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College Gateway from College Green looking toward Court Street
History and Traditions

History & Traditions

In 1786, 11 men gathered at the Bunch of Grapes Tavern in Boston to propose development of the area north of the Ohio River and west of the Allegheny Mountains known then as the Ohio Country. Led by Manasseh Cutler and Rufus Putnam, the Ohio Company petitioned Congress to take action on the proposed settlement. The eventual outcome was the enactment of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which provided for settlement and government of the territory and stated that “…schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”

In 1803, Ohio became a state and on February 18, 1804, the Ohio General Assembly passed an act establishing “The Ohio University.” The University opened in 1808 with one building, three students, and one professor, Jacob Lindley. One of the first two graduates of the University, Thomas Ewing, later became a United States senator and distinguished himself as cabinet member or advisor to four presidents.

Twenty-four years after its founding, in 1828, Ohio University conferred an A.B. degree on John Newton Templeton, its first black graduate and only the third black man to graduate from a college in the United States. In 1873, Margaret Boyd received her B.A. degree and became the first woman to graduate from the University. Soon after, the institution graduated its first international alumnus, Saki Taro Murayama of Japan, in 1895.


    Bobcats and Rufus

    The Ohio University athletic team nickname of "Bobcats" was decided via a 1925 a campus-wide contest. Our bobcat mascot named Rufus has changed appearances many times since the debut in 1960, from papier-mâché all the way to the current costume. The name "Rufus" comes from the species name for the bobcat, Lynx rufus, and is also a reference to Rufus Putnam, a member of the first board of trustees and co-founder of the university.


    Alumni Gateway

    The Alumni Gateway was gifted by the Class of 1915 to mark the 100th anniversary of OHIO's first graduating class. On the side that enters campus, it reads, "So enter that daily thou mayest grow in knowledge wisdom and love." Upon exit it reads, "So depart that daily thou mayest better serve thy fellowmen thy country and thy God." It is tradition to walk under the gate toward campus as a new student and again away from campus after commencement. 



    Homecoming is a decades-old annual tradition at OHIO which welcomes all Bobcats back to campus for a week of celebration. Events on the Athens campus include an uptown parade, football game, performances from the alumni and student bands, pep rallies, tailgates, decorations, contests, and an elected Homecoming court. 


    Cutler Hall

    Built in 1816, Cutler Hall is the first and oldest building at Ohio University. The building is named after Manasseh Cutler, co-founder of Ohio University. It has served many purposes including as classrooms, laboratory, library, and a residence hall for students. Cutler Hall currently houses the offices of the president, the provost, and other senior administrative officers.


    The Marching 110

    The Ohio University Marching Band is a 235-member marching band that was founded in 1923. Nicknamed the Marching 110, referring to the original number of members in the band, the Ohio University Marching Band is known around the world for its unique marching style and choreographed dance moves. Today, the number “110” symbolizes the 110% effort expected of its members every rehearsal and performance.


    The Ridges

    The Athens Asylum was a nineteenth-century asylum that used the Kirkbride plan for moral treatment. This complex, known as the Ridges, is one of the few Kirkbride hospitals still standing in the U.S. Today, it has been repurposed as university buildings, including an art museum in the administrative section of the original hospital. 


    Alma Mater

    Ohio University’s alma mater, entitled, “Alma Mater, Ohio,” was created in 1915.


    Fight Song

    Ohio University’s fight song, entitled “Stand Up and Cheer,” has been sung as an athletic song since the early 1900s. 


    The University Seal

    The Ohio University seal was adopted from the seal of the State of Ohio (shown in image) and includes three inscriptions, which are translated as follows:

    • Sigillum Universitatis Ohiensis: The Seal of Ohio University
    • Prae Omnibus Virtus: Virtue Before All Things
    • Religio Doctrina Civilitas: Religion, Learning, Civility

    The Ceremonial Mace

    The Ohio University Ceremonial Mace is modeled after one of the railings of an original stairway of Cutler Hall. Cast in bronze, the mace is 46” long and weighs 16 pounds, and features the University seal and a stylized representation of the Cutler Hall cupola. The mace is carried and displayed at official University ceremonies.