The History of Shawnee State University

Elizabeth Gillespie, Staff Reporter

Although Shawnee State University is one of the most recently established universities in Southern Ohio, it has a rich history. Shawnee State has developed far beyond its humble beginnings.

The university can be traced all the way back to 1945 when Ohio University established an academic center at Portsmouth High School. Later, the Ohio University Academic Center was moved to Griffin Hall, which would later become Massie Hall.

Then, the Ohio Board of Regents voted to merge the southern campus of Ohio University and Scioto Technical College, located north of Portsmouth, in 1974. Both the north and south campuses remained open for classes when Shawnee State General and Technical College was established.

In 1977, a campus expansion began, and an Ohio Senate Bill was passed that established Shawnee State as a community college. By 1985, the Business and Engineering Building, Allied Health Building, the Student Center, the Administrative Building, the Vern Riffe Industrial Building, the Activity Center (including a gymnasium), and the Business Annex had all been completed.

Around the time of the 10th anniversary of the college, the possibility of Shawnee State Community College becoming a four-year institution became more feasible. In 1985, Ohio Speaker of the House Vern Riffe introduced the bill that would create Shawnee State University. Finally, on April 2, 1986, Gov. Richard Celeste signed House Bill 739, and it became a law on July 2, 1986.

With its new status as a four-year university, more focus was put into improving facilities, establishing an identity as a university, and creating opportunities for students to succeed personally and academically. Some of these changes included officially changing the mascot from the Ranger to the Bear, building the library, and the capital campaign “Crossing the Threshold, the Campaign for Shawnee State University.”

Since then, the university has invested millions of dollars into renovations of its facilities, as well as additions to the campus.

As far as athletics, the softball team made it to the NAIA Tournament for the first time in 1992 and were runners-up in the National Softball Championship in 1996, the Women’s Basketball team won the NAIA Division II National Championship in 1999, and the Men’s Basketball team won the NAIA National Championship this past spring. These are only a few examples of the accomplishments of the athletic teams at Shawnee State University.

Shawnee State began with only six degrees and now offers over 70 degree programs. Today, it boasts over 60 clubs and organizations on campus and over 20 athletic programs. It has been continuously ranked nationally for several of its programs and ranked globally by the “World University Rankings.” Shawnee State University has shown its commitment to serving students through expansion, reinvestment into programs, and utilization of student feedback in decision making.