In August 1871, near the end of President Grant’s first administration, Henry Solomon Lehr founded Ohio Northern University. Lehr created his school to prepare teachers. Its first name was Northwestern Ohio Normal School until its incorporation in 1885 when the name was changed to Ohio Normal University. The same year the department of law was established. The year before, in 1884, the department of pharmacy was founded. The first catalog listed a course in surveying and by 1882 the department of engineering was formed. In 1899, almost 28 years after its founding, the University was sold to the Central Ohio Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and in 1901 Dr. Leroy Belt, a Methodist minister, was named its president with Lehr remaining as vice president until his retirement the next year. In 1903, the name of the institution was changed to Ohio Northern University, thus retaining the ONU initials.
Today, Ohio Northern University is a private, United Methodist affiliated, co-educational institution offering degrees in five colleges including Arts & Sciences, Business, Engineering, Pharmacy, and Law. The 342-acre residential campus of 3,570 students (Fall, 2010) is located in Ada, Ohio, a northwest Ohio village of about 3,500 full-time residents. Nearby larger communities include Kenton (8,300), Findlay (41,200), and Lima (38,800). The university has been regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission since 1958.
ONU students are from 23 countries and 42 states. Fifty percent of the Fall, 2010, incoming class was in the top tenth of their high school graduating class with an average ACT of 26.6 (Fall, 2010 Fact Book). The students’ academic program is guided by 243 full-time faculty and 102 part-time scholars. Northern’s small class size (11:1 student-faculty ratio) permits personal attention from faculty contributing to the integration of education and career preparation. In August, 2011, Dr. Daniel DiBiasio became the university's eleventh president.