900 and 1930, the school grew and was re-organized administratively. During this period, the name changed to Ohio Northern University. A medical school and agriculture school were started, but subsequently closed. As high schools became more common in Ohio, ONU closed its preparatory program, which had allowed students to prepare for college. Dr. Smith traveled extensively on behalf of the school, and secured donations of nearly $500,000 for the first endowment fund. Fraternities had continued presence on campus, and Smith fought to maintain the student code which forbids smoking and drinking.

During the Great Depression and World War II, the school struggled financially as student enrollment dropped. Dr. Robert Williams introduced economy measures by reducing the administrative staff and combining academic programs. During the war years, the university participated in government programs supporting the Army Air Corps and Navy. In the 1940s, both the yearbook and student newspaper ceased publication, a classroom building was closed, and intercollegiate sports were suspended. President McClure served his first year without pay and many of the faculty went unpaid or on reduced salaries.

Post-war education boom

Plaque commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King's speech at ONU on January 11, 1968, one of the last campus visits made by Dr. King before his assassination.

In 1944, the G.I. Bill enabled veteran military servicemen to attend college across the country. ONU received an influx of students in fall of 1945, and which continued for several years, straining the local housing and forcing the university, under the leadership of Dr. Robert McClure, to add trailers and student dormitories. By 1949, Dr. F. Bringle McIntosh shifted the school’s focus from survival to enhancing academic programs and securing accreditation. During the following years, individual programs were accredited and in 1958 the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools accredited the undergraduate program.

Throughout the 1960s, a number of ONU students and faculty/staff participated in the American Civil Rights Movement. ONU hosted Dr. Martin Luther King on January 11, 1968, four days before his 39th birthday and just three months before his assassination.[4] During his visit at ONU, Dr. King famously spoke regarding the myth that many immigrant and/or ethnic groups successfully pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, whereas African Americans were incapable of doing so.[5][6]

Undergraduate student housing, Ohio Northern University.

Under Dr. Samuel Lewis Meyer and Dr. Ray B. Loeschner, the university continued to expand its campus and curriculum, enjoying financial stability from steadily increasing enrollment. In the 1970s, new buildings included the Heterick Memorial Library, the Tilton College of Law and Taggart Law Library, the Wesley Center, the Young Building for Philosophy and Religion, the Biggs Engineering Building, the King-Horn Convocation Center, ONU Sports Center, Park Hall, two McIntosh extensions, along with refurbishing the Taft Building, the Wilson Art Center, and the Meyer Hall of Science.

Recent growth

Entrance to ONU College of Law at night

Growth continued under Dr. DeBow Freed through the 1980s and 1990s with additions to the Taggart Law Library, Presser Hall, Dukes Memorial, Wilson Art Building, Biggs Engineering, Heterick Memorial Library, and Meyer Hall of Science, and the construction of the Freed Center for the Performing Arts and a new president’s on-campus home. Under Dr. Kendall Baker, campus additions include Dicke Hall, an expansion of the Robertson-Evans Pharmacy building, and the Dial-Roberson Stadium. Recent construction projects include the Mathile Center for the Natural Sciences annex connecting Meyer Hall of Science with the Pharmacy building and a comprehensive renovation of all on-campus housing. In 2008, Ohio Northern University built and opened The Inn at Ohio Northern University, which contains over 70 deluxe guestrooms.[7]

Technology growth

Starting in the early 1980s, the university provided computer services to a growing segment of the university’s population, expanding from a centralized mainframe to networked personal computers and a computer network. ONU joined OhioLINK and technology revolutionized academic administrative activities and supported classroom activities. With the addition of the Internet, the university began offering its first distance learning courses in the pharmacy program. Today, there are over 1,200 networked computers and Internet access on campus.

ONU in the 21st Century

Ohio Northern is ranked second among midwest regional colleges by the U.S. News & World Report. It is considered "more selective", with an acceptance rate of 68%.[8] It has a 53% 4-year graduation rate.[9]

More recently, the university has commenced a search for a new president with the announcement that Dr. Kendall L. Baker will retire effective August 2011.[10] On February 4, 2010, ONU announced that its board of trustees approved the nomination of Daniel A. DiBiasio, president of Wilmington College to become the new president of Ohio Northern. DiBiasio assumed his duties on August 1, 2011.[11]

Environmental efforts

  • In the 2006–07 academic year, in an effort to reduce wasted resources the university instituted a printing policy, whereby each student was allocated $30 to use throughout the year. The cost of printing one page is four cents.
  • As of 2009, approximately 30% of the campus uses geothermal heating and cooling.
  • In 2010, three 220 feet tall wind turbines were constructed. Each turbine generates 400 kilowatts of power and the three turbines will meet five to ten percent of the University's electricity needs.

Academic programs

McIntosh Center, the Student Center of Ohio Northern University.

The university comprises five colleges:

Prior to 1973, the law school was known as "the Warren G. Harding College of Law".[12] It was renamed in honor of Claude W. Pettit, a judge and former dean of the college.[13]


ONU's mascot the polar bear

ONU students participate in intercollegiate, intramural, and sports clubs in a variety of sports. The ONU Polar Bears compete in the NCAA Division III Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC). The men's volleyball team participates in the Midwest Intercollegiate Volleyball Association in the Great Midwest Men's Volleyball Conference.

  • The school mascot is a polar bear named Klondike.[14]
  • The ONU varsity football team defeated Mount Union College in 2005 to snap the Purple Raiders 110-game regular season winning streak.[15]
  • The ONU varsity men's swim team won their 7th straight OAC Conference Championship in 2011.[16]
  • The ONU women's volleyball team continues their NCAA All-Divisions record 33 consecutive winning seasons (1976–present)
Joe Banks, Ohio Northern graduate and coach

National Honors

NCAA championship

NCAA runner-up finishes

  • 1989 Women's Volleyball NCAA Division III Runners-up[19]
  • 2012 Men's Soccer NCAA Division III Runners-up[20]

NCAA Final Four appearances

  • 2001 Men's Basketball NCAA Division III Final Four[21]
  • 2008 Women's Volleyball NCAA Division III Final Four[22]

Club sport championship

  • 2007 Men's Volleyball NIRSA Division II National Champions[23]

Notable alumni


  1. ^ As of January 28, 2014. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2013 Endowment Market Value and Percentage Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2012 to FY 2013 work = 2013 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments". National Association of College and University Business Officers. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-05-18. Retrieved May 19, 2014. 
  2. ^ "America’s Best Colleges 2007:Comprehensive Colleges-Bachelor's (Midwest): Top Schools". Retrieved January 1, 2007. 
  3. ^ "ONU ranked No. 2 by U.S. News and World Report". Retrieved September 23, 2012. 
  4. ^ Digital Repository of Dr. King's visit to ONU, including original audio file, press releases, and transcript of his speech.
  5. ^ - Excerpts of Dr. King's ONU Speech regarding the Bootstrapping Myth
  6. ^ Stanford University, Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute - Inventory of Dr. King's Speeches in 1968
  7. ^ "The Inn at Ohio Northern University". Retrieved July 6, 2010. 
  8. ^ Retrieved 2015-02-26. 
  9. ^ 
  10. ^ President of Ohio Northern University Announces Retirement.
  11. ^ "New ONU leader deals with funding, future issues". Toledo Blade. 9 November 2011. Retrieved 22 October 2012. 
  12. ^ "Ohio Northern University at". Retrieved 21 August 2006. 
  13. ^ "History of the ONU Pettit College of Law". Archived from the original on 2 September 2006. Retrieved 21 August 2006. 
  14. ^ """Ohio Northern University Student Senate: " A New Bear in Town. 
  15. ^ "USA Mount Union's 110-game regular season winning streak snapped". 2005-10-24. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  16. ^ "Ohio Northern". Retrieved 2013-11-18. 
  17. ^ Volleyball | Ohio Northern University
  18. ^ 1993 Men's NCAA Tournament Results
  19. ^ Athletics | Ohio Northern University
  20. ^ "Season Review: Men's Soccer caps off record breaking season with run to NCAA III Tournament Championship". 2013-01-16. Retrieved 2013-11-18. 
  21. ^ The 2001 Division III men's tournament
  22. ^ No. 2 Emory snaps No. 8 Volleyball's 27-match winning streak in five-set marathon to advance to NCAA Championship Finals | Ohio Northern University
  23. ^
  24. ^ Little Big Man
  25. ^],[[2]
  26. ^ Benjamin Brafman
  27. ^ "Ohio Attorney General - William J. Brown". Archived from the original on 19 May 2008. Retrieved 27 August 2008. 
  28. ^ Mike DeWine - Congresspedia
  29. ^ "John W. Grabiel". Retrieved August 23, 2012. 
  30. ^ "Keeny, John Ephraim".  
  31. ^ "'"TAXES: Taking Aim at a 'Disgrace. Time. 1977-07-04. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 

External links

  • Official website

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