Ohio Northern University
MottoEx diversitate vires
Motto in English
Out of diversity strength
TypePrivate university
Established1871; 151 years ago (1871)
Religious affiliation
United Methodist Church
Academic affiliations
Endowment$160.3 million (2019)[1]
PresidentDaniel A. DiBiasio
ProvostMaria L. Cronley[2]
Academic staff
Students3,088 (2017)
Undergraduates2,900 (2017)
Location, ,
United States
ColorsOrange, Black, White
NicknamePolar Bears
Sporting affiliations

Ohio Northern University (Ohio Northern or ONU) is a private United Methodist Church–affiliated university in Ada, Ohio. Founded by Henry Solomon Lehr in 1871, ONU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. It offers over 60 programs to choose from across five colleges: arts & sciences, business, engineering, pharmacy, and law. It is one of only four universities in Ohio to have both a pharmacy school and a law school, along with the Ohio State University, University of Cincinnati, and University of Toledo.


Early years

An Ohio historical marker outlining the university's history
An Ohio historical marker outlining the university's history

Henry Solomon Lehr founded the Northwestern Ohio Normal School in August 1871. When the college's curriculum grew to include pharmacy, engineering, law and business programs, its name was changed to Ohio Normal University and, eventually, in 1903, Ohio Northern University. In 1899, the university became affiliated with the United Methodist Church as a method to reduce debt.[3]

Interwar and post-war education

Photo of Martin Luther King Jr. statue at Ohio Northern University
Photo of Martin Luther King Jr. statue at Ohio Northern University

Before the Great Depression, more than one thousand students were typically enrolled at Ohio Northern every year. Both the Great Depression and the following second World War plunged the school into low enrollment, and the possibility of closure was considered. During World War II, enrollment reached a low of 156 students. Thanks to the G.I. Bill, Ohio Northern was able to bring enrollment back up to nine hundred students by 1946.

Throughout the 1960s, a number of ONU students and faculty/staff participated in the American Civil Rights Movement. ONU hosted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 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]

ONU honored Dr. King and his speech on campus with the unveiling of a statue in his likeness on April 17, 2018.[7][8]

Later 20th century into today

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, the Dial-Roberson Stadium and the Mathile Center for the Natural Sciences. In 2008, Ohio Northern University built and opened The Inn at Ohio Northern University.[9] A new engineering building was opened in October 2019.[10]

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.

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] US News & World Report ranks Ohio Northern as #3 in Best Colleges - Regional Colleges Midwest, and #4 in Best Value Schools.[12]


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

The university comprises five colleges:

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


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.

National honors

NCAA Championship

NCAA Runner-up finishes

NCAA Final Four appearances

NCAA Elite Eight appearance

NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearances

Club Sport Championship

Notable alumni


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2019. "U.S. and Canadian 2019 NTSE Participating Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2019 Endowment Market Value, and Percentage Change in Market Value from FY18 to FY19 (Revised)". National Association of College and University Business Officers and TIAA. Retrieved September 20, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Just the Facts". onu.edu. 5 January 2011. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  3. ^ "Ohio Northern University". Ohio History Central. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  4. ^ "Digital Repository of Dr. King's visit to ONU, including original audio file, press releases, and transcript of his speech". Archived from the original on May 28, 2010. Retrieved Aug 29, 2019.
  5. ^ Publications, Eight Cities Media &. "Dr King's Message for Today". Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  6. ^ "The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute |". Mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu. Retrieved 2019-08-29.
  7. ^ "MLK statue to be dedicated at ONU - The Lima News". limaohio.com. 13 April 2018.
  8. ^ "Statue commemorates MLK's 1968 speech". Archived from the original on April 18, 2018.
  9. ^ "The Inn at Ohio Northern University". Retrieved July 6, 2010.
  10. ^ dedication of new engineering building
  11. ^ "New ONU leader deals with funding, future issues". Toledo Blade. 9 November 2011. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
  12. ^ "Ohio Northern University". usnews.com. US News & World Report. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  13. ^ "History of the ONU Pettit College of Law". Archived from the original on 2006-09-02. Retrieved 21 August 2006.
  14. ^ "Home". Ohio Northern University. Retrieved Aug 29, 2019.
  15. ^ "USA Today.com: Mount Union's 110-game regular season winning streak snapped". 2005-10-24. Retrieved 2010-05-20.
  16. ^ "D3hoops.com: 1993 Men's NCAA Tournament Results". Archived from the original on October 30, 2006. Retrieved Aug 29, 2019.
  17. ^ "Athletics | Ohio Northern University" (PDF). onusports.com. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  18. ^ "Season Review: Men's Soccer caps off record breaking season with run to NCAA III Tournament Championship". Onusports.com. 2013-01-16. Retrieved 2013-11-18.
  19. ^ "The 2001 Division III men's tournament". Archived from the original on October 30, 2006. Retrieved Aug 29, 2019.
  20. ^ "Ohio Northern University". Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  21. ^ http://www.onu.edu/org/mensvb/ Archived January 25, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ "Little Big Man". Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  23. ^ "Benjamin Brafman - Tag Story Index - USATODAY.com". content.usatoday.com. Retrieved Aug 29, 2019.
  24. ^ "Ohio Attorney General - William J. Brown". Archived from the original on 2008-05-19. Retrieved 27 August 2008.
  25. ^ "Mike DeWine - Congresspedia". sourcewatch.org. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  26. ^ "John W. Grabiel". ebooksread.com. Retrieved August 23, 2012.
  27. ^ "Keeny, John Ephraim". Louisiana Historical Association, A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography (lahistory.org). Archived from the original on 2010-12-01. Retrieved December 27, 2010.
  28. ^ "Lake Erie Islanders - Peter F. Lonz (and George Lonz)". www.middlebass2.org.

Coordinates: 40°46′01″N 83°49′30″W / 40.7669°N 83.8249°W / 40.7669; -83.8249

Wikisource has the text of the 1921 Collier's Encyclopedia article Ohio Northern University.