History of Ohio Dominican

Ohio Dominican University, Central Ohio's only Catholic university, is guided by the Dominican motto: To contemplate truth and to share with others the fruits of this contemplation.

Ohio Dominican has a rich history, notable alumni and significant milestones that have contributed to its success and identity.

Chartered on Oct. 5, 1911 as the College of St. Mary of the Springs, ODU was founded as an all-women's school. The college become coeducational in 1964, and changed its name to Ohio Dominican College on July 1, 1968. On July 1, 2002, Ohio Dominican College became Ohio Dominican University.

Swipe through the photos below to see moments from ODU's history. You can also see more by visiting the History Wall located on the first floor of the Griffin Student Center, found in the hallway near the Gold Lot entrance.

The Dominican Sisters of St. Mary of the Springs (now the Dominican Sisters of Peace) were founded in Somerset, Ohio, in 1830 and moved to Columbus in 1868.

In 1911, the sisters received a charter from the state of Ohio to establish a women’s college. A successful teaching congregation for nearly 100 years, the Dominicans wanted to build on the excellence of their academy and provide college classes in an area where there was no Catholic higher education available to their graduates and to the candidates for the order.

After a decade of experimenting, the Sisters opened the College of St. Mary of the Springs in 1924 as a four-year, Catholic liberal arts college for women.

Until the college formally separated from the congregation, the congregation’s prioress, who served three-year terms, also served as the college’s president.

In 1968, under Sister Suzanne Urhane’s leadership, the college changed its name to Ohio Dominican College.

In 2002, under the leadership of Ohio Dominican’s first male and first lay leader, Jack P. Calareso, PhD, the college changed its status again to become Ohio Dominican University.

Past Presidents

  • Sister Stephanie Mohun, 1911 - 1914
  • Sister Constance Keelty, 1914 - 1917
  • Sister Justina Hogan, 1917 - 1920
  • Sister Maria Theresa, 1920 - 1923
  • Sister Regina Murphy, 1923 - 1926
  • Sister Adele Heffley, 1926 - 1932
  • Sister Bernardine Lynam, 1932 - 1935
  • Sister Aloyse Fitzpatrick, 1935 - 1944
  • Sister Anacletus Oger, 1944 - 1947
  • Sister Angelita Conley, 1947 - 1964
  • Sister Suzanne Uhrhane, 1964 - 1978
  • Sister Mary Andrew Matesich, 1978 - 2001
  • Jack Calareso, Ph.D., 2001 - 2007
  • The Most Rev. James A. Griffin, 2007 - 2008 (interim)
  • Brian Nedwek, Ph.D., 2008 - 2009
  • Ronald J. Seiffert, 2009 - 2010 (interim)
  • Peter Cimbolic, Ph.D., 2010 - 2017
  • Robert Gervasi, Ph.D., 2017 - 2021

It is widely believed that Janet Leppert (Class of 1939) wrote the words and Sister Francis Borgia Lally (Class of 1929) wrote the music for Ohio Dominican University’s “Alma Mater.” Unfortunately, we may never know for sure. 

Janet Leppert was a great writer who earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Art. Sister Francis was a gifted musician who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music. 

Alma Mater of Ohio Dominican 

May fame be yours through all the world 
Attesting to your lasting truth. 
While banners in the wind unfurled 
Proclaim your leadership of youth. 
Proclaim your leadership of youth. 
Alma Mater. 

You’ve taught us how to live aright. 
You've made your hopes our ideals, too. 
And even though so great the heights 
You spur us on ’til death ensue. 
You spur us on ’til death ensue. 
Alma Mater  

Ohio Dominican University shield logoThe Ohio Dominican University logo consists of the name of the university and the date it was founded around an escutcheon, or shield. At the center of the shield is a flame.

The colors of Ohio Dominican are white, black and gold, which are the colors of the Dominican Order and the Papacy.

The black and white colors signify the university’s tie to the 800-year-old tradition of the Order of Preachers, whose members are known for their commitment to the life of study and service through excellence in preaching and teaching the Word.

The inclusion of the papal gold signifies the university’s service to the Church.

The shield is two-thirds black and one-third white, which suggests the habit of the Dominicans. The habit is white and the cappa, or cloak, is black.

The flame, superimposed upon a field of white, carries several meanings. Just as light enables sight, liberal education enables insight and human development.

As an institution of higher education, the university offers to all sincere seekers of the Truth the chance to do so through the liberating education it offers.

A legend about St. Dominic tells that before he was born, his mother had a dream in which she saw a dog carrying in its mouth a flaming torch, the torch of Truth, that his Order would eventually carry into the world.

The flame also symbolizes the fire of the Holy Spirit, Who gives wisdom, understanding, good counsel, courage, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.

The hope of Ohio Dominican is that this fire will burn in the hearts of all of its students so that they, using their gifts, might engage in the renewal of the world.

The Ohio Dominican University logo was created to give our university a consistent and clear symbol to various audiences.

The use of this logo on a consistent basis without distortion of shape, or replacement of typeface or colors builds a strong sense of identity among alumni, students, faculty, staff, the public and other academic institutions.