Ohio University Chillicothe History
Higher Education in Chillicothe South-Central Ohio!
The Ohio University-Chillicothe campus, founded in 1946, is the oldest regional campus of Ohio University. About 65 miles west of Athens, the Chillicothe campus serves a large, sparsely populated area of south-central Ohio.
The city of Chillicothe's population is about 25,000, with the population of Ross County—home of most OUC students—approaching 75,000. Students also commute from surrounding Pickaway, Pike, Vinton, Fayette, and Highland counties.
The regional campuses of Ohio University developed in response to the needs of soldiers returning home from World War II, hungry for an advanced education under the GI Bill. Evening classes were first offered in what is now J. A. Smith Middle School, part of the Chillicothe City Schools district.
For 15 years, only evening classes were offered. In 1961, as demand increased, daytime classes were started at the First Presbyterian Church. The groundwork for a Chillicothe campus had already begun in 1960 with a local group's purchase of 43 acres on Carlisle Hill. A year later, 38 acres were added; current holdings total approximately 100 acres.
In 1962, Ohio University President Vernon Alden said he envisioned a complete campus at Chillicothe by 1972—including laboratories, a small library, and even dormitories—to accommodate a student population of several thousand.
The biggest challenge to advancing the regional campus concept in Chillicothe was met head-on in 1962, when a $200,000 fund drive was launched to complete payment on the land and prove to the Ohio General Assembly that local citizens were ready to support higher education. The fund drive was a success, and in September 1966 the $1.6-million Bennett Hall opened as the first campus building.
Dr. Alden's vision of a small library became reality in 1974 when the $1-million Burton E. Stevenson Learning Resources Center opened. In 1980 came the opening of the $2-million Myrl Shoemaker Convocation Center, a complete
physical education complex. In 1998 a Technical Studies building, housing Hazardous Materials Technology, Environmental Engineering Technology, and the Southern Ohio Police Training Institute, was dedicated.
More recently constructed was the Ross County/Ohio University-Chillicothe Child Development and Family Service Center. This center is home to several community agencies including; Head Start, Job and Family Services, MRDD, Walnut Street United Methodist Church Outreach Program, Chillicothe City Schools – Preschool Program and classrooms for OU-C students majoring in education and nursing.
About Chillicothe and Ross County
Chillicothe, 45 miles south of Columbus at the intersection of U.S. 23, U.S. 35 and U.S. 50, is the county seat of Ross County, in area the second largest county in Ohio. Chillicothe is known as a manufacturing center and regional shopping area.
Ross County is home to several large and small manufacturing and service industry employers. Ross County manufacturers produce paper products, trucks, truck parts and auto and railroad car parts. A Fortune 500 company, Kenworth Division of Paccar Corporation, calls Ross County home.
The town was founded in 1796 as the capital of the Northwest Territory. It was the state capital for two periods in the early 1800s, before that function was permanently moved to Columbus.
In addition to new residential areas, well-kept houses of historic significance form pleasant, tree-lined residential neighborhoods. The downtown area renovated with the Streetscape project is billed as the "first capital district." Adjacent to downtown Chillicothe is Yoctangee Park, featuring a large lake, picnic and other recreational facilities, the bicentennial walk-way, and the 1882 Pump House Gallery.
The city of Chillicothe has a growing recreation program that includes softball and basketball for adults, and baseball, softball, soccer, and basketball for youngsters. Chillicothe is the home of the Chillicothe Paints, a professional baseball team. The area's historic flavor is enhanced by the Adena State Memorial, the homestead of Ohio's sixth governor, Thomas Worthington; Mound City Group National Monument; and the expanding Ross County Museums located downtown. In addition, several state parks are within easy driving distance of the city and provide extensive recreational opportunities in the rolling hills and beautiful forests of south-central Ohio. Chillicothe is within easy driving distance of Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dayton.
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