Exploring 175 Years of Otterbein

Explore the timeline below to learn more about Otterbein’s history in connection to key moments in world history and the history of the United States. To read more about Otterbein’s 175 years of excellence, opportunity, and community, check out the Commemorative issue of Towers Online.

1800 – 1859

1800

First Christian denomination founded in America becomes Church of the United Brethren in Christ, led by Philip William Otterbein.

1803

OHIO BECOMES THE 17th STATE.

1847

Otterbein is founded as co-educational and open to students of all races and creeds. Women served on the faculty from the founding.

1847

Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell are born.

1855

Saum Hall

Saum Hall, the first building constructed by the University, is completed. It remained in use until 1969.

1857

In 1857, Otterbein’s first class graduates, consisting of Sarah Jennie Miller and Mary Katherine Winter (later Hanby).

1857

Dred Scott case rules that descendants of slaves are not U.S. citizens.

1858

1858 Hanby Historic Marker

In 1858, Benjamin Russell Hanby, composer of Darling Nelly Gray and Up on the Housetop, graduates.

1859

In 1859, William Hannibal Thomas, Otterbein’s first Black student, enrolls— though he leaves after one term.

1860 – 1889

1861

The Civil War begins.

1861

Thomas McFadden

In 1861, students and faculty, including science professor Dr. Thomas McFadden (at top), leave Otterbein to serve in the Union Army during the Civil War.

1870

The 15th Amendment provides voting rights for men of color.

1872

1872 Towers Hall

In 1872, the new Main Building is dedicated. It was officially renamed Towers Hall in 1956, although students had unofficially called it “Towers” for decades

1879

EDISON INVENTS THE LIGHT BULB.

1882

1882 Otterbein Baseball

Otterbein baseball team defeats The Ohio State University, 10-8. The team was disbanded due to faculty concerns.

1882

1889 Wall Street Journal 1st Issue

The Wall Street Journal is founded

1890 – 1909

1890

In 1890, Otterbein football team defeats The Ohio State University, First Founders Day celebration. 42-6

1890

1890 Founders Day Program

First Founders Day celebration.

1891

1891 Otterbein Colors

In 1891, tan and cardinal are chosen as Otterbein’s colors.

1893

1893 William Henry Fouse

In 1893, William Henry Fouse becomes the first Black student to graduate from Otterbein.

1897

Otterbein’s 50th anniversary.

1900

The Board of Trustees considers moving Otterbein to Dayton. Concerned citizens of Westerville raised money to make the major improvements necessary to persuade the board to stay. By 1906, these improvements included two new telephone exchanges, a natural gas line, waterworks, sanitary sewers, and paved streets.

1900

Basketball becomes the first women’s athletic team at Otterbein.

1901

1882 Otterbein Baseball

Mrs. Sarah B. Cochran donates $25,000 for the construction of Cochran Hall, on the condition that Otterbein pays off all of its existing debt in the amount of $65,000.

1903

1903 Wright Bros Flight

Wright brothers’ first airplane flight.

1907

Otterbein stages its first theatrical production, Shakespeare’s As You Like It.

1907

1907 Varsity Letters

In 1907, the first varsity letters are awarded in football, basketball, 1907 baseball, and track.

1907

1907 Esther Kirksey

Esther Kirksey, Otterbein’s first female Black student, enrolls.

1908

1908 Pi Beta Sigma

Pi Beta Sigma and Pi Kappa Phi, Otterbein’s first fraternities, are founded

1909

1907 Esther Kirksey

In 1909, Otterbein Band performs its first marching show.

1909

The Anti-Saloon League moves to Westerville.

1910 – 1919

1910

1910 Sigma Alpha Tau Founders

In 1910, Sigma Alpha Tau, Otterbein’s first sorority, is founded.

1911

Class of 1911 commits $2,000 for new athletic fields, which opened in 1914.

1912

1912 Kyoshi Yabe

Kiyoshi Yabe, Otterbein’s first Japanese student, graduates in 1912.

1915

The first Scrap Day competitions take place between freshmen and sophomores, including a tug-of-war across Alum Creek.

1917

Otterbein University becomes Otterbein College.

1917

1917 Tan & Cardinal

Tan and Cardinal publishes its first issue.

1917

Daylight saving time is created.

The United States enters WWI; women take on more roles on campus.

1918

1918 Otterbein Love Song

Otterbein Love Song is written by music professor Glenn Grant Grabill and his wife, Celia, both Class of 1900. It is quickly adopted as Otterbein’s alma mater

1918

WWI ENDS

1919

McFadden Science Hall is dedicated in 1919.

1919

1919 Quiz And Quill

Quiz and Quill publishes its first issue in 1919

1919

Prohibition begins in 1919.

1920 – 1929

1920

1920 Suffrage

19TH AMENDMENT GIVES WOMEN THE RIGHT TO VOTE

1921

In 1921, Otterbein Student Council forms, giving students a degree of self-governance.

1921

Otterbein Women’s Club of Columbus and Vicinity is formed. Name changed to Westerville Otterbein Women’s Club in 1951.

1922

1893 William Henry Fouse

Otterbein celebrates the 75th anniversary of its founding with a campaign to raise $2,000,000, a visit from Vice President Calvin Coolidge, and an outdoor pageant called The Spirit of Otterbein.

1924

1924 Native American Citizenship

NATIVE AMERICANS RECEIVE U.S. CITIZENSHIP.

1924

In 1924, President Clippinger begins the tradition of new student orientation.

1925

Dr. Frank O. Clements, class of 1898, is elected chair of the Board of Trustees. He and his wife, Vida, established a strong tradition of transformational philanthropy to Otterbein.

1926

1926 Towers Magazine

In 1926, Otterbein alumni magazine begins. The magazine was later named Towers in 1939.

1926

VARSITY LETTERS FOR WOMEN ATHLETES ARE AWARDED.

1928

1882 Otterbein Baseball

Viola Burke becomes Otterbein’s first female Black graduate, earning her bachelor’s degree in music.

1929

1929 Alumni Gymnasium

Alumni Gymnasium opens. The building is now the Battelle Fine Arts Center, home of the Department of Music.

1929

STOCK MARKET CRASH OF 1929 MARKS THE START OF THE GREAT DEPRESSION.

1930 – 1944

1931

1931 Star Spangled Banner

In 1931, The Star-Spangled Banner becomes America’s national anthem.

1932

Otterbein’s fraternities and sororities are officially recognized and allowed to use Greek names and letters in public, rather than operate as underground organizations.

1932

1932 Cap Otter Trophy

The first Cap-Otter trophy is purchased, in 1932, to celebrate the athletic rivalry between Capital University and Otterbein.

1934

Work Study program is established on campus.

1939

1939 Walter G. Clippinger

President Clippinger retires after 30 years. He was responsible for Otterbein’s first endowment and accreditation.

1941

The United States enters World War II. Approximately 500 Otterbein students, faculty, and alumni volunteered for, or were drafted into, service. Within a year, women outnumbered men on campus by a 4:1 ratio.

1942

In 1942, Otterbein welcomes Japanese-American students from internment camps to enroll.

1944

1944 Harold Hancock

In 1944, Harold Hancock, known as “Mr. Otterbein” for his knowledge of Otterbein’s history, joins the faculty

1945 – 1965

1945

1882 Otterbein Baseball

Vida Clements, class of 1901, is elected to Board of Trustees. One of Otterbein’s biggest benefactors, she later established the Clements Foundation in 1966.

1946

Returning WWII veterans lift Otterbein to a championship football season and spearhead the drive for a new stadium.

1947

1947 100th Anniversary

OTTERBEIN’S 100TH ANNIVERSARY IS CELEBRATED WITH A CAMPAIGN RAISING $640,000.

1948

In 1948, WOBC 630 AM (later WOBN) begins broadcasting music and news from campus.

1948

Joanne Van Sant “Dean Van” joins the faculty, eventually becoming dean of students and vice president for student affairs.

1955

1955 O Club

THE “O” CLUB IS FOUNDED.

1963

President Kennedy of 1965 is passed.

1964

1964 Campus Center

CAMPUS CENTER OPENS.

1964

Vietnam War begins.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is passed

1965

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is passed.

1966 – 1989

1968

Presidents

Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy are assassinated.

1969

First Black student group, SOUL, is formed on campus. The African American Student Union formed in 1989 and is still active today

1969

1969 Moon Landing

Moon Landing.

1970

OTTERBEIN BECOMES THE FIRST COLLEGE TO ELECT STUDENTS AND FACULTY TO THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES.

1970

In 1970, four students are killed at Kent State University by Ohio National Guard troops. The tragedy forced the closure of many college campuses due to student unrest; Otterbein did not close.

1972

1972 Library

Courtright Memorial Library opens.

It was named in 1979 through the generosity of A. Monroe Courtright, to honor his parents Robert and Ada.

1974

1972 Adult Degree Program

In 1974, the first adult degree program is launched. Enrollment of adult students peaks at 899 in 1999.

1974

1974 Rike Center

Rike Center opens.

1986

Space shuttle Challenger tragedy

1989

OTTERBEIN OFFERS GRADUATE EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES.

1993

1993 BIGALA

BiGALA, the first LGTBQIA+ student organization, is recognized by the University.

1990 – 1999

1993

1993 BIGALA

BiGALA, the first LGTBQIA+ student organization, is recognized by the University.

1995

Senior Year Experience is established.

1995

1912 Kyoshi Yabe

The Common Book Program is established through support of Mary B. Thomas ’28.

1996

1996 First Website

Otterbein’s first website goes live.

1997

1972 Library

OTTERBEIN’S 150TH ANNIVERSARY.

1998

Liquor returns to Westerville.

2000 – 2009

2001

The September 11 terrorist attacks kill nearly 3,000 people.

2002

2002 Vernon Pack

VERNON L. PACK ’50 DISTINGUISHED LECTURE AND SCHOLAR-IN-RESIDENCE SERIES BEGINS.

2002

2002 National Champions

Otterbein wins NCAA DIII Basketball Championship.

2006

2006 Cardy

The Otterbein Cardinal mascot is officially named Cardy.

2007

“West” campus opens with the move of the Art and Communication departments to 33 Collegeview Ave. in 2007.

2007

Otterbein is one of four universities in the nation to receive the Presidential Award for Volunteer Service.

2008

BARACK OBAMA BECOMES AMERICA’S FIRST BLACK PRESIDENT.

2009

Kathy Krendl

In 2009, Kathy Krendl is named the 20th and the first female president of Otterbein University.

2010 – 2021

2010

In 2010, Otterbein College becomes Otterbein University again.

2011

2011 Doctor Of Nursing Practice

First 10 students enroll in Otterbein’s Doctor of Nursing Practice Program — the first doctorate degree program at Otterbein since 1895.

2016

1993 BIGALA

The Point at Otterbein, a first-of-itskind innovation center, brings education, businesses, and the community together.

2018

2018 President Comerford

John Comerford becomes the 21st president of Otterbein University.

2019

2019 Democratic Presidential Debate

Otterbein hosts a Democratic presidential debate in a transformed Rike Center. The debate is broadcast worldwide on CNN.

2020

2018 President Comerford

The Covid-19 pandemic forces campuses around the nation to move to remote learning and send students home during spring semester. By fall of 2020, Otterbein offered one-third of classes in person, one-third in a hybrid format, and one-third online. Fall, winter, and spring athletics seasons were held simultaneously in spring 2021.

2022

Logo and banner: 175 Years, Otterbein, Time to Celebrate.

OTTERBEIN’S 175TH ANNIVERSARY.

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