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The United Methodist University Senate Visits Ohio Northern for Reaccreditation

(photo/ ONU Communications and Marketing) The Ohio Northern University English Chapel is a symbol of the University’s close ties to the Methodist Church. Students can meet for regular worship or use its facilities for other religious-related activities. Ohio Northern’s 17 Religious Organizations also use it as their meeting place.

In February of 2015, the Higher Learning Commission made its once every 10-year visit to verify that Ohio Northern University met the criteria for re-accreditation.  The evaluation team gave ONU five stars on five criteria, from mission to teaching methods.  This past Monday, November 9, a different kind of re-accreditation evaluation took place as the United Methodist Church’s University Senate made their regular re-accreditation visit to Ohio Northern. 

Ohio Northern’s Methodist affiliation is first and foremost evident in the University’s mission statement:

Influenced by a unique history and an enduring affiliation with the United Methodist Church, Ohio Northern University’s mission is to provide a high quality learning environment that prepares students for success in their careers, service to their communities, the nation, and the world, and a lifetime of personal growth inspired by the higher values of truth, beauty, and goodness.” 

This affiliation comes in many forms, from offering and requiring students to take both a religion and ethics course, to housing 17 religious organizations on campus. Dr. Julie Hurtig, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, who works closely in all processes of re-accreditation, notes that ONU’s Methodist values are quite prominent in ever day operations as well, “The focus on our values is seen in practice as we open and close many of our University functions with prayer.  It is evidenced in our dedication to a chapel hour for all students, faculty, and staff to have one hour each week to utilize for reflection, meditation, or attending chapel worship.”  She also mentions that religious values can be seen all over campus, in Greek philanthropies or in the opportunity to have a full-time chaplain on campus.  Most recently, the University’s Methodist values were demonstrated in the role ONU played in providing aid and care to the Ada First Methodist Church following their tragic fire. 

Just like with HLC, the University Senate came to evaluate Ohio Northern as a whole, and to ensure the University is living up to the high standards they hold their affiliates.  “These marks include items such as offers appropriate scholarly theological teaching in the Christian tradition within the curriculum, honors and respects religious practice, allows faculty and students to explore the place of religious belief and practice, encourages the exploration of the place of religious belief in the larger society, and recognizes the Social Principles of the United Methodist Church,” said Dr. Hurtig.  The three-person team consisted of two college presidents, and one former college CFO.  All representatives earned their positions through close affiliations with the Methodist Church. 

As an ONU alumnus, Dr. Hurtig holds Ohio Northern’s Methodist values very dear to her heart.  “I came to ONU because of its faith-centered campus philosophy to complete my degree in engineering.  I then took a position on the faculty at ONU because I wanted to influence students in both the technical and professional aspects of their curriculum, but also in their personal development as students set their future goals,” she said. 

Word on the evaluation team’s report will come some time within the next few months, but Dr. Hurtig seems to be confident about the pending results.  “As I prepared the reports for the University Senate, it was an easy task, as the faith exhibited by our students, faculty, and staff is readily evidenced.” 



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