Robert G. Wilson, D.D., 1768-1851
Third President of Ohio University, 1824-1839
Native of North Carolina and educated at Dickinson College,
Dr. Wilson (who had been a trustee since 1809) came to the
presidency at age 56 from the pastorate of the Chillicothe
Presbyterian Church and teaching in the Chillicothe Academy.
Progress during his term was considerable, with a department of
English studies being added to the curriculum to provide teachers
for the common schools and to qualify men for business careers.
In 1825 the first masters degree was awarded Thomas Ewing, the
University's first graduate. John Newton Templeton, was the
first African-American graduated from the University in 1828, and
the sixth in the nation. The University's first riot occurred in
1835 over a pledge requiring students to report disorderly
compatriots. A summer session was offered in 1836 which included
33 college students. East Wing and West Wing (Wilson and
McGuffey Halls) were completed in 1837 and 1839. In 1838 a fence
was erected well up on the green near the college buildings to
keep out wandering pigs. That same year saw the beginning of a
program of free admittance of one indigent student from each Ohio
county and the continuation of a concentration in teacher
training for public schools. Revenue was enhanced through sales
of lands in fee simple by authority of the state legislature.
Dr. Wilson continued in the ministry after retirement.
Athens, OH 45701
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