The accolades flowed freely, as they should have Wednesday, when the University of Northwestern Ohio kicked off what will be a yearlong celebration of its 100 years in Lima.
Of all the remarks made, though, one hit the proverbial nail on the head.
It came from a highly respected man who has served this region in many capacities during his adult life – state Rep. Robert Cupp. To paraphrase a popular TV commercial, Cupp knows a thing or two, because he’s seen a thing or two. And he couldn’t say enough about the UNOH story.
“There are very few things when they start out that last for 100 years and beyond. So this is really a wonderful tribute,” Cupp told the hundreds of people who filled the school’s Event Center. “What a benefit it is to the community. It was a fairly quiet institution for a long time, but it certainly isn’t anymore. And the evidence is everywhere around us.”
Yes, it is.
It is truly amazing what has happened since the Northwestern School of Commerce, as it was first known, opened its doors in downtown Lima in 1920. Back then the school was strictly a training ground for those interested in business as it offered classes in administration and secretarial skills.
Then along came the Jarvis family, the entreprenuers of education. Loren Jarvis purchased the college in 1969 and things quickly changed. Interestingly, he grew up on a farm near Spencerville, but never obtained a college degree. He did know the value of hard work though, and most of all, he was a visionary.
He moved the tiny business school to 1441 North Cable Road in 1973, where it could grow. Soon it became a thriving university. He was followed by his son Jeff, today’s president. Like his father, Jeff pushed the doors wide open to the future, allowing for big dreams to turn into reality. Today, when you talk about UNOH, you’re talking about an institution that proudly can proclaim:
• It has gone from a downtown storefront to a 200-acre campus that crosses Cable Road and stretches all the way to Eastown Road with land also on Dutch Hollow Road.
• All 50 states are represented by this year’s student body, which numbers more than 4,000 students.
• Students from 41 countries have attended UNOH.
• The university consists of five colleges, offering associate, bachelor and master’s degrees in 50 programs ranging from automotive technology, robotics and alternative fuels to the business world and medical field.
What has been the catalyst for such growth?
That’s an easy question to answer, Jeff Jarvis will tell you. He’ll point out a 25-to-1 student to teacher ratio sets the university apart from most schools, and he’ll proudly boast about a group of employees that he says not only care about the school and the education it provides, but also the well-being of its students.
So what’s in the future for UNOH?
Keep in mind the university has thrived by offering hands-on experience. Seventy percent of a student’s time is spent doing hands-on work in the classroom and the shop, with the other 30% spent learning the theory behind the technology. That’s a gold nugget that will remain the fuel for the university as it expands its footprint into the new world of automotive electric engines. We see the same for the school’s business school when it comes to being a leader in the ever-growing world of on-line business.
And then there’s that dream that Jeff Jarvis expressed many years ago – building and operating a student-run hotel, where skills can be mastered in the hospitality industry.
Could that mean an Eastown Road hotel is somewhere in the future for Lima?
If we have learned one thing about Jeff Jarvis during his 46 years at the school, it would be don’t underestimate him. He lives by the motto that anything is possible.
Congratulations to all of those past and present who gave us a century of education. Here’s to 100 more years.