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75th Anniversary Celebration

September 5, 2021

(Chillicothe) Ohio University Chillicothe is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year with an Open House Celebration, Saturday, October 2 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This will be a free event and open to the public. Planned festivities include the “Back to the Future” DeLorean car, the Mighty Children’s Museum demonstration, Petland pets, the Chillicothe High School Marching Band, a gallery exhibit, the Roadster food truck, cake cutting and hayrides. Visit https://bit.ly/3nf4Xaj for complete details. 

Bennett Hall, dedicated in 1966, will provide the backdrop for this special event. With its massive brick façade and grand white columns, Bennett reminds many of the courthouse depicted in the fictional town of Hill Valley in the “Back to the Future” trilogy.  The DeLorean will be on display as a photo prop from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m..

“We like to think of ourselves as an institution that is closely tied to the needs of the surrounding community,” said Dr. Milliken. “In serving these, we contribute to well-being and vibrancy of the Chillicothe and the region.  

OHIO Chillicothe’s 75th Anniversary Open House Celebration is a time of reflection and a way to thank the community for their continued support. Area businesses and public involvement helped to create and sustain a vibrant campus community. This spirit of cooperation is the cornerstone behind the campus situated atop Carlisle Hill.  

“The rich history of partnership Ohio University Chillicothe has enjoyed over the years with the surrounding community is a testament to the wonderful people who live and work in Ross County,” said Dr. Roberta Milliken, dean of campus and community relations of OHIO Chillicothe. “We are truly fortunate to live in an area that clearly understands and values the opportunities that education can provide.” 

Mike Throne, CEO of the Chillicothe Ross Chamber of Commerce, echoes this sentiment. “Ohio University Chillicothe’s impact on Ross County comes in the campus’ amazing ability to maintain partnerships. OUC not only builds, but sustains, partnerships with community organizations to help Chillicothe become a thriving community, but also works hard to find educational partners that will create future leaders in our community! From offering its faculty and staff with expertise in specific areas to students who give their time and ideas, OUC has helped us find some of the best solutions to our opportunities.” 

In addition to education and training, OHIO Chillicothe’s faculty and staff are committed to mentoring future leaders and public servants in a quest to give back to cities surrounding Appalachia.   

“Ohio University Chillicothe’s mission is inextricably tied to the region that we serve. It has been our privilege to collaborate with our community partners to provide much needed high-quality, affordable educational opportunities to residents,” said Dean Milliken. “We look forward to continuing the partnerships with the community we have enjoyed for many years--and forming new ones. These collaborations are mutually beneficial to ensuring our region’s general health, vitality, and endurance.”

Ohio University Chillicothe’s Beginnings 

Ohio University Chillicothe was founded to provide quality higher education opportunities to those whose commitments to jobs and families require them to remain in their communities while attending school. The institution was at the forefront of a historical movement to broaden access to higher education for a diverse population.   

On September 16, 1946, the Chillicothe branch of Ohio University opened with 281 students in 41 classes at Chillicothe High School. Instructors came from Ohio University in Athens and from the local community. Chillicothe’s new two-year program was the first college branch in Ohio. Thomas J. Vernia, a Chillicothe High School teacher, became the first head administrator.  

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. 

In 2007, the $3.4 million Ross County/Ohio University Chillicothe Child Development and Family Service Center was dedicated. This was proceeded by an addition to the Technical Studies Building in 2012 to become OHIO Chillicothe's Technology and Business Development Center. 

Today, OHIO Chillicothe continues to deliver a highly-ranked public University education, a worldwide alumni network, and a return-on experience that combine to make OHIO an unparalleled value.  

 Schedule of Events

10 AM – Opening 

10:30 AM to 11:30 AM – “Back to the Future” DeLorean Photo Prop 

11:00 AM to 12 Noon – Chillicothe High School Marching Band and Special Film Segment 

12 Noon to 1 PM - Dean Milliken’s Speech, Proclamation Address and Cake Cutting Ceremony 

1 PM to 2 PM – Might Children’s Museum Demonstration  


All Day

Bounce Houses 

Family Hayrides 

Gallery Exhibit / Pianist  

Petland Booth/Animals 

Food Truck 



Directors / Administrators 

Thomas J. Vernia (Head Administrator) | 1946 to 1948  

David Wilson (Assistant Director) 1948 to 1963  

Robert Nimmer (Assistant Director) 1963 to 1967  

Dr. William Boram (Director) 1967 to 1969  


Dr. Edwin Hunt Badger (Dean) | 1969 to 1981  

Dr. Ann Jones (Dean) | 1981 to 1986 

Dr. Delbert Meyer (Dean) | 1986 to 2001  

Dr. Richard Bebee (Dean) | 2001 to 2010 

Dr. Donna Burgraff (Dean) | 2010 to 2011 

Dr. Martin Tuck (Dean) | 2011 to 2020 

Dr. Dywayne Nicely (Interim Dean) | 2020 to 2021 

Dr. Roberta Milliken (Dean) | 2021 to Present