2020 marks the sesquicentennial anniversary of The Ohio State University. A big part of that history and the future of the university are its regional campuses, one of which began right here in Marion.
Ohio State Marion has been part of the Marion community for 63 years. The campus provides area citizens access to an affordable education that combines the rigor and opportunities of a leading research university with the personal attention and support of a small college.
Marion campus history began with the State of Ohio’s concept of bringing higher education opportunities within 25 miles of all Ohioans and Ohio State’s study of the possibility of establishing regional campuses. Marion was among 65 communities vying for the opportunity to become an Ohio State campus location, and on May 13, 1957, Marion was chosen as one of the first two sites. Classes officially began October 1, 1957, at the former Harding High School, now Grant Middle School, with 165 students enrolled.
In the 1960s, the Marion community raised money to buy land for a permanent campus, and the state constructed Morrill Hall. Through an ongoing
collaborative partnership, Marion Technical College began sharing the 186-acre campus in 1970. During the next decades, Ohio State Marion continued to grow enrollment, degree programs, and facilities on campus.
With the implementation of selective admissions on the Columbus campus, Ohio State’s regional campuses took on the additional role of being the open-access portal to Ohio State for Buckeyes
across the state. Ohio State Marion just recorded its eighth consecutive semester of enrollment growth. The Annex of Marion, a privately developed residential facility located on University Drive close to campus, provides housing for up to 200 students from across the state.
In autumn 2019, Ohio State Marion enrolled over 1,200 students from 53 of Ohio’s 88 counties. Not only are students coming from a larger geographic area, but the academic programs available
to students has diversified. Regardless of which of the many Ohio State degree program students choose to pursue, they can complete one-to-three years of coursework in Marion before making the seamless transition to the Columbus campus to complete their degree. Ohio State Marion currently offers complete coursework to earn an Ohio State baccalaureate degree in biology, business, early and middle childhood education, early and middle childhood studies, English, history, psychology, RN to BSN (nursing), and social work.
As part of continuing efforts to meet Ohio’s business and industry needs, Marion will be offering a new Ohio State Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology degree beginning in autumn 2020. The degree will help prepare graduates for manufacturing leadership roles. In its latest strategic plan, Ohio State Marion reaffirms its commitment to academic success and student wellness.
The campus has expanded tutoring services through its Academic Success Center and employs two mental health and wellness counselors who help build the campus’s culture of caring for students. The strategic plan also calls for more internships, undergraduate research, service-learning, and community engagement opportunities.
According to Ohio State Marion Dean and Director, Gregory S. Rose, the campus welcomes the opportunities that come from its dual role of being an open-access campus within a tier-one research university.
“Our goal is that successful implementation of our campus strategic plan will increase the number of Ohioans with bachelor’s degrees and assist in bringing higher education opportunities to a broader range of citizens,” said Rose, “not only in our traditional service areas but throughout Ohio.”
The campus five-year strategic plan specifically calls for expanded student services and academic programs. Renovations to the Alber Student Center, Morrill Hall Auditorium, and library facilities and the construction of on-campus housing are key elements of the facilities improvements in the plan. Phase 1 renovation of the Alber Student Center will begin summer 2020, with future renovations adding outdoor recreational facilities.
The Marion campus has become a small city within itself, where on any day during the semester, 3,000 to 3,500 people learn, teach, and conduct research. Marion is becoming a college town and it all started with the people of Marion standing up in 1957 and saying, “We want Ohio State in our community.”