Ohio University

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top of alumni gateway in black and white

History & Traditions

In 1786, 11 men gathered at the Bunch of Grapes Tavern in Boston to propose development of the area north of the Ohio River and west of the Allegheny Mountains known then as the Ohio Country. Led by Manasseh Cutler and Rufus Putnam, the Ohio Company petitioned Congress to take action on the proposed settlement. The eventual outcome was the enactment of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which provided for settlement and government of the territory and stated that “…schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”

In 1803, Ohio became a state and on February 18, 1804, the Ohio General Assembly passed an act establishing “The Ohio University.” The University opened in 1808 with one building, three students, and one professor, Jacob Lindley. One of the first two graduates of the University, Thomas Ewing, later became a United States senator and distinguished himself as cabinet member or advisor to four presidents.

Twenty-four years after its founding, in 1828, Ohio University conferred an A.B. degree on John Newton Templeton, its first black graduate and only the third black man to graduate from a college in the United States. In 1873, Margaret Boyd received her B.A. degree and became the first woman to graduate from the University. Soon after, the institution graduated its first international alumnus, Saki Taro Murayama of Japan, in 1895.


    The University Seal

    The Ohio University seal includes a sheaf of wheat representing Ohio’s agricultural heritage and a bundle of seventeen arrows that represent Ohio as the seventeenth state to join the Union. Behind these are mountains, symbolizing strength and grandeur, and the rising sun, symbolizing eternal life and the dawn of a new day.


    The Ceremonial Mace

    The Ohio University Ceremonial Mace is modeled after one of the railings of an original stairway of Cutler Hall. Cast in bronze, the mace is 46” long and weighs 16 pounds, and features the University seal and a stylized representation of the Cutler Hall cupola. The mace is carried and displayed at official University ceremonies.



    In 1925 a campus-wide contest was initiated to decide on a nickname for the OHIO athletic teams. After great debate, the Bobcat won for its reputation as a sly, wily, scrappy animal. The Bobcat mascot first appeared at the 1960 Homecoming game, smartly clad in a bright green sweater and a baseball cap on top of its papier-mâché head.


    Cutler Hall

    Built in 1816, Cutler Hall is the oldest building erected for higher education west of the Alleghenies and north of the Ohio River. The building is named after Manasseh Cutler, co-founder of Ohio University. Cutler Hall has served many purposes including as classrooms, laboratory, library, and a residence hall for students in the 1800s. 



    The Bobcat mascot has changed its appearance many times since 1960, but remains a beloved representative of OHIO Athletics. The current version was unveiled in 2006 when Rufus rode into Peden Stadium on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The name Rufus comes from the species name for the bobcat, Lynx rufus, and is connected to Rufus Putnam, a member of the first board of trustees.


    Alumni Gateway

    The Alumni Gateway was gifted by the Class of 1915 to mark the 100th anniversary of OHIO's first graduating class. It greets all who enter the campus with an inscription that reads, "So enter that daily thou mayest grow in knowledge wisdom and love." The inscription over the gateway for those departing the campus reads, "So depart that daily thou mayest better serve thy fellowmen thy country and thy God."


    The Marching 110

    The Ohio University Marching Band is a 245-member marching band that was founded in 1923. Nicknamed the Marching 110, referring to the original number of members in the band, the Ohio University Marching Band is known around the world for its unique marching style and choreographed dance moves. Today, the number “110” symbolizes the 110% effort expected of its members every rehearsal and performance.


    The Ridges

    The Athens Asylum was built to American psychiatry’s nineteenth-century “gold standard” for psychiatric care: the Kirkbride plan for moral treatment. The emphasis on a restorative landscape and humane treatment was a revolution in mental health care. This complex, known as the Ridges, is one of the few Kirkbride hospitals still standing in the U.S.


    Alma Mater

    Ohio University’s alma mater, entitled, “Alma Mater, Ohio,” was created in 1915.


    Fight Song

    Ohio University’s fight song, entitled “Stand Up and Cheer,” has been sung as an athletic song since the early 1900s.