On June 28, 1877, a town meeting was held in Ashland, Ohio to consider a proposal from members of the German Baptist Brethren Church to establish an institution of higher education. The Ashland Press reported that the citizens were promised the college would locate there if their city would raise $10,000.
The church and community fundraising campaign proved to be a success and on Feb. 17, 1878, a meeting was held to add up campaign funds and make final plans. The success of the campaign was announced, the college was chartered on Feb. 20 and a church-related, coeducational institution was established.
In April of 1878, the board of trustees decided to purchase the “most desirable plot in town - 28 acres on the hill.” The first buildings to be constructed were Founders Hall and Allen Hall, built from bricks made on the site. Classes began at Ashland College on Sept. 17, 1879, with approximately 60 students and eight faculty members.
The new institution grew slowly during its first few decades, but enrollment reached 200 shortly after the turn of the century. By the 1950s, the college had added many new academic programs and experienced rapid growth from about 300 students to more than 2,500 in 1970. In 1989, college officials changed the name to Ashland University to reflect an institution with broader academic programs and both graduate and undergraduate students.
Progress continued on campus during the 1990s and 2000s with the construction of several new academic buildings, as well as a new student center, recreation center and athletic complex. In 2010, the university acquired MedCentral College of Nursing in Mansfield and constructed the state-of-the-art Dwight Schar College of Nursing and Health Sciences facility in Mansfield, which opened for classes in 2012.
The main campus is situated on 135 beautiful acres with trees and flower gardens. The location is close to Cleveland and Columbus, while offering an intimate campus experience in a small-town setting. Deeply rooted in tradition, yet always moving forward, AU provides unparalleled opportunities for students to learn, grow and find their place in the world.
The university has grown to more than 7,000 students and is ranked as a “Best College” in U.S. News and World Report’s Regional Universities – Midwest category. Ashland University continues to value the individual student by offering a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with students.