History of the Office
Ohio University’s roots are in post-Revolutionary War America. In 1786 a group of veterans petitioned Congress to purchase, through the Ohio Company of Associates, one-and-a-half million acres north and west of the Ohio River.
Revenue from two townships in the Ohio Company purchase was set aside for support of a university. Ohio University was chartered by the state of Ohio in 1804 as the first university in the Northwest Territory. In 1808 the University opened with three students, and in 1815 awarded its first two bachelor's degrees.
Provisions were laid out for an Office of President, to be elected by the Board of Trustees, in the document which first established Ohio University. The position remained unfilled, however, for the first 17 years of the University's existence. For the first several years the institution was under the sole control of the board, and only in 1808 was one man—Rev. Jacob Lindley—put in charge of the University’s operations. His title was preceptor of the Athens Academy and president pro tempore of the Board of Trustees. Rev. Lindley is considered to be the University's first president.
For a more extensive history of the Office of the President, please visit the Past Presidents (Presidents Emeriti) page for biographical sketches of past Ohio University presidents, including historical highlights from their terms in office.