Ohio Northern University

Ohio Northern University 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.

Ohio Northern University
Motto“Ex diversitate vires" (out of diversity strength)
AffiliationUnited Methodist Church
Endowment$152.8 million[1]
PresidentDaniel A. DiBiasio
ProvostMaria L. Cronley[2]
Academic staff
Students3,088 (2017)
Undergraduates2,900 (2017)
Location, ,
United States
Latin motto"Ex Diversitate Vires"
ColorsOrange, Black, White
NicknamePolar Bears


Early years

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 affiliated with the United Methodist Church.

Post-war education boom

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.[3] 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.[4][5]

ONU honored Dr. King and his speech on campus with the unveiling of a statue in his likeness on April 17, 2018. [6][7]

Recent growth

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, which contains over 70 deluxe guestrooms.[8] In 2017, construction on a new engineering building will begin, with the first classes to be held in fall 2019.

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

Ohio Northern has made several significant strides in sustainability, and currently is making considerable efforts to realize the full benefits of a comprehensive approach in several areas of sustainability, alternative energy and environmental stewardship.

  • Three wind turbines generate 400 kilowatts of power to meet 8–9 percent of the university's electricity needs.
  • A solar array field generates about 10 percent of ONU's annual electricity needs, reducing ONU's carbon footprint by over 2,200 tons, equal to 210 average households.
  • Geothermal technology is used for heating and cooling in the housing units.
  • Ohio Northern University is a 100 percent tobacco-free campus.
  • Recognized as a Tree Campus USA by the nonprofit Arbor Day Foundation.
  • Electric vehicle charging stations have been installed on campus.
  • A grassy area surrounding a retention basin has been transformed into a prairie area featuring natural vegetation with a focus on providing a perfect habitat for bees.
  • The Affinity Gardens project has transformed the green space of the residence community.

Academic programs

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.[12]


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.[13]
  • The ONU varsity football team defeated Mount Union College in 2005 to snap the Purple Raiders 110-game regular season winning streak.[14]
  • The ONU women's volleyball team had a NCAA All-Divisions record 36 consecutive winning

National honors

NCAA Championship

NCAA Runner-up finishes

  • 1989 Women's Volleyball NCAA Division III Runners-up[16]
  • 2012 Men's Soccer NCAA Division III Runners-up[17]

NCAA Final Four appearances

  • 2001 Men's Basketball NCAA Division III Final Four[18]
  • 2008 Women's Volleyball NCAA Division III Final Four[19]

NCAA Elite Eight appearance

  • 2017 Women's Basketball

NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearances

  • 1999 Football
  • 2000 Football
  • 2010 Football
  • 2015 Football
  • 2019 Women's Soccer

Club Sport Championship

  • 2007 Men's Volleyball NIRSA Division II National Champions[20]


  • 525 South Main Street, Ada, Ohio 45810

Phone Number

  • 419-772-2000

Notable alumni


  1. As of 2016."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" (PDF). 2013 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments. National Association of College and University Business Officers. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-05-19. Retrieved May 19, 2014.
  2. "Just the Facts". onu.edu. 5 January 2011. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  3. "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.
  4. Publications, Eight Cities Media &. "Dr King's Message for Today". Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  5. "The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute |". Mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu. Retrieved 2019-08-29.
  6. "MLK statue to be dedicated at ONU - The Lima News". 13 April 2018.
  7. "Statue commemorates MLK's 1968 speech".
  8. "The Inn at Ohio Northern University". Retrieved July 6, 2010.
  9. "U.S. News Rankings". Retrieved 2015-02-26.
  10. "College Navigator - Ohio Northern University". nces.ed.gov. Retrieved Aug 29, 2019.
  11. "New ONU leader deals with funding, future issues". Toledo Blade. 9 November 2011. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
  12. "History of the ONU Pettit College of Law". Archived from the original on 2006-09-02. Retrieved 21 August 2006.
  13. "Home". Ohio Northern University. Retrieved Aug 29, 2019.
  14. "USA Today.com: Mount Union's 110-game regular season winning streak snapped". 2005-10-24. Retrieved 2010-05-20.
  15. "D3hoops.com: 1993 Men's NCAA Tournament Results". Archived from the original on Oct 30, 2006. Retrieved Aug 29, 2019.
  16. "Athletics | Ohio Northern University" (PDF). onusports.com. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  17. "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.
  18. "The 2001 Division III men's tournament". Archived from the original on Oct 30, 2006. Retrieved Aug 29, 2019.
  19. "Ohio Northern University". Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  20. http://www.onu.edu/org/mensvb/ Archived January 25, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  21. "Little Big Man". Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  22. "Benjamin Brafman - Tag Story Index - USATODAY.com". content.usatoday.com. Retrieved Aug 29, 2019.
  23. "Ohio Attorney General - William J. Brown". Archived from the original on 2008-05-19. Retrieved 27 August 2008.
  24. "Mike DeWine - Congresspedia". sourcewatch.org. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  25. "John W. Grabiel". ebooksread.com. Retrieved August 23, 2012.
  26. "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.
  27. "Lake Erie Islanders - Peter F. Lonz (and George Lonz)". www.middlebass2.org.

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