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Bobcat Bicentennial

It was, indeed, something to sing about. An institution founded by many of the pioneer settlers of the mid-Ohio Valley celebrates 200 years. It's hard to believe that just 50 years ago, Ohio University had approximately 4,000 students. Today, that number tops 20,000.

Vernon Alden, in the 1960's, presided over much of the university's explosive growth.

"If somebody was a student when I was here," Alden, who served as university president from 1961-69, "if they came back today, they would see a totally different university. Many of the buildings we started hadn't been completed when I left. Today, we have, I think, one of the most beautiful universities in the country."

In the '70's and '80's, president Charles Ping led the way in fundraising. In the past decade, outgoing president Robert Glidden brought it technologically into the 21st century, while dealing with state funding reductions.

"Most of our students are not having to work at three jobs to stay in school," Glidden told an audience in the university's new West Green classroom complex. "They are here as full-time students."

When the institution first came about, it was officially called "The Ohio University". These days, another school, which came along 50 years later, uses a similar name. T-Shirts here around campus play on that name.

Indeed, past presidents haven't forgotten that confusion.

"On the plane last year, I sat next to a student," Alden recalls, "and I asked her where she went to school. She said 'Ohio State University'. I asked, 'Is that in Athens?'."

Here are some names you probably know, who are either graduates from or who attended Ohio University. They include U.S. Sen. George Voinovich, Today' Show host Matt Lauer, the late columnist Erma Bombeck, and Hall of Fame baseball great Mike Schmidt, and even Bart Simpson is a former Bobcat. Nancy Cartwright, who's the voice of TV's favorite under achiever, went to Ohio University in the late 1970's.


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