Founding of Ohio State FAQs
When was The Ohio State University founded?
The Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College was founded on March 22, 1870 when the Cannon Act was passed by the Ohio Legislature. The Act created the college and established a Board of Trustees who were tasked with choosing a location, hiring a president and faculty, and deciding the curriculum.
Was the original campus land donated to the college?
No, the Trustees purchased 331.11 acres of land from a number of families. The original documentation shows the following purchases:
- Wm Dennison and R. E. Neil, Trustees – 193.37 acres
- Wm Dennison and wife 22.56 acres
- J.J. Rickley and wife 10.58 acres
- George Potts and wife 6 acres
- Martha Witt 20 acres
- P. Custerer and wife 5.12 acres
- L. Humphrey 2 acres
- Adam Zinn 60.82 acres
- W. A. Neil 10.66 acres
When was the first day of classes?
September, 17, 1873
Who were the first faculty members and what did they teach?
- Edward Orton: president, and taught geology, mining, metallurgy, mineralogy
- Robert McFarland: taught math and engineering
- Thomas Mendenhall: taught physics and mechanics
- Joseph Millikin: taught English, modern languages and literature
- Sidney Norton: taught chemistry
- Norton Townshend: taught agriculture
- John Wright: taught ancient languages
- In 1874 Albert Tuttle was hired to teach anatomy and zoology
How many students registered the first day?
24 students enrolled the first day of classes in 1873
When did the name change from the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College to The Ohio State University?
On May 1, 1878, the state legislature officially renamed the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College to The Ohio State University.
Why are the colors scarlet and gray?
A committee of three students decided on the colors for the university during the 1878 Spring Term when tasked with finding ribbons to tie around the first graduates’ diplomas. The original colors they selected were orange and black. However, because Princeton had already chosen those colors, the committee decided to change their decision to scarlet and gray. Alice Townshend, one of the members on the committee, reported that the colors did not signify anything. Instead, the committee wanted to choose something that was a nice combination and had not been used by any other college.
Is University Hall the oldest building on campus?
Today’s University Hall is a smaller replica of the original University Hall (or College Building). The original was the first academic building on campus and included classrooms, the library, offices for the president, and temporary living quarters for faculty and students. In 1968 the building was deemed unsafe and it was torn down in 1971. The current building was opened in 1976. The oldest remaining building on campus is Hayes Hall (1893). Orton Hall, which opened the same year as Hayes Hall, was completed shortly afterwards.
For more information about the founding of the university, please see: https://library.osu.edu/projects/founding/