ADA — Ohio Northern University in Ada will be celebrating its sesquicentennial in 2021.
The university was established as a normal school and was the idea of a single founder, Henry Solomon Lehr, in 1871.
It was founded so students in the rural area could have an opportunity to learn and become teachers.
“Fast forward a few years, and the university became more of a free-standing institution like many of the others of the time, but that special beginning is still part of our DNA,” said Dan DiBiasio, president of Ohio Northern University. “Very quickly after we established ourselves as a teacher, education institution, as a normal school at the time, professional programs started to grow and emerge as well.”
In 1881, the College of Engineering was started. Three years later, the pharmacy program and the law college began.
Ohio Northern University continues to change and adapt with the times.
The James Lehr Kennedy Engineering Building was completed in 2019 to fill a growing need.
“Today’s engineers need ample project base space. That’s the way engineering education is today. That’s not the way it always was. So one way we’ve adapted is to try to make sure that our facilities and our resources for our students keep up with the times — keep up with the demands of the marketplace,” DiBiasio said.
Ohio Northern University has continued a collaborative relationship with the Ada community.
“We continue to work with the town council and the mayor’s office to try to make sure that we’re doing what we can to keep services in our community vital. so we’ve worked on some water projects, we’ve worked on some road projects. We’ve shared our expertise and our human resources to try to do good things for the community,” DiBiasio said.
DiBiasio remains optimistic about Ohio Northern University’s future.
“We see growth in engineering. We’re excited about using our sesquicentennial to celebrate our past but to anticipate our future. We want to use our past to write our future,” he said. “We’re looking at updating our strategic plan and thinking about what growth opportunities there may be for us in the future. We recognize today’s needs in the healthcare industry. Our pharmacy program has been such a staple for us, but interestingly 40% of the students at Ohio Northern are engaged in a Health Sciences of one kind or another. So pharmacy is a big driver, but so is nursing and so is medical lab science and so is forensic science, and there’s probably an opportunity for expansion as we think ahead and go forward.”
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.