Denison University: Wikis


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Denison University
Established 1831
Type Private school
Endowment $522.4 million[1]
President Dale T. Knobel
Staff 203 full-time faculty
Undergraduates 2,048
Location Granville, Ohio, United States
Campus Rural, 900 acres (3.6 km2) plus a 550-acre (2.2 km2) biological reserve.
Athletics 23 varsity teams, NCAA Division III, Member North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC),
Colors Red and White         
Mascot Big Red

Denison University is a private, residential liberal arts and sciences college in Granville, Ohio, approximately 30 miles (50 km) east of Columbus. Denison was founded in 1831 and is a member of the Five Colleges of Ohio, the Great Lakes Colleges Association, and the North Coast Athletic Conference.

Denison is listed in Loren Pope's Colleges That Change Lives.



When Denison was founded by the Ohio Baptist Education Society in 1831[2]. It later moved to a hill overlooking the town and changed its name to Denison University, renamed as a means of securing a larger endowment, offering the privilege of naming the institution with a donation of $10,000. A Muskingum County farmer named William S. Denison offered to donate this considerable sum. Although he ultimately donated only a portion of the total promised (using the excuse that with his recent marriage, he could no longer afford to surrender such a large amount), the college retained his name. Denison was an exclusively male college at the time of its inception, but has since become coeducational. This began with the Granville Female Seminary, which was founded in 1832 by Charles Sawyer. It was sold to Daniel Shepardson in 1861 and renamed the Young Ladies' Institute. After being renamed the Shepardson College for Women in 1886, it became a part of Denison University in 1900. Founded as a Baptist institution, Denison for many years enjoyed the support of John D. Rockefeller, who sat on the college's board of trustees until his move to New York, as the institution mandated that all trustees be Ohio residents[3]. Among Denison's early distinguished faculty is William Rainey Harper, who later (with Rockefeller) founded the University of Chicago. A boys' preparatory school, Doane Academy, also coexisted on the hilltop campus (of which Harper was principal) for many years; upon closing, the school building became the seat of the college administration[4].

Denison previously offered some graduate programs, including an early incarnation of the study of neuroscience, leading to a master's degree; however, Denison was made into an exclusively undergraduate institution in the late 1920s. The university offers 48 majors, each leading to a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree. Denison also offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. English, communication, economics, psychology, biology, political science and history are among the school's top majors; however, Denison also offers an array of less traditional majors, such as cinema.

Dale Thomas Knobel is currently serving as Denison's nineteenth president and has been since 1998. He resides in Monomoy Place in Granville, the official home of Denison's presidents.


A view of Swasey Chapel from the west

The campus size is about 900 acres (4 km²). This includes a 550 acre (1.4 km²) biological reserve just east of campus, where professors of sciences like geology and biology can hold class.

Organization and administration

Denison's annual operating budget is about $69 million. It also has other funds including endowments that surpass $600 million.


Denison offers three types of degrees: B.A., B.S., and 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) or choose among the following. A few of these subjects are concentrations only and are not offered as majors.



  • 52 Best Liberal Arts College in the US (2008)[1]
  • 48 Best Liberal Arts College in the US (2006)[2]

Student life

Student housing

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. However the eight and nine person rooms have been changed to six person suites. There are various apartments across campus and several satellite houses for seniors.

The Homestead, a student-run community with a focus on ecological sustainability, is an alternative student housing option to dormitories and campus apartments. Twelve students live and work together each semester to promote a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. Students living at the Homestead are responsible for cooking weekly meals, sharing chores, and attending weekly meetings.

Myths and traditions

There are many myths and legends that surround Denison University. Many nearby buildings claim to have hosted runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad, which was active in the area, especially the now vanished barn behind Bancroft House. Rumors of a tunnel between the Avery-Downer House and Monomoy Place are often told, possibly rooted in the actual tunnel dug from Cleveland Hall's original coal fired power plant for the campus, that ran under College Hill to an outlet on the north side of campus. One of the least plausible beliefs is that there is a treasure chest hidden at the bottom of Ebaugh pond, near Ebaugh Fields (the soccer fields). Some say that it was hidden there by the secret campus organization called the Wingless Angels. Attempts to dredge the pond to find the chest in the summer of 2006 were unsuccessful. The University has since ignored the myth and inquiries about it by local media.

Student organizations

The Denison Campus Governance Association (DCGA), Denison's student government body, has the authority to allocate funds to various student organizations. The D.C.G.A. is also responsible for financially supporting over 100 student clubs and organizations, which provide 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.

The University Programming Council (UPC) is the main programming body on campus. It annually brings in concerts, comedians, hypnotists, and other forms of entertainment to campus. Other organizations on campus which bring speakers and films include the Denison Film Society (DFS) and the Denison Lecture Series.

Greek life

Denison has seven fraternities and five sororities. Fewer students are currently participating in Greek life than they have historically. In the 1980s, over 60% of the student body belonged to a Greek organization. Currently, Greek participation by students is about 40%, with more women participating than men. Greek organizations are governed by an Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Council.

During the mid-1990s, in an effort to re-brand the college as more of an academic, and less of a party, institution, the college's trustees and then-President Michele Tolela Myers elected to make Denison a "non-residential" Greek system. The decision led to student and alumni uproar, with a low-grade riot erupting on the campus' "Fraternity Row" as a result with the administration calling in the National Guard to maintain order. The decision turned most of the formerly-residential fraternity houses into general college residential halls, and each chapter was given lounge space in the basement of each respective house for official fraternity functions (including chapter meetings). The change to a non-residential Greek system, combined with a reduction in the number of fraternities, accounts for most of the reduction in the student Greek participation between the current and historic levels. An underground chapter of Phi Gamma Delta still operates, despite expulsion in 2007. There is also an underground chapter of Kappa Sigma in addition to the newly recolonized chapter established in 2009.

The fraternities are:

The sororities are:

Many of the former residential Fraternity Houses have been renamed and are currently used for student housing.

  • The Delta Upsilon house became Taylor House, an "honors" residence hall
  • The Delta Chi house became Sunset House
  • The Lambda Chi Alpha house became the Erma and Clark Morrow House, an all-first-year student "living and learning" residence hall
  • The S. S. Chamberlin Lodge of Phi Gamma Delta became the Chamberlin House
  • The Phi Delta Theta house became the Preston House

Some of these former houses, such as the Beta Theta Pi House, Sigma Chi House, and Kappa Sigma House, are still owned by national fraternities and rented to the college.


Denison is a member of the NCAA and the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC). Denison participates as a Division III institution which prohibits athletic scholarships. Denison has won nine (9) consecutive NCAC All-Sports Championships for a total of ten (10) since the founding of the conference in 1984-85. Denison's other All Sports Championship came in 1985-86, and both the consecutive championships streak and the total of ten represent conference records.

The most successful teams are led by the Men's and Women's Swimming programs. In 2001, the women won the NCAA Division III national championship, unseating perennial champion and local rivalKenyon College. In 2006 and again in 2007, the men placed 2nd in the nation; the women's and men's teams each finished in 3rd in the nation in 2008 and again in 2009. Plans are currently underway to expand Denison's athletic facility to include a new state of the art natatorium. The squash program is also a perennial national contender. Other top ranked programs include lacrosse, soccer, baseball, softball, and women's tennis. The Denison women's tennis team finished their 2008 season ranked 3rd in the country. Also, for the first time in school history their #1 doubles team made it all the way to the championship match in the individual national competition. The women's softball team had a record breaking season in the spring of 2008 also. They advanced farther in the NCAA tournament than any other team has since softball became a varsity sport at Denison in 1997. They competed in the regional final against Muskingum College in Glassboro, NJ. and in the final D3 season rankings the softball team was ranked 22nd in the nation. The lacrosse and soccer games against Ohio Wesleyan University are the most widely attended "rivalry" games. Also, the Kenyon/Denison swimming rivalry is recognized in small-college sports.

Woody Hayes, later renowned as the head coach at Ohio State University, graduated from Denison in 1935, having served as captain of the football team the previous fall, and served as the university's head football coach from 1946 to 1948.


As of the 2009-2010 school year, 2,048 students are enrolled at Denison. They come from 46 states, Washington, DC, and 25 countries. A full-time faculty of 203 professors makes the student-to-faculty ratio 10:1. Over the past several years, Denison University has made great strides in attracting a diverse student population, and multicultural students now represent 20 percent of the current first-year class. The college's students, faculty and staff were honored in 2008 by the State of Ohio for "promoting understanding, racial unity and the appreciation of diversity."

The university currently has a 49% acceptance rate; out of 5,000 applicants for the class of 2013, 2,480 were accepted and 650 enrolled.[5]


Denison has some 28,000 alumni all around the world. Some notable alumni include:

External links



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