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Mission, Vision and Core Values

History and Heritage

Ohio Northern University began with a single person and a single idea. In 1871, Henry Solomon Lehr, with support from the community, founded the Northwestern Ohio Normal School as a teacher training institution. Two other name changes would follow; first, to Ohio Normal University and second, in 1903, to Ohio Northern University. The evolution from a normal school to a true university reflects an impressive period of growth in both size and scope, one that distinctively combined traditional arts and sciences departments and education with the professional fields of engineering, pharmacy, law, and business. In 1899, the University affiliated with the United Methodist Church and more intentionally embraced the Judeo-Christian values of becoming church-related. From these beginnings, Ohio Northern University has developed a focus on teaching, learning, scholarship, and professional practice, and a campus environment that is student-centered, service-oriented, and values-based.


Influenced by a unique history and an enduring affiliation with the United Methodist Church, Ohio Northern University’s mission is to provide a high quality learning environment that prepares students for success in their careers, service to their communities, the nation, and the world, and a lifetime of personal growth inspired by the higher values of truth, beauty, and goodness. The University’s distinctive academic program includes mutually supporting liberal and professional education components that integrate practice with theory, complemented by excellent co-curricular offerings that enrich the Northern experience. To fulfill this mission, faculty and staff engage with students so they can learn to think critically, creatively, and entrepreneurially, communicate effectively, gain practical experience, solve problems collaboratively, and act as ethical and responsible members of a global community.

Vision 2021

Ohio Northern University’s vision is to be among the best private, comprehensive universities in the nation, known for programs of excellence and distinction and recognized for effectively integrating arts and sciences disciplines, professional studies, high impact learning, and civic engagement.

To achieve higher levels of excellence and distinction and greater national recognition, the University will build on its current strengths and pursue the following key elements of a shared strategic vision:

  • We will identify and implement opportunities for both new and existing academic program growth with programs in the allied health professions among the first to be considered.
  • We will adopt technology resources that enhance student learning and improve administrative functioning.
  • We will align our financial aid policies, curriculum, and support services to become a peer leader in graduating students in four years.
  • We will build strategic partnerships and expand opportunities to serve our local communities, the region, and beyond.
  • We will develop a new campus master plan to meet academic and co-curricular needs, focusing first on a new engineering building and enhanced student services.
  • We will incorporate sustainable practices to be better stewards of our environmental, energy, and financial resources.
  • We will improve the financial state and fiscal strength of the University.
  • We will develop a more compelling brand promise for the University that will advance and enhance our national reputation.

By successfully implementing these key strategies, Ohio Northern University will be poised to celebrate its sesquicentennial year in 2021 and be prepared for continued 21st century success.

Core Values

  • Collaboration: We encourage the development of unique collaborations that further distinguish the university
  • Community: We are a community that strives to be “purposeful, open, just, disciplined, caring, and celebrative” (Boyer, 1990) and that is strengthened by engaging all members of the community in the life of the University
  • Diversity: We value the core belief expressed in the University’s motto, “Ex diversitate vires, “out of diversity strength,” and provide experiences and programs that prepare graduates for success in a diverse nation and world.
  • Excellence: We aspire to achieve the highest standards of performance in our professional fields and our roles at the University.
  • Faith: We celebrate the University’s historic relationship and active affiliation with the United Methodist Church and welcome persons of all faiths by providing a supportive environment for their moral and spiritual growth.
  • Integrity: We expect individuals to conduct themselves with honesty, trustworthiness, and respect for others.
  • Service: We encourage service to others and civic engagement, both as a commitment to community involvement and as a responsibility of democratic citizenship.

Reference: Boyer, Ernest L., Campus Life: In Search of Community. Princeton, NJ: The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 1990.