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Press Release

Series of Events Planned to Celebrate Urbana University's 170th Anniversary

Urbana, OH (March 6, 2020)

Anniversaries mark accomplishments and the attainment of a long-standing commitment. For Urbana University, March 7, 2020, marks the 170th anniversary of its long and rich history of providing an invaluable higher education experience in the liberal arts and sciences to generations of students.

Founded in Urbana, Ohio, as a seminary by the Swedenborgian Church, Swedenborgian John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed, convinced local landowner John James to donate land to establish the college.

On March 7, 1850, the Ohio Legislature approved the charter for Urbana University, authorizing the creation of "…an institution of learning…designed to encourage and promote diffusion of knowledge in all branches of knowledge of Academic, Scientific and Exegetic Instruction, and to combine therewith instruction in the productive arts and the practice of rural economy."

Embracing its charge to encourage and promote educational attainment, Urbana University became only the second college in Ohio to admit women into classes with men. Since those auspicious beginnings, Urbana University has evolved into a vibrant liberal arts institution, offering traditional and non-traditional degree programs in a diverse, yet intimate on-campus and online learning community.

"Where we are is a big part of who we are," says Dr. Christopher Washington, executive vice president of Urbana University. "This idea acknowledges that we are in a time of significant social and technological change, disrupting how we work, play, and live in our region. In preparing students for a high-tech world, we seek to design experiences for them to express themselves creatively, engage in democratic processes and work-based experiences, and to give back to the community through service."

In 2014 Urbana became a branch campus of Franklin University, an institution that has committed to advancing academic quality, adapting to the needs of learners, and responding to the changes in society.

"While there is much to celebrate, this time in Urbana University's history is the ideal time to reaffirm our Franklin and Urbana's shared commitment to supporting learners, building community support and resilience, spurring economic development and growth, and assuring that our students and local citizens are "future ready," shared Dr. Washington.

Franklin and Urbana's shared commitment to economic development is making an impact. The 2017 economic impact study by the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education (SOCHE) reports that Urbana University increased the economy of Champaign and Logan Counties by $60.4 million over the 2015-2016 academic year. The estimate, which is nearly double the $31.3 million estimated from the 2010-2011 fiscal year, includes the impact of operations, student spending, and capital investment.

The institution benefits Champaign and Clark Counties in several ways, principally by increasing the training and knowledge base of the area, but also through its expenditures, its employees, and its students. In addition to the economic impact it provides through salaries, Urbana University has helped raise the skills of the area's workforce by educating potential workers. This elevated skillset, in turn, increases the supply of human capital in the region.

To commemorate the 170th anniversary of its founding, Urbana University will celebrate its 170th anniversary through a slate of celebrations, academic, and athletic events, and service opportunities, using its anniversary theme "Honoring our Past - Creating, Engaging, and Inspiring our Future." Planned events include: 

  • Service Day (4/16)
  • Spring game (4/18)
  • Blue Knight statue dedication (TBD)
  • Commencement (5/9)
  • Convocation (8/15)
  • Blue Knight Block Party (Fall)
  • Homecoming (10/24)

Urbana University invites the community and its many partners to join in the year-long celebration!


About Urbana University - A Branch Campus of Franklin University

Urbana University, a branch campus of Franklin University, prepares students for successful and professional careers within a caring and supportive environment. Regionally well known for education and teacher preparation programs, Urbana was founded in 1850 and acquired by Franklin in 2014. Urbana’s 128-acre, residential campus nestled in heart of Ohio provides a background for students actively engaged in campus activities through 20 student-led academic, professional, performing arts, social and service organizations. Blue Knights athletics includes 17 NCAA Division II sports and three intercollegiate club sports. Urbana University is a division of Franklin University, which is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

News Type

  • University