Inside Higher Ed | Otterbein University

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Otterbein University

Otterbein University

We honor our past because it shapes our future.

Otterbein’s story begins in the mid-1800s, before the abolition of slavery, before the women’s right movement, before equality and inclusion were rights. In 1847, equality and inclusion actually laid the foundation of Otterbein.

We included women as faculty members and as students from our founding, and we were the first institution in the nation to do so. Otterbein admitted students of color before the Civil War, rescued fugitive slaves and welcomed Japanese-American students who had been sent to internment camps during World War II. And we gave students a voice in our story through our unique governance system beginning in the 1920s. Today, approximately 3,000 students come to Otterbein each year to experience that same spirit of inclusion.

Mission Statement

The mission of Otterbein University is to educate the whole person in a context that fosters the development of humane values. Otterbein University is a private, church-related, coeducational college that sponsors traditional and continuing education programs of liberal arts and professional education at Baccalaureate and Master's levels. Our commitment is to the liberal arts as the broad base of all learning.

Otterbein by the numbers...

Location: Westerville is a residential community of 36,000 residents on the northeast side of Columbus, Ohio, offering a small-town atmosphere with all the conveniences and opportunities of a big city.

Enrollment: Approximately 3,000 men and women from throughout the United States and several foreign countries.

Curriculum: Otterbein offers a choice of 73 majors and 44 minors, as well as individualized courses of study. We also offer five graduate programs in business administration, education and nursing, including our doctor of nursing practice degree.

Student/Faculty Ratio: The student to faculty ratio at Otterbein is 11:1. 

Campus: Otterbein's 140-acre campus is accented by the historic Towers Hall, which was constructed in 1872 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Renowned for its Department of Theatre and Dance, Otterbein students perform plays for the community in the Fritsche Theatre at Cowan Hall, which was renovated in 2005. The Department of Art operates three galleries. Otterbein's Art and Communication Building was renovated in 2006, and is home to the Miller Gallery, the student radio station (WOBN), student newspaper (Tan & Cardinal) and the student-run Westerville television station (WOCC). Classes began in fall 2009 at both the newly built Center for Equine Studies and the Science Center, which completed a $20 million renovation and addition.

Arts: Otterbein University Theatre and Otterbein Summer Theatre stage nine shows a year. Plays range from classical Shakespearean dramas and British comedies to musicals and experimental works. The music program at Otterbein includes the concert band and concert choir, opera theatre and musical theatre, a marching band, a vocal jazz group and several instrumental ensembles. Otterbein students also perform with the Westerville Symphony at Otterbein. Three galleries feature art by students, faculty and guest artists, as well as pieces from Otterbein's permanent collection. The Otterbein Signature Series has hosted notable visiting artists including acclaimed independent filmmaker Gus Van Sant and Joel Meyerowitz, whose photography of Ground Zero after September 11, 2001, has traveled the world.

Athletics: Men and women compete in the Ohio Athletic Conference, NCAA Division III. There are nine varsity sports each for men and women, including varsity women's lacrosse, which takes the field in March 2012. A complete intramural program is available to all students.

Community Service: Otterbein's Center for Community Engagement has been honored by the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor roll for five consecutive years. Every year, more than 70,000 hours are donated by Otterbein students through our Center for Community Engagement. Approximately 80% of the student body participated in community service in 2009-10. In addition, 90 service-learning courses enrolled over 1,000 students that same year.

Fraternities and Sororities: Otterbein has seven fraternities and six sororities.

2012-13 Tuition:

Full-time tuition $30,658
On-campus room $4,576
On-campus board $4,108
Total $39,341

Read more about our Accreditation and Honors.


Diversity Profile: Otterbein University

Whether you consider yourself diverse or simply admire all the diversity the world has to offer, make it a part of your Otterbein experience. The Office of Diversity hosts programs for you to explore diverse populations academically, culturally, and socially. Get to know students of color, international students, and GLBTQ students.

Otterbein University is an equal opportunity employer and educator.

The Office of Diversity is located in Student Affairs in Hanby Hall.

Office Hours

M-F: 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (academic year)

M-F: 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (summer)

Dr. Lisa Patterson Phillips
p / 614.823.1250

Wende´ Nichols
Assistant Director
p / 614.823.1312

Lorraine Martin
Administrative Assistant
p / 614.823.1250

Whether you consider yourself diverse or simply admire all the diversity the world has to offer, make it a part of your Otterbein experience. The Office of Diversity hosts programs for you to explore diverse populations academically, culturally, and socially. Get to know students of color, international students, and GLBTQ students. 

Diversity Education

We believe that education is key to understanding and accepting others. The Office of Diversity gives you opportunities to learn more about other cultures. We can introduce you to cultures that are new to you, and teach you more about cultures you thought you knew. Here are some opportunities to learn and meet new friends.

The Office of Diversity also sponsors several other programs during the year.

Diversity Events

The Office of Diversity sponsors many fun and educational events during the year. Join us and celebrate!

The Office of Diversity is here to help you find your way around the Otterbein community, and the central Ohio community. Here are some resources that may help you during your time at Otterbein.

The Center for International Education & Global Engagement - The goal of global engagement and international education is to provide structured learning contexts in which students experience and observe values, beliefs, and ways of behaving that are different from their own. Guided, reflective, global experiences facilitate the understanding and  clarification of a student’s own values and permit evaluation of stereotypes and misperceptions as well as the discovery of similarities between diverse populations. Students who have these experiences are better prepared to work effectively in multicultural and global environments.

As an Otterbein student, it’s difficult not to get involved on campus! These organizations will help you explore diverse cultures, while making new friends.

Alumni Organization

African American Alumni Association

All Student Organizations

Otterbein has many other student organizations. Check them all out here!

Otterbein is located in Westerville, Ohio. A suburb of the capital city of Columbus, Westerville provides a warm friendly atmosphere for Otterbein students while remaining conveniently located close to a large metropolitan city that is full of cultural and social opportunities. Closer to home, Westerville’s historic Uptown District is just steps from campus and features a nice selection of restaurants, shops, boutiques, and coffeehouses. In 2009, Westerville was ranked 15th on the Top 100 list of "America's Best Places to Live" by Money magazine.

Otterbein University believes in giving back to the community, through service, cultural experiences and business partnerships. Community members are invited to explore our art exhibits and attend our music and theatre performances. Businesses are invited to partner with our courses to provide students with real-life learning experiences in exchange for assistance with business programs and plans. 

More on why community is important to us.

At Otterbein University’s Center for Community Engagement (CCE), we believe that even small acts can change the world. And we believe that there are many ways to change the world. So we offer a variety of volunteer opportunities in areas that range from planting trees to tutoring children, and from walking dogs to scrapbooking with senior citizens. For those who want to volunteer a few hours each term, and for those who want to volunteer several hours each week, we have it all!

More on how you can change the world, one small act at a time.


Jobs at Otterbein University

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Otterbein University Announcements

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Latest announcements from our capital campaign database for Otterbein University.

Year Started:
End Date:
Top priority:
Student aid and facilities
Goal: $50,000,000
Raised to Date: $50,000,000
Type: Capital Campaigns
Year Started:
End Date:
Top priority:
Scholarships, student life
Goal: $50,000,000
Raised to Date: $52,800,000
Type: Capital Campaigns

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