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 rights movement, before equality and inclusion were rights. Otterbein was founded by the Church of the United Brethren in Christ in 1847. Equality and inclusion were, and continue to be, the foundation of the university.
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 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 students from more diverse backgrounds come to Otterbein each year to experience that same spirit of inclusion. Read more about Otterbein's history.
Those qualities built Otterbein to what it is today: a nationally recognized university offering bachelor and master degrees to a wide variety of students.
Among its many achievements, Otterbein has been:
- Ranked 13th out of 149 peers in the Regional Universities–Midwest category by U.S. News & World Report in its 2016 “Guide to America’s Best Colleges.” Otterbein has consistently ranked high in the annual guide for more than a decade.
- Ranked 13th in its category on the “Best Colleges for Veterans” list in U.S. News & World Report.
- Named an A+ School for B Students by U.S. News & World Report.
- Recipient of the 2015 Carnegie Community Service Classification.
- Recognized by the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll “With Distinction” for its commitment to General Community Service and Education in 2014. Otterbein has been recognized by the honor roll "With Distinction" every year since its inception in 2006.
- Finalist for the President’s Award for Economic Opportunity Community Service in 2014.
- Winner of the President’s Award for General Community Service in February 2008.
- Named a Top 50 school for contributions to the public good by Washington Monthly. In 2015, Otterbein was ranked 42nd overall among 673 Master’s Universities. In the community service category, Otterbein ranked sixth in community service participation and hours served; 14th in service staff, courses and financial aid support; and 13th overall.
- Named a Military Friendly School by G.I. Jobs magazine.
Westerville, Otterbein's hometown, has also been recognized as:
- The best suburb in America by Movoto in 2013;
- The seventh happiest suburb in America by Movoto in 2014;
- The fifth friendliest town in America by Forbes and Nextdoor.com in 2012;
- The 15th Best Place to Live by Money Magazine in 2009.
A Model Community
Listen to the voices of our faculty, staff, students and alumni as they explain Otterbein University's story. Learn more about our model community as we discuss Otterbein's brand.
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.
*Westerville Voted America's Best Suburb by the Movoto Real Estate blog
Enrollment: Approximately 3,000 men and women from throughout the United States and several foreign countries.
Curriculum: Otterbein offers a choice of more than 70 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 (Otterbein.tv). Classes began in fall 2009 at both the newly built Austin E. Knowlton Center for Equine Science and the Science Center, which completed a $20 million renovation and addition.
Arts: Otterbein University Theatre and Otterbein Summer Theatre stage eight 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. Otterbein fields a total of 21 varsity sports teams (11 for men and 10 for women), including men's wrestling, Otterbein's newest program. A complete intramural program is available to all students.
Community Service: Otterbein is a recipient of the 2015 Carnegie Community Service Classification; finalist for the 2014 President’s Award for Economic Opportunity Community Service; and has been honored With Distinction by the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll since the list’s inception in 2006. Each year, more than 70,000 hours are donated by Otterbein students through our Center for Community Engagement's weekly programs and more than 90 service-learning courses.