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History of the College of Arts & Sciences

Wilson Hall

Starting with Liberal Arts

Ohio University's first course offerings included Latin, Greek, rhetoric, English grammar, geography, logic philosophy, literature, classics, astronomy, and various branches of mathematics, all of which still are offered in the College of Arts & Sciences - more than 200 years later.

Since a liberal arts curriculum was all the university offered at its inception, the College of Arts & Sciences did not exist as a discrete entity until the university grew to include professional disciplines. It became a truly separate college - the College of Liberal Arts - in 1902.

Fighting for Liberal Arts

During the fall term of 1902, the State Normal College of Ohio University was established and enrolled its first students, but the liberal arts curriculum provided its academic foundation. Normal college students attended the same classes and functions as liberal arts college students. In 1906, a state legislator, Edwin Lybarger, introduced a bill that threatened to fund only the normal schools at Ohio and Miami Universities. The pitched battle that ensued included accusations that Ohio State professors had posed as Ohio University alumni in support of the measure. In the end, President Alston Ellis won the day, and state support was restored for the liberal arts missions at both Ohio and Miami Universities. In 1911 a science hall was dedicated, supporting an increasingly important focus on scientific endeavor.

Charles W. Super, the first dean of the College of Liberal Arts, was succeeded in 1907 by Edwin Chubb, who served in that capacity until his retirement in 1936. During Professor Chubb's 36-year career with the university, he was head of the English Department and served as Acting President on two occasions, once in 1920 on the death of Alston Ellis and again in 1934 on the death of E. B. Bryan. Professor Chubb, described as "urbane and witty", was cited in the 1928 Athena as an advocate of high standards of scholarship. The yearbook article says, "His loyalty to the University is coupled with a secret silent devotion to his students, who remember him long afterward for the length of his service and the breadth of his sympathy."

Maintaining a Liberal Arts Core

President Herman Gerlach James created the College of Arts & Sciences in 1936 when he organized the university into five degree-granting entities to eliminate duplication of efforts. At the university's bicentennial, the college had 19 departments offering students a choice of 26 majors, 28 minors, seven certificate programs, and 57 career-related programs. The college had 20 programs that lead to master's degrees and eight that lead to doctorates. To help meet the needs of students in an increasingly interconnected world, the college also offered 38 education abroad programs in 28 countries.

Today, all Ohio University students depend of the College of Arts & Sciences for a range of courses in the humanities, the social sciences, and the natural sciences as the foundation for any degree they pursue within the university. Half of the university's credit hours are delivered by A&S faculty. The College of Arts & Sciences remains the core of Ohio University's transformative learning experience.