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Denison University

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Type  Private liberal arts
President  Adam S. Weinberg
Acceptance rate  38% (2015)
Mascot  Big Red
Phone  +1 740-587-0810
Established  1831
Provost  Kimberly Coplin
Undergraduate tuition and fees  45,670 USD (2015)
Endowment  716.2 million USD (2016)
Colors  White, Red
Denison University

Former names  Granville Theological and Literary Seminary Granville College Denison College Shepardson College for Women
Affiliation  Non-sectarian (formerly Baptist)
Address  100 W College St, Granville, OH 43023, USA
Notable alumni  Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Michael Eisner, Hal Holbrook, Richard Lugar
Similar  Kenyon College, Ohio Wesleyan University, College of Wooster, Wittenberg University, DePauw University

Denison university a few things i wish i knew before attending

Denison University is a private, coeducational, and residential four-year liberal arts college in Granville, Ohio, about 30 mi (48 km) east of Columbus. Founded in 1831, it is Ohio's second-oldest liberal arts college. Denison is a member of the Five Colleges of Ohio and the Great Lakes Colleges Association, and competes in the North Coast Athletic Conference.



On December 13, 1831, John Pratt, the college's first president and a graduate of Brown University, inaugurated classes at the Granville Literary and Theological Institution. Situated on a 200-acre farm south of the village of Granville; it was the second Baptist college west of the Allegheny mountains after Georgetown College, which was founded in 1829. While rooted in theological education, the institution offered students the same literary and scientific instruction common to other colleges of the day. The first term included 37 students, 27 of whom hailed from Granville; nearly half of these students were under fifteen years of age. The school was more of an academy than a college. The school's first Commencement, which graduated three classical scholars, was held in 1840.

In 1845, the institution, which at this point was male-only, officially changed its name to Granville College. In 1853, William S. Denison, a Muskingum County farmer, pledged $10,000 toward the college's endowment. Honoring an earlier commitment, the trustees accordingly changed the name of the institution to Denison University. They also voted to move the college to land then available for purchase in the village of Granville.

In the years leading up to the Civil War, many students and faculty members at Denison University became deeply involved in the anti-slavery movement. Professor Asa Drury, the chair of Greek and Latin studies, became the leader of a local anti-slavery society. Bancroft House, now a residential hall, served as a stop on the Underground Railroad for refugee slaves.

The roots of coeducation at Denison University began in December 1832 with the establishment of the Granville Female Seminary, founded by Charles Sawyer a year before Oberlin College launched the first coeducational college in the United States. The seminary was superseded by the Young Ladies' Institute, founded in 1859 by Dr. and Mrs. Nathan S. Burton. The Young Ladies' Institute was sold to Reverend Dr. Daniel Shepardson in 1868 and was renamed the Shepardson College for Women in 1886.

Shepardson College was incorporated as part of Denison University in 1900, with the two colleges becoming fully consolidated in 1927.

In 1887, Denison inaugurated a master's program, with resident graduates pursuing advanced studies in the sciences. Within a few years, the institution considered offering graduate programs on the doctoral level. In 1926, the Board of Trustees formalized a new curriculum that would make Denison University an exclusively undergraduate institution.

In the wake of Shepardson College's incorporation, Denison University made plans for enlargement of its campus. In 1916, the college sought the expertise of the Frederick Law Olmsted & Sons architectural firm, the founder of which had designed Central Park in New York City. The resulting "Olmsted Plan" laid a foundation for expansion that has remained the guiding aesthetic for subsequent growth, establishing and maintaining a pedestrian-friendly campus, while also preserving scenic views of the surrounding hills and valleys. Expansion during this period included the acquisition of land to the north and east, the relocation of Shepardson College to the east ridge of College Hill, and the development of a new men's quadrangle beyond the library.

During World War II, Denison was one of 131 colleges and universities nationally that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program which offered students a path to a Navy commission.

While the college's origins were rooted in theological education, Denison University has been a non-sectarian institution since the 1960s. By 2005, the college reached its present size of approximately 2,250 students.


The campus size is about 1,100 acres (4 km²). This includes a 400-acre (1.4 km²) biological reserve just east of campus, where professors of sciences like geology and biology can hold class. Purchased in 2014 is the Denison Golf Course an 18-hole course just 0.4 miles from the academic campus and the Granville Inn and Bar, now owned by the university.

The first building in the "Greater Denison" plan, Swasey Chapel was built at the center of the campus. The chapel seats 990 and plays host to notable campus events such as baccalaureate services, lectures, concerts, and academic award convocations.

There are 18 academic buildings on campus. Knapp Hall, built in 1968, houses humanities and social sciences majors such as Black Studies, Sociology/Anthropology, Educational Studies, Women and Gender Studies, Religion, Political Science, and Philosophy. Ebaugh Laboratories is dedicated to chemistry. Fellows Hall houses the foreign language departments, as well as history and international studies. Also in this building is the Center for Off-Campus Study. 50% of Denison students study abroad during their junior year. Samson Talbot Hall is home to the biology department. Higley Hall, which was once called the Doane Life Sciences Building, is home to Denison's two most popular majors: Economics and Communication. This building also contains the John Alford Service Learning Center. Olin Science Hall contains the astronomy, computer science, geosciences, physics, and mathematics majors. Barney-Davis Hall, one of the oldest academic buildings on campus, holds classes for English majors, Environmental Studies majors, and also has the Denison Writing Center (free tutoring on any academic paper).

Doane Administration Building (the oldest building on campus) and Burton Morgan are also on academic quad (spill-over academic building, but they serve administrative purposes. The Bryant Arts Center opened in August 2009. Originally constructed in 1904 as a men's gymnasium (Cleveland Hall), it was later adapted as a student union. It was adapted and developed as the home of the studio/visual art and art history departments. The 45,000-square-foot (4,200 m2) facility has studios for ceramics, painting, printmaking, sculpture, photography and digital media. It also features fully electronic classrooms, open gallery spaces, an art history resource room, outdoor performance spaces, a common area for studio art seniors, and independent studios for faculty. Also on the fine arts quad is Doane Dance Building, Ace Morgan Theatre & Arts Building, Burton Music, Cinema MIX Lab, and Burke Performance and Recital Hall.

Built in 1937, Doane Library today houses more than 500,000 books and bound periodicals.

Swasey Observatory, which opened in June 1910, houses a 9-inch refracting telescope as well as two 8-inch reflecting telescopes.

Slayter Union features lounges, a snack bar, study tables, bookstore, a food market, student mailboxes and package services, a 302-seat auditorium and movie theater, a late-night restaurant, as well as offices for student organizations.

The campus landscape was designed by the firm of Frederick Law Olmsted, an architect best known for his design of New York City's Central Park. "Greater Denison" was designed based on a layout of quadrangles throughout upper campus, designed to mirror the building functions. This was envisioned to help foster a sense of community among campus groups. The goal behind this plan was to be both aesthetically pleasing and functional for the university on top of a hill. The landscape design was planned to strategically preserve the natural topography, but also allow for logical and symmetrical arrangements of buildings within each quad.


As of the 2016-17 school year, 2,150 students are enrolled at Denison, with a gender distribution of 43 percent male students and 57 percent female students. They come from 50 states, Washington, DC, and 40 countries, with 78% from out-of-state. A full-time faculty of 235 professors makes the student-to-faculty ratio 9:1.

Over the past several years, Denison University has increasingly attracted a diverse student population. For instance, 17 percent of the class of 2020 are first-generation college students and 32 percent are multicultural students. While Denison has been recognized for its diversity in the past, it was cited by The New York Times in 2014 as one of America's "Most Economically Diverse Top Colleges." In that list, Denison is ranked at No. 11 in the list of the nation’s top colleges and universities. Kenyon College was the only other Ohio school on the list, ranked at No. 80.

With a June 2016 endowment of $750 million, the endowment per student is $348,837. Some of this money goes towards financial aid. While the annual cost of attending is $63,130 per year, Denison awards nearly $60 million in need-based financial aid or merit-based academic scholarships. Furthermore, Denison University announced in September 2016 that they will partner with nonprofit I Know I Can to offer 20 full-tuition scholarships to high school students attending Columbus, Ohio city schools.


Denison awards three degrees: Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Bachelor of Science (B.S.), and Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.). The most popular majors are Economics, Biology, Communication, Psychology, History, and English. Students can create their own major (called an interdepartmental major).

In 2016, the college added two new majors: data analytics and global commerce. In a The Huffington Post piece, president Adam Weinberg argued that the study of big data may not be unique for post-secondary education, but the marriage of liberal arts and data analytics is a unique concept. "In short," he writes. "a liberal arts background gives data analytics its soul." The interdisciplinary major combines courses in mathematics and computer science, electives from the social and natural sciences and four new courses in data analytics.

These courses allow students to acquire a foundation, learn the technique, apply the technique across disciplines, and pull it all together. According to Weinberg, this foundation will help students frame questions appropriately, work in interdisciplinary teams, communicate results effectively, and make ethical decisions. As reported by The Newark Advocate, graduates from this major may work in fields like marketing, product development, public health and other vocations.

The global commerce major is the result of an 18-month research process, which included interviews with many employers and graduates. In another article in The Huffington Post, Weinberg describes the process — "Over and over again, we heard a desire ... for a new kind of academic program that would give students an understanding of how economics, accounting and commerce work, blended with a wide range of liberal arts courses that prepare students to think, read cultures, understand historical patterns, problem-solve and communicate clearly. And the value of multiple internships, externships and opportunities to study abroad was stressed." The global commerce major was created to meet these requirements. The course of study has five main components: the commerce core to develop a sound understanding of economics; a specific global focus or geographic region of study; language proficiency related to their area of interest; off-campus study related to the major; and a senior capstone. The goal of this major is to produce graduates ready and capable to enter the global workforce with analytical skills and an understanding of how economy and trade are connected to culture, social movements and other global factors.

Student life

Denison is a strictly residential campus that features a mixture of historic and contemporary buildings. Housing options include single, double, triple, and quadruple rooms, as well as suites of six. There are various apartments across campus and several satellite houses for seniors. Most seniors and some juniors live in apartment style housing with their own bathroom, living room and kitchen.

Student programs and organizations

Denison University holds over 200 student organizations with more than 600 students in leadership positions.

The Denison Campus Governance Association (DCGA) is the Denison student governing body, in which all students are members. The DCGA Student Senate is the primary representative body of students on Denison's campus, and it has been involved in various student initiatives: from postponing quiet hours in the fall of 2007 to drafting the Code of Academic Integrity adopted in the fall of 2009 to encouraging the University President to sign onto the Presidents' Climate Commitment. The DCGA Finance Committee is responsible for financially supporting over 100 student clubs and organizations with a budget of over $1,300,000, providing the Denison community with opportunities to participate in athletics, write for several publications, volunteer in the local community, learn about various cultures, and attend well-known speakers, among other endeavors. They hold an annual Denison Day (or "DDay" for short) concert, which has featured artists such as T-Pain, The Roots, Andy Grammer, Ben Folds, RAC, Phillip Phillips, Danny Brown, Rufus Wainwright, Reel Big Fish, Matt and Kim, Hoodie Allen, Mos Def, Jay Sean, and Asher Roth.

The University Programming Council (UPC) is the main programming body on campus. A fully student operated organization, UPC annually brings in concerts, comedians, hypnotists, lectures and other forms of entertainment to campus. UPC also hosts a number of off-campus trips each year to the Columbus area and beyond. In addition to these events, UPC is well known for its annual events that have become a part of the Denison tradition: Aestavalia (spring festival), Slayter Arcade, and University Gala (Homecoming).

Founded in 1857, The Denisonian is the student-run newspaper and oldest student organization on campus and prints ten issues per semester as well as online at

The Bullsheet is a student-run publication for news, humor and community dialog that is printed daily and delivered to Slayter Hall, William Howard Doane Library, Huffman Dining Hall and Curtis Dining Hall. It was founded in 1980 to combat student apathy, and it remains central to campus culture by providing an open forum for free speech.

Denison Community Association (DCA) is a volunteer service organization, led by students and entirely student operated. DCA is the umbrella organization for 24 committees that recruit and train Denison students to volunteer at local community sites. Over 70% of students participate in community service during their Denison career

Fraternity/sorority life

Denison has ten active fraternities and five sororities. Currently, fraternity/sorority participation by students is about 38%, with more women participating than men. Approximately 24% of undergraduate men are involved in fraternities and about 30% of women are members in a sorority, although student publications have argued that this number is actually significantly higher. In the 1980s, over 70% of the student body belonged to a fraternity or sorority organization. Fraternities and sororities at Denison are overseen by four ruling bodies: the Interfraternity Council or IFC for fraternities, the National Panhellenic Conference for sororities, the National Pan-Hellenic Council for traditionally African American fraternities and sororities, and the Multicultural Greek Council for traditionally multicultural fraternities and sororities.

The active IFC fraternities are Beta Theta Pi, Delta Chi, Lambda Chi Alpha, Kappa Sigma, Phi Delta Theta and Sigma Chi. The Panhellenic Conference sororities are Delta Delta Delta, Delta Gamma, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Kappa Alpha Theta, and Pi Beta Phi. Delta Sigma Theta, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Phi Beta Sigma, Alpha Phi Alpha and Sigma Gamma Rho operate under the National Pan-Hellenic Council system. The Multicultural Greek Council is host to the chapters of Sigma Lambda Gamma, the Eta Colony of Alpha Sigma Rho, Phi Iota Alpha, as well as the Zeta Chapter of Chi Sigma Tau.

Currently, Denison's Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter is suspended from official recognition for violations of the Student Code of Conduct, while its Kappa Sigma chapter was restored to good standing at the beginning of the Fall semester of 2014. Additionally, an unrecognized chapter of Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI) operates at Denison alongside KZ, an unrecognized local fraternity. Sigma Alpha Epsilon was removed from campus following a hazing incident in 2001. The school administration does not extend recognition to these three latter groups, and as such, they are sometimes referred to by the student body as "underground fraternities." Previous fraternities to exist on campus, but are now inactive, include Delta Upsilon and Alpha Tau Omega.

Religious life

Denison is not religiously affiliated. However, there are religious organizations that add to the dynamic campus culture. Within religious life, Denison seeks to recognize the college's diversity and strives to create opportunities of inter religious experiences and dialogue to promote understanding and acceptance. Some of the larger organizations include Young Life, Denison Christian Community, and Agape Christian Fellowship. Other organizations represent the Catholic, Jewish, Quaker and Muslim traditions, and Wiccan covens are also present on campus. There is a non-denominational space on South quad called The Open House.

Traditions and folklore

D-Day, the successor to the college's old Scrap Day, is a celebration of the entire college, put on once a year by the DCGA.

Kirtley Mather, Class of 1909, named the tallest peak in Alaska's Aleutian Peninsula "Mt. Denison." In 1978, a group of students, professors, and alumni successfully scaled the mountain—a feat repeated nearly 20 years later by another Denison group.

Denison has one of the few remaining college cemeteries in Ohio. Among those buried on Sunset Hill are Jonathan Going, the college's second president, and Elisha Andrews, its sixth.


The arts are prominent at Denison University. Students can major or minor in theatre, music, visual art, studio art, art history, dance, and cinema. Denison also hosts a variety of annual festivals and series including The Vail Series, The Beck Series, The Tutti Festival, and The Bluegrass Festival.

The Vail Series began in 1979 as the result of a financial gift from Mary and Foster McGaw in honor of Jeanne Vail, class of 1946. Michael Morris, who previously worked as the executive director of the Midland Theatre, Newark, Ohio, was appointed to be the director of the program in 2014. According to an article by the Newark Advocate, The Vail Series is an "acclaimed visiting artist program" where artists are encouraged to both perform and interact with students. As Morris said in the article, "Our visiting artists always comment on how engaged the students and faculty are, how warmly they are welcomed, and how beautiful the setting is. They develop relationships here." Tickets to the Vail Series are free to students. Former performers include Itzhak Perlman, Yo Yo Ma, Renée Fleming, Wynton Marsalis, Jessye Norman, and Chris Thile and Edgar Meyer among others. In 2014, the university announced that ETHEL will become their first ensemble-in-residence. They performed their multimedia concert "Documerica" on campus during the spring of 2016 and will receive honorary degrees from the college at the commencement ceremony in 2017.

The Beck Series is associated with the creative writing program at Denison, and it brings a variety of authors to campus to read their work and interact with students. Former visitors include Pulitzer Prize winner Eudora Welty, National Book Award winner Alice Walker, Playwright and Oscar-winning screenwriter Tom Stoppard, and W. S. Merwin among others.

The Tutti Festival is a semi-annual festival that features original works of music, art, dance, poetry, fine arts, and theater by professors, students, and visiting artists.

In 2016, Denison celebrated their 12th annual Bluegrass Festival. This weekend-long celebration includes multiple concerts, instrument workshops, and jam sessions. All of the events held at Denison during this festival are free and open to the public. "You can't beat the price," said Chair of the Music Department Andy Carlson to the Newark Advocate. "I'm really proud of Denison for continuing to support this."

Outside of the classroom and annual festival, there are many student-led initiatives in the arts at Dension. The Denison Independent Theatre Association offers opportunity non-theatre majors to act in shows, often written and directed by students themselves. Films are shown weekly by the Denison Film Society (DFS). Burpee's Seedy Theatrical Company is the oldest collegiate improv group in the nation. It was founded in 1979 and the group's most famous alum is actor Steve Carrell. There is also a variety of student music ensembles, such as Bluegrass, Blues, and Jazz Ensembles, Gospel Choir, and a cappella groups. There are five a cappella groups on campus: The Denison Hilltoppers, DUwop, Ladies Night Out, HartBeat, and Tehillah.

The campus radio station, WDUB a.k.a. The Doobie, features 24-hour programming and broadcasts both on the airwaves 91.1 FM and online at The station was notably featured in American Eagle stores across the country through the summer of 2009. The Doobie was also ranked by The Princeton Review as one of the best college radio stations in the nation.

There are further plans on the horizon to develop the arts at Denison. The Newark Advocate reports that the college is fundraising for a new $30 million performing arts center and plans on "a 'broadening' of the popular Vail Series." According to the article, a new permanent performance and exhibition space has also been secured on the ground floor of a building in Newark, which has recently gone under a multi-million renovation.


Denison is a member of the NCAA Division III and the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) since the conference’s formation in 1984. As a part of the 10-member conference Denison boasts a league-record 11 Dennis M. Collins Awards which is given to the NCAC school that performs best across the conference’s 23 sponsored sports: 11 for men and 12 for women. Denison additionally has 45 club and intramural sports. Denison won nine consecutive All-Sports Awards between 1997–98 and 2005–06. Denison’s remaining two awards were earned in 1985–86 and 2008-09.

In 2001 the Denison Women’s Swimming and Diving team captured the school’s first NCAA Division III national championship by snapping Kenyon College’s streak of 17-consecutive national championships. Following this, the Denison Men's Swimming and Diving team defeated Kenyon to capture the 2011 NCAA National Title by 1 point ending the Lords' 31-year streak of championships. Denison men won the national title in 2015-2016.

In both men’s and women’s swimming and diving, Denison has posted 47 consecutive top-10 finishes at the NCAA Division III championships. During that span, Denison has placed either second or third, nationally, 26 times.

Denison alumnus Woody Hayes (Class of ’35) spent three seasons as the head football coach at Denison (1946–48). In 1947 and 1948 he guided the Big Red to undefeated seasons.

In 1954 Keith Piper took over as the head football coach, a position he would remain in for 39 seasons. Piper won a school record, 200 games and in 1985 he guided the program to their first 10–0 season with his antique single-wing offense. Denison qualified for the NCAA Division III playoffs that season before falling to Mt. Union in the opening round.

Women’s basketball at Denison has emerged as a national contender under head coach Sara Lee. Denison’s 2010-11 squad completed the first 28-0 regular season in women’s basketball in the NCAC and have advanced to the NCAA Division III Tournament for the seventh time in school history and their sixth time out of the last seven seasons. Men's basketball at Denison won the 2015-2016 NCAC tournament championship. They appeared in the NCAA tournament.

The Denison men’s and women’s lacrosse programs have had their share of conference and national success. The two programs have combined for 28 NCAA Division III tournament berths. In 1999 and 2001 the Denison men’s lacrosse team advances to the semifinal (Final 4) of the NCAA Division III Tournament [10] and most recently, in 2009, the Big Red advanced to the national quarterfinals of the NCAC Tournament before falling to Gettysburg.

In 2008 the Denison women’s tennis team advanced to the NCAA semifinals, eventually winning the consolation match to place third overall, marking the program’s best national finish. That same year the doubles team of sophomore Marta Drane and freshman Kristen Cobb advanced to the championship match of the Division III Doubles championship before falling to Brittany Berckes and Alicia Menezes of Amherst in the finals.

In the spring of 2014, the Denison men's tennis team, following a strong season, finished the season ranked 28th in the ITA Division 3 May 1 rankings. The ranking, backed by impressive victories over North Carolina Wesleyan College and Trinity College among others, was the best finish for the Big Red squad since 2011. Critical praise from the media was received along the way, with stating, "The usual Denison formula of great doubles and depth is back."

The Denison women’s soccer team advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals for the second time in school history in 2010. The previous appearance occurred in 2005. Overall the program has qualified for the NCAA Tournament 14 times.

Denison boasts 43 NCAA postgraduate scholars and 58 Academic All-Americans.

Professional Development

In the spring of 2016, Denison University announced that the Austin E. Knowlton Foundation pledged $9.3 million towards the Center for Career Exploration, now known as The Austin E. Knowlton Center for Career Exploration. According to the Newark Advocate, this money is devoted to supporting the college's work in creating the "benchmark program" for transitioning students from the liberal arts into the professional world.

With money from this grant, the college has doubled the staff in the career office and created a new program to aid students and recent graduates called [email protected] In an article published by The Huffington Post, Denison President Adam Weinberg describes [email protected] as a program that addresses four major observations about higher education career preparation: colleges need to offer an array of professional development programs that cater to students' individual interests; colleges need to utilize the 40 percent of the calendar year when students are not in class to focus on their career exploration and they should support these activities financially; colleges should leverage their strong network of alumni and parents; and colleges must create a shift in campus culture that encourages early engagement with the career center.

As reported by Columbus Business First, [email protected] aims to help recent graduates as well. According to President Weinberg, this can happen through networking events where you can meet people in your own field and build community.

University presidents

  1. John Pratt (1831–1837)
  2. Jonathan Going (1837–1844)
  3. Silas Bailey (1846–1852)
  4. Jeremiah Hall (1853–1863)
  5. Samson Talbot (1863–1873)
  6. Elisha Andrews (1875–1879)
  7. Alfred Owen (1879–1886)
  8. Galusha Anderson (1887–1889)
  9. Daniel B. Purinton (1890–1901)
  10. Emory W. Hunt (1901–1912)
  11. Clark W. Chamberlain (1913–1925)
  12. Avery A. Shaw (1927–1940)
  13. Kenneth I. Brown (1940–1950)
  14. A. Blair Knapp (1951–1968)
  15. Joel P. Smith (1969–1976)
  16. Robert C. Good (1976–1984)
  17. Andrew G. De Rocco (1984–1988)
  18. Michele Tolela Myers (1989–1998)
  19. Dale T. Knobel (1998–2013)
  20. Adam S. Weinberg (2013–)

Notable faculty

  • David Baker (1984— )
  • Paul Alfred Biefeld (1911–1943)
  • Asa Drury (1834–1836)
  • Peter Grandbois (2010— )
  • William Rainey Harper (1876–1878)
  • Kirtley Fletcher Mather (1918–1924)
  • Margot Singer (2005— )
  • Notable alumni include actors Steve Carell, Hal Holbrook, and Jennifer Garner; SNL comedian Alex Moffat; entertainer John Davidson; CBS football coach Woody Hayes; ESPN president George Bodenheimer; Turner Broadcasting System Senior Vice President James Anderson; former member of Turkish Parliament and current consultant to The Coca-cola Company Mehmet Cem Kozluformer; United States Senator Richard Lugar; Indy car racer Bobby Rahal; playwright Jeffrey Hatcher; author Pam Houston; former Disney Chairman and CEO Michael Eisner; American criminologist and father of "evidence-based policing" Lawrence Sherman; former Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro; former Princeton University President William Bowen; Professor of Religion at Goucher College and theologian at the Washington National Cathedral Kelly Brown Douglas.


    Denison University Wikipedia