Ohio Wesleyan University
|Ohio Wesleyan University|
|Motto||In lumine tuo videbimus lumen (Latin)|
|Motto in English||In Your Light We Shall See the Light|
|Type||Private coeducational liberal arts college|
|Religious affiliation||United Methodist Church|
|Endowment||$190 million (FY Oct. 2011)|
|President||Rock F. Jones|
|Location||Delaware, OH, USA|
|Campus||Suburban, 200 acres (0.8 km²)|
|Athletics||21 varsity teams|
|Mascot||The Battling Bishop|
Ohio Wesleyan University (also known as Wesleyan or OWU) is a private liberal arts college in Delaware, Ohio, United States. It was founded in 1842 by Methodist leaders and Central Ohio residents as a nonsectarian institution, and is a member of the Ohio Five — a consortium of Ohio liberal arts colleges. Ohio Wesleyan has always admitted students irrespective of religion or race and maintained that the university "is forever to be conducted on the most liberal principles." In this capacity, Ohio Wesleyan has espoused internationalism and community activism.
In 2010, Ohio Wesleyan had the eleventh highest percentage of international students among liberal arts colleges for the seventeenth straight year. U.S. News & World Report ranked Ohio Wesleyan in tier 1 among U.S. liberal arts colleges in its 2010 edition. Notable alumni include former U.S. Vice President Charles W. Fairbanks, First Lady Lucy Webb Hayes (wife of U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes), theologian and author Norman Vincent Peale, baseball executive Branch Rickey, and Nobel Laureate Frank Sherwood Rowland.
- 1 History
- 2 Academics
- 3 Campus
- 4 Student life
- 5 Athletics
- 6 People
- 7 Footnotes
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
In 1841, Ohio residents Adam Poe and Charles Elliott decided to establish a university "of the highest order" in central Ohio. To that end, they purchased the Mansion House Hotel, a former health resort with its Sulfur Spring, using funds raised from local residents. Poe and Elliott wrote a charter emphasizing "the democratic spirit of teaching", which was approved by the Ohio State Legislature. Early in the following year they opened the college preparatory Academy and formed a Board of Trustees. Ohio Wesleyan University, named (like several other U.S. colleges and universities) after John Wesley, founder of Methodism, opened on November 13, 1844 as a Methodist-related but nonsectarian institution, with a College of Liberal Arts for male students.
Ohio Wesleyan's first president, Edward Thomson, stated in his inaugural address on August 5, 1846 that the school was "a product of the liberality of the local people." This liberal philosophy contributed to Ohio Wesleyan's vocal opposition to slavery in the 1850s. In the annual celebration for George Washington's birthday in 1862, second president Frederick Merrick endorsed Ohio Wesleyan's "ideals of democracy" during his oration.
Curriculum growth and fundraising
During the mid-19th century, Ohio Wesleyan focused on attracting students, adding fields of study, and fundraising, by which it significantly increased its endowment. Sturges Hall was constructed as the University's first library in 1855. In 1873, the school added the Department of Natural History housed in Merrick Hall. The Ohio Wesleyan Female College, established in 1853, merged with the university in 1877. Between 1876 and 1888, enrollment tripled and music education greatly increased, yet no major buildings were built in this time.
By the end of the 19th century, Ohio Wesleyan had added a School of Music (1877), School of Fine Arts (1877), School of Oratory (1894), and Business School (1895) to the original College of Liberal Arts (founded in 1844). To address the need for new departments and specialized instruction, the administration improved the facilities and courses to make them on par with OWU's new academic position. University Hall, Slocum Library, extensions to the Monnett campus, and athletic facilities were all constructed during that period. Between 1891 and 1895, Ohio Wesleyan specialized the curriculum by establishing departments for physics, zoology, geology, speech, history, French, English, and economics. This specialization encouraged undergraduates to continue studies at graduate level, allowed professional preparation for the Doctor of Philosophy degree, and promoted exchange study in Europe. Two professional schools for law and medicine were formed in 1896.
In 1905, the Board of Trustees decided to keep Ohio Wesleyan a college, despite the expansion of the curriculum and campus and the word "university" in the institution's name. The Bachelor of Science degree was abolished, which left only the Bachelor of Arts. Two students were selected as Rhodes Scholars in 1905 and 1909. Edwards Gymnasium was built in 1906. In 1907, the United Societies of Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest undergraduate honor society in the United States, installed the "Eta of Ohio" ΦΒΚ chapter on campus. In 1909, the school added Sanborn Hall, housing the Music Department.
In the 1920s, academic requirements for the bachelor's degree were reduced, and Latin and mathematics were no longer emphasized. During the presidency of John W. Hoffman (1916–1928), the Academy and School of Business were closed; the Academy had started in 1842 as a preparatory school, and throughout its seventy-five years frequently outnumbered the college in enrollment. Also in the 1920s, the chapel service was dropped and sororities were formed. Ohio Wesleyan also increased the number of buildings on campus, including Selby Stadium, Austin Manor, and Perkins Observatory; another building, Stuyvesant Hall, was in planning; and Edgar Hall was opened.
Years of change, 1930–1984
During the Great Depression, both enrollment and alumni donations shrank. While the faculty size remained stable, lack of tuition and alumni revenues precipitated financial problems which threatened the college's survival in the administrations of Edmund D. Soper (1928–1938), Acting President Edward Loranus Rice (1938–1939), and Herbert John Burgstahler (1939–1949).
The administration adjusted the curriculum during the early 1930s to address these problems. Greek and Latin declined, while business administration and economics thrived and the highest enrollments were in the social sciences, English, pre-medicine, and history. The registrar reported that, in these years, the number of students from New England states, urban Ohio areas, and from international locations increased. By the 1930s, the Methodist students were a minority among the student body; formal ties to the Methodist church were severed in the 1920s and led to debate among Board members in the 1930s, eventually resulting in the university's current active but loose historical affiliation with the United Methodist Church. In a study into the relationship between American educational institutions and the Christian denominations they were historically affiliated with, James Tunstead Burtuchell writes that it was during this period that "in its personnel, its resources, and its students", Ohio Wesleyan lost its "symbiotic intimacy with the United Methodist Church."
In 1946, Ohio Wesleyan introduced a new "Centennial Curriculum", which enacted seven distribution requirements across the sciences and humanities; the new requirement for a foreign language course was added to the existing humanities requirement. Thomson and Bashford Halls, originally men's dorms, were built between 1951 and 1954. In the 1960s, faculty, staff and administrators fought over administrative structure and control. They eventually settled on a new "statement of aims" that stressed values, rather than religious goal statements, and instituted a more internationalized curriculum, a new Women's Studies Program, and an International Business major; the faculty senate also introduced a new academic calendar with three 10.5-week terms.
Thomas Wenzlau's presidency (1968–1984) began with the challenge of campus unrest: Ohio Wesleyan students took over the ROTC building, demanded its shut-down, and eventually eliminated ROTC in 1970. Students also demanded participation in departmental meetings and faculty committees, and the democratic process in the governance of Ohio Wesleyan grew in this period. Wenzlau's presidency witnessed decline in students' test scores, an unusually high attrition rate, lack of adequate research to identify potential major donors and a growing "party school" image, leading to a rocky relationship between him and the student body. Between 1979 and 1982, the campus newspaper The Transcript frequently criticized Wenzlau's presidency, blaming it for "severely affecting the reputation of the college". This exchange resulted in a Washington Post report on the school that eventually precipitated the end of Wenzlau's presidency.
The president, David Warren, increased admission standards in 1985, engaged students in a "live-in" presidency, expanded media exposure and established a National Colloquium focused on the liberal arts. Warren engaged in forty-one interviews on the ABC and NBC networks. The current president is Rock Jones.
More recently, Ohio Wesleyan has achieved several academic and athletic recognitions. A 1986 study, titled "Educating America's Scientists: The Role of the Research Colleges," identified Ohio Wesleyan as one of 48 highly selective "science-active" liberal arts institutions in the nation. The Battling Bishops won NCAA Division III national championships in men's basketball (1988) and men's (1998, 2011) and women's (2001, 2002) soccer.
Ohio Wesleyan continues to undertake construction projects. The new Hamilton Williams Campus Center opened in 1991. The Memorial Union Building was renovated in 2001 to accommodate the Economics Department, the Academic Resource Center, the Information Services portion of the combined Libraries and Information Services department, and the Woltemade Center for Economics, Business and Entrepreneurship. The Schimmel-Conrades Science Center opened in 2004 to provide 52,000 square feet (4,800 m2) of additional space for the science departments. As of 2010, the university is engaged in a fundraising campaign to improve athletics facilities by adding a new turf facility, a new field house and a pool, and a gateway connecting all sports facilities on campus.
|Liberal arts colleges|
|U.S. News & World Report||100|
Ohio Wesleyan University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, and is a member of the Great Lakes Colleges Association, the Oberlin Group, and the Five Colleges of Ohio, a consortium of Ohio liberal arts colleges which also includes Kenyon College, Oberlin College, The College of Wooster, and Denison University. For 2011, Ohio Wesleyan accepted approximately 52% of its regular decision applicants, 33% of its transfer applicants, and had a yield rate of 26%. In 2010, the college accepted 36% of its international applicants. The middle 50% range of matriculating students for the class of 2010 was 1125–1320 for the SAT (old scale) and 24–30 for the ACT. Approximately 35% of accepted applicants were granted internal scholarships. Ohio Wesleyan follows a need-blind admission policy; financial circumstances are not considered when deciding whether to admit applicants. As of 2010, OWU's 1,950 students come from 43 states and 57 countries; 47% are from Ohio, 11% are international, and 54% are female. The student body is about 10% Asian, 6% Hispanic, and 9% Black. Fifty-nine percent of Ohio Wesleyan students claim no religious affiliation. The student-faculty ratio is 12.5:1 and faculty members teach all classes. Excluding independent studies and senior theses, nearly 60% of Ohio Wesleyan's class sections have fewer than twenty students enrolled. Ohio Wesleyan is generally known for a strong "left-leaning" student body and an administration with a "permissive" attitude. In 2007, 60% of OWU students favored the Democratic Party.
Ohio Wesleyan admits students of all cultures, lifestyles, and socio-economic backgrounds. An index examining gay-friendly policies places OWU among the nation's gay-friendly colleges, and the university enacts policies to meet the six criteria developed by the Campus-Pride organization for recruiting and supporting students from a lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender population. Nearly 18% of students at Ohio Wesleyan receive Federal Pell Grants, which mostly go to students whose family incomes are below $40,000. This measure indicates the degree to which economically disadvantaged groups are represented at OWU. As measured by percentage of Pell Grant recipients, economic diversity at OWU compares to that of Vassar College, Reed College, Colorado College and Hampshire College.
The faculty consists of 142 tenured members. As of 2010, all the university's tenured or tenure-track faculty members hold a PhD or other terminal degree. The faculty is 37% female and 63% male, with 10% from underrepresented groups. Also as of 2010, women constitute 37% of the tenured professors and earn 93.8% of what male professors earn—numbers which suggest favorable gender circumstances.
Curriculum, degrees and majors
Freshmen are paired early in their first year with academic advisors who oversee their students' academic progress. Upon completing 34 units of coursework, students may earn diplomas in Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, or Bachelor of Music. Ohio Wesleyan has research departments and teaching faculties in most academic disciplines; as of 2005, OWU offered 39 majors.
In its early days, OWU's curriculum began with classical studies, for the course catalogue maintained that "the classical course in Greek and Latin and pure mathematics bring correctness in mental processes that an applied art, or a living and slightly inflected language, do not permit." Scientific courses were added to Ohio Wesleyan's curriculum in 1849, and since then, scientific subjects have become a foundation to the liberal arts curriculum. OWU also has a highly respected music department.
Emphasis on internationalism
Ohio Wesleyan has upheld academic internationalism since its early years; since the 19th century, the college has established links with several international schools. In 1879, OWU alumna Elizabeth Russell founded Kwassui Women's College in Nagasaki, Japan, when predominant Japanese culture considered women's education unimportant. Today, Kwasuii College is one of the top finishing schools for young women in Japan. In 1899, William Ehnis (from the class of 1898) traveled to Africa and opened a school in Mutare, Zimbabwe, that eventually became the Africa University. In March 1988, Conrad Kent established the popular Salamanca Spanish Program for Ohio Wesleyan students. The school also manifests international interest in the percentage of international students it recruits and enrolls annually. Since 1983, Ohio Wesleyan has been listed in U.S. News & World Report among colleges that attract the highest percentage of international students. The percentage of international students grew in the early and mid-1990s. In a study adjusted for school size, Ohio Wesleyan came ninth among 118 American colleges and universities in total aid awards to international students and 69th in average award per international student among both large universities and small liberal arts colleges. South East Asian students have significantly contributed to this growth. The United Nations flag, along with the flags of more than sixty represented nations and the U.S. flag, flies in University Hall in honor of the ideal of peaceful international relations.
High participation in formal exchange programs constitutes a third target of the school's international focus. Under a Great Lakes Colleges Association agreement, OWU established an exchange program with Waseda University in 1962 to provide approximately 30 American students with opportunities to study in Japan and 30 Japanese students to study at Ohio Wesleyan each year. The Salamanca program, founded by Conrad Kent in 1988, conducts the exchange of approximately one hundred students and faculty between OWU and the University of Salamanca in Spain. The academic collaboration frequently extends to joint participation in academic symposia: in 1993, members of the Salamanca faculty participated in a symposium on the Golden Age in Salamanca.
The Ohio Wesleyan campus is next to downtown Delaware, and is bisected by Sandusky Street, the main north/south street through the heart of the city. The street informally divides the campus into an eastern sector composed mainly of academic buildings and a western sector composed mainly of residential and administrative buildings. Many facilities have been constructed in the last two years, with substantial benefit to science, art, and athletic programs on campus.
Other facilities and off-campus programs
OWU operates several facilities outside campus: The Philadelphia Business Center, Wesleyan in Washington, The New York Arts Program for the performing, visual and media arts (a GLCA arts program), Perkins Observatory, The Strand Theatre, and the Kraus Wilderness Preserve.
Perkins Observatory is situated in Delaware on land separate to the main campus. The observatory is named after Hiram Perkins, a former professor of mathematics and astronomy at the college. When the observatory was built in 1931, it housed the third-largest telescope in the world, which has since been moved to Arizona. The Perkins dome now houses a 32-inch (810 mm) telescope, which is the second-largest in Ohio.
The university also maintains offices for study abroad, US domestic study, and internship programs. Such programs include: Wesleyan in Washington, which allows students to study for a semester in Washington, D.C., in research and internship positions. The Philadelphia Center offers students hundreds of internship and field placement opportunities off-campus and the chance to live independently. and the New York Arts Program, which allows students of the arts to gain a semester of hands on experience in the arts in New York City.
OWU has strong community ties with the City of Delaware. Students participate in Delaware's community through a variety of educational, social, and cultural programs. The student-led Columbus Initiative, founded in 1989, is an experiential learning partnership between OWU and Columbus public schools. More than 150 Ohio Wesleyan students from this program tutor and mentor underprivileged pupils from Columbus.
The Ohio Wesleyan Ambassadors Program (ISAP) promotes cultural diversity and ethnic awareness within the local community, and exposes international students to American culture through the community. The program's ambassadors visit local schools to give presentations and participate in events for local non-profit community organizations.
Campus organizations cooperate with local residents on issues of civic engagement and activism. Progress OWU allows students from Ohio Wesleyan and local schools to express their voices on politics, public policy, and corporate and social issues, both on campus and in the local community.
Cultural programs also take part in community relations. In the 1960s, Ohio Wesleyan donated the Arts Castle, then part of the Fine Arts department, to the City of Delaware. It is now home to the Delaware County Cultural Arts Center. The Arts Castle hosts a variety of community programs in art, and offers classes ranging from ballet to fine arts. In 2004, the OWU received a donation to rehabilitate the historic Strand Theatre in downtown Delaware.
The university and the City of Delaware sponsor several events in town throughout the year: the Delaware Arts Festival, the Little Brown Jug, the Delaware County Fair, and the Castle Arts Affair. The Delaware Arts Festival is an annual event held the weekend after Mother's Day on the streets of Historic Downtown Delaware. The festival hosts over 170 booths featuring works of local, regional, and other artists. OWU professors chair the committees that select winners. The Little Brown Jug, a harness race, is run during the Delaware County Fair in September. The OWU president and the college mascot traditionally award the trophy for the first division of the first heat of the race.
Organizations and activities
Ohio Wesleyan University has 95 student clubs and organizations. The university offers three chapels as well as several Christian and other religious groups for its students. Its social organizations cover a wide range of interests, including chess, ultimate, finance, and medieval sword fighting. There are two a cappella singing groups on campus, "The OWtsiders," a student-run group formed in 1999, and the all-female "Pitch Black" established in 2005. Another entertainment-related club is "The Babbling Bishops", an improvisational comedy troupe. The "Babbling Bishops" started in the fall of 1990 when a group of theatre concentration students formed a performance-oriented project for their theatre degrees. The project became an improv comedy troupe, rehearsing in Stuyvesant Hall and performing with other college improv troupes since 1996.
Socially conscious students can join organizations such as the activist group "ProgressOWU" or participate in student government groups, such as the Campus Programming Board and the Wesleyan Council on Student Affairs. The "PRIDE" organization offers support to OWU's LGBT students.
Fewer than a third of Ohio Wesleyan's students are involved in Greek life, but that percentage has fluctuated significantly throughout the university's history. All twelve fraternities and seven sororities on campus are currently involved in many philanthropic and community programs.
Ohio Wesleyan has four religious chaplains: A Protestant minister, a Roman Catholic priest, and a Jewish rabbi. In addition to student groups and services associated with these three religions, there are groups associated with Islam, Buddhism and Unitarian Universalism, and even a group which holds services that are simply "spiritual" and separate from any organized religion. Services are also available for Quakers, Christian Scientists, Hindus, and Baha'is, and there are many local religious groups in Delaware, Ohio.
OWU's oldest student organizations are its literary clubs, including a number of student journals, magazines, and newspapers. The school's student-run weekly newspaper, The Transcript, is the oldest continuously published, independent, college newspaper in the United States. The OWL, an annual literary publication, features students' work and is one of the nation's oldest college literary magazines. Other student publications include The Civic Arts Review, the electronic Connect2OWU bulletin, and @Wesleyan, a quarterly online magazine. Radio station WSLN broadcasts from Slocum Hall and is run by students supervised by the journalism department.
The university also has a student government, the Wesleyan Council on Student Affairs (WCSA).
The first president, Edward Thomson, staunchly supported the abolition of slavery and liberalism. Other individuals associated with the university have fought racism. Branch Rickey, an alumnus, broke the racial barrier in baseball. Mary King, a civil rights activist, worked alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the U.S. civil rights movement while she was a staff member of OWU's Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). In the 1980s, Ohio Wesleyan's administration, moved by student activism, pledged and eventually fully divested holdings connected to South Africa. As of September 2007, Ohio Wesleyan joined a small group of liberal colleges that actively opposed the methodology and usefulness of US News and World Report college rankings, despite the fact that the magazine ranked Ohio Wesleyan among the top national liberal arts colleges. Ohio Wesleyan's concern intensified with disclosures about institutions flagrantly manipulating data in order to move up in the rankings in U.S. News and other popular college guides.
OWU has partisan political groups ranging from liberal to conservative, such the College Republicans and the College Democrats, and several activism awareness groups such as ProgressOWU, Black Men of the Future, Student Union on Black Awareness, PRIDE, ECHO, Amnesty International, and Rafiki Wa Afrika. Due to the school's proximity to Columbus, the Ohio state capital, many politically inclined students serve internships for state representatives. In the 2000s, students have been active on the Iraq war, race, globalization, and women's reproductive rights.
Many Ohio Wesleyan traditions originate from its early years. Monnett Weekend, beginning in 1896, welcomes female alumni, parents, and friends of the university. Events include a "People's Parade" with clowns, banners and marching, faculty lectures, Maypole dancing, Choral Arts Society, and an all-campus carnival. It started as a girls' athletic fête held at the Monnett Athletic Club for Mothers Day. All events were held at the Monnett Campus, where female students danced around the Maypole, while men were barred. The men, in turn, developed their own tradition: they arrived at Monnett Campus early in the morning, and concealed themselves in trees to watch the festivities, discreetly.
In 1884, Ohio Wesleyan held its first Mock Convention, which has recurred in every presidential election year since 1920. Its purpose is to inform participants, students, faculty staff, and Ohio residents about the presidential nominating convention, presidential candidates, and key issues in the upcoming election.
Beginning in the 1920s, all freshmen were required to wear "dinks", red caps with black brims and a black W on the front. Disobedient students who refused to wear the "dink" were tossed into the Sulphur Spring (see later reference). This tradition ended in the 1960s. The freshman class of 1957 wore dinks for half the first semester. .
Ohio Wesleyan's Homecoming takes place in early October, while the Ohio Wesleyan football team plays one of its traditional rivals. New events, such as a bonfire and a five kilometer run, have been added from as recently as 2004.
The President's Ball, a recent gala organized by the college president, takes place on the first Saturday of December. Other traditions include OWU vs. Denison, which stages a "fierce" athletic rivalry between Ohio Wesleyan and Denison University; the Sagan Colloquium, spanning the fall semester, recently expanded to include the spring semester, which consists of speeches focusing on an issue of concern to the liberal arts; and Orchesis, an annual celebration of modern dance and the arts, which occurs at the end of the academic year. "Fresh-X" is an optional program for newly admitted students that occurs just before orientation in which students may choose between hiking, backpacking and other outdoor activities to make friends with their new classmates.
There are two major musical events, Unity through Music and Springfest. Unity through Music occurs once a year in the fall semester, and covers various musical styles in a carnival atmosphere, during the day; while, during the evening, a huge dance is held in the Hamilton-Williams Campus Center. Springfest, the second musical event, proceeds in mid-April and in recent years has featured well-known music groups such as Counting Crows, The Roots, Guster, Ben Folds, and most recently, Gym Class Heroes. It is organized by the Campus Programming Board.
The university can house up to 1,600 students on campus. First-year students are required to live on campus during their first two semesters. A lottery system matches second to fourth-year students with dormitories and another lottery system determines how many students are allowed to live in off-campus housing. Housing options include dormitories, small living units, fraternities, and cooperative housing.
Approximately 200 non-freshmen students live in Small Living Units (SLUs), which are co-ops united voluntarily to meet shared economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations in democratically controlled houses. The houses allow students to live cooperatively with one another by sharing regularly scheduled house chores, participating in the decision process, and, in some, sharing the cooking duties. Each unit houses a group of 15 students, and is organized to promote a common theme, usually indicated by the co-op's name. As of the 2008–2009 academic year, the SLUs consist of The Peace and Justice House, The International House, The House of Black Culture, The Creative Arts House, The Women's House, The Modern Foreign Language House, The House of Thought, The Tree House, and The Interfaith House. The University owns these houses; the co-ops, therefore, must follow the University's living policies. The co-ops do, however, elect their own officers and do not have Resident Advisers or faculty in residence like other on-campus residence halls. They have a House Moderator who undergoes the same training as a Resident Advisor. At the end of each academic year, every existing and potential co-op must submit a house proposal describing its plans for theme promotion for the next academic year. The University Housing office places co-ops in houses every year on a competitive basis.
Off-campus housing is available only to junior and senior students, and students residing in Delaware, OH while living with their spouse or direct family; 17% of students live off-campus. Most students assert Ohio Wesleyan's policy of off-campus housing as one of the "worst things" about Ohio Wesleyan because of the resulting shortage of the number of lottery tickets allowing people to live off due to the off-campus lottery cap.
Ohio Wesleyan participates in the NCAA's Division III as a member of the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC). Known as the Battling Bishops, Ohio Wesleyan competes in 21 sports. The official school colors are red and black. Formal athletics at the college date to 1875, when the first football teams were organized to play against other institutions. In the late 1880s, Ohio Wesleyan had perhaps the strongest amateur baseball team in the state of Ohio behind the pitching of Phil "Lefty" Saylor. The school joined the Ohio Athletic Conference along with Oberlin College, Kenyon College, Ohio State, and Case Western in 1902. In 1983, Ohio Wesleyan joined with nine other colleges in Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania to create the North Coast Athletic Conference. The NCAC seeks to bring together a group of liberal arts institutions that value the primacy of the academic mission over the athletic one.
The men's lacrosse, golf and soccer teams are the most historically successful of the varsity teams, and soccer is the university's most intently followed sport. For seven of the last twelve years, Ohio Wesleyan has won the NCAC conference All-Sports Trophy for excellence in both women's and men's sports. In the Sears Director's Cup standings, OWU is among the top 25 overall collegiate athletics programs in the country. Because of the North Coast Athletic Association athletic agreement, the university is not permitted to offer academic scholarships for athletic recruiting.
Ohio Wesleyan has won five NCAA Division III Championships, including men's basketball (1988), men's soccer (1998 and 2011), and women's soccer (2001 and 2002). In addition, Ohio Wesleyan's varsity athletic teams have been NCAC champions over 100 times, leading the teams of Denison University and Kenyon College.
The nickname The Battling Bishops dates to 1925. This is also the name of the university's mascot, The Battling Bishop. Due to its ironic name, the mascot has been listed as one of the weirdest college mascots. Due to its red robe, The Battling Bishop looks actually like a Cardinal. Before 1925, Ohio Wesleyan's teams were referred to as "The Red and Black" and "The Methodists". Many schools, including several other Methodist ones, also claimed crimson and black as their colors, so the university decided to change the name.
Ohio Wesleyan maintains athletic rivalries with other NCAC institutions. The men's lacrosse team has a historic rivalry with Denison University, the football team with Wittenberg University, the soccer team with Kenyon College, and the field hockey team with Oberlin College. Both Denison and Ohio Wesleyan issued alerts to their fans specifically for the OWU-Denison lacrosse game about unsportsmanlike behavior and profanity.
In addition to the school's varsity athletics, club sports teams, including chess, hockey, cricket, rugby, ski, and scuba, have been organized as student organizations under the auspices of the Office of Student Activities. Ohio Wesleyan's intramural program includes 16 sports. Sports such as skiing, squash and water polo have been offered, as well as a sports trivia competition.
Under the charter granted by the State of Ohio, the Board of Trustees possesses the legal authority to operate the college. The charter and bylaws stipulate a board of 34 trustees, of whom one is the president. In general, it is the board that elects the president. Since Ohio Wesleyan's beginnings, sixteen people have held the title of president, and a few have served as interim president. Former presidents include lawyers, literary scholars, politicians, executives, and clergymen.
After several disagreements between Huddleston and the Ohio Wesleyan administration, Huddleston accepted a position as president of the University of New Hampshire and left Ohio Wesleyan on June 30, 2007, giving him the second shortest presidency, behind David Lockmiller, 1959–1961. On 29 May 2007, the appointment of current university provost Dr. David O. Robbins as interim president was unanimously endorsed by OWU's Board of Trustees. Dr. Robbins' term as Interim President began on 1 July 2007.
On 17 December 2007, Dr. Rockwell "Rock" Jones was elected to serve as the 16th president of Ohio Wesleyan University. Dr. Jones' inauguration ceremony took place on October 10, 2008 in Ohio Wesleyan's Grey Chapel, in University Hall.
Ohio Wesleyan alumni are active in several annual events, organizations, and initiatives. The events and associations with significant alumni involvement are Homecoming, 'W' Association, and A/PART (the alumni admission team). For the 2005–2006 fiscal year, Ohio Wesleyan's alumni giving rate was 35%. A number of the school's alumni have made notable contributions in the fields of government, law, academia, business, arts, journalism, and athletics, among others.
In academia, Frank Sherwood Rowland (class of 1948) won the 1995 Nobel Prize for chemistry for his research on the depletion of the Earth's ozone layer. Ezra Vogel (1950) is a prominent author on China-Japan issues and was the director of Harvard's Fairbank Center for East Asian Research from 1995 to 1999. William Hsiao (1963) is an economist in the field of international health at Harvard, and the designer of a landmark study to examine the United States' system of reimbursing physicians for medical services. Dennis R. Appleyard (1961) is the author of an international economics textbook.
In politics, John Wesley Hoyt (1849) was the third Governor of the Wyoming Territory, Charles Fairbanks (1872) was the 26th Vice-President of the United States. Jo Ann Emerson (1972) serves as a U.S. Representative from Missouri. Arthur Flemming (1927) was a Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, was known for his commitment to civil rights, and was the recipient of two Presidential Medals of Freedom. Lucy Webb Hayes (1853), wife of U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes, was the first woman to be called First Lady, and the first First Lady to hold a college degree.
Notable journalists and media personalities include Frank Stanton (1930), a president of CBS known for supporting broadcast journalism before Congress; Byron Pitts (1982), a national correspondent for CBS News; Wendie Malick (1972), an Emmy-nominated actress known for her role on the NBC sitcom Just Shoot Me! and now as "Victoria Chase" on the TV Land sitcom "Hot in Cleveland"; Melvin Van Peebles (1953), an actor, director, screenwriter, playwright, and composer; Patricia Wettig (1974), the actress who plays vice president Caroline Richards on Prison Break; and Clark Gregg (1984), the actor playing Richard in The New Adventures of Old Christine with Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
Numerous Ohio Wesleyan alumni have been associated with social justice. Branch Rickey (1904) was a baseball manager and executive known for signing Jackie Robinson as the first African-American in Major League Baseball. Another graduate, Mary King (1962), worked alongside the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the U.S. civil rights movement when she was a young student, and was a member of the staff of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Rev. Norman Vincent Peale (1920) was the author of The Power of Positive Thinking and the winner of a Presidential Medal of Freedom for his theological contributions. Others found fame in other forms: Mildred Elizabeth Sisk (aka Axis Sally) was the first American woman to be tried and sentenced for treason, convicted of broadcasting for Nazi Germany during World War II. In 1917, she majored in dramatic arts, but did not graduate due to her failure to meet all university requirements. After serving a 12-year sentence, Sisk returned to OWU, where she received a bachelor's degree in speech in 1973.
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