Shawnee History

1945

  • Shawnee State University's roots date back to 1945 when Ohio University established an academic center at Portsmouth High School.

1961

  • After 16 years, The OU Academic Center moved to Griffin Hall on Second Street.

1967

  • Two major campaigns through the Ohio University Development Fund raised $350,000 to purchase land for what would become the Shawnee State campus. Massie Hall was completed on that land shortly after.

1971

  • The Scioto Technical College opened eight miles north of Portsmouth.

1972

  • Frank Taylor, president of Scioto Technical College, and Dr. Robert Flinchbaugh, director of Ohio University-Portsmouth, began discussions about merging.

1974

  • The Ohio Board of Regents voted unanimously in support of a State General and Technical College, created from the merger of Ohio University-Portsmouth and Scioto Technical College.

1975

  • Shawnee State General and Technical College was chartered by the Ohio Board of Regents.
  • Shawnee State General and Technical College began operation with Dr. Robert Flinchbaugh as president. Classes were held on both the north and south campuses.

1977

  • Groundbreaking was held for campus expansion.
  • Shawnee State General and Technical College was changed to Shawnee State Community College via an Ohio Senate bill.

1978

  • Shawnee State Community College began operation on one campus, as four new buildings were added: Business and Engineering, Allied Health, Student Center and Administrative Building.

1979

A new gymnasium opened with Shawnee State Rangers playing Sinclair College of Dayton.
  • The Activity Center was completed.

1980

  • The Vern Riffe Industrial Building was dedicated.
  • Frank Taylor replaced Dr. Robert Flinchbaugh as president of Shawnee State Community College.

1984

  • The James A. Rhodes Sports Center and the Business Annex were dedicated.
  • A feasibility study about Shawnee State Community College becoming a four-year university began.

1985

  • Groundbreaking ceremonies were held for the new Student Union building
  • Shawnee State Community College celebrated its 10th anniversary with a community celebration featuring Governor Richard Celeste and Speaker Vern Riffe.
  • Ohio Speaker of the House Vern Riffe introduced the bill to create Shawnee State University. It was the first bill Riffe had introduced since 1973.

1986

On April 2, 1986 Gov. Richard Celeste signed HB 739, creating Shawnee State University. The bill became law on July 2.
  • The Shawnee State University Board of Trustees had its first meeting. Dr. George White, who was the last president of the Community College Board of Trustees, was elected chair.
  • In its first year, Shawnee State University enrolled 2,797 students. Today, more than 4,600 students are enrolled at SSU with more than 1,000 of them living on campus.

1987

  • The SSU Board of Trustees voted to name Frank Taylor President Emeritus of SSU and confer on him an honorary doctoral degree. Taylor retired as SSU's President in June.
  • The SSU Library was designated as a federal depository library
  • Shawnee State University had its first graduation ceremony.
  • Dr. Robert Ewigleben became Shawnee State University's 2nd President.
  • The SSU Development Foundation had its first meeting after the consolidation of the Shawnee State Development Fund and the Shawnee State Foundation. The first members were: Orville Ferguson, Sr.; Victor Morgan, Dr. Robert Ewigleben; Shirley Crothers; Beth Stevison; Dr. Lacey Curtis; Marika Esham; William Horr; and Paul Flohr.
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1988

The bear is officially announced as SSU's new mascot, replacing the Ranger.
  • The Ohio Board of Regents approved six baccalaureate programs for SSU: English/Humanities, Social Science, Natural Science, Business Administration, Plastics Engineering Technology and Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology. OBR also approved a Teaching Certificate program in Elementary Education.
  • The first freshmen seeking baccalaureate degrees were admitted.
  • Ground was broken for the new library.

1989

  • The SSU Board of Trustees named Dr. Catherine Roberts Interim President. She became the first female president of a state university in Ohio.
  • Hands Across Campus celebrated SSU's first year as a baccalaureate-granting institution.
  • SSU's first capital campaign, "Crossing the Threshold, The Campaign for Shawnee State University," was announced. Robert Dever, the chairman, announced the campaign had already reached 60 percent of its $2 million goal.
  • Dr. Clive Veri was inaugurated as SSU's 3rd president.

1990

SSU's first baccalaureate degree class was presented with special medals at Commencement. Vern Riffe was the Commencement speaker and was awarded SSU's first honorary doctorate.
  • The "Crossing the Threshold" campaign reached $3.8 million, exceeding its $2 million goal.

1991

  • Ground was broken for the $4.5 million University Center
  • Construction began on the Advanced Technology Center addition to the Vern Riffe Jr. Engineering Technology Building.

1992

  • The University Center opened.
  • SSU signed its first international sister institution agreement with Niznhy Novgorod State University in Russia.
  • The softball team advanced to the NAIA Tournament for the first time.

1993

  • Ground was broken for an addition to the activities center to connect the two existing buildings with new locker rooms, classrooms, and a 5000 sq. ft. Nautilus and cardio area.
  • The Foucault Pendulum was dedicated in the Vern Riffe Advanced Technology Center.
  • Ground was broken for the $16.4 million Center for the Arts. The theater was designed by world famous theater designer, George Izenour, who wrote the section on theater design for the 1974 Encyclopedia Britannica.
  • Second Street was officially closed.

1994

  • The James A. Rhodes Athletic Center opened and was officially dedicated on former Governor Rhodes' 85th birthday.
A ribbon cutting ceremony took place in front of the Center for the Arts construction site for four new BFA degrees: Ceramics, Painting, Drawing and Studio Arts.

1995

  • The Women's Basketball Team reached its first Final Four.
  • The SSU Board of Trustees voted to name the Center for the Arts in honor of Vern Riffe.

1996

  • SSU's second capital campaign, "Reach for the Stars," was officially launched. The goal was $5.9 million for the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts endowment and the planetarium. Marika Esham was the chair.
The Vern Riffe Center for the Arts began its grand opening celebration. The Julliard String Quartet performed. The celebration continued through May 2nd including a performance by Doc Severinson and the Columbus Jazz Orchestra.
  • The Bears finished as runners-up in the NAIA National Softball Championship.
  • SSU celebrated its 10th anniversary as a university
  • As part of the first Founders' Day, Kricker Hall was dedicated for the Kricker family.

1997

  • The Massie Hall renovation project concluded.
  • Vern Riffe passed away. The public visitation was held in the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts August 5th and the funeral service was held in the VRCFA Main Theater August 6th.
  • The library was named the Clark Memorial Library in honor of Clyde W. and Maycel M. Clark.
  • The Center for International Programs and Activities was created.

1998

  • The Clark Planetarium opened with its first public showing.
  • Dr. James Chapman was announced as the 4th president of SSU, effective July 1st.
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1999

The Women's Basketball team won the NAIA Division II National Championship over University of St. Francis 80-65. A Welcome Home Celebration and a parade was held on March 17, with a public Celebration April 2nd.
  • The Children's Learning Center was dedicated as part of the 4th Annual Founders' Day. Bob Evans, who was a member of the Ohio Board of Regents in 1986, was the main speaker.

2000

  • SSU's Graduate Center began its first master's program.
  • SSU had its first Athletic Hall of Fame ceremony. The six charter members were Robin Hagen-Smith (basketball), Kim Danner (basketball), Tracy Williams-Riehl (basketball), Brian Williams (basketball), Amy Cole-McGuire (softball), and Harry Weinbrecht (AD).

2001

  • Four murals by Robert Dafford, the artist of the Portsmouth Murals, were dedicated in the Richards Rotunda of the Clark Memorial Library. The murals were a gift from William J. and Patricia Richards.
  • Dr. Michael Field, provost and VP for academic affairs, became interim president.

2002

  • Frank Taylor, SSU's first president, died.

2003

  • Dr. Rita Rice Morris was inagurated as Shawnee State University's 5th president.
  • SSU hosted its first Shawnee Conference for Game Design and Simulation.

2004

  • President George W. Bush visited SSU. He was the first president since Hoover in 1932 to visit Portsmouth.
  • President Morris jumped from an airplane on Veterans Recognition Day to illustrate that anyone can overcome their fears.

2006

  • Kathleen Battle performed as part of SSU's 20th anniversary.
  • Anita Hill, the Leslie Williams Symposium Speaker, cut the ribbon for the SSU Women's Center.
  • The renovated Health Sciences Building was dedicated as part of SSU's 20th anniversary celebration.

2007

  • Poised for Tomorrow, a $12 million capital campaign was announced. Frank and Janis Waller were the co-chairs.
  • The Rose L. And Augusta Jacobs Center for International Programs and Activities was dedicated.

2008

Ground was broken for the renovation and expansion of the University Center.
  • SSU announced that "Poised for Tomorrow" had surpassed its goal, raising $15.6 million. An anonymous donation of $4 million, the largest individual gift in SSU history, put it over the top. The campaign would eventually raise over $16 million.
  • The Dr. William E. Daehler Tennis Center opened with a special ceremony.
  • A mobile health unit was donated by Dr. Richard Conard of University Estates and Steve Farber, CEO of Farber Specialty Vehicles.
  • Presidential candidate, Barack Obama, stopped at Shawnee State University on his campaign trail. An estimated 7,000 people attended the rally on the Alumni Green.

2009

SSU introduced new university and athletics logos, a new marketing brand, and a new mascot, thanks to William McKinley.
  • The SSU Volleyball Team made its first trip to the National Tournament.
  • SSU had its first Fall Commencement ceremony.

2010

The Motion Capture Studio was officially dedicated.
  • SSU was recognized by the Ohio Board of Regents as a Center of Excellence in Immersive Technology
  • SSU hosted a Welcome Home celebration for the Women's Basketball team, which finished as the NAIA Division II National Runners-Up.
  • SSU began offering its second master's degree—the Master of Education.

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